My Inpatient Psychiatric Stay ~ Day One

My nurse gave me quick tour of the unit, which was essentially one long hallway with semi-private rooms to the right and the nursing station, the common room, the classrooms/therapy rooms, and the dining room to the left. No TVs in the patient rooms, and the sinks and toilet were specially made so that no one could disassemble them and use a piece of metal to harm themselves. This was actually a huge relief, since it meant I’d be allowed to use the bathroom with the door closed. On the monitored unit with the sitter I’d had to leave the door open . . . and I have a shy bladder. 

There were also no phones in the patient rooms, only one phone on the wall in the hallway that was turned off during “group” sessions because we were all highly encouraged to go to “group”. The cord on the phone was extremely short – presumably to make it more difficult to hang oneself. What things do you think you would miss the most? For me, it was my phone (so many interesting things to tweet about), a pen (I’m constantly writing notes to myself or making lists on my phone), and my chapstick. I had to go to the nurses’ desk, get someone’s attention, and ask for my chapstick whenever I wanted it. I use chapstick about a thousand times a day. And the air in the hospital is especially dry. I also would have missed my hairclip, but they overlooked it in my mess of curls on the way in, so I kept it and just made sure it was hidden in my hair. So much better than the elastic bands everyone else was reduced to 🙂

I caught on quick that attending “group” and interacting was rewarded with better treatment from the staff, so I showed up only a tad late for the first scheduled activity after lunch. I don’t remember what it was called on the daily schedule posted across from the nurses’ station – something vague. When I entered the room, there were a bunch of patients and one therapist gathered around a table with pieces of paper and scented markers. Yes, scented markers. Everyone was in jammies and socks, sniffing markers. I couldn’t help but laugh. Unfortunately, these people take their scented marker sessions seriously. There were people refusing to draw, refusing to talk about their drawings, and stomping out mid-drawing in a huff. I drew and shared, and realized that, on paper, I was probably the most crazy person there. Or at least the one with the most serious diagnosis. Hmm.

After supper, which we all ate together, except for the people who refused to eat (sadly, I’m never too depressed to eat) we had our one hour of visiting time. My friends and family switched off since only two people were allowed back at a time, and I felt really awful for the people who had no visitors. Really bad. Like, volunteering to visit with strangers in the future bad. After visiting time was done I asked for a pain pill and a muscle relaxer. I never got the muscle relaxer and the pain pill didn’t get to me until two hours later, by which time I was literally writhing on my bed, sobbing with pain. Even after the pain pill my neck pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep, so to keep from disturbing my roomate I spent the night on a loveseat in the hallway. As if the crying, loud swearing, and retching on our hallway wasn’t enough I belatedly realized the dementia ward was just on the other side of the dining room. So those moans, prayers, and cries for help just added to the din.

This is the fourth in a series of six posts about my recent attempt to end my life. Here are links to the firstsecond and third. I’m sharing details and insights from my inpatient and outpatient experiences as well as my ongoing care. Please feel free to comment, but realize I reserve the right to delete anything malicious. And while Michael and I have chosen to be open about the incident I’d prefer anyone who knows my children “in real life” to respect their privacy and let them process this experience their own way, in their own time.  I’ll be linking up each Wednesday to Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can’t Say.

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11 thoughts on “My Inpatient Psychiatric Stay ~ Day One”

  1. Oh my heart… I am so glad you are getting the help you desperately needed! I now much go back to read the other posts I have missed. I was a music therapist in inpatient Psych hospitals for many years. I have the ‘inside scoop’ as to the goings on. I’m guessing that was an art therapist facilitating the group!! However, the arts modalities have most shamefully been cut in many various programs and facilities everywhere due to insurance and managed care…

    I went from working with patients for months to working with them for days. Sometimes 24-48 hours… and it was heartbreaking to release them too soon.

    Powerful healing can take place between those walls. I know. I do pray that is what happened to you. Will be anxious to find out as you continue to share your precious and private journey with us.

    It’s an honor to be ‘invited’ into your world. Thank you for that. For your authenticity and in sharing, may many read it all and be inspired and blessed.

    (Found you at PYHO!)

    1. Thank you so much for your comments and your prayers! I’m a nurse, so I’ve seen elsewhere all the changes demanded by the insurance companies – it’s heartbreaking to know that so many people are not getting the care they need, and that the siruation will get worse before it gets better 🙁

  2. I truly feel like I’m reading about my husband’s recent stay in the hospital. He related similar stories to me all the time. Thank you for sharing. I feel like I can relate a little more to where he was through your posts.

    1. I’ve been amazed at how many people out there have had similar experiences. And men and women notice such completely different things about the situations they are in that I can imagine my story has many different details from your husband’s. (I suspect he didn’t complain about the ban on hairclips and chapstick!)

  3. I’m so glad you’re sharing your story. There are so many of us who can relate to your experience with depression.

    Okay, so I have to ask, why did they not let you keep your chapstick? I’m trying to figure out a way to misuse it but can’t. 🙂

  4. thank you so much for sharing this. I have struggled with mental health issues and diagnosis for some time and its a relief to connect with others who have gone through some of the things that I have.

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