Tales from the Psych Ward

So, where to begin? Things began trending sharply downhill around Christmas. Hospital was something I considered but really didn’t want to do, given the negative experiences I’ve had before. Things picked up a bit in February, but then crashed back down. I had a meltdown that exploded in the direction of an unfortunate friend, at which point I realized that it was really time for ECT, even though that would mean a hospital stay.

I picked a hospital where I know the fewest people, and off I went to ER. What began as me going in voluntarily quickly went south when they moved me from the main part of ER to what is essentially the ER’s psych jail section. I ended up committed and in 4-point restraints, and they pinned one arm up above my head at an awkward angle. I kept crying out that it was hurting my arm, but they ignored me. I’d guess it took about half an hour before they moved that restraint to a more reasonable position. They didn’t remove the restraints until I was three sheets to the wind from the meds they jabbed in my arm (I would have gladly taken them orally to knock myself out, but they didn’t offer, because that’s the kind of shitty professionals they were).

I remained in the psych jail for most of the next day. There was nothing to do, so I spent all morning trying to slice open my wrist using pieces of eggshell from breakfast. It wasn’t enough cutting power to reach the artery, but I suspect I’ll have an ugly scar. Staff didn’t notice what I was doing or the pile of bloody kleenex and eggshell bits I was accumulating, because as long as I was lying there not making a fuss, no one gave a shit. I tried to strangle myself with the ties on my gown, but I couldn’t get it tied tight enough to cut off circulation.

On the evening of day 2, they transferred me to the stabilization unit, which was slightly less jail-like, although I was still on camera the whole time. On day 3, they transferred me to one of the inpatient units. I have no access to my phone; I’ll need to get “privileges” from the psychiatrist to get some limited access to it. There’s a computer for patient use, but I can’t check my email because Google is demanding two-factor authentication, which is annoying.

I had hoped to get ECT started quickly, but no one seems to have any interest in making that happen, and I’m still waiting on a consultation with an ECT psychiatrist. They increased my meds, which I wanted, but no one felt the need to show me that little bit of respect and tell me what they were doing.

So yeah, not feeling very good about things thus far, and it’s been pretty damn dehumanizing. When this is what help is, no wonder people don’t want it.

Thanks to everyone who left comments on my last update post. I haven’t read them yet, but I will eventually, and I do appreciate all of you.

You can also read Tales from the Psych Ward part II | part III | part IV | part V | part VI

122 thoughts on “Tales from the Psych Ward”

  1. thats so awful Ashley! My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope you get out of there quickly. It sounds like a fucking nightmare. Sorry people in the mental health field were so disrespectful towards you. Xx

  2. Sounds an awful experience. I hope you get better help and support soon, so you can soon be home.
    Thinking of you. Xx

  3. It’s so incredibly fucked up that those of us who WANT help get treated like animals with absolutely no respect or humanity. You’re experience is all to common. And it has to fucking change.
    I wish I could say “I’m glad your safe” right now…but that is absolutely not the word choice I’d use.
    I’m glad you’re still here. Keep fighting for yourself. You deserve it. I wish I could fight for you and knock some sense into those assholes.

  4. Hang in there, Ashley. Am praying for you and will keep chair dancing for you until you are able. You will be okay. And, your friend, if they were a true friend will be there when you return. Take care of yourself as best you can. Just hate to hear you are going through so much hurt right now. The way folks with mental health issues are treated is outrageous and something needs to be done. It appears that it is societally acceptable to treat folks with mental health issues as less than human and not worthy of due diligence and care. But for the grace of God go us all. We have your back. I know that doesn’t help much now though….. 🙁

  5. I’m sorry. And angry at the treatment you’ve received. I wish it surprised me. I’m sorry you felt desperate enough in care to be suicidal. I also hope you’ll get a quick ECT consult. Hospitals should be required to give access to an advocate 24-7 for mental illness patients.

  6. WTF, what sort of health professionals are they, are they doctors, “carers”, or thugs? Has there ever been a Royal Commission into this and/or people looking into structural changes?

    We are all behind you Ashley!

    1. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has looked into structural stigma, but there’s a lot of change that needs to happen on the front lines. I’ve made a complaint to the the hospital’s patient relations leader and am just waiting to see how she responds. I already made a complaint to the clinical nurse leader of the unit where I was restrained, and she seemed to recognize that they didn’t act appropriately.

  7. Hello Ashley Leia, I am so horrified to hear of you trials in the place that is supposed to provide you sanctuary and support.
    My prayers are with you. I will keep praying for peace to encompass you and carry you through this ordeal.
    I am so sorry for what you are going through.
    Sending you lots of hugs, love and good vibes.

  8. Your hospitalization has weighed heavily on me and now hear this sickens me. How could they not notice? That is absurd!! Please Ashley, do not continue physically harming yourself. I sit in tears thinking of the mental anguish you are experiencing. I love you dearly and hope the next report finds your treatment in a more aligned direction.

  9. Melissa Tomlinson

    My prayers are with you for strength and clarity. Stay strong! Your story is so close to mine but I haven’t had the confidence to divulge the beyond-evil details of oppression by mental health professionals toward us educated and functional advocates trying to create change for marginalized people. You’re one of my heroes and we need your voice to effect change. My background is law and it is time for hospitalization processes to be overhauled. No more getting away with patient abuse, violations of rights, and corruption (complete absence of an ethical compass) which lead to us subjected to bias, inaccurate diagnoses and medical records, and trauma simply from seeking HELP! I work in crisis triage and very few have your level of reach and knowledge. You can do this. You ARE doing this! Get through and tell your story in detail – the way you do – to document the brokenness of the systems that are being funded more than ever yet still operate as they did decades ago. Remember everything you’ve made it through – failing to seek help is not an option. You’re too valuable! ((HUGS))

  10. This is horrifying! What a broken health care system. I’m so sorry you are suffering through your own turmoil as well as the indignities being inflicted upon you. Please remember there is an entire community of people who care for you and deeply respect your views. This is only temporary. You will get through to the other side of this situation, and you do have the power to bring these issues to light, if you feel strong enough to do so. The priority, of course, is your own health. Praying for you to feel better soon❤️

  11. Thank you for sharing your story, a place that should provide you comfort and support is down right abusing instead. You deserve to feel safe, supported and heard especially in the place that is there to offer you care in this exact type of Situation.
    You shouldn’t have to be in this situation, you are strong as hell and a fighter! You can do get out of this, you have so much strength inside of you Ashley! You deserve a life you want to live out of that hell. Your feelings are valid and they deserve to be heard.
    Those professionals don’t deserve to be professionals.
    I am thinking of you and praying for you Ashley, your voice is so needed In this world. Your story deserves to be heard.
    I am hoping there can be some restful moments for you soon ❤️❤️

  12. Oh Ashley my heart feels for you. This is not what care should be like, it’s not care it’s abuse. It makes me ashamed of psychiatry. I hope they listen to you and you get what you need so you can get out of there – love and hugs to you 💗💗💗

  13. I’m so sorry that you’re going through all of this. It’s barbaric the way most mental health hospitals treat patients. I’d tell you to be your own advocate, but based on what you’ve wrote, they probably won’t listen anyway. Stay strong. We’re all here for you.

  14. I am so sorry that you are going through all of this and that the professionals (using that term lightly) just don’t seem to get it. Thank you for being brave enough to blog your truth. You are so amazing! Don’t ever forget that!! Sending you positivity and healing vibes!

  15. thinking of you. It’s absolutely demoralizing the way they treat people who are in the midst of a mental health crisis. Stories like these are the reasons I fear going back to hospital ever again…xx

    1. Things have been better since I got transferred to the long-term inpatient unit, but I was pretty choked this morning when they had a security guard come as an escort when they took me over to get ECT. This hospital is fucked up.

  16. Oh Ashley!!! Reading your post my heart truly goes out to go. I have been done this road so many time it hurts. I too suffer from medication resistant mental health. ECT treatments over the last 10 years is what has gotten me through. I too have gone through the same thing in hospitals. I hated to go. Your story though needs to get out there. Our medical system needs to change dramatically. I think that is one of the reasons I have become such a mental health advocate. The system is broken and only voices and action can change it. We have never met but I think we could become good friends.

    1. I think so too. ❤

      I had my first ECT today, and they had a security guard as an escort when they took me over for treatment. I called bullshit on that. Apparently it’s routine here for security to escort people for tests, treatments, etc. I told them that sounds a whole lot like stigma. No way am I going to keep my mouth shut.

  17. I have no words to express how sorry I am that things have been so hard for you. I am sorry that your experiences were so horrendous. I am hoping like hell you get the help you need as fast as possible. Keeping you in my thoughts Ashley.

  18. I am so sorry, Ashley. A very hard story. As a mental health nurse I see that there are many practices that cross borders. In my case, I have spent years trying to humanize mental health practice and, although we are making great progress, there is still a long way to go.
    I do not understand why mechanical restraints or why ECT as the first option.
    Hopefully these practices end all over the world.
    All the best!

  19. How the eff do they expect folks to recover from severe depression when literally treating patients in this horrendous manner? You are in our thoughts, Ashley. You matter to all of us here on WP.

  20. Can we all do like a writing prompt on the wonderful person that is Ashley please…

    I don’t even know how to do all that, but I would gladly take part in it. I’m going to do my next post about Ashley and what she means to me…

    It is extremely sad and quite sickening to hear of the lack of care and just general malpractice going on. Animals get treated better f f s!!!
    I just cannot stand that someone who is so caring herself gets treated in this way. When you just need some help….

    It is not surprising you spiralled into self harm and seriously wanted to give up.

    The next time they treat you like that, look at them directly in the eyes, and ask them: ” tell me please, is this how you would like to be treated?!”

    Don’t give up Ashley please…
    Stay strong 💪🏻


  21. Jesus fuck, Ashley. This makes every hospital visit I’ve had for physical health seem like a cake walk. I’m so damn sorry for how you’ve been treated since the moment you got to the emergency dept. I’d love to tell these dumb fucks about compassion for patients, something many seem to be lacking along with respect and consideration for their needs and wellbeing. I’m glad the meds have been upped as you wanted, but it’s a long wait just to see someone about ECT. I hope that happens as soon as possible. No more egg shells, Ashley. We need you around, okay? Sending lots of love your way xxxxxxxxxx

      1. What a kind touch, a security guard to escort a patient in need. Must have pinned you as a trouble maker 😉 What the fuck is wrong with some places? Makes you realise there’s a heck of a lot of change still needed in the mental health realm. I really hope ECT went as well as possible.

          1. I thought the Canadian health system was more evolved than the U.S but apparently not. I am so sorry they’re treating you like a prisoner. You went in asking for help. WTF? I’m just now reading these posts. I’m hugging you from Washinton State. I’ve missed you.

  22. O M G!! I hope you are doing better each day and that soon they let you out. Your story reinforces the reasons why some of us don’t actively seek ‘help’ from the local ERs. I got a slight taste of what you’ve had to endure when I was escorted to the ER Psych room (we’re too small to have a whole unit) by the police. I had merely told someone supposedly doing a physical that yes, I was depressed. Every day. Suddenly the cops showed up and I’m followed to the ER, and then they stood around watching me until the on-call crisis worker showed up. Have I been as open with new medical personnel I encounter about my chronic depression? Nope. My god. Take care of yourself and know that we’re supporting you as you go through what has to be a very difficult time. I’m so sorry too.

  23. Hi Ashley, I am sad that things are getting hard for you. I always cherish how you take your precious time to leave me a blog comment every time I indirectly rant about something. I really appreciate all those comments because they makes me feel better and noticed. You are such a kind soul. I really hope that the staff there can take good care of you so that you don’t have to suffer unnecessarily. I hope you can feel the warmth from my comment here. Keep us updated wherever you can ❤

  24. Ashley, I’m so sorry that this has happened. Like many others, I have no words. We all love you, and every single one of us is here for you, always. Sending lots of hugs your way xx

  25. Boy a girl doesn’t catch up on WordPress in awhile and misses a lot. So sorry things happened that way they did but reading in reverse order it sounds like things are looking up. Big hugs and thank you for always being an advocate even when you’re struggling too

  26. please know that world is truly a better place with you in it — you have helped so many. hoping time will heal things between you & your friend. you have many friends here <3

  27. I’m so sorry. It really is dehumanizing. That time in the ER jail sounds so awful. It really is like jail, isn’t it. Like you said, it’s no wonder people don’t want this “help”… People can be surprisingly awful sometimes. I wish the medical/mental health system wasn’t traumatizing to deal with! Hugs to you <3

  28. I’m a bit late to the party here, just catching up. Sorry you ended up committed, been there, it sucks.
    Glad you’re free now.
    I’ll be honest, I laughed out loud about the eggshell thing, I did the same sort of thing but with that little bit of plastic tip that comes off those UHT milk pod thingys. Nobody more resourceful than a psych patient Hell bent on self harm!
    I’m off to catch up <3

    Xx Kate

  29. It seems anytime a person who requires mental health stabilization goes to the ER they end up getting involuntarily hospitalized and forced to sit for hours to wait for a bed or transfer. Too bad there isn’t a better system.

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