I have been in psychiatric hospitals many times in my life. At least once a year since 2010 but it has been known to happen several times in one year. My stay is usually between 2 to 6 weeks. Though sometimes it has been a week or for several months.
Since my Mum and Stepdad have died I have no one to bring me belongings into hospital. When I was in hospital in 2015 my Mum was even kind enough to do my washing each week. The thing I found even when I had my Mum and Stepdad was they got fed up having to bring things in all the time. My Mum let me suffer sometimes without anything. In recent years my boyfriend used to buy or bring my clothes in for me (we are not together anymore).
I have been admitted into hospital without any belongings before. It is not a nice experience to be stuck in the same clothes with no toiletries. I will have no phone charger either. Plus I get bored very quickly. Sometimes there is no books in the ward which means I struggle due to the lack of stimulation. I need distractions. A television thats shared with other patients and not much Occupational Therapy is a nightmare for me. Even in prisons they have libraries. I see other patients have similar challenges so I often give them shower gel if I have it and let them use my phone charger. I encourage them to order things in from Amazon to the hospital.
For my last admission I thankfully had a small travel case packed and waiting next to my front door for several months. The new one pictured above is my new one. When I was struggling with delusions in May 2023 a police officer came to collect me. The office immediately noticed my travel case with this sign on it next to the door so prompted me to take it with me. So this worked out well for me.
Unfortunately “I lost the plot” in Accident & Emergency, the delusions got very bad and the police had to restrain me. Blood tests were taken from me and my travel case searched. I have never done drugs but that was probably their natural suspicion so it would have came up negative anyway. These people wouldn’t know my condition and history like me. They were probably following procedure and it’s thought much psychosis is caused by substance abuse but not me. They sadly broke the zip of my travel case and so the one you see pictured is my replacement I bought after hospital. I had to use my belt to hold my old travel case together when coming home from the hospital on the bus.
Once I was in hospital I was grateful to have my travel case. In it were my teddy, toiletries, an old tablet, my charger, Jeans, T-Shirts and underwear. I unfortunately lost my phone but I was able to use the hospital WIFI on my tablet to order a Bible in from Amazon. The WIFI in hospital is a new facility in recent years. I ended up donating my Bible to the ward. Hopefully someone else finds it useful. I just read scripture for days, I started to feel better having my meals done for me and help to sleep. I was able to go home after a week.
This new travel case seems to make better use of space so I have packed more for my next hospital admission (I hope not but it’s likely given my history). I have made a list of things I have packed in case you wish to do the same:
- Small Teddy
- Squidgie (like a stress ball for hands)
- Toiletry bag
- Roll on Deodorant (ward won’t allows sprays)
- Electric Shaver with charger (Will be stored by staff somewhere safe)
- Shower gel
- Nail clippers (Will be stored by staff somewhere safe)
- Phone Chargers (Micro USB and USB-3)
- Plug with 4 USB ports on it
- Old Amazon Tablet (I have some Star Trek episodes on a Micro-SD card)
- 5x T-Shirts (just old cheap ones from Primark)
- 2x pairs of Jeans (old stuff)
- 5x pairs of Socks (old stuff)
- 5x pairs of Trunks (old stuff)
- Pair of old trainers (Emergency services have sometimes took me without shoes!)
- Holy Bible
- Pen and writing Pad
- Pair of glasses
- Wired headphones
- A set of door keys for home
- £20 cash in notes and £5 in £1 coins (useful for bus/train home or a shop.)
- 3x Envelopes and a Book of 4x First class Stamps
- Contact details of Independent Mental Health Act advocates available to the hospitals in my area.
I wouldn’t advice keeping anything too valuable or anything you wouldn’t want to lose in hospital. Except your phone of course but always keep that with you! I have had my Teddy disappear overnight (must have literally been snatched from me asleep!), a laptop go missing and lots of other less valuable things. I’ve often lost my wallet and keys but that seems to happen on the way to hospital a lot (Sometimes I’ve had delusions to dump them!).
I have vacuum packed my clothes this time to ensure everything can fit in the travel case. I might not be able to pack my bag going home but I’m happy to just throw a few old T-Shirts away. I have thought of adding a cheap dumb phone as well.
I hope this is helpful to those who are psychiatric veterans like me and can’t count on a next of kin to help you. And even if you can, a travel case like this will make their life much easier.