I find it incredible to believe that it was only three months ago I was in despair with a very serious addiction to morphine (through OTC codeine based painkillers). If anybody had told me then that I would not only get off the painkillers, but also be so much happier and have a much richer life without them, I would have considered this impossible. I was inflexible in my belief that I would be the one patient the Nightingale would be unable to help; not because of anything to do with the medical expertise in the hospital, but because I believed I was a lost cause. How wrong I was!
I admitted myself to the Nightingale as an inpatient at the start of July 2016, having very nearly destroyed both my physical and mental health, after seven years of progressively worsening addiction. I was terrified when I arrived, crying uncontrollably, as my mental state was so disordered that I was utterly convinced the experience would be that of the character Renton from the film ‘Trainspotting’, in which he goes through cold turkey heroin withdrawal, alone in a locked room with no medical support. I truly believed that this was what was in store for me… again I could not have been more wrong!
The moment I was admitted, to the moment I was discharged three weeks later, every single member of the hospital staff I met was kind, supportive, friendly, compassionate, respectful and welcoming (and not just to me, but also to my husband). To mention a few individuals: my psychiatrist Dr Shanahan, who always showed such faith in me, helping me to believe I could and would recover, along with his unwavering kindness, empathy and good humoured friendliness; Anastasia from the Admissions Department giving me a hug on arrival (and a box of tissues!); Dr Andre on the Fourth Floor with his superb medical expertise and kind, reassuring and sympathetic manner and Staff Nurses Bill, Olu and Alex, also on the Fourth Floor, always looking after me absolutely superbly and with such compassion and patience, throughout my stay. Also all the expertise, warmth and encouragement from all the therapists through to the good cheer and friendliness of the canteen staff and cleaners; there was never any judgement from anybody and everybody was fantastic. I was settled in and happy to be there within less than a day of arrival.
The ADU therapy programme was also amazing: brilliantly structured, interesting, thought provoking and very effective at promoting group interaction. It was also extremely supportive at sometimes incredibly difficult moments when I was facing up to all the carnage my addiction had caused, not just to me, but to everybody around me. Also, there was a lot of laughter and good natured humour in the sessions, rather unexpected in a psychiatric hospital, but nevertheless extremely welcome!
Since my discharge I have re-established former and commenced new interests and activities and attend frequent regular local NA and AA meetings through which I have begun to make new friendships. I enjoy participating in the Nightingale ADU aftercare recovery support group and my husband has found the ADU aftercare family support group very beneficial. I am also attending individual outpatient therapy sessions with an excellent therapist, Anthony Rhone. My family is now much happier. My physical health is vastly improved, my mental and emotional state much calmer and I am also much happier now I am free of the horrors of the reptilian jaws grip of the addiction.
I never want to return to the hell I was in previously and I am not exaggerating when I say I truly believe the Nightingale Hospital saved me from an early grave. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have benefited from its facilities and I could not recommend it more highly as it provided me with both the safety I needed to start to recover and the tools to rebuild my life afterwards; I am very proud to say that as of today (3rd October) I am 52 days clean and sober and I intend to stay that way!