I would never want anyone to think that I hold any abhorrent feelings towards the mother and baby unit (MBU), or to the people who have helped me along this journey. While I was in the unit I did occasionally feel imprisoned or resentful. I would be lying if my time as an inpatient was full of rainbows and butterflies. It is a hospital after all, and I was very unwell. But now as an outpatient I understand why I was treated the way I was, and I am profoundly grateful for the help I received.
I was hanging on by a thread when I was admitted to the MBU, and with open arms the unit allowed me to collapse and then taught me how to build myself up once more. They protected me when I wasn’t able to look after myself, and encouraged me when I was ready to stand on my own two feet.
The staff at the MBU are some of kindest, gentlest and most patient people I have ever met. Psychiatric nurses must put up with a lot of bullshit. I know I must have been difficult at times – particularly when I was manic. But somehow they know when you need to cry, and when you need to be told to wipe your tears away and carry on. With a gentle authority they kept control, and managed to ensure I participated in activities and tasks that I didn’t want to do. I would look up, halfway through finishing my meal, then think indignantly “Hey! How did they get me to eat this? Oh well…tastes pretty good”.
We were patients, but we were human beings as well. The staff asked about our interests and shared their own. With the encouragement of the nurses I began baking. When I wasn’t able to go to the shops for ingredients, the nurses did it for me and they collected recipes for me to try out. A few of us patients started to knit, and suddenly more needles and patterns started to appear. In the evenings, like a strange eclectic family we watched TV, patients and nurses laughing and joking together.
I hold a very high regard for my doctor. She is a breath of fresh air from the traditional psychiatrist stereotype. She has always kept me involved in the decision making process for my treatment, and I trust her judgment implicitly. She is the type of person you feel comfortable with immediately, and I am very thankful that I am under her care.
The unit itself only has 8 beds. Eight. For the whole state. For the whole eight weeks I was there, there were very few vacancies. It is an extremely busy unit and highly sought after, and I am grateful that I was offered a spot. The alternative option would be a hospitalization in a general psychiatric ward, where they would have no facilities for baby, and a more limited understanding of the needs of new mothers. The mother and baby unit is the perfect therapeutic environment for vulnerable mothers.
The unit focuses on being family oriented, husbands were invited – even encouraged – to stay overnight as often as they would like. On the weekends the staff often organised family barbeques or dinners, where the staff and the patients who were well enough would cook. Steven came every single evening to see David and I, and occasionally stayed on weekends too. The staff made sure to include him in my treatment, and also check in with him and see how he was doing.
All in all I am very satisfied with my stay at the mother and baby unit. They showed me how to turn a corner, and helped me find myself again.
So from the bottom of my heart…Thank you.