I've had 24 admissions, the longest for 8 months with depression. That was a baddie. My initial admission was 20 years ago, to a mixed ward that still had communal bathrooms and 6 bedded dormitories. I arrived as a really frightened, sick person and left smoking roll ups with the best of them. It wasn't a nice environment, and no one treated it with any respect because of that. Ciggies were stubbed out on the furniture or on the carpet. Glass windows were cracked. Doors were slammed. The noise was unbelievable. I was petrified - all these people were mad, after all, and we know mad people are dangerous.
Actually, the opposite was true. I felt completely safe with these people, who were kind and welcoming to me. It was difficult to settle in because of the noise, but they did everything possible to make me feel at ease. The patients were mostly in their thirties, so I was older than them, but that mattered not. There were patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and personality disorders. Some of them were living below the poverty line or were homeless. It simply didn't matter. I was manic and was put on a horrid cocktail of drugs, including droperidol, which I think has now been banned. I had a terrible tremor and stiff jaw, and my eyes were permanently out of focus. So much so that I stopped wearing my glasses. The doctor didn't tell me that I could have procyclidine for my shakes - it was a patient . When I was finally written up for it, I stopped shaking. I was up a lot in the night (plus ca change) and I walked around the ward to try to calm myself. As with now, I took lots of night meds but they had no effect.
Eventually, I came down and went home, only to be readmitted with depression. This time, I wasn't over excited and making a fool of myself; I was practically comatose. I had ECT - 6 sessions of it - which I was scared of, but which slowly worked. More about ECT in another post. Once again, when I was better, I was discharged.
My husband and I split up during this period, so I was alone in the house with my cats. One day, one of them was run over and I was devastated as I wasn't really over the depression - I would have been really upset even if I'd been well, but I overreacted. I adopted two more kittens, called Bubble and Squeak. Not that long afterwards, Teazle, the older cat, died of leukaemia, which really got to me. Finally, and this was the last straw, Bubble was run over. My decline was inevitable and I wasn't safe at all. I was admitted again, and this time, the staff used to run me home to see Squeak every few days. My neighbours looked after him. When I was discharged, I adopted Hattie, a slight, gutsy black kitten, who lived to be 19, and who only died last year. Squeak died 7 years ago, and now I have Lucien and Arthur, who are brothers, and Daisy, who's a thug.
My admissions continued over the years, and I was on all sorts of different drugs to see what worked. I had ECT 3 times all in all, and I'd have it again if it meant I didn't have to have lows.
I spent 16 years in the RAF defending the Free World , then got bunged out unceremoniously for being bipolar. I and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Funny old world, isn't it?