Lessons from a Locked Ward


1) In the famous words of The Eagles; “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”. Escape is borderline impossible. And if you do succeed you will soon find yourself in the back of a paddy wagon. There are air lock doors and two story fences. There are single rooms but no privacy. Physically and legally you are detained for as long as is seen fit. The only way out is through good behaviour and compliance. You are a prisoner of the state, and the sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you will be trusted to an open ward.

2) Never mess with the nurses around handover time. Unless you are dying. And even then you will most probably be told to wait. If you really want to grab a nurses attention, go to the toilet. You will be interrupted almost immediately.

3) Money serves no purpose. Instead, follow the currency of the three C’s: cigarettes, chocolate, and Coke (the Cola kind, though the street kind would probably make you popular too).

4) Never enquire about someone’s diagnosis. It is the equivalent of asking why someone is in jail. Or why someone only has one leg. Or what’s up with that speech impediment. You get the point.

5) Hospital pants are entirely underrated. Comfy, free, and you don’t have to wash them. Winning!

6) No matter how nice the nurse or hideous the patient always remember the golden rule that it is “us against them”….

7) … Except for student nurses. They are awesome. A midway point between you and authority.

8) When in doubt smile and nod (except when it is Nico propositioning you).

9) Locked wards lack structured therapy as the patients are usually too sick to participate. Generally your possessions are removed as well. Get very adept at entertaining yourself. And by entertaining I mean watching Deal or No Deal.

10) If you only remember one thing, make it this: there is always someone crazier than you.

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