Two people (real people, but I can’t give details) were talking about the mental health system.  One mentioned that hospital had felt like a punishment, and the other took that literally.  “Oh,” she said, turning to me.  “I get it.  So hospital is like a punishment for the ones who don’t get it.”  I explained that hospital is for people who need more support than can be given in the community.  After several explanations she “got” it and I felt relieved.

And then I remembered.

I remembered how much, at the time, hospitalisation felt like a punishment to me.  That purgatorial state.  The way the nurses and doctors could be unkind, dismissive.  The way that I often felt I was there because “nothing else could be done” with me, that I was there because there was no chance of me getting better.  The loneliness, the restrictions on when I could see the people I loved, the constant pumping of medication I didn’t want (and didn’t think I needed) into a system undernourished by depression.  I could see why she thought it was a place for the hopeless ones, the last-ditch-attempt ones, the ones who were effectively being punished for being unwell.  Because at the time, that was exactly how I felt.

I saw through my own arguments, how weak they seemed in the face of the facts.  Even though hospital is a place for “getting better”, it definitely doesn’t always feel like that.  I understand why she took that comment literally, and I wish I didn’t, and I wish she didn’t have to.


2 thoughts on “Punishment

  1. Yes, this is a sad and strange concept that is hard to comprehend unless you’ve been through it yourself. I am always discharged from hospital in a worse state than I was when I was admitted. It takes me longer to recover from a horrendous hospital experience than it does for me to recover from the initial breakdown/overdose/psychotic episode that forced me to end up there in the first place. I’ve never ever had a good experience at any hospital that I’ve been to during a mental health crisis. It always does more harm than good. Sad but true. Xx

    • Yes, so sad. When the cure is worse than the crisis you know we have a situation on our hands! It saddens me to refer people for likely inadequate help. It saddens me to be referred for usually inadequate help. Recently have had some good MH Service experiences, I have to say, but this hasn’t tended to be the norm.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences xxx

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