I ended up staying on the Oldham acute ward for almost a year. In that time I met many interesting and nice people along with some obnoxious ones.

My voices were there constantly and wouldn’t be quiet for more than a few minutes a day. they were there all the time, mainly being abusive but sometimes benign. It is hard to describe how it feels to have a mental passenger who is part of you but at the same time against you.

A racist woman, C was admitted on to the ward, she was only small but very aggressive. She would go around punching male patients. She also attacked two Asian men with a pen, luckily their injuries were minor. Whenever she saw me she would make comments about curry although she would eat it on weekends.  I found her to be hilarious.

J was also on the ward, he would eventually be detained indefinitely after stabbing a Jewish man to death. He stopped taking his medication and became psychotic and obeyed his voice which instructed him to kill someone. When I spoke with him and got to know him I would never expect that he would go on to commit such a crime. But how far could he be held responsible for acting while mentally unwell?

I met F, who was a gentle giant. We used to sit in the lounge, watch TV and talk. One day he went on day leave for four hours but didn’t return, at night I asked a member of staff about him and was shocked to learn that he had committed suicide. I found out later that he had hung himself. I hope he has the peace in death which he never had in life. I became very emotional and shed tears for him and his family, including his children.

I have met three patients who committed suicide. Before experiencing suicide first hand I had quite strong views against it, but after I realised the sheer mental and physical suffering it takes to cause someone to take their own life I changed my opinion. I also felt suicidal when I first started hearing voices. Only God knows why someone commits suicide, whether it is due to mental illness or severe trauma. He will judge accordingly.

I was still under the same doctor who always wore an Islamic hat and had a big beard like me. It takes years of intense study to become a consultant. He wanted to send me to a HDU (High Dependency Unit), which I was not happy about.

Near the end of my admission I gained qualifications in Maths and English, the only positive from almost a year of being detained. Our teacher also knew shorthand writing which I started learning. Shorthand is used by journalists to make detailed notes quickly.

There was a lovely nursing assistant called M who was eloquent and intelligent, she was an ex-teacher. We would have conversations about many different subjects. I learned a lot from her.

Around this time, P was admitted onto the ward as he suffered with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). He had so many rituals and movements he had to do even for the most basic thing such as standing up from his chair or going to the toilet. He was very humorous even though he was going through so many difficulties.

I absconded from the ward three times and would spend time in Manchester and in different mosques. I found peace in mosques and loved the atmosphere in them. Police would usually find me at or near my parent’s house.  I always pray to God in my mind and ask for goodness for all of humanity.

My friend J married S after they met on the ward; she would visit him often.  He loved Freddy Mercury and would loudly play his songs all day.

After about nine months I had a mental health tribunal. There are three members of the panel, who listen to reports from the consultant, nurse, social worker and the client’s lawyer before making a decision. Thankfully, the tribunal decided to discharge me and suddenly after nine months I was free. This was the only tribunal I have ever won.

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  1. Such a powerful account of memories. Can’t wait to read your book.

    This post reminds me of the attitude I had in my teens. I thought suicide was something that cowards did. But as I got older, I realised that people very rarely consciously do suicide, instead suicide does them. They’re in such a dark place, that there is no way out. I like how the press is slowly improving too. “Commited suicide” used to be a very common phrase but nowadays they tend to be careful and use phrases like “died from suicide”.

  2. Wow Muhammad, you have been through a lot and learned so much about people. I admire how you how you changed your view of suicide through compassion with others who were suffering. You seem to be very accepting of others who are different from yourself and this is truly a strength. I wish you the best in your healing journey.
    PS If you have time to post a comment on my latest blog, I would love to hear more about about how the UK vaccine roll-out is going.( )



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