To those not from the UK, A and E is Accident and Emergency, also known as the Emergency Room in other countries. Also, there is talk of hospital and psych wards throughout this piece so if you are triggered by these topics, please leave the page now.

So last Monday (6th) turned out to be a long, difficult day. It started when I saw one of my support workers from the Intensive Support Team. I told her about some thoughts I had been having and things that voices were telling me to do. She suggested that she phone my CPN and I agreed to let her. My CPN briefly spoke to me too on the phone and asked me if I would go down to the CMHT office and speak to her there. I agreed and my mum and I travelled down there.

I was seen pretty quickly and my CPN seemed quite concerned. She spoke to me, then my mum, for over an hour and suggested either hospital or the home treatment team. I turned both of these options down and my mum and I left. However, when I got home, my problem that I had thought was manageable turned into a crisis. My mum tried to phone out of hours but was told that there was a wait on available doctors who could speak to her. WIth me worsening by the minute and my mum not knowing just how long the wait to speak to a doctor would be, she took me to A and E.

We arrived at A and E at around 6:30 pm and booked in. The woman who booked us in was quite friendly and after my mum explained to her that I was having a mental health crisis, she gave my mum a reassuring nod of the head and told us to take a seat in the busy waiting room.

It was probably a good 20 minutes before I was even called through to triage but once the triage nurse had seen me, she took my mum and I through to an interview room. We were offered tea and biscuits, which we accepted on account of only having had breakfast that day. The minutes passed and after about another hour, a doctor came in, gave the briefest of interviews and told me a nurse would come and see me shortly. Shortly turned out to be another half an hour.

The nurse who came in was lovely, and asked a lot of questions, some of which I wondered if they were necessary. Once the interview was over, she told me a duty psychiatrist would see me at around 9 pm, half an hour later. 9 pm turned into 9:30 pm before the psychiatrist arrived but she too was lovely. She asked a lot of questions, some going into what I thought was excessive and unnecessary territory. I asked her a couple of times why she was asking me all these questions but I finally managed to get to the end of them.

She told me she would admit me but she was unsure if there were any beds available in my local area. She made some phone calls and the nearest available bed was 60 miles away. She booked me in to that bed and the phone call for the ambulance transport was booked just before 11:30 pm. The psychiatrist offered me some diazepam but I initially turned it down. I asked if she had my regular night medication (Quetiapine XL) as we’d forgotten to bring it with us but she said it was unavailable in A and E.

The hours waiting for the ambulance transport passed and on a couple of occasions, the voices were so bad that all I could do was walk around in circles and was barely able to speak. The psychiatrist prescribed diazepam at this point and my mum and a nurse convinced me to take it. It was only a 5 mg dose though, so it did very little, if anything to help.

At around 2:30 am, I was shown to a small ward where I was to try and get some sleep and wait for the ambulance. The voices had other ideas though. Even when I lay down under the covers and felt exhausted, the voices had me wide awake. I started walking around in circles again and the psychiatrist phoned time and time again to the ambulance control, trying to get an ambulance for me. The nurses in the little ward I was in also kept phoning but to no avail.

Eventually, just before 6 am, the psychiatrist had managed to get some Quetiapine for me. I took it gratefully, as I hadn’t been looking forward to the side effects of not taking it. They had been saying that once I arrived at the unit, I should ask them for Quetiapine, but the journey was over an hour away and at 6 am I was starting to feel the effects of no Quetiapine.

Around 6:05 am, my mum had had enough of waiting for the ambulance and told the psychiatrist and the nurse on duty in the little ward that she was taking me herself. The two of them initially tried to stop my mum, but she pointed out that I hadn’t been sectioned so it wasn’t a requirement to go in an ambulance. After further persuading, my mum had their all-clear to drive me there herself.

The journey took over an hour and I fell asleep on the way. The staff in the hospital I was in were nice, but the facilities weren’t as good as the ones in my local unit. Plus, I was in a 5-bed ward rather than the private rooms we get in my local unit. But thankfully I was only there for two days before I was able to get a bed in my local unit where I am now.

I’m currently going through a medication change, from Quetiapine XL to Amisulpride. I’ve never been on Amisulpride before so if anyone has any comments on it, please leave one below.

Apologies for the massively long blog post but there was a lot to get in!


Katy Gray

I started suffering with the symptoms of schizophrenia at the age of 18, but it wasn't until I was 21 before I was diagnosed. My diagnosis was recently updated to paranoid schizophrenia, but I refuse to be known by a label. I am a person first and my illness last. I am always trying to break the stigma that surrounds mental health, schizophrenia in particular, and write as much as I can to try and achieve this.

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