for better mental health

Leaving hospital

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 Philippa

Philippa felt abandoned when she was discharged from hospital without warning. Now she's helping our campaign.

In 2015-16 over 110,000 of us spent time in hospital for a mental health problem. Whether you’ve been in hospital for days or months, it’s important that you get the right aftercare to help you stay safe and get better. Philippa is taking part in our new campaign to make sure everyone leaving hospital gets timely follow-up and support.

I'm 34 years old and have been diagnosed with both emotionally unstable personality disorder and a long-standing eating disorder. I was first diagnosed at age 19, was hospitalised at age 21 and over the years I've spent a huge amount of time in hospital.

My most recent spell in hospital was this January. I'd been in my local mental health unit for a week, when one morning I woke up to be told that there was a taxi waiting for me downstairs, and to get ready. Dazed and confused, still half asleep, I didn’t understand. Did I have an appointment? Was I visiting somewhere? Did they have the right person...

Nope. Within minutes I found myself in the taxi, with all my belongings shoved into four bin liners. Handed not enough medication to get me through the weekend, I was now off suicide watch and, with a staff member, apparently headed for my local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).

"Within minutes I found myself in the taxi, with all my belongings shoved into four bin liners."

I didn’t know the time, if I had my door key, if I had money on me or if I had my bus pass. No one could explain what had just happened. How would I get meds at the weekend? Did I have food in the house? Did I have money on the electricity meter, the gas meter? Did my phone have battery? What would I do? Was there anyone around this weekend? How will I get home from the CMHT?

My brain froze. I went into a state of shock. Was I even awake? I cannot do this. I don’t think most people could have coped, and in my already fragile state of mind, I really had no chance.

Possibly the main reason I am here to write this, alive, recovering not spiralling down further, is due to Mind.

As I turned on my phone in the taxi, one of my emails that morning had been from the Mind campaigns team, asking me to fill in their survey regarding experiences of being discharged from hospital. I laughed. In this situation, where I’d had no choice, no voice, no explanation, someone was listening. Someone cared.

"In this situation, where I’d had no choice, no voice, no explanation, someone was listening. Someone cared."

My CMHT were as unprepared and taken aback as I had been. I had a major panic attack. I had to attend A&E to get enough medication to get me through the weekend. I was still unwell and four days later was readmitted to a different hospital.

But I survived. I made it through the weekend. I got food, I could vaguely think. I was able to be readmitted, knowing that if the same happened again, I still had support out there. I managed to be discharged in just over a week and had a significantly better experience. I not only survived, but am able to continue recovering at home.

Thank you Mind, and I hope that by taking part in this campaign that no one else has to go through what I went through. If all experiences, both good and bad, were shared, I believe that we could, together, change how discharge is managed for everyone. That hospitals could learn, and as patients we could have a voice.

Philippa

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