The next days after my son was taken to hospital were a blur. I can’t now remember much of what happened next. I believe he was admitted to a ward in the psychiatric unit of the hospital and kept on special 24 hour watch until the medication, which they gave him, began to work and he had calmed down. When my husband returned home from Somerset, we began our visits to the psychiatric ward, which was in the adult unit. My son, at that time, was only 14, so even though it was the wrong place for his age-range, it turned out to be a good short-term solution. Gradually he began to function reasonably well, but the medication was making him “groggy”. He was eating very little and smoking with the elderly people in the smoking room. I was irritated that they were encouraging him to smoke, but the habit may have helped him at the time.
There was a library and a pool table in the unit, so this went some small way to alleviate the boredom of the place. There was very little structure to the day, apart from mealtimes, so a game of pool was quite welcome.
One day, classmates from school came to the unit to visit my son and promptly set off the smoke alarm in his room, so that was the end of their visit. After that time he had no further contact with any of his former school friends, however hard he tried to make contact with them.
One afternoon, I was at home and received a ‘phone call from the unit to the effect that my son had gone missing. The hospital is situated close to a motorway, and the occasional patient has fallen from the motorway bridge onto the busy road. Naturally, I was worried, and the nurse who called suggested that I ‘phone the headmaster of my son’s school in case he had gone there, for some reason. The headmaster decided to stop what he was doing at the school and drove around the local streets, looking for my son, which was very kind of him. Eventually, my son turned up, having taken a shower in a bathroom in a different wing of the unit. Panic stations over!