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

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

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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.


Author: acarerseyes

I am a mum to four gorgeous girls, and a carer to my former partner of eight years, Chris who has a mental illness, BPD. I blog my experiences.. life is tough! We live in Greater Manchester, UK.

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

  1. As ever this is an excellent blog Sarah….I despair I really do! I hope you all find some peace along the way! xx

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