News & views Members' blogs I do matter, we all matter A blog by Michele A. A place of safety. It should have been. Where someone at their most vulnerable, after an overdose, due to mental health distress could be looked after and cared for. A general hospital is where I awoke. I had been in the most painful and severe mental distress of my life and had taken an overdose. I was unable to move or speak due to the after effects of the overdose. If someone had been telling me the story I don't think I would have believed them. After all, a hospital should be a place of safety, where one is cared for and looked after. Two nurses. Females. Not young, nor old. Probably late twenties, early thirties. Old enough to know better but not too old to be disillusioned by a lifetime of nursing. I was in a side room on my own. This was not a good thing. It enabled them to get away with their stigma and discrimination against me, as a vulnerable person, completely at their mercy. When the cannula came out of the back of my hand, an alarm buzzer was triggered. The cannula came out repeatedly, perhaps it wasn't put in correctly, I don't know. The alarm buzzer was therefore triggered repeatedly. One of the nurses, in particular, got extremely angry with me and shouted at me, close up and right in my face "If that buzzer goes off once more ..." She was very threatening and I was terrified, paralysed with fear. Later, they both came in the room, not saying anything to me. One of them put on latex gloves. They came closer to me. Very close. Nothing was said to me. I couldn't ask them what they were doing as I couldn't speak. Or move. They parted my legs. I could feel them interfering with me down below. I was petrified and did not understand what was going on and why they were doing this to me. Later when a different member of staff (a nursing assistant) came into the room, I remember asking her "why are they treating me like this?" "What have I done?" I couldn't say anything else. At the end of their shift, the following morning, a different nursing assistant looked after me. She was very kind and helped me to the bathroom for a wash. I was really apprehensive and very frightened after what had happened. I discharged myself as soon as I could. I told my husband what had happened. Later I did report the abuse to the police and also a legal firm. It was decided there was no case as it was my word against theirs and there was no proof. I am too frightened to undergo the recommended three-yearly smear tests because of what happened to me. I have trust issues. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. I was signed off sick for many months and ended up resigning because I was employed by the same hospital Trust as where it happened. I couldn't face returning to work in the same place. In essence, the two nurses who abused me were colleagues. They didn't know that. They treated me like I wasn't worthy. Like I didn't matter. I believe they treated me badly because I had taken an overdose. I do not believe I would have received the same treatment if I had been a person with physical health illness. I believe that because I was admitted due to an overdose as a result of mental health distress, they decided I didn't deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. It is reported that 1 in 4 of us will be affected by mental health illness at some point. This means that the two nurses are likely to personally come across someone with mental health illness ie a friend or family member. I do so hope they are now aware of their behaviour and attitude and can find it within themselves to show compassion, kindness and understanding. It is really something to come out of hospital, after taking an overdose, and feel worse than what drove one to take the overdose in the first place. That is how I felt. They treated me so appallingly that I felt more suicidal than when I went in. But I do matter. We all matter.