Thursday, October 17, 2013


A couple of news stories were doing the rounds on Twitter yesterday. Firstly, there was the news of Thorpe Park's Asylum Horror ride, described thus: "Enter a chaotic environment of noise, light and live action, as The Asylum opens its doors to new patients. Watch your back as you encounter dead ends, hidden corners and eyes that watch you from the shadows".
More worryingly, it was reported that there is a dangerous shortage of mental health beds in England at the moment. 

Both of these stories seemed to converge on my current situation and it's been hard to spend any time on Twitter without a) thinking about what they mean for me; b) not saying more than I'm ready to about where I am right now.

Since June, there has been discussion of whether I should do another inpatient admission. But a recent illness caused my weight to drop to a point where my next appointment with the consultant was brought forward. And when I saw him, his advice was not at all ambiguous: he wants me to go in as soon as a bed becomes available. 

This leaves me in a funny limbo, half preparing for something that seems inevitable, glad that there isn't a bed because I don't want to go in, to be away from my dogs, to have to face those awful first weeks of treatment, not wanting to be rung up with an admission date, yet anxious because I've no idea when that date will be. 

If the wait turns out to be long, it's possible that Dr R may have to look elsewhere for a bed for me. Apparently, changes to the NHS mean that each unit has to accept patients from anywhere in the country, potentially creating a situation where 1) a unit is full in Leeds so a patient from Leeds is sent to Manchester; 2) the Manchester unit is now full so someone from Manchester has to go to London; 3) when a London patient needs a bed, the London unit is full and that patient must go to Birmingham; 4) then Birmingham is full when someone local needs a bed. Obviously, I've no idea what the current situation is in the Birmingham unit or where the current patients are from. My reality, though, is that while in this limbo, I do not know whether I'll end up in hospital just 15 minutes from my home or 3 hours from home. 

As for the two news stories? I asked Beat on Twitter about whether there is data for shortages in specialist services, including EDs, because as far as I could tell, the information reported focused only on acute beds. I genuinely want to know about how far this extends into specialist services because it is impacting on my life.

And Thorpe Park's portrayal of an asylum as a place of horror is simply one of many reasons why it is hard to be open about this forthcoming hospital admission. I'm "lucky" that I've been in hospital before and I know that it is nothing like a theme park ride. But if it were 15 years ago and the eve of my first adult inpatient admission, when I knew I was about to be admitted to hospital but had never been to a psychiatric ward before, I can't even imagine how anxious it would have made me. 

This post is rather fragmentary and not saying everything I want. I've barely mentioned how needing to go into hospital feels like a betrayal of the online pro-recovery community because it means that I'm failing at recovery or any of the other thoughts that have been whizzing round my head since Monday. But I've said something. I've admitted that it's (probably) happening. And that's a start.

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