“I didn’t even know what sectioning meant.”
Dan Miller talks about his experiences of being sectioned under the Mental Health Act when he was experiencing psychosis.
Dan is a project manager at a film production company. He is making a documentary about his experiences.
I was sectioned on a Wednesday. I had been experiencing hypomania since Friday, and believed that like God, I deserved a day of rest after five days’ work. I wanted to save the world and thought I had been ‘fully awakened to its truth’, spouting notions over and over again about John 8.32; ‘The truth will set you free’.
The police first arrived about midday. They asked me to empty my wallet in front of them, and I decided to offer them a £5 note that I ‘didn’t need’. They clearly weren’t very impressed with this offer and left soon after.
He carried on asking me if I was hearing voices to which I replied, ‘I am only hearing my own voice.’
Throughout the rest of the day, I started manically cooking, as I was becoming more and more ecstatic about what I thought I had discovered, thinking that a lot of people were going to be coming to the house and they needed to be fed. In the midst of all this cooking certain medical professionals arrived. One of these was a nice, but poorly informed GP. He carried on asking me if I was hearing voices to which I replied, ‘I am only hearing my own voice.’
Soon after this, I was sectioned. However, at the time I was unaware of what sectioning even meant.
Going to hospital
By the evening, I believe the total count got to two police cars and one ambulance. I spoke to two more police officers who were absolutely lovely, but they knew I was fully gone and were just trying their best to keep me calm. At this point, after refusing to let the paramedics run any tests, my mum persuaded me to go to the hospital.
Upon arrival, we were put in a crisis room. Four walls, two pinned down rock-hard sofas. I had to stay there until around 8am Thursday morning.
"I hadn’t hurt anyone, I hadn’t broken the law... so why had I being imprisoned?"
You. Can’t. Leave. These were the three words everyone was saying to me, but the three words I did not understand. I hadn’t hurt anyone, I hadn’t broken the law, I was preaching about happiness, so why had I being imprisoned?
I became restless and started running through the wards. This lead to people chasing me around the hospital. I remember locking myself in a counselling room of some sort. I went straight to the corner of the room, grabbed a plastic chair and brought it over to the door and jammed it. There must have been at least three people trying to reach their arms around the door, it was horrible; it was like I was in a movie where the outside world had become savage. Whilst trying to pry the door open, they had a look in their eye; it was as if I wasn’t human.
I decided to run away
Eventually, I resigned to their request and returned to my designated room. It came to the morning and I was desperate to leave. I sat down by the automatic doors into A&E. As soon as the doors opened I bolted, running head first into the traffic, closely pursued by two security guards.
I went straight back to the epicentre of my mania and didn’t stop running until I reached my uni house. I knocked on the door and my housemates answered, obviously confused to see me. I gave them a hug and ran straight back up to our living room.
Being taken back by the police
Then within seconds, two police officers came into the room. Without saying a word, they turned me around, put me in handcuffs and forced me down the stairs. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. In my delusion, I was convinced that it was some form of the Illuminati come to get me because I had been spreading too much truth.
These two police officers put me in the back of a dog van, still without saying anything to me. They closed the doors and locked me in the van alone. I convinced myself I could break out of the handcuffs if I yelled hard enough. So I started roaring like a lion and singing Danny Boy at the top of my lungs. When they opened the back doors I would return to silence and just give them a creepy vacant stare.
I was transported to a Sunderland mental health institution. A social worker was put in the car to talk to me, but once again being the one man self-centred show that I am, I pretty much just talked her ear off about the conspiracy.
When we arrived, then police officers dragged me out of the van and pulled me towards the institution. I dropped all my weight onto the handcuffs in a last ditch attempt to get them to stop moving me. However, they pressed on, holding me up by the handcuffs.
Upon being brought into reception, I started switching dramatically between hysterically crying to deadpan stating ‘this is acting’ and even name dropped a bit of Leonardo DiCaprio. Unknown to me my parents saw the whole episode of me being dragged in yelling hysterically. My dad cried.
He’s cried three times in the 33 years my mum has been married to him.
Talking to the psychiatrist
I was then taken to another room. I still had no idea what was going on, or the fact that I had been sectioned. I had come to the conclusion, that they had grown me from stem cells and subsequently thought they had fabricated all of my memories and none of my friends actually existed. I remember looking at the psychiatrist listing off names of my nearest and dearest, looking him straight in the eye and saying ‘if they don’t exist or never existed, I will end you’. I wasn’t joking. But on a lighter note the room did have a lovely view.
They then moved me to an isolation unit where the medical staff came in and then it took three of them to hold me down whilst I writhed around on a mat. They injected me twice with a very powerful tranquiliser.
I still didn't understand what sectioning meant
I came around about 24hrs later and it was very early. Even by this point, I’m still grossly unaware about where I am, who is holding me captive and why. This all fed into my delusion that I had indeed uncovered some unknown truth and I was in a government containment facility. There were signs everywhere saying if you want to leave, let the staff know and they’ll let you out. I asked, they obviously declined, but I had no idea why or what this ‘sectioning’ meant. Not exactly useful.
Days passed, and my recovery came slowly. Once I had some stability they transferred me back down south to another facility in Gloucester. I guess you could say that’s where this part of the journey came to a stopover.
However, a blog for another time. If you’ve managed to get this far, I applaud you. I want to stress that none of the professionals both medical and the police did anything wrong by me. I think the biggest change that I wish was in place, was more education, both to me about what was happening but also those trying to handle mental health cases.
I feel if I was informed or better educated about knowing what sectioning is, it would have been far less traumatic.
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