"If a loved one of yours has had to go into hospital, please do go and visit them. Your being there will make all the difference. Don’t be scared of what to say. Say anything. Say nothing. Ask them how they are. Talk about a film you’ve seen recently, or your cats, or the fact that your boiler’s on the blink. It doesn’t matter, just sharing your solidarity at a difficult time: it breathes life into any situation, no matter how hard it seems."
This is important. Really, really important.
When I was in hospital my sister came to see me. We talked and joked and hugged. When she left, the nurse who had been watching me said how different I had been.
“It was like seeing you as a person, rather than a patient.”
This is the difference it makes. It not only shows the staff that you have an identity beyond the ward, it shows you that, too. My sister knows me as a whole person, with interests and quirks and dislikes and ideas and abilities. She brought that with her when she visited me, and in doing so she helped me hold onto my identity. Unlike everyone else in that building, she didn’t see me primarily as a psychiatric patient.