Having mentioned the other day that I was involved in having a friend sectioned I thought I might talk a little more about why we made that decision and the process we went through. I will also tell you about the impact it has had.
My friend, who for the purposes of this blog I shall call Sleepy, has a history of mental health problems over the last 5 years. He had a breakdown and with some help improved and then followed his job abroad where he had another breakdown and was sectioned. He was flown home but then after a short break returned to his job and subsequently had another breakdown and was again sectioned in that country. After being flown home a second time he took redundancy and was unemployed while he recovered. In the last 6 months under medical supervision he stopped taking his medication, lost weight and started a new job. He was doing well.
But it seems like he pushed himself too hard – on Weds morning after working the night shift he ‘phoned his best friend G to tell him he was hearing voices and didn’t feel safe to drive. Sleepy caught the train home and G went to visit him, but Sleepy then denied there was a problem and said he didn’t want to see the Dr and just needed to get some sleep.
The following day G went round to check on him and he was still dressed and seemed quite vague, so G took him round to his house and went to ring the Dr at which point Sleepy left the house and went and sat on a wall down the road at which point G rang B and he and I went up to talk to Sleepy.
He was still hearing voices and virtually catatonic. It took quite a lot of coaxing to get him to walk back to G’s and then more to get him to eat and then even more to get him into the car for a journey to A & E.
We went to the hospital but he wouldn’t get out of the car. The admissions clerk said they couldn’t send anyone to help us get him and if we needed help we would have to call the police. Its hard to tell just how much it can count as coming in of his own voition given the amount of support B & I gave him walking up to the doors.I am glad that we didn’t have to get the police though.
Eventually we moved from reception to a nurse’s room for assessment – it would be fair to say he was uncooperative (the nurse needed some help drawing blood) and from there we were moved to a room with a bed (but no chairs – which was exhausting after 5 hours) and waited for the duty Psych. A little later she turned up with a sidekick (I have no idea whether he was a Dr, a Nurse or an orderly though I am sure we were told) and began to question Sleepy. His responses were minimal to non-existent so she questioned us before deciding to call a team down from the local mental hospital.
Cue more waiting. That team consisted of two doctors (at least one of whom was a psychiatrist) and a social worker who was to act as Sleepy’s advocate. This is required under law. They agreed that he wasn’t capable of making a voluntary application for treatment and detained him under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act.
And we waited some more. This time for the duty psych Dr to escort us to the secure hospital. Then another round of questioning from the admitting nurses and night Dr there. By then it was 3am.
On friday G went and delivered clothes but didn’t see him, on saturday B & I went to visit but he wouldn’t come out of the room. Today we got to talk to him.
Its been a rough few days and I still feel guilty, knowing that he just wants to go home and also knowing he needs more looking after. Our friends have been dealing with it in different ways, mainly by trying to ways to be practical. I shouldn’t let it get to me but I have to admit I lapsed back to old coping habits. Sigh 4 months down the drain… Step-by-step.