How to survive Section 2 Life

Colouring in of a wishing well
  • Concentrate on your well-being – say to other patients if they try to rely on you to heal them “I am not a member of staff, I’m a patient – talk to a staff member”, then walk away and close your door. You are not being unkind you are protecting yourself.

Eat all the puddings – cake is a great mood lifter or comforter

  • Eat well – eat what you like when you like. I found protein good in the morning for the fight, carbs at night to help me sleep. Eat all the puddings – cake is a great mood lifter or comforter – you can always save it for later and eat it as your card snack to promote sleep.
  • Get outside as much as you can – ask for staff to take you out for fresh air breaks, community walks etc – look at nature, collect bits of stick and stones to decorate your room and dedicate a sacred space in your room or in a quiet space on the ward. When allowed and when it’s possible (this time I was sectioned 4 hours drive from home so it wasn’t) negotiate home leave, leave to go out places with family and friends, and also overnight home leave.
  • Don’t be too hung up on getting a good night sleep. In the ward, your body is in a fight/ flight mode. Imagine you’re on a long-haul flight for 28 days. You’re not going to sleep well. Accept sleeplessness, waking up early, napping in the day, but don’t see this as a permanent feature of your illness. Things usually settle down back to normal when you’re back home.
  • Find a way to deal with frustration – clicking your fingers, walking off, clasping hands – if you get super angry this can be interpreted as mania and you get injected with tranquillisers.

You can’t refuse tranquilliser injections in your butt. You can refuse electric shock treatment…

A view with a room
  • You can’t refuse tranquilliser injections in your butt. You can refuse electric shock treatment (not offered to me). Staff generally hate giving forced injections so don’t take it personally.
  • Appeal – if you feel organised enough to, start an appeal against your section with a solicitor, this helps you plan your own escape. Details of solicitors should be available from staff. Tribunals are usually booked about a week after you start the appeal with a solicitor. Usually the section gets lifted just before the appeal.
  • Personal space – do whatever you can to try to cultivate this – if it’s noisy put your hands over your ears; give yourself hugs and pats on the back; meditate or do yoga in your bedroom or a quiet space to maintain distance from the hectic nature of ward life. Pray if you can. Whatever you’re going through, there’s someone on this earth having a worse time – mindfully send them compassion.
  • Try to keep busy – journal, plan, make lists, make stuff, draw stuff, colour on the walls with washable felt tips if you can – sort your stuff out neatly, plan the next day’s outfits, order stuff from deliveroo etc (but be careful of manic spending), plan your shopping trips when you’re allowed out so you don’t go manic with the newfound freedom.
  • Make friends – share your experiences and support each other – but within reason. Look out for toxic personality types and don’t get dragged into their dramas. By all means swap mobile phone numbers – but think about whether you actually want this relationship long-term.
  • Avoid nurses and consultants who are ableist or patronising. Sadly, not all mental health workers are suited to the job. Their bad advice can set back your recovery. Find workers you trust and can talk to easily without them triggering your mental imbalance.
  • Ask the nurses to borrow stuff to help you with self care like a hairdryer and an iron. Sometimes a nail file if you’re lucky.

Author: Phillippa

I love art - I’m a trained art historian and I make art and write poetry. I used to work for a museum but now I’m an administrator for a university. I am Buddhist and practice meditation and yoga. I’m married with two kids, one with special needs. I was diagnosed bipolar in early 2019 after being sectioned because of mania. I have struggled with depression throughout my life and experienced postnatal depression with both kids. The mania grew out of work related stress as I had to leave my museum job.

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