Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Staying in a Psych Ward - My Experience

Today, I want to share my experience about being hospitalized.

I’ve suffered from mental health disorders since about 12 years old. I knew there was something wrong with me and I’ve lived with it since then. I’ve not dealt with it in healthy ways. My depression has depleted my motivation for as long as I can remember. There are days where I can’t feel anything, like today for example.
Because of these feelings, I feel the need to hurt myself so I can feel something. I’ll find ways to self-harm so that I can feel better. If I let the feeling of nothingness build up long enough, I get extremely overwhelmed and extremely suicidal. And I hate that, because it worries everyone who cares about me.

I expressed my concerns about my safety to our campus counseling services and they thought it was appropriate to send for a Temporary Detention Orders from the Magistrate’s Office. This was the first time I had been treated for my mental illness. Although I wasn’t sure what the experience would be like, I certainly didn’t expect what I received. I was there for 6 days, and I am going to attempt to recall my feelings day by day.

Day One- I was escorted off campus by Campus Police, handcuffed, and taken to the local hospital for screening. I was there for 6 hours, naked without anything but a hospital gown and a blanket to cover me. They wouldn’t allow me to have my cell phone and my only company were the officers who had brought me there, and even then they barely talked to me. A lady came in and arranged for me to be transferred to a hospital with a mental health ward. I chose the hospital closest to where I lived so that my fiancée, boyfriend at the time, could come see me while I was there.
Later that night, a police officer from the county where I live came to drive me to the hospital. I think the thing I was most excited about at that moment was the fact that I could put on my clothes. The Campus Police officers explained that I had been very well behaved and didn’t even really need to be handcuffed because I was totally willing to go with him. The man talked to me the entire way to the hospital and even let me have my cell phone to talk to my fiancée, who was extremely worried about me being hospitalized. We had a pleasant conversation all the way there.
When we arrived at the hospital, I was signed in and got the little bracelet that had my information on it. I had noticed that the ward for mental health patients was very hidden from the rest of the hospital. We took a rickety elevator to the second floor and took a few doors that looked extremely old and had to pass a lot of locks to actually get into the ward. When I got into the ward itself, they took my bag full of clothes and essentials, checked it, and gave me some of the stuff in it. They took my shoes but let me keep my clothing. A nurse asked me a few questions and then I was free to go to bed. I cried most of the night because I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t that. The beds were extremely uncomfortable.

Day 2- I had a court hearing with a judge regarding how long I would stay there. It was extremely intimidating. Before the hearing, two social workers asked me a few questions and used everything bad that I had told my counselor against me. They testified during the hearing that I was a danger to myself and others around me. The judge ruled that I was involuntarily admitted for up to 30 days and my stomach sunk. I could barely breathe. I pleaded that I didn’t need to be there and that I just wanted to go back to school but there was no use. They believed that I absolutely needed to be there. I ran back to the room they assigned me and sobbed, no, SCREAMED about wanting to go home and wanting to see my beloved. Later that evening, I had to see a psychiatrist. She gave me a prescription for Zoloft and I slept the rest of the day, until visiting hours. My beloved had come to see me! I was so happy. I was so afraid earlier because I was in a different place, but seeing him lit up my entire world. I hugged him as tight as I could, kissed his face all over and cried into his chest. I was still loopy from the medication affecting my body, so I’m not entirely sure of what we talked about. I only remember seeing him as my knight in shining armor. That night, I didn’t cry.

Day 3- They upped my dosage of Zoloft. Joshua couldn’t come see me that day because he had to work during visiting hours, but my family came to see me. My grandparents and my mother came. They were worried sick about me and I had later learned that my grandpa had stayed in the same place for about a week, in 2002. My grandma told me that I didn’t belong there because I wasn’t crazy, my grandpa was glad he wasn’t the only crazy one and teased me, and my mom was just worried. After seeing them, I felt a tiny bit better. I still missed Josh and I couldn’t even call him that night because we weren’t allowed to use the phones after 10pm. I can’t really remember the rest of the day after that.

Day 4- I had gotten used to being there by Day 4. I played board games. I talked to the other patients. I had a friend there from school (whom I will not name) and we were finally comfortable. We talked about things we were going to do when we got out. We walked continuously up and down the hallway. She and I found it hilarious that two people in the ward had begun flirting with one another and eventually become a couple. The nurses were on their toes making sure that these two people weren’t making out in the corners of the hallway. We were amused. I was slightly used to my medicine and my beloved had come to see me. I finally felt at peace. I stopped worrying about my school work and accepted my situation as it was, and doing so made my days a whole hell of a lot quicker.
Day 5- They made me sign papers for my discharge. They made me make sure that I had a ride for the next day, back to my college campus. I was so giddy. My friend and I were getting out on the same day. A new girl had come to the ward that day and after group, my friend and I had made a joke about the PDA of the couple. This lady screamed at me and eventually had to be sedated because I apparently had said something about her. This made me extremely anxious.

Day 6- FREEDOM. I was finally able to leave. My grandparents picked me up and took me back to school at around 3pm. I had never felt so relieved to breathe fresh air and be outside.

The following few days after I had come back from the hospital were weird and I had to adjust to living in normal society once again, which was… a challenge to say the least. My friends hadn’t really even noticed I was gone and I sunk right back into the same mood I had before I had left. I didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things; you know? Like, life went on smoothly without me and that discouraged me for about a week.

But enough whining. I hope this gives you some insight on mental health treatments. While being hospitalized was not a bad thing for me, it still wasn’t the best experience ever. I’m grateful for the treatment, I suppose.

Thank you for patiently reading through my extremely personal experience. I really needed to get this out of my system.