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Resource type: Article

Feeling anxious, low or sad

It's very common and completely understandable to feel anxious or low after transfer to the general ward.You may feel this way for any number of reasons, not least that you are in the very early stages of recovery from a serious illness, operation or accident.

You don't have to deal with this alone. Speak to your family, your friends and the ward staff. When we asked a former patient for his "top tip" on recovery, he had this to say

"It's very important to let people help you.There are a lot of people around who have your best interests at heart...most importantly your family.People are more than willing to help you. Try to let them understand, as much as possible, what you're going through.Don't be afraid to get emotional about it. If you take the help that's offered...your recovery will be a lot quicker "

An unexpected illness, complication or accident

You may still be struggling to come to terms with how ill you were, especially if you became ill very quickly or unexpectedly (if things didn't go as planned during routine surgery, for example, or if you had an accident). It's common to worry that you might suddenly become ill again, without any apparent warning.  Try to remember that hospital is the right place to be, and that there are highly trained staff all around you.

Not remembering or having strange dreams

Some patients remember little of their time in Intensive Care, or their memories might be "jumbled" in amongst some strange (but very real) dreams, such that it's difficult to make sense of what's happened."Coming to" to find that you have been so ill can be very upsetting, especially if you don't remember much about becoming ill. The strange dreams that people often have can be very frightening or upsetting.

Feeling isolated

Patients often tell us that they feel quite isolated on the general wards. This can be due to things like restricted visiting hours, having less nursing staff around, or staff who are very busy with other patients; feeling that the staff don't understand how ill you've been or that they expect too much of you, or being in a side room (e.g. due to infection). Some patients feel that they don't want their loved ones  (particularly small children or grandchildren) to see them when they are tired or weak or look very different than their normal selves.

"I can understand why they put him in a side room.He was still really quite ill and it was just opposite the nurses' station...but he (husband) just felt so isolated".

Not quite understanding why you feel so weak 

"I just didn't have any concept of how weak my body was.

Worrying about the future

Recovery will take time, after being very ill.

"One of the fears I have is...will I ever get back to who I was?"

"I’m really low. I’m assuming I’m a bit depressed. I just get rid of one thing and something else starts."