A woman native to this newspaper’s circulation area, who was admitted to psychiatric facilities within the State in the mid-to-late 1970s, has spoken of her continued sense of disenfranchisement.
The woman, whom we’ll refer to as ‘Caroline’ given the sensitivity of the topic, said that psychiatric patients, many of whom suffered greatly in certain facilities remained the ‘forgotten abused generation’.
“This isn’t about money and it’s important to let that be known”, said Caroline, who is currently taking legal advice on her position.
“I was admitted to two different units, was administered medication which led to me losing the sight in my left eye and acquiring badly affected sight in my right eye. What I experienced robbed me of the life I ought to have had.”
She continued: “I don’t know if anything will come from this – I might have to go all the way to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg for all I know.
“But I feel this is something I have to do because what I was subjected to was horrific. And while nothing can ever give me back the best years of my life, I have to try and find some justice so that I can try and get on with the rest of my life.”
Caroline exclusively told The Munster Express about what happened to her in one particular unit, to which she had been admitted due to two factors as identified by her.
“My family thought, well, no, they decided I was anorexic”, she said. “I am a short woman and I’ve never been able to put on weight, it’s the way I’ve always been and it’s the way I still am over 30 years later.
“Secondly, they didn’t agree with my lifestyle. Because of this they decided there was something wrong with me and sent me away, which led me to being injected with powerful tranquilisers like largactil.”
Largactil is an anti-psychotic medication used in the treatment of ‘disorganised’ and psychotic thinking according to one online definition. It’s also used to treat patients suffering delusions and hallucinations.
“On both occasions in which I was admitted, I spoke with nurses who told me that there was no way I should have been there”, added Caroline. “But there was nothing they could do for me because of where the decision-making power rested in both places.”
She continued: “I had no desire whatsoever to be sent to either unit. And the time I spent in both places has marked me for the rest of my life.
“The drugs I was injected with detached the retina from my left eye and drastically affected the quality of my life. I, like God knows how many other people, was abused in these units.
Not the best place
“But because I was put into psychiatric care, as far as lot of people were concerned, that meant there was something wrong with me, that I was deeply troubled, which made those places, as far as they were concerned, the best place for me. They were anything but.
“I was put into psychiatric care under false pretences. I was left stranded. I was knocked out because of the drugs that were injected into me, so much so that I can’t remember most of my time in either of those two horrible places. How can anyone say that’s right?”
Caroline feels that the stigma associated with being admitted to mental health institutions is as evident today as it was 30 years ago.
“It hasn’t changed one iota. And I don’t know if what I’m doing now is going to help either myself or anyone else who suffered this form of abuse, because that’s exactly what it was. But it’s something I feel I have to do.
“I feel that people who were admitted to such institutions have been forgotten about. Now given everything that’s been said and written about the Ryan Report – and it was only right that it was published – but I have to speak up. I have to at least try to do something. I was abused too.”