The first time I was sectioned was highly traumatic and stressful. This is my advice for people who are detained for the first time.
At the time, I was going through a psychotic episode coupled with being detained under a section 2 of the Mental Health Act so I was in double the hardship.
I ended up on an acute ward in Stockport, Manchester. It was a mixed gender ward and there were about twenty patients in total.
On my first day there I recall phoning three solicitors from the ward payphone and hanging around near the entrance. I made more than five attempts to abscond. I remember being chased by a gang of staff and being brought back to the ward.
Under a Section 2 you can be detained for up to 28 days after which you will be discharged or your section will be changed to a section 3, according to which you can be held for up to six months.
Under a Section 2 you will be assessed and under a Section 3 you will be treated for your mental health challenges.
I was offered medicine which I flatly refused because at the time I had no insight into my mental health problems.
I spent most of my day walking up and down on the corridor and hated the sound of doors slamming shut and I noticed different colours which made me paranoid.
I eventually attempted to grab a male nurse, I remember the alarm going off and about six members of staff came running onto the unit and restrained me. This was my first experience with the alarm system on mental health wards. It was also the first time I was injected.
I advise you that although everything seems unfamiliar and strange, try to control yourself for a couple of weeks – not long- and you will be discharged. Absconding is the last thing you should do.
It is difficult to get used to the new regime but bear with it. I ended up detained for nearly ten months on my first admission.
Everything you do is recorded and you will notice how staff will check on you every hour or sometimes more frequently if you are on increased observations.
I also advise you to get familiar with the medication you are offered, read about the side effects and try to do regular exercise. I put on weight as a result of a lack of exercise and the pizzas my family brought in for me regularly.
I recommend doing press-ups and sit ups daily and try to avoid too much junk food.
Very importantly, speak to the nursing team about what you are going through, they won’t judge you. They are there to help and support you. Try your best to join activities and interact with the other patients. Try to distract yourself by watching TV or reading.
I was moved from the acute unit to the neighbouring PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) which was more secure than the acute ward.