Author reveals being 'forced medicated' in psychiatric hospital

Woman with delusional disorder who heard voices and believed the world was ‘going to end’ reveals the trauma of being ‘stripped and forcefully medicated’ in powerful memoir about being sectioned

  • Carla Moore, 30, from Barnsley, has shared her experiences in a psychiatric unit 
  • She has revealed her story in her memoir, Confessions from My Delusional Mind 
  • Carla has delusional disorder and depression, and she was sectioned five times
  • She has shared the ‘trauma’ of being ‘forced medicated’ in a psychiatric hospital  
  • If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, call the Samaritans 24 hour helpline on 116 123

An author has revealed the trauma of being ‘held down, stripped and forced medicated’ in a psychiatric hospital as she calls for open conversations about mental illness in a thought-provoking memoir.

Carla Moore, 30, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, has spoken about her experiences in a psychiatric hospital in an emotional book, Confessions from My Delusional Mind: Memoirs from My Time Spent in a Psychiatric Hospital.

Carla penned her memoir under the pseudonym Christie Manvers, but has shared her identity with FEMAIL to encourage others to share their stories and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

Carla, who was diagnosed with delusional disorder and depression, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act five times across three years and has opened up about the ‘trauma’ she experienced while in hospital.

Carla Moore, 30, from Barnsley, (pictured)  revealed the trauma of being ‘stripped and forced medicated’ in a thought-provoking memoir as she calls for conversations about mental illness

In her book, Carla described being sectioned as one of the scariest things that has ever happened to her, admitting that it was ‘devastating’ to feel like she had her freedom taken away when she didn’t feel like she had done anything wrong.

She said that she hated feeling like a ‘prisoner’ and being locked on the ward, as well as needing permission to go into the garden and having everyday items prohibited. 

But Carla admitted that the most ‘humiliating’ experience was being forced injected with medication, adding that knowing it was done for her own safety made the traumatic experience no easier to deal with. 

If someone is admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act, medical workers can give them medication even if they have not agreed to it, which can include patients being forcibly injected if they refuse to take medication orally. 

Carla explained that at the time, she did not understand that she was unwell, as she was having delusions and hearing voices, which led her to believe the ‘world was coming to an end’ because of ‘demons’.

Carla told FEMAIL: ‘It’s not like it is on the TV. These things do happen to people. 

‘I was really shocked the first time I got restrained and forced medicated – being held down and stripped and having medication injected into you – when really you don’t understand why you’re there. 

‘I 100% thought that the world was coming to an end and couldn’t understand why people were telling me I was ill, I didn’t realise I was ill. 

‘So it was a really scary and terrifying thing when you don’t know you’re ill, you think you’re absolutely fine, to suddenly have all your freedom and liberties taken away from you, when you’re so used to being an independent person, and then being forced medicated against your will.

‘It was a shock to my system, I didn’t think things like that happened, and they do, it happens on a daily basis all over the country.’ 

Carla (pictured with partner Lee Isaacs, 34) wrote an emotional memoir Confessions from My Delusional Mind, under the pseudonym Christie Manvers, but has now shared her identity

Carla has struggled with her mental health since she was a teenager and was diagnosed with depression when she was 17 years old, before being prescribed anti-depressants to help manage her mood.

Carla, who has a degree in criminology and politics and a Masters of Arts in Globalising Justice, experienced delusions for the first time after quitting her job as a manager of restorative justice at a local council and starting a new job.

Carla’s new role as a fraud investigator for a postal company was extremely stressful with anti-social hours, and she spent a lot of her time on the road surviving on energy drinks.

In her book, Carla said she had been through a frantic and stressful day when she heard voices for the first time, explaining that she had heard a man laughing loudly while she was driving home.

Across the next few days, Carla kept hearing the man laughing and told her fiancé Lee Isaacs, 34, a few days later, before they agreed that she should see a doctor. 

Carla also began hearing a girl speaking to hear and became concerned about why she was hearing voices, explaining in her book that her father occasionally heard voices but had never been diagnosed with anything.

Carla later went to see a doctor, which led to her being referred to the early intervention in psychosis team, which she found challenging at the time due to her insistence that she didn’t have psychosis.

She began having weekly sessions with the psychosis team, who decided she needed time off work due to stress. Carla handed in her sick note, but didn’t realise at the time that it would be the last time she worked for nearly three years.

What is delusional disorder? 

Delusional disorder is classified as a psychotic disorder, a disorder where a person has trouble recognising reality. 

A delusion is a false belief that is based on an incorrect interpretation of reality. Delusions, like all psychotic symptoms, can occur as part of many different psychiatric disorders. But the term delusional disorder is used when delusions are the most prominent symptom.

A person with this illness holds a false belief firmly, despite clear evidence or proof to the contrary. Delusions may involve circumstances that could occur in reality even though they are unlikely. 

People with delusional disorder usually do not have hallucinations or a major problem with mood. 

When hallucinations do occur, they are part of the delusional belief. For example, someone who has the delusion that internal organs are rotting may hallucinate smells or sensations related to that delusion.

Source: Health Harvard

Carla continued to struggle with hearing voices and ‘couldn’t cope’ because she felt that ‘nothing made sense’ due to her delusions, which led to her trying to end her own life and being detained under the Mental Health Act for the first time.

After arriving at the psychiatric hospital, Carla locked herself in her room and became determined to escape the ward, and she was later allowed to return home after a tribunal.

Carla admitted that due to the ‘stigma’ and lack of conversation surrounding mental illness and psychiatric units, she was afraid that anything could have happened to her while she was ‘behind those doors’.

She explained: ‘It all has this stigma about it and it is like once you’re behind those doors then you don’t matter to the rest of the world and they could do whatever they wanted to you, and that is what was the big fear for me when I was in there.

‘I thought I’d lost my whole rights as a person, I remember wanting to write to my MP and feeling like this was such as injustice that was being done to me, even though I was unwell, it just felt like such an injustice.’

As Carla continued to struggle with her delusions, she was sectioned for a second time after South Yorkshire Police officers found her walking along a canal before trying to climb into the river.

During her second period in hospital, Carla made friends with a group of other women on the ward who supported each other through their treatment, which also convinced staff that Carla could manage in the community herself and she was released back home after just three weeks.

Looking back, Carla admitted that this may have been her ‘downfall’ as the hospital staff were unaware of the scale of what was going on with her because she concealed it, meaning she was in danger of becoming seriously unwell when she was discharged.

Carla continued to deteriorate and would walk for miles away from her home before becoming lost despite knowing the area well, as her illness had taken a toll on her mind and she lost all sense of direction.

Carla said she gradually stopped caring for herself, including brushing her teeth and eating, and became solely focused on collecting evidence to prove that the demons were real and not a delusion.

Carla admitted that it reached the point where she would not speak to anyone unless it was about the demons and the world ending, which led to her partner Lee calling a doctor.

After refusing to admit herself to a psychiatric hospital voluntarily, Carla was sectioned under the Mental Health Act for a third time.

It was during her third admission to a psychiatric hospital when Carla was forced medicated for the first time, an experience that she said left her ‘traumatised’.

She explained that she was left ‘really shocked’ at the time, as she did not realise it was something that could take place, attributing her lack of knowledge to the lack of conversation surrounding psychiatric hospitals.

Carla revealed that the ‘horrifying’ experience of being forced injected was made more traumatic due to experiences in her past, as she explained in her memoir that she is a victim of rape and the experience caused flashbacks for her.

Carla (pictured), who has delusional disorder and depression, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act five times and has opened up about the ‘trauma’ she experienced while in hospital

Speaking about her initial refusal to take medication, Carla explained: ‘When I was in the mental health facility I didn’t have a choice in my medications either, that choice is taken away so I felt very aggrieved at having to take things and originally I got injected because I wouldn’t take the medication.

‘There really needs to be a lot more on patient choice and working with patients to understand the benefits of the medications, so that people don’t have to go through the trauma of being forced medicated.’

During her third admission, Carla explained that she would refuse to take the medication and would hide the tablets under her tongue before spitting them out.

The doctors later realised what she was doing and made her stay in communal areas after taking her medication to ensure that she couldn’t dispose of the tablets. 

Carla repeatedly tried to escape from the psychiatric hospital, including trying to run away while out for a walk on the grounds, while she was extremely unwell because she remained convinced that her delusions were real.

After taking her medication, she spent a lot of time confused about what was real and what wasn’t, admitting that she felt like everyone was against her and she felt very alone in the psychiatric hospital.

Due to her confusion, Carla entered a state of despair and tried to end her own life and was rushed to A&E, where she recovered before returning to the ward. 

During her third admission, Carla began to accept that she was unwell as well as her diagnosis of depression with psychotic features. She began taking her medication and was discharged after four months in hospital.

Carla claimed that her partner Lee had ‘no idea’ what was happening to her while she was in hospital, as he only received updates from staff about how she was doing, rather than specific details on her treatment.

Carla also didn’t speak about her treatment with Lee because she was unwell and solely focused on her belief that the world was ‘ending’, which was a result of her delusional disorder.

She continued: ‘My partner has said countless times that he just didn’t think this happened to people. He had no understanding of his rights as my nearest relative, my rights as the patient, and any of the legalities behind it. 

‘He didn’t have that support either, I think that’s really important to get across. Whilst I was in there receiving treatment and help, he had no idea what was happening to me. 

‘All he had was conversations with me on the phone and I was still very ill, so I wasn’t really talking much about what was happening to me, I was just talking about my illness, what was happening with the demons and the world ending – that was all he could get from me. 

‘He had no idea at all what was happening to me on the inside of those walls, which was very scary for him. He had to go seven months in the house on his own and not knowing what was happening to the love of his life.’ 

After her own ‘traumatising’ experiences, Carla is calling for more transparency about what happens in psychiatric hospitals so it doesn’t come as a shock for other patients.

She added that she wants professionals to be ‘open and honest’ because she was unaware of the sections under the Mental Health Act, so simply felt it was an ‘injustice’ that she was being held against her will.

Carla (pictured with partner Lee) opened up about the ‘trauma’ of being ‘forced medicated’ in a psychiatric hospital, saying she was left ‘really shocked’ the first time it happened

Carla continued: ‘I think more people need to come forward with their stories and share what happens behind those closed doors so that it is not a closed door, so that wards and the NHS and private medical institutions are held to account for the behaviour and how they act towards people. 

‘I’m not saying that anything was ever illegal or done in the wrong way, but I didn’t know those processes and guidelines that were in place and I didn’t know my own rights sometimes and that’s a very scary situation to be in. 

‘Secondly, I think professionals need to be more open and honest about what happens behind those closed doors as well. 

‘As I said before about the regulations being in place, they might be in place and they might be being followed but I didn’t know that, I just thought I was being held against my will, and that was all that I could see at the time.’ 

Carla admitted that she ended up ‘very traumatised’ from her experiences in a psychiatric hospital, but also spent time learning about the system, the sections under the Mental Health Act and her rights as a patient.

She continued: ‘I did end up very traumatised from it [being in a psychiatric unit] but it also taught me a lot about the system, the sections and my rights. As I began to get more well I naturally, having been someone who was in the criminal justice field, I wanted to learn about my rights and about the legalities of it. 

‘I know a lot of people don’t have the same passion as I did and I met a lot of other women in that institution that didn’t know their rights and when I started to get better and learn my rights I would often find myself telling other patients “well no, that’s not right”.

‘It was definitely something that I took an interest in later on when I became well and able to advocate for myself.’

After being discharged from hospital for the third time, Carla admitted that she felt ‘unprepared’ to adjust back to her normal life and struggled with everyday activities due to her anxiety increasing.

She said she found it difficult to look after herself after someone else had been in charge of her care for months, and struggled with leaving somewhere that had become a ‘safe space’ for her during her treatment.

Carla added that this was particularly difficult amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as she had been shielded from the beginning of the first lockdown while she was in hospital, and then returned home in the middle of the crisis.

Carla explained that when she was in the psychiatric hospital, she was solely focused on her recovery in a protected environment, whereas when she returned home, she had other pressures added into her life.

She continued: ‘Just coming out of a mental health facility in a normal time is anxiety provoking and there’s not enough done to prepare you for that sort of outside world, you sort of go into mental health facility and that facility, even though it has its own pressures and negative experiences, it still becomes a safe zone for you. 

‘So when you get out into the whole world you’re not really prepared to look after yourself anymore because someone has looked after you for so long.’

Carla (pictured with Lee) said being forced medicated was traumatic as she did not realise she was unwell, instead she believed the world was ending due to her delusional disorder

She explained that due to her limited social contact while in hospital, she also struggled with socialising after months of only speaking with her partner Lee and other patients and staff in the hospital.

She said: ‘I really struggled with my anxiety around coming home and knowing how to look after myself, just things like I’d not been driving for so long, I’d not been speaking to normal people in the outside world very much, other than my partner with who everything revolved around my mental illness. 

‘So coming out and not everything revolving around my mental illness was quite difficult.’ 

Only eight weeks after being discharged from hospital the third time, Carla was admitted back on to the ward voluntarily after admitting that she was having suicidal thoughts, but was later sectioned after trying to discharge herself.

She continued: ‘On my third admission after I’d come out I really, really struggled to adapt to home life and it sent me into a spiral of depression again and I had to admit that I had to go back, and it was awful to go back because, as I mentioned, some of the more negative experiences on the ward kind of traumatise you as well. 

‘So having to admit that I had to go back there was really difficult and really hard. But certainly I do think that people end up in crisis again and not because they fully understand they want to go back but because for their body and for their mind, it’s the only real safe place for them.’

But Carla being discharged from hospital was also challenging for Lee, as he was not involved in her treatment while she was in hospital, but then became responsible for her care when she was at home.

Carla explained: ‘It [partner and family support] is a massively under-resourced area. 

‘They can ring the ward for updates but you get maybe a couple of sentences but other than that they are not really involved in the treatment and in preparation for coming home.

‘They really do need to be more involved in that treatment because they are the ones that have to deal with it when you come home. Nobody is released from hospital completely well, you get released when you’re not a danger to yourself or others any more.’ 

During her fourth admission to hospital, Carla confided to staff about the trauma of being raped, which she believes is where her psychosis stemmed from due to her mind’s attempt to shut out these memories.

Carla came to the decision, along with the assistance of the hospital, to report the incident to the police and underwent an official recorded interview.

But in her book, Carla explained that she devastatingly received a letter in January informing her that there was not enough evidence to convince a jury and that the investigation was complete.

Carla’s fourth admission to hospital also coincided with the beginning of the first Covid-19 lockdown, which was particularly challenging as it meant her family and Lee could no longer visit her while she was in hospital. 

When Carla was discharged from hospital a fourth time, she admitted that saying goodbye to the patients and psychologists was harder as she believed she wouldn’t need to return as she had accepted her diagnosis and dealt with her past traumas.

Carla (pictured with Lee) penned her memoir to help her work through her ‘unresolved issues’ from her treatment and hopes it will help others to have conversations about mental illness

After her discharge, Carla moved in with her parents because her partner Lee was working long hours as a carer and she spent her days knitting and painting.

She went about finding a new job was quickly offered a role as a housing support worker, which triggered her anxiety as she feared she wouldn’t be ready for the huge transition.

Looking back, Carla admitted that she rushed back into employment too quickly and didn’t wait for the ideal job to come along and she instead took a job where she dealt with people’s chaotic lifestyles, which was not a good fit for her.

She dealt with the stress by focusing on her weight, as she had put on six-stone since the beginning of her journey with mental illness, which is a common side effect of many medications and anti-depressants.

Carla said she struggled to understand why medical professionals called weight gain the ‘lesser of two evils’ when the NHS generally places a high focus on not being obese.

She said: ‘It [recovery] is such a hard ongoing thing and I’m not fully there yet. I still have my really bad days and one of the main things for me was the amount of weight gain that I’ve had through the medication. 

‘That made me stop taking my medications and I really didn’t understand why professionals were saying “it’s the lesser of two evils, it doesn’t matter right now” when actually everything else in the NHS says that being obese is a big thing.

What is emotionally unstable personality disorder?  

Emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), also known as borderline personality disorder (BPD), is a type of personality disorder.

You might be diagnosed with a personality disorder if you have difficulties with how you think and feel about yourself and other people, and are having problems in your life as a result.

You might be given a diagnosis of EUPD if you experience certain things, including feeling worried about people abandoning you, you have very intense emotions that last from a few hours to a few days and can change quickly, or you don’t have a strong sense of who you are, and it can change significantly depending on who you’re with. 

EUPD can be a very broad diagnosis which includes lots of different people with very different experiences. 

Some people find it helpful to have a diagnosis because they feel it explains and helps people to understand their difficulties, or gives them a sense of relief and validation.

Others feel their diagnosis isn’t helpful, disagreeing entirely with the current system of diagnosing personality disorders and finding it stigmatising and unhelpful. 

Source: Mind 

‘It was really mixed messages that I was getting and that led to my being sectioned again because I stopped taking my medications because I was so distraught at how much weight I’d gained.’

Carla stopped taking her medication in a bid to battle the weight gain and she quickly began experiencing delusions, believing the demons were real and hearing voices again.

She was then sectioned under the Mental Health Act for a fifth time, but was sent to a different hospital in a neighbouring town due to a lack of space in the nearby facility.

After her arrival, an on-duty male doctor gave her a physical assessment, which involved doing an ECG, meaning Carla needed to remove her top and bra.

Carla said she wasn’t comfortable with a male doctor doing the procedure, but claimed that the doctor kept trying to persuade her, which led to her removing her bra and top for them to do the ECG.

She claimed she was vulnerable at the time and had expressed her wish for the procedure not to be done, admitting she felt her concerns were treated as invalid as a mental health patient.

Carla explained that because she was a rape victim and was in new surroundings with unfamiliar people, the experience was particularly distressing for her but she did not have the confidence to assert herself at the time.

During this admission, Carla was also given her diagnosis of delusional disorder, which she later said was a diagnosis that finally made sense to herself, Lee and her family.

Speaking about initially coming forward to seek help, Carla said it was when she heard voices for the first time that she sought help from a medical professional.

But she admitted that coming forward and asking for help was a ‘big shock’, as she felt uncertain and afraid about what help would ‘look like’ and what would happen to herself and her family.

Carla added that she feels conversations about what happens after you ask for help is a massively ‘overlooked’ area, which was one of the reasons she decided to write her book.

She continued: ‘I think it is really good that people are starting to raise awareness about coming forward when you’ve got a mental health issue but nobody has started talking about what happens after you come forward and what happens when you do ask for help. 

‘I think that is an area which is really overlooked and sort of why I wanted to write my journey because a lot of my journey started after I asked for help.’ 

Speaking about the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, Carla said she believes there is more ‘shame’ for some forms of mental illness than others.

In particular, Carla said there is a stigma attached to personality disorders and emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), which Carla herself was labelled with before her diagnosis of delusional disorder.

She continued: ‘There are specific illnesses that don’t get mentioned – like EUPD and personality disorders – there’s a lot of stigma and shame around that. 

‘There’s a lot of misunderstanding within the mental health field itself surrounding EUPD specifically, it’s still a condition that is seen as the ugly sister in mental illness, no one wants to admit that they’ve got it because it’s seen as an attention-seeking thing.’ 

EUPD, which is the most common type of personality disorder, causes people to experience intense and fluctuating emotions, with Carla claiming that there is even a stigma surrounding the disorder among medical professionals.

She added: ‘It [EUPD] is the ugly sister of mental health where some mental health professionals don’t even acknowledge that it’s a real condition even.

‘It’s really unfair to label someone with that condition when actually, the professionals within the organisation itself are stigmatising it and not recognising it for what it is.’

Addressing her own recovery, Carla said it has been an extremely ‘hard’ process, while it has been a ‘battle’ to find the right medications for her, which now help to ‘dull’ the voices that she still hears.

She explained: ‘I still have my voices, the medication dulls them but it hasn’t completely meant that they’ve done, so I still experience voices and I still get delusional thoughts every now and again. 

Confessions from My Delusional Mind: Memoirs from my Time Spent in a Psychiatric Hospital is available on Amazon now

‘It’s really been a battle to get on the right medication, to get the right treatment and really continue with my recovery. It’s hard, it really is hard.’ 

After being discharged from hospital for the fifth time, Carla said she focused on looking after herself without adding any extra pressures. 

Carla said she now recognises the warning signs of her mental illness and knows if she isn’t sleeping, eating, drinking or walking her dogs, then she is likely becoming unwell again and knows to reach out to her family or GP.

Carla also admitted that her biggest fears are relapsing or doing something she regrets while in a psychotic state.

Carla started writing her thought-provoking memoir in September to help her work through the ‘unresolved issues’ she had from her treatment and she hopes it will prompt other people to have open conversations about mental illness.

She continued: ‘I had a lot of unresolved issues in terms of my treatment, how I was treated and how I felt I should have been treated, and I think working through my own story really helped me to come to terms with that and helped me to see that actually, I don’t want other people to have to go through this without being informed of their choices, their rights, and the information and advice that should be out there for people.’

Carla went on to say that although people are beginning to speak more openly about mental health, mental illnesses still remain stigmatised and ‘hidden behind the scenes’.

Making an ‘important’ distinction between the two, Carla explained that although everyone has good and bad mental health, not everyone will experience a mental illness in their lives.

She said: ‘There is a distinction between mental illness and mental health and I think that is really important to get across. 

‘Mental health, yes, is becoming more talked about and people are raising awareness about it, but mental illness is not being talked about, it is being hidden behind the scenes and people aren’t really getting on board with the message that yes we can ask for help, but nobody is talking about what that helps look like.

‘Everyone has mental health, everyone has good mental health and everyone has bad mental health, but not everyone will experience a mental illness. 

‘And mental illness is what we need to start talking about, on the back of the really good work that’s already been done to raise awareness for good mental health and all the initiatives that are coming out and being supported by celebrities and people in a higher status. 

‘All that work is really, really good but now is the time to have that conversation as well and say that there are people suffering from mental illness.’  

Confessions from My Delusional Mind: Memoirs from my Time Spent in a Psychiatric Hospital is available on Amazon now. 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, call the Samaritans 24 hour helpline on 116 123.

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