What to Expect When You Get Sectioned

It happened to me earlier this year, and it totally wasn't the worst thing ever.

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25 June 2012, 11:00am


The view from my bed

I gained three lbs, went nuts and got caught trying to "cut the fat" out of my left thigh with a kitchen knife. And then I got sectioned. Which could happen to ANYONE, I stressed. To my therapist.

Earlier this year, I went off my meds like a fucking idiot and ended up going totally insane. I was at my parents' house, demonstrating my perfect mental health by doing things like sobbing for three hours straight and then locking myself in my bathroom, the door of which had to be broken down. By that point my arms were covered in blood and I was about to get started on my home liposuction. A crisis team was called and lucky for me, they had a bed available and told me I should come in. They didn't say you needed to be here like, yesterday, you crazy bitch, but I felt that it was implied. I didn't want to worry my parents any more than I already had done so I agreed to it. Moral of the story; 420, take anti-depressants every day.

Anyway, here are some tips to help you through the difficult transition between lying in bed watching Peep Show and sitting in a communal dining room with 12 other people all trying to ignore the fact that a woman with an actual ZZ Top beard is furtively masturbating with her cutlery.


This is the only other picture I took inside. It's not very interesting.

They Can Only Detain You for Three Days/ 72 Hours
After that, if you're considered "of sound mind" or a parent or guardian thinks you're fit to come home, you can GTFO.

You Get to Keep Your Shit
The lady who did my intake let me keep my phone and my Kindle, but confiscated my Dettol Wipes. When I asked why, she said I might "harm myself" by eating them. Yikes. Also, things like belts and cans of deodorant have to be given to the nurse on duty. You can ask for them if you need them, but if you're considered a danger to yourself or others, someone has to watch you using them.

You Can't Smoke
I was on a locked ward. There's often a dining room, a common room, a TV room, men's and women's bathrooms and then the bedrooms. The windows don't open properly so you can't leap to your death. The doors are kept closed at all times. And you needed to know the combination to get out. I think they locked my bedroom door at night but I was so high it didn't bother me. Because you can't leave, you can't go outside to smoke. Where are my Dettol Wipes? I'm sure they don't taste that bad. They offer you Nicotine patches but for some stupid reason I never took any. "I don't know what those things do to you," I said, swaying where I stood from whatever drug they'd given me to make me sleep the night before. "I like, actually care about what I put in my body?!"

The Food Is Disgusting
Ironically, I lost 3lbs while I was in there because I refused to touch a single morsel of the food that was offered to me. I wouldn't say I'm a precious gourmet queen – earlier this week, I ate half a bag of Birthday Oreos in lieu of dinner – but a hard, brown square of what looked like compost, smothered in a yellow sauce of indeterminate origin did not inspire me to chow down. Get people to bring you sweets and Lucozade. You're totally allowed to have them. And Lucozade just tastes better in hospital. I don't know why. You might still have to sit in the dining room, though. The breathing exercises they teach you help.

They Give You Drugs
I have no idea what it was but, 1) it was stronger than Valium, and 2) they doled that shit out like candy. Can't sleep? Have some drugs. Anxious? Have some drugs. Bearded Lady followed you into your room, half-naked, and wouldn't stop talking about her faith in Jesus? Have some drugs. I guess they figure it's better to keep you high than slowly grasping the situation you've found yourself in. At my discharge (when they gave me a paper cup of pills to "help me through the day"), the consultant told me I seemed much calmer. For some reason I lifted my head off the table and licked my lips at him.

The People Are Really Nice
I can't say that this is universally true, but really. Think of all the awesome things crazy, depressed, suicidal, drug-addicted people have created. Crazy people are awesome. My mum on visits seemed particularly bewildered. "You're nothing like these people," she'd say, cradling her Mulberry bag in her lap. Au contraire. Being fucked up in whatever quantity doesn't make you more or less of a person. And while I could have wrinkled my nose and refused to talk to anyone, what good what it have done? I'm in here, you're in here, we're all the same. I really didn't have the right to look down on anyone. I hung out with a glamour model who's done Nuts magazine, an anorexic woman in her 40s with two kids and an overweight bi-polar girl who used to have me rate "sexy" Hollywood actors on a scale of 1 to 10.
There was also a dude in his late 30s, a compulsive liar, who kindly knocked on my door when I was hiding out in my room after the schizophrenic bearded woman decided it would be a good idea to chew and spit out all of her food on the table in front of me before an orderly escorted her away. We dragged our chairs out of our respective cells and put them in the hallway where we went through each other's iPods. It was peaceful.

When I left, I slowly got put back on my meds and by the end of the first month I was at least semi-normal again. Semi-normal is pretty much all I could ever hope for, tbh.

I hope this gives you some idea of what to expect should you ever find yourself chewing someone else's hair on the tube or running through Tesco screaming "Are you not entertained?!" whilst wearing a bin liner. Being sectioned sucks, but it's not the worst thing that could ever happen to you.

More likely to go to jail than the loony bin? This might be more helpful to you:

How to Survive Prison if You Are a Princess