What’s Your Status?

Yesterday, during an appointment with my psychologist at the hospital, it came to light that I was apparently an involuntary patient under the Mental Health Act for a period of time during my hospital stay. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I assured my psychologist she was mistaken, until she read out my file notes from my doctor at the MBU.

“Rachael was an inpatient at the MBU for two months, much of the time under one to one supervision and under the Mental Health Act”.

The thing is, I don’t remember that at all. I remember being threatened with the Mental Health Act should I worsen, resist treatment or abscond. But that’s about it. Other patients who were of involuntary status seemed to be aware of it. I certainly wasn’t.

But then again, I wasn’t aware of much. I wasn’t aware that I was on one to one supervision until one day another patient asked my nurse for something. My nurse declined and the patient glanced at me and asked “oh, are you still on one to one supervision?”. It was only then I looked around and realised that I was the only patient with a nurse chained to my side all day. For most of my time in the MBU, the unit was in ‘lockdown’. I didn’t even realize that the unit could be unlocked until the end of my stay. It was only at then that I realized that the  lockdown  everyone complained about was initiated because of me (along with another patient). Sorry guys!

The fact that I had psychosis adds another layer of complexity to the whole issue. Trying to piece together fragmented memories is difficult enough, but trying to remember when you are not even sure what was real and what wasn’t is nearly impossible.

I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon researching the matter. Trawling through pages and pages of government documents, searching through the endless 1996 Mental Health Act, trying to find anything that would give me some answers. Surely I would need to fill out a form? Or Steven would need to be aware?

My search was inconclusive. The complexities of the system are really beyond my patience. Is written evidence from my doctor enough for me to believe what happened? It should be, but somehow it’s not. A written report should stand firm against the unreliable memory of a psychotic patient. But this is me, not just anyone. Surely I should remember something.

I know that most people reading this will think ‘well what does it matter?’ I went into hospital, I came out of hospital, I’m feeling better, are the specific details of my stay really that important?

But to me they are. To me there is a big difference between seeking help voluntarily, and being treated as an involuntary patient. The legalities of my treatment matter. What happened to me matters. But most of all it matters that I can’t seem to trust my own memories and recollections.

Who do I believe? Me or them? Who do you believe?

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