One of my worst experiences was being admitted to a psychiatric hospital involuntarily. It was two days before our first wedding anniversary and I was acutely suicidal I didn’t tell my wife, I wrote a note for my psychiatrist to read because I didn’t think I could get the words out. Here’s what it said:
I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I’m becoming scared and confused. The things we talked about on Wednesday have been in my thoughts for some time, and are filling my thoughts more and more persistently now. The thoughts are obsessive and used to just prevent my sleep, but now they’re present during the day a lot too. I’d like to die. I used to want to cut my arteries in my wrists and watch the blood drain away. I’d fantasise that I’d be lying in a field of daisies and then the sun would come out, my blood would pump out of me and I’d finally feel at peace as I drifted into light. At first I was less clear on how I’d do it this time, but I had a sense of when. I started a timer last week – it works by counting each time I become focussed on dying, and sometimes I speed the timer if it feels right or if the focus is particularly intense. I’ll do it when the counter gets to 100, but the counter is cleared at the start of the new year. Right now I’m at 30. I was looking at my arteries this morning. They’re small. Perhaps slicing would be the best option? Every time I go to the disabled bathroom at work I think that would be a good space. There’s room, a drain and the door locks. I’m telling you because I’m scared. I’m also confused because I kind of like thinking about and planning it. Do you think that’s just because I’m just attention seeking? If I meant it id have done it?
I don’t know if I’m depressed. I know I don’t feel happy and excited by things. I know when to show happy and excited, but I really just feel terrible and want to cry. Mostly I just think I look awful and am stupid.
I have a sense of isolation and loneliness. I can’t tell family or friends because they’ll worry and stop trusting me. They’ll either think I’m seeking attention, the boy who cried wolf, or someone who needs constant monitoring. Do you think I am? I feel guilty telling you and my GP because you’ve done so much to help me that I don’t want to let you down. I don’t want to appear ungrateful. I’m not being an honest person, but its unfair to burden people anymore.
Although these thoughts are becoming increasingly intense, acting on it would be too unfair to my wife. They’re scary. I’m beginning to feel trapped between my thoughts and feelings, and my obligations to others.
I hope you can take this seriously and not be angry with me, think I’m faking it, or think I’ve taken my treatment for granted. Please don’t tell anyone.
I was so unwell I couldn’t sit in the chair. I came into his room and sat on the floor, back against the wall. He sat opposite me on the floor too and read my note. He asked me to go to hospital but I refused, knowing my wife would be mad for ruining our anniversary. He asked me to sit in the waiting room, went and saw my general practitioner, and arranged an involuntary admission. That involved a trip to the local emergency department by ambulance, a nurse sitting with me all night to make sure I didn’t leave, and getting admitted to a private psychiatric hospital the next day.
My wife was furious. I’d lied to her about my mood and suicidal ideation and I’d ruined our anniversary. But I was too sick to know how to resolve the problem. I was admitted under an awful psychiatrist- he was old, out of touch, and I couldn’t develop any rapport with him. I quickly got myself off the involuntary list and organised to be discharged. The next week, feeling terrible, I went and saw my general practitioner and asked what to do. She suggested another hospital admission but I refused knowing how angry my wife would be. What a mistake.