ISSN: 1230-2813
Advances in Psychiatry and Neurology/Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii
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vol. 28

Towards recovery

Katarzyna Szczerbowska

Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Pilot Project’s Office of the National Programme for Mental Health, Warsaw, Poland
Adv Psychiatry Neurol 2019; 28 (1): 1-3
Online publish date: 2019/03/30
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The illness sneaked up on me slowly, but I became very ill suddenly. I had always been oversensitive, felt more than others. I could sense what other people felt, I empathized deeply. If anyone I was with became nervous, I soaked it all in like a sponge. I worked in the media, where relationships with others can get stressful and you are under pressure all the time. In response to this I had a continuous headache and felt terribly fatigued. Finally, I went to see a psychiatrist and he prescribed antidepressants, but I thought pharmacology was not for me, so I went on to find a therapist. Perhaps this was what tipped me over; maybe I left it too long to ask for help or maybe the effect was too strong and one day I began to lose control. I started feeling increasingly detached from reality. This began with me thinking that the whole world was plotting against me and that I was under threat. I thought people in the street were making comments about me that everyone was looking at me. Then I began thinking that I was rotting, that there was blood all over me and that I would suffocate. This is when my family stepped in and took me to the emergency department at the psychiatric hospital. They’d found my behaviour and the things I was saying terrifying, and besides, they could no longer communicate with me. Later on, they explained that they took me to the hospital because they were frightened that I might get lost or run over by a car.
The first moments in the emergency room were hard. I remember being terrified. I remember a doctor talking to me but I don’t remember what he was saying. I remember that I felt I couldn’t breathe but that I wasn’t allowed to go out. My partner was trying hard to convince me to sign the consent papers, which I did but I can’t remember doing so. I remember a small room where two male nurses told me to put my pyjamas on. I was crying because I was terrified that I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. I thought my life was over.
For the first few days in the hospital I said nothing. I was fed through a drip. I couldn’t remember who I was. Feeling lonely is what I remember most of all. It felt like my brain decided to switch to a parallel reality which turned out to be a very lonely place. I couldn’t tell what was going on with me. A lot of the time I simply couldn’t say anything. I was oversensitive to all sounds, even to the sound of my own swallowing. I got irritated by light, all colours seemed...

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