Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dark Days

Continued from "The Truth Revealed"

June 2002

Things were so different in the psychiatric hospital than they were in the psychiatric ward in the general hospital. It was like stepping into another world. On the psychiatric ward where Mr Man had been for his first 3 weeks, the staff mixed freely with the patients. They chatted, they drank coffee together, they went for walks in the grounds, and they played board games. In the psychiatric hospital the staff always seemed to be cooped up in the staff room, engrossed in conversation with other staff members, and not in any mood to be disturbed. Don’t be mistaken; I don’t mean that they were busier, or that they took their role more seriously, far from it. They were engrossed in conversation about their own concerns - laughing, joking, and playing computer games. Whether you were a patient or a visitor, you were met at the staff room door with the same level of contempt.

Occasionally staff ventured into the lounge where the patients would be watching the TV. Two staff members would sit chatting openly with each other. One would be nodding and rolling her eyes as the other complained about having to buy a new hamster for her 8 year old “and these lot think they’ve got problems” as if somehow it compared. The rest of the room would be silent. Or sometimes a member of staff would be standing, as if sitting with patients would somehow contaminate her. “Stop shaking!” she would scold one of the patients, as if the patient had any control over her state of anxiety.

The male staff wouldn’t mix so much. They patrolled the corridors, looking for some “mischief” to correct. “You can’t sleep in here” they would say to Mr Man, as he sat with his head in his hands in the quiet room, fully awake, although drugged to the eyeballs.

Of course, I didn’t see all these things immediately, but I was fully aware that the atmosphere was just different somehow. I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was just… wrong.

It was the morning of Mr Mans first team meeting in this hospital. On the other ward Mr Man and I would go in to see the team together, and I had once gone in to see the team alone. But here, when I asked to speak to the doctor first the nurse seemed shocked, as if nothing like it had ever happened before. She made such a fuss that you’d think I had just asked for the doctors head on a plate (which, in hindsight, I wish I had). She didn’t seem to know what to do. She asked Mr Man, who obviously agreed (bearing in mind I made my request in front of him and he had made no objection), and then she scurried off to ask the doctor. She came back, and I was granted an audience with the king doctor, although it was most unusual.

I entered the room. It was much bigger than the one on the other ward. There were no armchairs or sofas, just upright chairs. The royal court sat in a large circle, and opposite the empty seat sat the king, on his throne. I walked in nervously and sat down. I was overwhelmed by the number of people present, all staring at me. On the other ward there would have been maybe 3 other people, as well as the doctor. But here, it seemed as if the whole ward staff were present. How did mentally unwell people cope with this? I thought. The ward manager, to my left, introduced himself and then one by one he introduced the rest of the team to me. I managed a faint smile and a nod of the head but their faces and names didn’t register; I had something of the utmost importance to tell the doctor, and I was keen to begin.

I wanted to see you because Mr Man has told me something that I know he won’t tell you” I began. “He told me last week that he thinks people are watching him all the time and that there are camera’s everywhere, and he’s admitted that he hears voices as well

My statement was met with silence. Didn't they hear what I had just said? The doctor flicked through Mr Mans notes and finally said: “When did Mr Man first start seeing Dr. Kay?

It wasn’t the response I was expecting. I was thrown “Er… I don’t remember” Why doesn’t he just check the notes? I thought.

I babbled on about Mr Man not telling anyone because the voices have told him that they will hurt me if he does. There was still no response.

When did Mr Man first start taking Olanzapine?” he said.
I don’t know” I replied. Why wasn’t he acknowledging anything I said? Was he even listening?

What dose was he taking?
I don’t remember
When did he stop taking it?
I don’t know

My mind was in turmoil, I had just discovered that my husband could be suffering from Schizophrenia and I wanted… no, I needed some assurance that my concerns were being taken seriously. Instead I was bombarded with questions which would be answered if only the doctor would read the notes. Of course, at the time I didn’t even know that Olanzapine was an antipsychotic drug. I wouldn’t even have suspected that he would be given such a medication, as he had never admitted to hearing voices before. The matter seemed urgent to me but no one else, and no one considered how the knowledge had made me feel.

The interrogation continued for a while and then finally, with a nod of the head I was dismissed. I left the room feeling that I hadn’t been heard. It wouldn’t be the last time. Not writing notes, not reading notes, and not listening to either Mr Man or myself would become a common problem over the following months.

I didn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to be present to support Mr Man when he met with the team. He hadn’t been to a team meeting on his own before, and after my own experience I didn’t hold out much hope of them being compassionate towards him. I sat in the garden, on the same bench Mr Man and I had sat on when he first told me about the cameras. It was a beautiful sunny day, as it often was during those emotionally dark days. As I cried I wondered what would happen – to him, to us – there were so many thoughts and feelings but there are so little words to express them.

And then a little bird came and landed beside me on the bench. It didn’t seem afraid of me at all. It was as if it was sent to comfort me. “Have no fear, you are worth more than many sparrows” I thought. And I tried to take courage.


Anonymous said...

gosh i have just read your post and felt moved to respond to you. i am a social worker working part time in an early intervention in psychosis team and part time in a cmht, luckily i work in the community however there have been times when i have had to attend meetings like you did on wards to support my service users, and i always shocked that people don't listen the way nobody responded to your concerns was bad practice and the fact nobody could out themselves in your shoes and understand what you must have felt having to tell them about what mr man had told you is sad. it's the first post i have read and i hope things are different does mr man have a care coordinator in the community as you and him should be supported even when he is an inpatient.
and as for the staff locking themselves in the office i see this a lot on our local intensive psychiatric unit and it makes me so cross, they had the audacity once to complain that my service user was isolating himself in his room and i thought 'modeling'as in he is probably just copying what you lot do.
big hugs to you

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi Anonymous, thank you for your comment.

Yes, Mr Man has a care co-ordinator now. Thank you for your concern in that regard.

You may notice that I have dated the post as June 2002, so it saddens me to learn that nurses are still locking themselves away from the patients, 8 years on.

Thanks again for your comment.

Anonymous said...

I just blinked at my reader. Am I seeing things? Mr Man's Wife blogging again? With trepidation, I click.

Welcome back, you've been missed.

I hope you are still trying to take courage.

Mr Mans Wife said...

No, you are not seeing things! My stomach is churning, but I bit the bullet. I can't promise regular posting though.

Thanks for the comment and for faithfully staying tuned!

The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive said...

Welcome back!

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Seaneen :)

maz said...

Hi, I too pop in bak and forwards, welcome back!
maz x

caroline said...

Hello, Mrs. Mann.

I stumbled onto your blog last fall while researching schizophrenia. I haven't had much personal experience with schizophrenia beyond a couple of acquaintances from years ago who suffered from it, so thank you for spending the time and energy to teach me and others about the illness.

Thank you, also, for sharing with us descriptions of your love for your husband and your marriage together. I hear about/witness too many couples who "fall out of love" or break up when troubles come. That you and Mr. Man really take to heart "in sickness and in health" moves me and gives me hope.

I was thinking about your posts on love yesterday, and when I needed a break from work this afternoon I decided to reread some of your old posts. I was excited to see a new post from you! I can appreciate how difficult it is to stir up memories of darker days and having to cope again with the depressing feelings related to those memories. Thank you for "biting the bullet." I look forward to learning more form your posts, but completely understand needing to step back and to take a break from remembering.

I hope you and your husband are doing well. Thank you again for everything, and God bless you both.

Catherine said...

Hey there, glad to see you are back.

I'd write a response to the post but their treatment of Mr Man is so horrendous I wouldn't even know where to begin. So I'll just say it's great to see you back again.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you so much Maz, Caroline and Catherine :)

Anonymous said...

Welcome back MMW!! I wrote a big post the other day about how good it was to see you back on here again..but I don;t know what I did and one minute it was there and the next not. Hope you and MM are well.
Would you mind if I used a couple of quotes from this post? I'm doing a presentation at uni about the power imbalance on acute wards and the fact that the staff seem to live in the office contributing to this, and I need to make a proposal for improving it (I'm thinking along the lines of nurses spending much more time with patients).I wanted to add the point of view of peope who have experienced this from a service user perspective.

Much love to you and MM. Take Care x

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi Margery, thank you for the welcome! Please use whatever you wish to make your point clear. I'm all for change!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this blog. My husband was diagnosed with schizophrenia only 6 months ago (although he has been suffering from it since he was young), and I have been trying to find helpful information to help us understand his illness.

There is so much I could say, and so much I would like to say, but I will keep this short. We have no support group, no one to help us. No family, no friends. This illness has left us all alone, with just each other. It is terrifying for him and for me. It is helpful to know there are other people experiencing this and that we are not alone.

Thank you again for everything you have shared. You have helped us.

Best of wishes to you and Mr Man.

Mo said...

Nice to see you back writing again Mrs, even if it is a sad reminder of that dismissive and uncaring attitude that too many of us have experienced. I hope things are going better for you two these days and that you will continue to share some of it with us.
Best Wishes

Catherine said...

Wow, first Mrs Man, now Mo . . .

I guess I let a lot of my journal reading lapse.

Mo said...

I'd like to say hello Catherine but your blog won't let me comment... so "Hello!"

Louise said...

The ward round is like an inquisition.

lorri said...

This is my first time on this site. Your information and sharing is very insightful on the subject of schizophrenia. Thank you.

Hannah said...

Hello. I've been a fan of your blog for quite some time. I greatly admire your love and strength.

By chance, are you a Jehovah's Witness? There are several things I've read that sound like things we say.

Mr Mans Wife said...

It sure is Louise. You'd think the patients were criminals, not sick people in need of help. Thanks for your comment.

Hi Lorri, welcome to my blog. I'm sorry to say I don't post on it very often these days. It has always been my intention to write our full story, but my depression became unmanagable and I found I needed to "let go" of some things. I'm glad you find the information useful. Thank you for your comment.

Hi there Hannah, Great! I have fans! :) What an interesting question - is there a way I can contact you? I think my mrmanswife email account is cancelled now, and of course my personal email address has my real name in it. Thank you for reading.

Mr Ian said...

Just popped by after a long absence myself from reading various blogs and stuff.
Nothing to say other than Hello - & keep ya chin up Mrs :o)

Incidentally am back in uk now - so if u wanna slip me the name of these dodgy psych units.... I'm all for 'change' too ;o)

crone51 said...

Reading thru your blog and was struck by fact that your husband had Epstein Barr before his break. I could not help but think of my own experiences. I thought I was becoming psychotic- turned out I had Neurological Lyme disease ( Bannwarth syndrome).One of my first diagnoses was Epstein Barr.
I am also a mental health worker in the US and have seen many folks misdiagnosed. I am not claiming to know what is causing husband's illness but if you haven't checked this possibility out it can't help to look a bit.. Here's a link
I wish you all the best and hope things have gotten better for you. I haven't read all your posts so I actually don't know what has happened but I did catch the Epstein Barr reference and it raised a red flag for me.
Best of luck to you,

Anonymous said...

this is the frist time i have read your blog and your post moved me to tears. i am so sorry you have been treated this way. your situation is scary enough without being treated in such a manner. i really hope things improve.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog a little over a year ago while researching schizophrenia.

I believe my fears are being realized as I have just admitted my husband. I am afraid now that he is schizophrenic instead of OCD, PTSD, and depressed.

I just wanted to thank you for sharing your life with total strangers, helping us deal with what you deal with.

I understand the depression as I am now so depressed I cannot function anymore. Nothing matters.

But this isn't about me, it's about how you have shared and given me an idea of what is in store for the future.

God Bless You

Mr Mans Wife said...

CBGirl, thank you for your comment, it made me think. When you said that my blog had "given (you) an idea of what is in store for the future" - well, our lives have changed so much recently, and I really should share the good and not just the bad. Mr Man's health has improved so much, meaning he is now working again (actually, starting his own business), and driving again. But you also mention your own depression - unfortunately that does seem to be an occupational hazard of caring for someone so poorly. Mr Man now seems to cope with life better than I do!

Anway, I wish you and your husband the very best of health, mental and otherwise. I hope you both find the path to recovery quickly.

Smitty said...

Hello, I am so glad to see you have shared commentary recently. Will you update your blog anytime soon, to share how this progress with your husband occurred?

Your story shows me yet again that the crisis can be trying and demoralizing, but that is not the end.

Today I live free of psychosis if I watch blood sugar, and get good sleep. Some of us have brains that get our attention when there are perturbances in the endocrine system. I've learned that abrupt drops in estrogen levels, in men and women can play a role in inducing psychosis.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi there Smitty. I'm so pleased to hear that you are managing your symptoms so well. When in the depths of a crisis it can be difficult for people to see an end to it, but it can and does happen. You are living proof of that.

Thank you for your interest in Mr Man's progress. I really should write an update shouldn't I? I shall add it to my to-do list! :)

Thank you for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Just spotted your update on MM's recovery and that he's now sounding so much more positive - fantastic news!
I hope you'll find the time and energy to post that as an update? It'd be a great start to the year - and maybe thinking about those positives, and your part in reaching them, will help you to feel that things can change for you too?
Thank you for sharing your story - and all the best for 2011. x

Anonymous said...

I can identify with hospitals that have little in the way of treatment other then meds. One hospital I was at that was all they did. During the day we could drool and watch tv but that was it. The staff was much the same as you described. How can anyone get better when the underlying issues aren't addressed? I fear for patients who only have places like these to go to. It isn't help but zombieland.

Anonymous said...

I am just one month old married and got to know that my husband is taking antidepressant from last 1 year but i found his behaviour odd like he has habit of suspeting me, check my mobile regularly and if i am working on laptop he insisted me to sit near him so that he can see waht i am up to, he talks negatively about girls/married girls like they have affairs with others and i also found his old diaries where he has written about his hallucination experiences and sub concious imageries.
he told me that he dont share good relation with his parents especially with his mother and she is a reason for his depression.
I went to doctor with him and doctor conducted some tests but when doctor asked to come for the discussion of reports he refused and directed doctors not to share reports with me.
I have got the hint from the doctors that he is schizophrenic.
I tried to convince him to get back to doctor for us and our future but he said i am doing this for my future only and not ready to accept anything.I felt sometime how he can spoil my life and get married to me when he about all this before marriage.
It just a month i am married but i love him andhave got emotionally attached with him.
I am totally shatterd because his family is also not helful.
What to inner consience says help him on the other side life practicality says it is tough to be with him.
My whole life get changed in just 2 months span as it was an arranged marriage.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi Anonymous, I'm sorry that things are so difficult for you at the moment. It sounds like your husband's health is really creating some trust issues between you. I would be inclined to share everything with him before he even asks, to show that you have nothing to hide. Hopefully he will see that you're not being secretive about anything, and will in time learn to trust you. Once you have built that trust, maybe he will be more open about how he feels and agree to seek help for it. I'm no expert, and I realise it's a lot easier to say than do, but I hope this will help. Best wishes to you.