Mental Illness

My (Brief) Experience in the Psychiatric Hospital.

Two days before my 21st birthday, my depression was at its worst. I was actively suicidal 90% of the time, I was angry at everything, and even the smallest things set me off into a spiral of self-hatred.

I knew it was time I did something about it.

M had been in the psychiatric hospital several times before, so I already knew there was a good one in my town. I decided to check myself in. M went with me, and I filled out all the paperwork before talking with a nurse.

She determined that I needed inpatient care (where you stay overnight in the hospital with nurses checking on you every 15 minutes… literally) even though I wanted day treatment (kind of like inpatient except it’s only Monday – Friday during the day only).

I knew right away that I probably wasn’t going to like this, but I thought I would at least give it a shot. After all, maybe it would work out for the best. I needed a break, and I would have literally nothing to do in inpatient except talk and think about my feelings.

The first order of business was taking everything I could use to hurt myself: shoelaces, belts, jewelry, etc. All of it went into a brown paper bag that I would have returned to me when I left the hospital.

The second thing they did was have me strip naked and check me for drugs. They looked in my mouth and in a bunch of other places I won’t list to spare you the mental image. Suffice it to say they were very thorough in where they looked. (I later found out that this was because the hospital I was staying in also had rehab patients in with the psychiatric patients, so that made a lot more sense.)

After that, I was given a special pair of socks with little grippies on the bottom so that I wouldn’t slip on the tile floor. I was shown to my room and left alone to get acclimated. At this point, I was still somewhat okay with being here.

I didn’t get a chance to attend group therapy that day because I was checked in too late, but I did get to have lunch, dinner, recreation time, and art. Art was my favorite (and most relaxing) part. (For those who don’t know, I love art.)

It was when I went to go to bed that the real problems started.

This sounds kind of silly, but I’d never spent a night away from my husband since we moved in together a couple years before. This time, I was in my own room in a super uncomfortable bed all by myself. This did not sit well with me.

I got up to write because that usually makes me feel better. I was allowed to have a special kind of pen and a little notebook. I sat at the desk attached to the dressers in my room and sobbed while I wrote. I tried to keep it quiet because, get this, I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy. It was a little late for that, but whatever.

A really sweet nurse came in to check on me shortly after I started crying (I told you, it was every 15 minutes). Of course, she saw the tears and the red face, so she asked what was wrong. I spilled my heart out to her, telling her how I missed my husband and how I wanted to go home and how I really didn’t belong here and could she please talk to someone about letting me go home?

She listened patiently to my babbling, and told me that everything was going to be okay. I know that sounds like a typical response, but her tone and her eyes told me that she was being genuine. I thanked her and said I was going to try to go to bed again.

I ended up taking some medicine that straight knocked me out for 8 straight hours.

The next morning, I woke up and decided that I was going home that day. I didn’t want to, I couldn’t, endure another night like the last one. I knew I was going to see my assigned doctor that day, so I made a point of preparing a speech about how I didn’t really want to kill myself, I just wanted help. I didn’t belong in inpatient because I wasn’t a danger to myself or anyone else. I just knew I needed help and didn’t see another way to get it.

I ended up talking to my doctor, and he was actually confused as to why I was in inpatient. I was discharged that day, and I’ve never felt more grateful for the little things in life. I could walk around my apartment without someone looking at me. I could have shoes with laces and it be perfectly fine. I could cuddle my husband whenever I wanted.

Although brief, my experience in the psychiatric hospital was intense. It showed me things I never knew about myself. For instance, I never knew how much I loved nature until I couldn’t see it anymore. I never knew how much I appreciated my husband snuggling me when we go to bed until I had to sleep alone. It was really eye-opening.

Stay tuned for part two of this post when I talk about my experience in day treatment.

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