My ability to distinguish fact from fiction was compromised. I was in a psychotic state, delusional and hearing voices. Believing the world was ending, I became highly suicidal, as well as experiencing thoughts of wanting to harm others. Although I was desperately ill and in dire need of medical help, I was unable to recognise this at the time. I was on the way to being sectioned.
Hospital? What an absurd idea!
All I knew was the problem they had presented me with.
“If you don’t go into hospital voluntarily, we are going to have to do a Mental Health Act assessment.”
Going into hospital. Ha! What an absurd idea. Why on earth would I ever agree to such a thing? It was an unthinkable suggestion, one that seemed so preposterous that I would never even consider it. With a former year-long hospitalisation behind me, it was a world I refused to even think about re-entering.
I said I’d take a chance on a Mental Health Act assessment. After all, an assessment does not necessarily mean you’ll be detained; something I knew from past experience. I’d had plenty of Mental Health Act assessments, and I knew I was skilled at saying what they wanted to hear in order to be released.
Panic set in
The nurse left to make the phone call to set it in motion, and instantly the sheer panic set in. Oh my goodness. What had I done? What if this was the time I didn’t talk my way out of it? I knew I had to leave.
I was told I wasn’t allowed to leave, that if I walked out, they’d have to call the police. No, it was a bluff – I was confident enough to take a chance.
So I waited for an opportunity and then made a dash for it.
With no sirens immediately blaring after me, my confidence grew. I knew they didn’t actually mean it! My confidence growing, I decided to head for home, longing for the comfort of my bed.
The police pulled up
I was almost at home when the police car pulled up next to me.
“What’s your name?”
I tentatively answered, dread bubbling up inside me.
He spoke into his radio: “I’m with her.”
“I don’t like police,” I said.
He asked why, and I explained how they’d hurt me in the past, whilst chasing and capturing me when I had escaped from the hospital. He promised not to hurt me as long as I didn’t run. And so there I stayed.
Then another police car pulled up, and the two officers got out and approached me. I backed up, holding up my hands in a defensive gesture.
The first officer explained to my fears to them, and they kept their distance, much to my relief. They kept telling me I had to wait there with them, because a triage person was coming to assess me. I protested but stayed there, fearing they’d grab me if I tried to leave.
“You’re very ill,” she told me
The triage lady arrived with yet another officer shortly afterwards. She spoke to my care co-ordinator and then to me.
“You’re very ill,” she told me, “But don’t worry: we are going to look after you.”
Then she advised the police to detain me under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. I cried as they took hold of me by the arms. The female officer squeezed my hand, attempting to reassure me. She searched me, all the while showing me great kindness and promising not to let any harm come to me.
They put me in one of the cars, and took me to a place of safety – in this case, the 136 suite at the local psychiatric hospital.
There I was assessed by two doctors and a social worker. The psychiatrist kept saying he knew that I knew how to talk my way out of a Mental Health Act assessment, and implied that he wasn’t going to buy into anything I said. A faint feeling of panic started to churn away in my stomach.
“We have decided to detain you”
After the assessment, they spent a long time talking amongst themselves as I impatiently paced up and down in my room.
Then the social worker entered.
“We’ve had a discussion, and we have decided to detain you under section 3 of the Mental Health Act.”
The words hit me like a sledgehammer. Section 3. That’s six months. The tears started to fall and the shock hit me hard. Section 3. How harsh. I thought the worst case scenario would be section 2, which is a month.
“We feel that you need to be in hospital for treatment of a mental illness.”
My heart sunk so far it felt like it was going to hit the floor.
I was later transferred to a different hospital, luckily one not too far from my home.
Being sectioned was not the end of the world
As it turned out, being sectioned was not the end of the world that I had expected it to be. It transpired to be a positive thing for me – they got me stable on an antipsychotic depot, ridding me of my delusions and hallucinations. After six weeks, the section was lifted and I was discharged, much to my delight.
The process of being sectioned was more traumatic than actually being detained in itself. However, I must now grudgingly admit that I am grateful to those who took my liberty away from me, as in doing so, they saved my life and protected me from harming others.