Mental Health Awareness Week

The irony isn’t lost on me that it was Mental Health Awareness Week last week…


And breathe….

It gets worse before it gets better – I suspect I will hear that and say that a lot. But it can’t be much worse than the last few days for my husband.  Yesterday he was moved to a different NHS unit and it really has set him back. He was even going to classes in the original unit – something I thought I wouldn’t see. But the new place was so different, busier, darker, more cramped, and more importantly, with more psychotic patients. And I’m not being dramatic. I mean patients with psychosis. What I put down to my husband’s paranoia, transpired to actually be fact. There were fights, not involving him, threats to him personally, people defecating in the corridor….I’m not saying this for dramatic effect. Well, not entirely. But those are facts, and the facts of the mental health system and it breaks my heart that all these people are having to go through such trauma. But it became apparent that he was not going to get better quickly in this place. He rang me, repeatedly, crying, begging me to get him out (he’s no longer under the section) so the decision on whether or not to move him became easy. No contest. He’s coming out and we’re moving him to a private facility.

I realise that we are in a privileged position – he’s being paying in to a policy for years through work and that will possibly mean that the policy in turn will pay out for him. That may not be the case, so we have been able to make alternative, costly plans. Again, I know that this is not an option most people have and I am truly grateful that we have the financial support from his work.

When I got to the private hospital I became even more grateful – it is the place that I feel confident will help him. There is therapy 9-5, five days a week. If this doesn’t help him, I really don’t know what will. That doesn’t really bear thinking about.

PS That feeling of relief turns out to be a little short-lived…go figure. I miss him.

In private

The next step seemed logical – see if his medical cover would pay for him to be moved to a private hospital. Naturally it’s not straightforward, they decide on a case-by-case basis. I also don’t know how long they’ll pay out for. So actually I don’t know whether I should move him at all. What if they only pay for two weeks when he needs four weeks treatment? I can get him back in to the NHS system but I doubt it’s that simple.

Then again, he really needs a private room and there’s no sign of that happening, nor of him moving to the closest acute care centre. And a more restful environment can surely only help?

I really don’t know what to do for the best. And I feel massive pressure to get it right, for everyone’s sake. What if I make the wrong decision?

Less than successful visiting experience

He wanted to see the kids so I took them. And that was probably a mistake. I wasn’t expecting him to pretend he was ok, but it was a bit like when you ask someone how they are out of politeness and they actually have the audacity to tell you that they are constipated, or angry etc. Instead of saying ‘It’s ok guys, I’m feeling pretty sad but I’ll be better really soon’, he was far too depressed to have a cut off switch and I had to ask him to try to be more upbeat. This didn’t work so we didn’t stay too long, and as we left I whispered that he couldn’t be like this when the kids came. There’s being open and honest and it’s a fine line over in to ‘too much info’. As you might expect (although I didn’t expect it), he stormed off shouting ‘That’s nice’ and was apparently very upset and agitated for a few hours.

But I’m unrepentant and when he sent me a text the following day apologising, I explained that I am currently solely responsible for the children and that I can’t allow them to be distressed when I have to deal with the fall-out by myself. In truth, the kids were ok after the visit, and it was a good opportunity to reiterate that he was being looked after and made better and that he would be home soon, and when he came home he would be back to being happy Daddy. Question is, when will that be?

The first visit

I’ve been to see him. I didn’t think I’d be allowed to as it wasn’t in visiting times, but I took a bag in for him. This had to be checked and all was going well until the nurse looked through his pencil case (he loves sketching). “Is there a pencil sharpener?” I didn’t think so I said. And I was right. No pencil sharpener, just the Stanley blades he uses to sharpen his pencils….oopsy. I had also taken his razor in. I’m not very good at this packing for psych ward business.

He’s not very happy. It’s full of nutters apparently but the worst thing is the snoring of the other patients in the dorm. No private room as yet which seems ridiculous. He’s also sedated and he looks lost. But I’m still feeling relieved. He may not see it my way yet, but he’s in the right place.

Overwhelming relief

After many phonecalls from a social worker, and lots of waiting, my husband has been moved from the secure cell to a psychiatric ward. He agreed to be admitted voluntarily but when it came to it, he decided he didn’t want to go in and had to be admitted formally, which means he is being detained under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act. Wednesday’s sectioning was just to bypass A&E, this is the real thing. No escape.

But when friends ask me how I’m doing, I examine my feelings and realise that the overwhelming feeling is relief. Relief that he’s safe and no longer my problem. And I didn’t even realise how much I’d been worrying until I noticed that I no longer felt worried.  Of course I’m worried about him being in hospital, and I’m worried about what’s going to happen. But I no longer have to worry about what he’s going to be like when he gets in, will he be suspiciously chirpy which means a few beers on the train.  Or will he be annoyed about public transport.  Or about someone picking their nose on the train. Or the weather.

I feel liberated.

28 days and counting

Today my husband was detained under Section 2 of the Mental Health act. Words I hoped I wouldn’t have to say, and yet there’s a real inevitability about them. He’s been fighting against the black cloak of depression for years, and the last few years have been, without a doubt, a build-up to this moment. And now it’s here and there’s no going back, and hopefully this will be the last in a long series of what seem like the worst times.