Going Home for the First Time After Psychiatric Hospital Admission
It was almost two years ago when I went to see a GP about my terrifying symptoms
I was diagnosed with PTSD and given two weeks’ worth of antidepressants and anti-anxiety. A week later I awoke in ICU (Intensive care), where I had been for two days following a massive overdose. I stayed there a further day and night before being held on a ward with the threat of a section.
Needless to say I was absolutely devastated, it should have worked and now a tonne of people know that about me. They now all knew I had PTSD bad enough to make me suicidal. No more pretending I’m a well-adjusted adult with minimal hang ups. Frankly, it couldn’t be further from the truth now.
Despite all this, for a time I was able to work and just about function at home without any treatment. This didn’t last forever as I continued to deteriorate and if I wasn’t working, I’d be isolating myself at home. After a wild ride through a psychiatric hospital and staying with family, I would eventually need to make the first journey home in tenth months.
How this all came to be...
This all started after my dad showed up without an invitation from me which after the nightmare we lived through as a result of his drunken violence and abuse. I began tolerating this ‘my dad being around’ issue because I wanted to make my mum happy. It’s a childhood dream of a little girl trying to save her mum from the ‘bad men’. Eventually, with that in mind, I would invite them to my home in beautify Cornwall, to help with DIY and stuff.
At this point in time, I had absolutely no idea that I already had PTSD that was lying dormant, just waiting for the right trigger to plunge me into a world of nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, intrusive memories, constant anxiety, cold sweats, broken teeth from grinding, the list goes on and on. I’ve since heard a lot of people saying it probably would have happened anyway. I’m not exactly sure if that statement is helpful but there it is. Anything could have set it off at any point, that’s what I’m led to believe.
I can't be sure about that initial trigger nor if additional life pressures played a part.
I can’t be certain `of what it was about the visit that caused the change reaction of anxiety and panic. I have however, decided that it must be his tattoos because they won’t have changed at the same rate as the rest of my dad. He was actually true to his word and cracked on with all the jobs I’d been struggling with and my mum seemed to enjoy being by the sea. Everything was going to plan.
I was on a work induction week whilst they stayed as I had just got the job as a minor injuries practitioner, I was so excited and surprised they had chosen me because it was a jump up from emergency staff nurse. I had a lot on my plate.
It was after I took them home the symptoms were starting to tear apart parts of my life. After the overdose I was supposed to be watched carefully but without any treat and I was utterly miserable living with PTSD. I slowly declined over the following year before deciding to drive up to my grandparents’ house six hours away. Scarily, I still don’t remember the journey, not one bit of it. I stopped driving almost immediately on arrival there.
The difference in the treatment from each mental health team was staggering
Their GP and the local mental health all jumped straight on it which really surprised me. They did everything they could to prevent a psychiatric admission but I still felt that suicide very much on the cards despite their efforts. I’d been away from home for almost three months at this point and I would have thought I’d be extending that by a further three months as an inpatient on a mental health ward.
Hospital also feels so much further away from home because of all the other patients, the staff, the restrictions, even how they administer medication. And the rooms are not exactly cosy. My grandparents hasn’t felt like home for a long time despite growing up there but at least there are some home comforts and no jailor type presence.
On discharge I had been away for six months. The plan had always been to go to my grandparents to continue care in a local mental health team. At the beginning, I needed a lot of guidance with life decisions, reading letters, making appointments etc., I was useless.
I was and still am struggling relentlessly at the hand of my anxiety but I was determined to make this trip work
As I continued to recover and have a go at things I had lost, going back home looked to be getting a little nearer as I continued pushing myself, taking risks and making progress. Gradually as I improved, I started to find living at my grandparents to be really quite frustrating and restrictive, causing thoughts of home and the freedom it would bring start to become very important factors to me. So I kept practicing things that would prove I’m able and independent.
I’m so lucky to have a best mate keeping an eye on my place while I’ve been away; she did so well looking after my countless house plants with only a few casualties. And to have a grandma who is happy to make sure I take my medication, eat, get up on time, the list goes on. These two in particular have kept me and my place safe.
Preparation is key
So I set a date to leave and a date to return and arranged all my appointments and socialising to be around those dates. This is when it started feeling real and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What was I going to find? My best mate had warned me the garden was overgrown but otherwise it’s okay. I would always have taken that without question but anxiety was ruling me.
I even started thinking about the last time I was home and how grim everything was and despite my efforts not to, I started really panicking about the trip but was determined to go and try to make a positive difference to my home and the lives of my best mate and her family.
After all the anxiety and an extraordinary journey taking nine hours, I arrived at my place. It was more beautiful and interesting than I remembered and the plants mostly looked great. All the little worries I had about my home started to dwindle. There’s just enough DIY for the two weeks I’m staying here, just enough to test my independence and problem solving ability with support from my second family.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.