As I had attempted to abscond so many times from the acute ward and for attempting to grab a nurse I was transferred that very day to the neighbouring PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit).
The first thing I noticed about the unit was the lack of colour and how cold it was. I remember I was visited by five of my friends who asked me all sorts of questions about how I had ended up in hospital and what had happened when I was chased by police.
They brought snacks for me and had words of encouragement. They advised me that I would be out soon and I should be patient. Another thing about the PICU was that there were only ten patients, all male. There was an airlock and two doors at the entrance so there was no possibility of escape.
At the time, smoking was still allowed on mental health wards, at the unit the smoking area was a small room with windows so staff could see what was going on inside.
At this point I was still anxious and distressed so when someone offered me a cigarette I accepted and took a couple of drags hoping it would help me with my anxiety. I regret it now as this lead to me becoming a full time smoker. After 13 years I am still trying unsuccessfully to quit.
The other patients were actually quite friendly, especially D who proudly introduced himself as Mad Dog an ex car thief. He used to walk around like he was the ward manager. Everyone had their own story as to how they had ended up on the unit.
There was another patient called G who I was very paranoid about and he didn’t like me either. When I saw him for the first time I remember he was writing poetry about the one God. He was also from Oldham. There were a lot of staff at the PICU who I would grow to like and respect.
I firmly believe that staff at PICUs deserve a pay rise as they have to face abuse and even violence on a regular basis. Only very difficult patients end up being admitted onto PICUs. So there is a high staff turnover due to the intensity and volatile nature of such units.
On my first night there I met Big M who worked on the night shift, I liked him immediately. He was very tall and humorous and always joking around. He worked at night and studied by day and eventually became a qualified nurse.
Majority of staff were female which is surprising considering the nature of the ward. I would learn later that male patients actually respond better to female nurses and the other way round too, women respond better to men.
The PICU would be my home for the next few months and I would get to know the staff and other patients well. I didn’t sleep much that night so I read my Quran and prayed to God to allow me to be released quickly.
From this experience I realised you can find friendship in the most unlikely places and there are amazing people who work in the mental health system. The staff were respectful but firm when necessary. All wasn’t well though as I would soon have to face G.
Have you been detained at a PICU? What was your experience like?