Self-harm, psychosis and borderline personality disorder are just some of the key themes that patients from a psychiatric hospital will discuss in a forthcoming podcast about life as an inpatient.
The first episode of On the Ward has been released today, Tuesday June 21, and this series each week a different patient will give the listener an exclusive insight in average day in their life.
In this series a different direction has been taken as presenter John Barry Waldron follows a new patient each week who agreed to give him an insight into what an average day looks like for them while staying at St Andrew’s Healthcare.
Vicky is the first patient who openly discusses her recovery journey from substance abuse, personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder, the name given to a condition which is a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar.
Vicky discloses just how bad her mental health had got prior to receiving hospital treatment. During the worst periods, she suffered from extreme anger and experienced psychotic hallucinations, which were made worse by heavy drinking and substance abuse.
She said: “When I was going through the psychosis it was really scary because at one point I thought I had rats in my stomach. I wouldn’t eat, I wouldn’t drink, I wouldn’t shower and I didn’t do that for a couple of months.
“I’ve had hallucinations where I thought people were flying in the sky trying to catch me. Now when I look back it doesn’t seem all that scary, but at the time it was really frightening and very real to me.
“But anger was my main issue because I thought everything could be solved by lashing out, which I’ve realised isn’t the case, it gets you nowhere. ”
Three years on after participating in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) sessions at St Andrew’ Healthcare, Vicky is getting ready to be discharged, where she will live in a flat that will be supported by community staff.
She added: “I want to go to college or Adult Education to do catering and business and I want to get my driving licence as soon as I get out as that will help me to get work. I am ready to start rebuilding my life.”
Vicky – along with five other St Andrew’s Healthcare patients – have bravely decided to share their complex mental health recovery journeys for the podcast. They have waived their right to anonymity to raise awareness, break the stigma commonly associated with mental health issues and to encourage people to talk more openly about their struggles.
John-Barry, senior staff nurse who worked at Northampton’s St Andrew’s Healthcare for 15 years, said: “This is the third series of On the Ward, which has been hugely popular so far. The feedback I’ve had from people at home is that they are fascinated hearing from patients who have experienced the extreme aspects of mental health.
“It was important to us – and the patients – that we show people how far secure psychiatric hospitals have come. There is still a stigma attached to complex mental health, which I think may revolve around straitjackets and padded cells. This couldn’t be further from the truth.”