When I think back to my time on the psych ward, there are not many things I can remember. But, from the limited memories I do have (combined with the accounts of other people) I wanted to share some of the acts of kindness I encountered.
Act 1: The Burger King Crown
The day before I got sectioned, my wife and I went to Burger King (I wanted to walk to Bradford and make TikToks about potatoes – she wanted me to stay at home, so going there was our idea of a happy compromise). Whilst there, I came across a piece of cardboard that became somewhat symbolic of my manic episode – a make-your-own crown. I’d picked one up whilst I waited for our food to cook, and had taken an instant liking to it.
For the next few weeks, it was practically glued to my head – I dubbed it my ‘party crown’ (I believed I was the host of a 24/7 party) and only took it off during the rare times I went to sleep (at which point, it’d be placed on the bed beside me, so I could quickly grab it the second I woke up).
Trouble is, whoever invented it hadn’t intended for it to be worn for several weeks straight – and parts of it started to tear. As I was refusing to shower, it was also getting greasy and dirty and, fourteen days in, it got to a stage where it was practically unwearable.
That’s when one of the support workers came in to save the day.
I’d not long left my room, when a member of staff came bounding up to me to inform me that their colleague had come in (on his day off!) with a delivery of several crowns. He’d gone out of his way to take a trip to a nearby Burger King and dropped them off.
It was at a time when I couldn’t understand much about what was happening – I was still convinced my hospital admission had been a giant mistake, and was getting increasingly frustrated about people trying to stop my ‘fun’. So, this act of kindness made a real difference. Putting on a fresh crown made a difficult time somewhat easier, and I’ll always be grateful for that fact.
Act 2: The Coat
As well as wearing my crown, I was also glued to a dress, which I wore non-stop for numerous days. I’d dubbed it my ‘party outfit’ and refused to wash and take it off. Despite the fact it was November, and freezing outside, I wouldn’t wear anything warmer.
Then, one day, I went back to my room and a coat was there.
I’d been pretty confused as it wasn’t one I’d recognised. I’d left my room to try and get to the bottom of its random appearance, when one of the other patients stopped me.
“I saw you’re just wearing a dress, so thought this would keep you warm,” she’d said, a smile on her face. “I dropped it off in your room whilst you were out earlier.”
It wasn’t someone I’d spoken to much, which made the act even greater. She told me to keep it “as long as I wanted” and had fist bumped me, before we departed ways.
It made a big difference and, whilst it was still a good week or two before I stopped wearing dresses, it served as a reminder to put something warm on on top of the dress (probably saving me from numerous colds!)
Act 3: The Football
I’m massively into my football. I’ve had an ankle injury for a while but, before that, I was playing the game three or four times a week. I watch pretty much every game that’s televised, and even go as far as filling the official sticker books whenever a new tournament begins.
But, when it came to the World Cup, I couldn’t concentrate enough to focus on a game – and it was stressing me out. Whilst the other patients gathered in the lounge whenever England played, I stayed in my room, dancing and listening to 90’s pop. Sometimes I had it on in the background but, even then, I missed pretty much every minute of the matches.
Luckily, one of the other patients could see I was struggling and went out of her way to distract me with ‘hummus and Venga Boys parties’.
After she was discharged, she made an effort to come and see me when England’s next game was on. We went into the family room, and chatted non-stop until visiting time (and the match) ended.
I know how hard it can be to come back to hospital after being an inpatient, so the fact that she returned to the ward to help me meant the world. It meant that, instead of getting frustrated about my lack of concentration, I smiled, laughed and just generally had a good time.
These are only three of a huge number of acts I could mention when writing about my time on the ward. Whilst my memories are very hazy, these three have stayed with me.
I think it’s easy to reflect on my admission, and just focus on the tough parts but, actually, there was a lot of goodness that took place and made a somewhat difficult time much brighter.
Safe to say, I’ll forever be grateful for the kindness shown by others.
Note: I’ve decided to set up a Ko-fi account so, if for whatever reason, you fancy getting me a ‘coffee’, you can do so. I’ll always keep my blogs free – and there’s absolutely zero obligation to do so (in fact, I feel pretty bad posting it in the first place). But, a huge thank you to everyone who’s bought me one so far – and here’s the link for anyone interested: http://ko-fi.com/charliersmith1
2 thoughts on “Three acts of Kindness from the Ward”
This is very moving and memorable. I also spent time on a mental health ward at this time of year. I remember the kindness of other residents; helping me to find my way around, chatting with me, sharing their stories. Ten years on, I remember them with a smile and gratitude.
My partner came to see me and took me for a walk. When we got back to the hospital, I was really crying because I felt my life had collapsed. The ward receptionist asked if ‘she’ (me) was ok and I wailed, “Noooo!” A rare admission of pain for me. My fellow residents were so kind.
We were all there for different reasons, but we supported one another. They talked to me, not about me. One night, we played board games. I was so confused I couldn’t follow any rules but I remember really laughing like a child. Such circumstances can come to anyone, although until it does, one might not believe it. Thank you, from my heart to yours, for sharing.
It’s wonderful how even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference!
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