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

That feeling when Chris is AWOL, never gets any easier!


I had gone to visit Chris getting there for between six and half past like I usually do, I know he had been really struggling all day because I had spoken to him on the phone a couple of times to be greeted with his distressed tone and he had been quite upset. I sat on the bed talking to him, asking if staff had spoken to him like they assured me they would when I rang that morning with my concerns. He said they hadn’t, which was slightly annoying as I had told Chris that I had spoken to them and why because they would be going to speak to him and telling him they knew I was concerned, and I obviously didn’t want him to think he couldn’t trust me so I told him, but then when it didn’t happen it makes it slightly worse.

The ward was somewhat chaotic, didn’t seem very settled, I usually only have to walk down the corridor when coming in to tell what the atmosphere in there is like and today it didn’t feel great. Chris had given his ‘red card’ to his named nurse for the first time ever, so as well as being so pleased I also knew how bad he was feeling. I was trying my best to distract him, he had used up his PRN, we spoke for awhile, I suggested going and making a brew. Standing outside the little kitchen, more like cupboard, his nurse handed me some details just as Chris finished making his brew, she asked him how he was, he said really struggling so she asked if me being there was distracting enough and he said yes. By this point I was actually thinking to myself, it really isn’t and I am struggling with him but they all seemed so busy that I would try and make do for now.

Chris went down for a smoke, and because visitors aren’t allowed down the back I usually sit in his room, today however I needed to get some air and clear my head and didn’t want to spend fifteen minutes staring at the walls of his room. I went to find a nursing assistant to let me out, I followed her to the ‘air lock’ and she asked how I was and stated that it can’t be easy for me and I said not really and struggled holding back the tears. She apologised for making me cry and I told her I would be back in awhile anyway. Leaving the air lock and walking down the stairs I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore, thankfully there was no one around anyway, trying to hold it together I walked to the garage to get a bottle of water.

Once back on the ward with Chris he was still struggling and I was feeling somewhat useless, he seemed to be getting worse not better, I followed him as he went to ask for PRN and then once again the fire alarm went off. He couldn’t have PRN until 9 o’clock and it was only approaching eight, he walked back to his room, not saying a word, once again I tried distracting, talking about anything I could think of before we sat in silence for awhile. The fire alarm had stopped ringing and his room was once again quiet, I asked him if he was ok and he didn’t answer. Announcing he was going to make a brew he walked out of the room, I sat and text a friend to try and pass the time, it had been a while but sometimes if there is a queue it can take some time but when staff came to do ‘checks’ or ‘obs’ or whatever they like to call them (basically making sure person is a) there and b) ok/alive) and asked if he was in the toilet I said no, he went to make a brew. It occurred to me that unless she hadn’t checked the little kitchen that she hadn’t already seen him and he had been awhile so I went to have a look myself.

I walked down the corridor to the kitchen, he wasn’t there, I saw the nursing assistant and she shrugged her shoulders at me, this is staff language for ‘we don’t actually know where your loved one is either’ now I felt sick, very sick and worst of all I had another patient stood in front of me with what appeared to be delusions of grandeur and while I am not normally phased by this he was well into my body space and I was struggling to get anywhere near the office door to alert Chris nurse or at least the other one on duty that Chris was missing. I wanted him to a) stop touching me and b) move out of the way and then staff to actually answer the door. For the first time ever I felt vulnerable, because my head was all over the place and I felt far from ok or strong. The ward wasn’t settled, the staff were stressed and now I was knocking on the office door giving them another problem. Don’t get me wrong the two nurses on shift are two of the best on that ward but I still felt awful knocking. His nurse was on the phone so the other one answered the door, he said he would go and look for him; he then sent the nursing assistant to go and look and told me to knock again once his nurse was off the phone. I did and told her, so she walked the third corridor, so once again I was stood outside the nurse’s office wondering where Chris was, if he was ok and what the hell I was meant to do? I started to shake, I felt too lost and upset to cry but the shaking was relentless.

Luckily it wasn’t long before the first nurse was back, he invited me into the office and explained the back door was still open from the fire alarm, that he probably went down there and over the wall out the back. I felt sick, writing this now still makes me feel sick and upset. They rang hospital security and then the police to report him missing, it was awful, and why was I sat in this office again? Why was I going through this again? Only difference was this time the rest of the ward wasn’t ok, they were short staffed, patients weren’t exactly settled and then there was a new admission, except I am not even going into details on that one but it was far from straight forward. Basically I found myself sat alone in Chris room, staring at a wall in tears. I curled myself up on his bed with my head in my knees and cried. Where was he? Why had he done this? Was he ok? I didn’t want to be on my own, I couldn’t stop thinking of everything in my head, tonight of all nights I didn’t feel strong enough for this.

After I had calmed down a little I sat myself up properly and thought I had better text his dad in case he turned up at our house, I was just doing that when his nurse came back and asked if I wanted to sit there or come back to the office with them. I didn’t want to be in there way but at the same time I didn’t want to sit there and continue to think all these awful things. I followed her back to the office and sat down on one of the chairs where I waited and waited… still no news on Chris and now with hand over approaching I knew I would have to go home or sit in his room again.

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.

2 thoughts on “That feeling when Chris is AWOL, never gets any easier!

  1. This makes me feel sad and angry on your behalf. I hope they found Chris quickly this time. I can hardly believe what you have to endure!

  2. Lots of best wishes at this terribly tough time. x

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