Being Admitted to the Psych Ward

(Trigger warning: suicide and sectioning)

“Charlie, I’m seriously worried about you.”

It was late afternoon on a Wednesday. I’d just finished work for the day, and was at my weekly therapy appointment, 10 months into my treatment for OCD.

Over the past couple of months, my mood had been deteriorating. I thought I’d been hiding it well, but my therapist had picked up signs that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t sleeping properly, I’d become increasingly tearful, and I was struggling to engage. I’d stopped making eye contact, and I couldn’t string a sentence together without getting distracted by intrusive thoughts.

“I need to ask, are you suicidal?”

I paused. I’d been making plans to end my life for weeks. I’d worked out every detail of how I’d do it, and what I’d need. I’d chosen a date: the following day. However, I didn’t want to tell anyone about it – I figured they’d ‘ruin’ my plans, so I remained silent.

My therapist continued to push the question and, eventually, I nodded.

Minutes later, her boss – a psychiatrist – entered the room, and they decided I needed urgent help. They put in an immediate referral to the local crisis team, and phoned my wife, explaining the situation, ensuring I could get home safely. Once there, the doors were locked and my keys were taken away.

The following days are a bit of a blur: a blur of revising suicide plans, whilst simultaneously trying to convince professionals there was nothing wrong with me. I lied that I’d been taking my medication properly (I hadn’t) and repeatedly told them I just needed a good night’s sleep. After that, I’d be fine.

Needless to say, that wasn’t the case.

It was a Sunday evening when I got admitted to the psych ward. I’d gone to my daily appointment with the crisis team. I thought attending it would be a good chance to show them I was co-operating, thinking they’d then discharge me, meaning I’d be free to carry out my plan.

However, my support worker quickly realised I wasn’t being truthful. No matter how many times I said I was fine, she refused to believe me. Instead, she decided to speak to my wife, who admitted she had serious concerns about my welfare – and no longer felt she could keep me safe at home.

That’s when they decided to assess me for sectioning. Being sectioned means being kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act – whether you agree to it or not. There are different sections, which have different rules and vary in length.

Whilst I’d been under various mental health teams over the years, I’d only had one prior experience of being sectioned. It had happened around 6 years before – and involved a section 136 – which is used by the police when they think you have a mental illness and need ‘care or control’. However, it only lasted for 24 hours, and then I was back home again. This time, though, things were different. I quickly realised that, if they decided I needed to be in hospital, I wouldn’t be discharged the following day – or even the following week – and I was terrified.

In order to be detained under the Mental Health Act, you need to be assessed by three professionals: an approved mental health practitioner, a section 12 approved doctor (often a psychiatrist) and an additional doctor. They ask you a series of questions, take copious amounts of notes – and then make a decision as to what happens next.

In all honesty, I remember very little about my assessment. My main memory is the temperature of the room, which was warm to the extent it almost felt suffocating. It was January, and freezing outside, so I couldn’t work out how the room could possibly be so hot. I also remember feeling frustrated – everyone was lovely, but I’d made plans to end my life, and I was devastated they were trying to stop me.

My next memory is sitting back in the waiting room, staring into space. They’d made a decision to detain me under section 2, which is used for assessment and treatment of a mental disorder, and lasts for up to 28 days. I was told they were sorting out a bed for me on one of the wards upstairs, and they’d come get me when it was time.

My wife was distraught, and couldn’t stop crying. She felt guilty – knowing it was for the best, but also feeling like she’d somehow let me down. I couldn’t cry. I was too shocked. I’d spent so long trying to convince them I was fine, that there was nothing wrong with me. I couldn’t work out how it had ended this way.

Several hours passed – time spent clock watching, drinking lukewarm water, and shaking uncontrollably – in disbelief at what was happening.

Then, at five past eight, my name was called by one of the ward’s nurses.

“It’s time to go now. Your wife can’t go beyond this point – so you need to say bye.”

We hugged, she cried, promising me it was for the best – and then, we parted ways.

Minutes later, I was on the ward, being directed to one of the bedrooms. I was given a small bag of essential items – a toothbrush, some wipes and soap – and had a commode brought in. I was told I needed to stay there until I had a negative Covid result. Then, I was left alone.

That’s when the enormity of what was happening hit me and, for the first time that day, the tears finally came.

After that point, I spent the majority of 11 weeks on the ward – and whilst I’ll share more about my experience at a later point, looking back, I can honestly say that being there was the best thing for me. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but it genuinely saved me. It kept me safe and gave me the chance to recover in a supportive environment.

I now realise that being sectioned that day meant I got another chance at life – and I’ll forever be grateful for that fact.


Hey, I'm Charlie. I'm a radio producer based in West Yorkshire. I love dogs, exercise and baking. I also have bipolar disorder and OCD. This is a place for me to share my mental health journey - the highs, the lows, and the bits in between.

3 thoughts on “Being Admitted to the Psych Ward

    1. I’m following you online Charlie just to know you’re doing OK, I love your courage and tenacity x


  1. Well done sis we are very proud of you and your such a great influence to me as am struggling really hard right now with the same thing and reading your story breaks my heart considering we are in the same profession am also a wheelchair ♿bound veteran with ptsd, copd, mental health issues Tec to much to mention but stuck in there girl hold your head up high


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