Now, when it comes to being sectioned, from my experience, a lot of different emotions come into play – but, before talking more about them, I figured it was important to explain what the term actually means…
So, what does it mean?
I’ll be the first to admit that, before it happened to me, I had very limited knowledge about what getting sectioned meant.
But, basically, it means keeping a person in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 whether they agree to it or not. There are different types of section, which vary in length, and have different ‘rules’. For instance, a section 5(4), which is used by nurses in an emergency situation to detain a voluntary patient, lasts up to 6 hours. Meanwhile, a section 3, which is used to treat a mental illness, initially lasts up to 6 months – but can be renewed indefinitely if necessary.
To be lawfully sectioned in a non-emergency situation, a person must be assessed by a team of at least three professionals: two doctors – with one usually being a psychiatrist – and an Approved Mental Health Professional. Meanwhile, in an emergency situation, things are different; for instance, if you are in a public place, appear to have a mental disorder, and need immediate help, the police have the power to detain you under a section 136. This usually lasts until a person can be properly assessed by mental health professionals, who decide whether to discharge them, or admit them to hospital.
My most recent admission started as a section 136. After speaking to professionals, I was moved to a section 2 (which is used to assess a person – and lasts up to 28 days). Then, when that came to an end, I was placed under a section 3, which ended when I was officially discharged from the hospital.
So, how does it feel to be sectioned?
When I was put on a section 136, I’ll be honest, I felt completely baffled.
From my perspective, the day had started out rather excitingly. I’d planned to get a train to Blackpool to swim in the sea, ride rollercoasters, and try out my new flying ‘ability’ (I truly believed I could fly). I’d shared my journey on Twitter, determined to spread joy to anyone who saw the photo or video I posted.
But, it hadn’t quite gone to plan. My wife (Vicky) had met me at the station, and persuaded me to come home so we could have a ‘day of fun’ together – then, the next day, we could get a dog sitter, and both go to Blackpool. I’d agreed, excited to spend some time together.
However, not long after, there was a knock at the door from a policeman. He’d had tip offs from across the country from people who were concerned about my wellbeing. Whilst I sang Vengabus at the top of my lungs, he tried to get through to a local mental health team. When he eventually spoke to them, I was taken to a nearby psych hospital for an assessment (I was oblivious to this fact, and thought we were going on a boat ride together).
After speaking to two kind ladies, the policeman (who, by this point, I’d renamed PC Venga) had come in the room, read out the time, and told me I was on a section 136.
I couldn’t quite believe it. I felt the best I’d felt in years – I was excited, elated and ready to take on the world. Instead, I found myself in a hospital waiting room, unable to leave however much I wanted to.
Even though I now know that everyone was acting in my best interests, at the time, I couldn’t help but feel betrayed. I thought I was going for a lovely day out with my wife, dog, and the police officer. He was very friendly, and told us all about his tattoos, his innermost thoughts on the Vengaboys and, when we were in his car, he went through what all the different buttons meant.
So, when he put me on a section, I felt truly and utterly betrayed. I thought he was on my side – I truly believed we were all going on a fun adventure together so, hearing him read me my rights under the act, I couldn’t help but feel a little hurt by his actions.
Saying that, when we went back to his car so he could drive us to a different part of the hospital, he put on a Vengaboys classic, which definitely softened the blow.
It didn’t take long for these feelings of betrayal to turn into annoyance.
By the time I was placed on a section 2, I was well and truly fed up. I’d spent my assessment trying to convince the professionals that there had been some big misunderstanding, and that I should be discharged at once. However, it quickly became clear that no-one believed me.
By this point, my parents had made the four hour journey from Norwich to Leeds. My mum and Vicky sat with me in the room I’d been placed in, and I rambled to them about what was happening, hoping they’d be able to argue my case. But, instead, they seemed to agree with everything the professionals were saying. It felt like those closest to me had turned against me, and I couldn’t help but feel irritated.
Despite being surrounded by people who were very much on my side, at the time, I felt like I was truly on my own. In my head, there was nothing wrong with my mental health, and it felt like everyone was working against me. The two people I’m closest to – my wife and mum – both agreed a section was for the best, which felt like a massive blow. If they were on the ‘side’ of the professionals, then what hope did I have with anyone carrying out assessments?
You’re able to appeal Section 2 at any point in the first 14 days you’re under it. However, when I suggested it, they quickly shot the idea down. I felt like I had no one – everyone was working against me.
I should’ve realised that they would never do anything to hurt me but, at the time, I just couldn’t see it.
A few months on, and I’m feel nothing but grateful for my time in hospital. There’s a very real possibility that, had I not been sectioned, I would have unintentionally ended my life. However, instead, I’m now well enough to be back at home with my wife, able to properly enjoy life again.
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 mentioning it in the first place). But, here’s the link for anyone interested: