Through the eyes of a carer for someone with a mental illness


Part Two – One 24hr period. One overdose. One patient. One partner/carer… thats me!

Following on from One 24hr period. One overdose. One patient. One partner/carer… thats me!

In walked what I didn’t know at the time was the consultant, the first thing he said was ‘long time no see’  as he had only seen Chris in the clinic two weeks before hand after an episode of vomiting blood. He asked Chris what had led to him being in hospital so Chris explained he overdosed, the doctor said he wanted to help him get sorted and would ‘ring psych to see him shortly and they should be round sometime this morning.’

Famous last words, all day we waited around and were looked after by probably one of the nicest nurses I had come across for a long time. Chris however by this time had had more than enough of waiting around and was now started to get agitated, he had had lunch and still no sign of the psychiatrist. The nurse said she would speak to the doctor about chasing them up but they were aware that he was waiting to see them. After a couple more hours of Chris trying to get some sleep, tossing and turning in his bed and me trying to get comfortable on the same high back patient chair he had decided he had had enough of waiting and was going to discharge himself. The nurse said she didn’t recommend that but Chris was adamant, she said she will go and speak with the doctor and bring back the paperwork for him to sign. She did just that, although on her return Chris was now told he wouldn’t be able to self discharge, if he tried to leave security would be brought up and he was now no longer trusted to go out for a cigarette and return. He looked at me, sighed, I asked him if he wanted them to get him a patch to make going without a smoke a bit easier, he agreed and the nurse went to get a doctor to prescribe him a patch.

The smell of vegetables started to fill the ward as it was now tea time, healthcare assistants walked around handing out a choice of sandwiches or soup, followed by a yoghurt, fruit or ice cream. There was still now, at almost 5 o’clock in the evening no sign of the psychiatrist. The latest update was that he had been called to an ‘emergency’ and would be off the ward for an hour but he would be back shortly. We were now made aware of another patient on the ward who also needed assessing so they really didn’t know when Chris would be seen.

At 8pm a doctor walked over to Chris bed and introduced himself as a psychiatrist, he asked Chris to follow him to a more private place to talk. By this time Chris wasn’t too bad, he said all the right things, answered all the right questions and generally came across as fine, Chris was asked to leave while he spoke to me alone, which he did. I expressed my concern that while Chris seems ok at the moment and says he doesn’t need any added support or anything else, that if he had seen him an hour ago or the previous evening when they were threatening him with the Mental Capacity Act, that he would more than likely have a very different opinion. I made it clear that he could be very different again when he woke tomorrow and that for all I knew he could end up back in here. He wanted so much to help us, which actually I haven’t come across often from a Psychiatry SHO but he realised that the reality of that was going to be very different because where we are there just isn’t the facility to do that. He wanted a plan, so I had somewhere to go if I was worried but as I know the Home treatment (crisis team) is always so reluctant to deal with Chris he wasn’t sure what to do. He said he could give us their number so we could just call them, what he didn’t realise was, you can’t do that in our area, they are referral only, which defeats the object of out of hours support. I told him of the only plan that anyone has come up with so far and that was ‘take him to accident and emergency’ he looked at me, his face said all that he probably couldn’t say to be for want of being professional. That was the plan… accident and emergency if he got worse, it was all we had.

I went to find where Chris had gone, and we made our way back to his bed, the nurse came straight over to use to ask of the plans and see how it went. I explained all the problems, the plan and she sorted out his medication to see him through the weekend, she spent a long while talking to us and making sure we knew what was happening and asking Chris if he had any needles or anything in that needed taking out, which is something because I have taken out many a cannula they have left in, once he has returned home.

She offered to book us a taxi and sat at the reception desk while it was being done, the time was now leaving nine fifteen, and she was chatting about our children, when she finished her shift, where she has worked before, just general chit chat. Next minute someone walked up beside me and put his hand on my shoulder, it was only the nurse who had been on the previous night, we had said goodbye to that morning at around half past nine, who had been to bed, eaten and returned for his next shift since! The first thing out of his mouth was, please don’t tell me you are only just going home, to which the other nurse just smiled, held up her hand and said ‘just don’t’ I explained we had been there all day and were only just leaving he said ‘what happened to the psychiatrist? I heard them ring down this morning’ to which I said it took him all day to come and see Chris which in the end turned out to only to be his third patient of the day!


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One 24hr period. One overdose. One patient. One partner/carer… thats me!

Standing outside Accident and Emergency in the dark with street lights glistening and the reflection of blue lights lighting up the place every now and again I couldn’t help but be reminded by the times I used to do this ‘Every night on my way home’ Only difference this time was Chris wasn’t sectioned, he wasn’t even in a psychiatric unit, in fact he wasn’t an inpatient in hospital at all, at the moment. He had taken an overdose, was mentally distressed, very tachycardic, clammy, sick and we were waiting to find out what was happening with him.

He had been seen by a doctor, who said he would have to stay in to be monitored for a few hours so he was being admitted to the Acute Medical Unit. To be honest we were told very little about what was happening, there didn’t seem to be a plan that we knew of, the only thing they kept saying was ‘you will need to see the psych team before you leave’ The doctor was talking like he would only be there a couple of hours, she said until 10.30pm and then nurses were saying he couldn’t go home because they were keeping an eye on his heart rate as is was still going too fast.

The nurse was happy for me to stay there with him until we knew if he was going to be allowed home by an AMU doctor, he was a lovely nurse, asked if he could get me anything, if I was comfy enough sitting in one of those high backed patient chairs. Only problem was, Chris wasn’t happy now at around midnight to be, what he believed, was still waiting around on a medical ward for a psych team to see him. He had given up waiting and walked off the ward, as always I followed him, trying to suggest ways to make waiting easier but he was far from being rational. By the time we got home I had a voicemail on my phone, my battery was drained, and about 4 calls to my home phone. I answered the phone, just as his dad left after babysitting, it was indeed the ward, they explained to Chris they needed him to go back, he needed to see the psych team and if he didn’t they would be left with no choice but to call the police. He wasn’t having any of it, so they asked to speak to me, I explained that he wasn’t going to go back, I tried again with them on the phone to get him to go, and I explained they were going to send the police here, but I could see it wasn’t making a difference to Chris. He said he didn’t have any choice but to follow protocol and the Drs wishes to have the Police notified, I thanked him for speaking to me and put the phone down.

My stomach sank, I really don’t like dealing with the police, when they are great they are fantastic when they are not they are appalling and can make a situation much, much worse. It is so hit and miss I just didn’t want to deal with it at what must have been 2.30am! I sat and waited, and not long later someone pulled up outside, I didn’t see who it was, I heard our gate go and as I braced myself for dealing with the police a familiar little torch light shone through the glass window of our front door. I now hadn’t slept since Thursday night, I was tired, quite hungry and the familiar shaking that tends to happen during these occasions had started. The knock knock knock on the door came; Chris was still sat on the sofa so I went to answer the door. As I opened it expecting to see the police it took awhile for my eyes to adjust so that I could see exactly who and how many people were standing at the door. After a quick glance at an, Ambulance? And then wondering why one of these police officers was carrying such a big bag it clicked this was actually an ambulance crew. I invited them straight in, if nothing more than to actually see who they were!

In walked a male and a female in indeed green, asking if a male lived here, I pointed them in the direction of the living room and they started talking to Chris. At this point I didn’t say anything, I waited to see if any of their questions were directed at me (thanks DiagnosisLOB ‘Relatives: Take Note’) Chris was becoming more and more agitated, muttering under his breath, refusing to go with them, swearing, his distress was increasing, they said they would just take him back and if he didn’t they would have to involve the Police, I suggested it would be nicer to go with them than in the back of a police van. He said the police wouldn’t do anything, so she said she would use the mental capacity act to get him the treatment she could see he needed. He started swearing, he was shaking and agreed he would go with them, he wanted me to go, but with the girls asleep and his dad not long since left I would have to arrange that first. He got into the ambulance and away they went back to the ward via A&E.

At gone three in the morning my now very boggy eyes which were once again adjusting to the dark, I climbed into a taxi to a familiar voice and a ‘Hello, Long time no see how are you doing, are your girls well, are you off to the hospital’ It was so nice to hear, once we reached the hospital I paid my fare and said goodbye. Now navigating the long corridors to find the ward I had left with Chris a few hours earlier, the place was silent, there was no one around, I rang the buzzer, no answer, then Chris nurse came over and let me in, Chris was pacing around, the nurse told him to go back to his bed and wait for the Dr to come and see him.  The next few hours are a little hazy, Chris managed to get a bit of sleep in between obs, I was offered food, drink, a blanket, and they were genuinely really lovely. Chris was cleared medically as far as I was aware at around half three in the morning when they said they would be ringing psych, this actually didn’t turn out to be the case, again comes down to Junior Doctors and not understanding hospital policy and that psych won’t see him until he is well, they were actually still keeping an eye on his heart rate.

I dozed on and off as much as I could in a high back patient chair, that until then had actually looked quite comfortable but now by almost 6am my bum was having second thoughts, it was numb, my back was starting to tweak a little and every time I got into some kind of position in which to grab a few minutes sleep my head would drop and wake me up again. Soon the quiet hospital I had walked into once again became a buzz of activity as shifts changed over; patients were moved around, before I knew it the breakfast trolley was being wheeled in. A lovely health care assistant asked me if I wanted a drink and said she expected I must be shattered, to which I couldn’t do much more than just nod my head.

Continued here.

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Finding things tough…

I don’t often admit to anyone, let alone myself, but lately I have been finding things a lot harder than usual. I think a combination of moving house, Chris coming home from hospital and the summer holidays have been pushing me more and more to over full capacity and I have really struggled.  I know no one expects me to cope all the time and maintain the strong person and I know I haven’t failed anyone if every now and again I struggle but I just don’t like it. I have high expectations of myself, so if they slip it isn’t in my own opinion good enough, that said I have rebooked my counselling appointments for when the girls have gone back to school so I can get some headspace, which will really do me good.

cnphotography2When speaking with my doctor last week, through my tears, telling her about how things have been lately, she bought up the anti depressants conversation again. She knows I am a right one and won’t take them while breastfeeding even if they convince me they are safe and Cora won’t be affected. She suggested perhaps I stop breastfeeding, that way I could start them, except I don’t want to stop feeding Cora, I love the bond we share, she only feeds first thing on waking and last thing before she goes to bed, those moments I cherish, the moments of peace staring into her eyes and her into mine, knowing that she benefits not only from comfort but from the goodness the milk gives her and in turn the benefits she gives me for my health too. It would depress me more to feel I had to give up that to take medication that isn’t going to change Chris illness, isn’t going to give me physical support and when I don’t really feel that is the avenue I want to go down.

I know things will in time improve again, life will be a little less hectic in September, when everyone has settled into our new home and Chris new medication has settled down but for now it is really tough.  I am seeing my GP again next week, I fully intend on explaining again my thoughts around breastfeeding, anti depressants and how right now doing that could actually negatively impact me more than it will help. At our last appointment she offered to print me out information on anti depressants, but realised I might not need it or want it, she was right, there isn’t much I don’t know about most of the anti depressants she would be able to offer me.

Anyway I hope that by writing how I really feel at the moment and how difficult some days feel, it would help other carers out there to feel less alone. If you want a chat, find me on twitter @acarerseyes message me below, you don’t have to feel alone, us carers will stand together.


A new house, a new chapter

I waved goodbye to my old house and started to make my new one home. It was quite a sad day, after all, three of my children were born in that house, it held many memories girls aug 13for the four and a half years we had lived there, some good, some bad. As I entered our empty house for the last time the alarm on the door made the familiar beep beep beep, only this time it echoed around the empty house. I had a quick check around to see if we had everything, while all the time reminding myself we were starting a new chapter. As I closed the door and locked it sadness filled me, I knew it would go soon but that was once our home.

Our current house is bigger, but like our last home it takes a while for everything to end up in its place and cardboard boxes seem to just become part of life while you try and settle in. I have managed to get through a fair few but let’s face it, there could well be some still there at Christmas. I am not going to put pressure on myself because it has been such a difficult task, upheaval for everyone, for the children, new house, separate bedrooms, the day we moved, being looked after all day by Grandad, the list is endless. Then there has been Chris, who was for most of the time overwhelmed by the task ahead, and probably still is, he felt worried about being in different surroundings, it was upheaval to his support from professionals and cora aug 13medication ended up not always taken at the correct times. Then for me there was trying to coordinate the move, the children, Chris, who is where, what needs to be done, essentials unpacked, making our house safe for the girls, building the beds again to name just a few. I know with time we will get there as far as the house is concerned and we need to concentrate on enjoying the summer holidays with the girls, getting back into routine, making sure Chris gets to a more stable point again and maybe then I could have a bit of a rest too?

I look forward to creating new memories in our new house and making it our home. I know for now the road still looks long and very bumpy but at least we have now put behind us something that was always going to be inevitable.