I’ve had my share of admissions including four different hospitals on at least seven separate occasions over the last decade. One of these occasions was an involuntary admission courtesy of the CAT team and my husband.

This admission is up there with one of the scariest things that I’ve been through in my life. Not something I would recommend and certainly not something I’d ever want to re-live.

It’s true, I was really in a bad way at the time.  I vividly recall the intense desire to run out of the house into oncoming traffic. No one could break my thoughts that night, and although I was furious with my husband for ‘putting me in there’ for quite some time, I don’t blame him now.

My arrival at the nearest public psychiatric facility could have been handled better.  I was shoved into a locked room and my bags taken off me. There I waited. For what – I had no idea. About 30 minutes later I was escorted to a sterile hospital room and my bags placed on the bed. I was told, ‘try to relax, someone will come and see you soon’. Relax? Someone? What the?

I noticed that my bags had been rifled through and yelled at the next person to enter the room. “What gives you the right to go through my stuff?” The response that came put it all into perspective.. “You have been admitted to hospital because you were going to harm yourself.  In here, we need to make sure that you don’t”.

I shut up and looked around my new temporary home.  Noticing for the first time the lack of anything.  A hospital bed with white hospital linen. A single cupboard with no lock.  A bench and chair. The bathroom contained a shower with no screen, a single basin and mirror. No hooks, shelves or spaces to put things. Needless to say the sleep fairy did not visit me that night.

When you mention the words, ‘psychiatric hospital’ most uninitiated will instantly have thoughts of ‘one flew over the cukoo’s nest’. In some ways, this particular hospital could be interpreted as similar. I did hear random screaming, see the odd tussle between a patient and nurse and watch patients line up to receive their medicine in a little plastic cup.  The common area (which I went into rarely) had a piano that I assume was supposed to be a healthy distraction for patients rather than a suffering for patients who had to endure the likes of ‘mary had a little lamb’ repeatedly.

I was petrified. I had no idea what was going on, who to talk to or what I do. I felt betrayed by my family and was surrounded by some very scary individuals.  After staying in my room for nearly two whole days, a nurse came into my room to query as to why I wasn’t eating. You see the dining area was through the common area and would require you to be close to the other patients. No way was I leaving my room – I was too scared.  It was during this conversation that I was advised there was a ‘female wing’ in the ward that was only accessible via a wristband swipe and ‘why hadn’t I asked for one’? Really? Why hadn’t I asked for one?

Walking through those doors for the first time was such a relief. Male patients were not allow in the area and there was a quiet sunny courtyard and small sitting area with a TV. It sounds strange, but until I had access to this area, my mental state was pretty much paralyzed, with no chance of even starting to process what was happening.

I won’t bore you with the rest, however in a nut shell I had to beg and plead with the staff to get a transfer to a private hospital, which occurred a couple of days later.  I am fortunate to have private health insurance, but I certainly recognize that many people don’t have this option.

Trauma. I was already traumatized and in a bad way. This ‘admission’ laid trauma on trauma and has certainly left an wound.

Now would be the time to say something like, ‘we need to invest more into our public mental health system’, however that would be stating the bleeding obvious. The system is horrifying.