Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH 1001 Queen Unit 2-3)

Name of Hospital: CAMH 1001 Queen Unit 2-3

City, State/Province, Country: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: I spent 11 months (!!!) on this ward after having my housing taken away from me by the system. This is a schizophrenia ward, and though I don’t actually have schizophrenia, I was basically brainwashed every day by the staff there into accepting the schizophrenia and/or schizoaffective disorder labels (the psychiatrist there would often say she “hadn’t decided which it was yet”). Because, you know, it’s all VERY scientific!

There was zero recreational therapy, which was bizarre, since we did had a rec therapist, so most days were spent staring at the burnt out old television, listening to easy listening on the radio (ugh), or getting away with whatever we could privately in our rooms. The lighting was bad, the ceilings were low (this is one butt ugly ward, BTW – we’re talking a cinder block motif for the walls kind of ugly), and the food and the cocktail of meds they fed me kept me constipated. I developed 3 infections during my stay, and the ward itself was so filthy that often instead of getting someone to clean up a mess, they would just lock off a bathroom entirely. There was little to no regard for the privacy of anyone, including people with incontinence issues.

Several times I was shoved into a freezing cold locked seclusion cell (for crying too much), once I was aggressively tied to a bed in said cell with 5 point restraints and left that way for at least 6 hours. If I made any art (and I did, to keep from going even madder) it was criticized for being “too dark”. Privileges were stripped at the drop of a hat. When a male patient laid his hands on me, and I yelled at him to back off, I was the one called out for MY behaviour. Oh, and we had a computer we could use, but without any explanation, it was one day whisked away and the room was transformed into another psychiatric interview room – great.

The one and a half stars go to the staff who actually made the stay slightly bearable – there weren’t that many, but my primary nurse, for example, was very compassionate.

One other interesting thing to note: though they would constantly tell me I had an incurable schizophrenia, one day, after discharge, the psychiatrist called my mother, and said to her on the phone: “Well the good news is – your daughter does NOT have schizophrenia. The bad news is, we don’t know what she has, which makes her hard to treat.”

Psychiatric coercion never ceases to amaze me.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Inpatient

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: asexual – though I don’t think this was an issue

Year(s) : 2008-2009

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