I hope my readers are taking it day by day. Remember don’t ever let the light inside of you dim. This month’s topic I’m going to address is ”Why hospitalization is so important and what important and positive role does it play in a person’s recovery. This will be a long entry because I have a lot to say about it and will be sharing my own journey with you.
Let me take you back, back to the time when I was 16 years old when my own bipolar was at its worst, which led to my own hospitalizations. I am 35 now, yet when I look back to then it feels like another lifetime, other times it feels like yesterday.
I was 16 and my depression had spiraled out of control, I was suicidal. And I needed to be stabilized. Don who was my boyfriend at the time brought me to the hospital; I can only imagine what was going through his head at the time. As I sat here and reflect of where my journey began I asked hubby what was it like for you back then? What went through your mind that very first time? He said Natalie, I was very scared, didn’t know what the hospital was going to do. At the time I was uneducated of the process, he tells me as he chokes back tears, it was a very difficult time for us both. What some don’t understand is it is tough not only on the person who needs stabilization but their loved one, whether that’s a spouse or a child or another family member.
His uneducated view at the time made him think of how they portrayed hospitals in movies and the stigma that would follow it. Plus, I am sure the fear of what would others think. Fear of what he had seen in those movies of people just being institute as if they’re in a holding cell and not truly helped, but treated as a guinea pig, those thoughts crowed my mind my hubby told me. Such a harsh reality of what psychiatric hospitals used to be like many years ago.
Anyone being faced with this ordeal of hospitalization it can be scary or knowing what kind of hospital it is. But in those early years I had to educate myself, besides that first time I had to be admitted so it later would help me understand and it took the fear away. I never in a million years pictured myself locked up in a psych ward, especially at the young age of 16, surrouned by strangers, fighting the same war, to be one of my biggest supporters and sources of strength while in there.
I don’t so much want to focus on what leads to a hospitalization, in this entry, as my goal of this is to let you know what being hospitalized is like, so the fear that many of you may have about taking that next step if you feel you need that stabilization or even if your being put there, the fear will diminish some, because you will see the benefits and what to expect. I understand both!
I said my goodbyes to Don, he told me he would be visiting me as soon as the doctors allowed, with tears in his eyes he hugged me tightly, I dint want to let go of his embrace. He reassured me this was for the best to get me the help I needed, and so the doctors could regulate or change my meds if need be and get me stabilized. I couldn’t see at the time what the positive in the situation was, I dont want to be there. I just wanted it all to end because the thought of the daily inner turmoil and depression that I felt the thought was too much for me.
I remember the moment I walked through the doors they locked behind me, I looked out, at the outside world, I asked myself when this is all said and done will I be ready to face that world again? They told me where my room was, the room at the end of a very long hallway, as I walked to my room with my belongings in my hand, I had never felt so alone, trusted with very little, while the rest was put away and I could only access it with permission. The reality of the situation finally set in and the tears started rolling down my face, I felt alone and so fearful.
The first night was the worst, sleep was almost hard to find, I tossed and it turned, only to have 15 minute checks to make sure I was ok. After a day or two those changed to half hour checks, because the first few days if your there because your suicidal, your on suicide watch which means no privileges. The doctors have to keep you on that for 72 hours and if you showed improvement then you would be moved up on the level system which meant more privileges.
The next morning we had to get up early they wanted us on a strict routine, that’s a important aspect of the structure of the way the hospital works. After breakfast, we would have big group meeting which would be a time to get to know the other patients and offer each other support. Then we were assigned groups based on what our personal needs were. Of my favorite groups was the art class, encouraged to portray our feelings in a creative way, and made some awesome crafts and wood projects. They kept us very busy. We would meet with our doctor, our caseworker, our family and then throughout the week we would have combined meetings with our team to come up with best treatment plan.
Being hospitalized especially against your will is scary, but its for the best interest of the patient to get the help they need, it can be scary, that first time, not knowing what to expect and when so much is taken from us, its change, the doctors are there to help you make the changes you need to make and change is scary. Yet like with everything in life you can fight it or you can embrace it, I will be honest, I didn’t always embrace the change. But if you’re willing to except the help they offer its so worth the outcome. No one likes living on the edge of their sanity, so embrace it, step by step, change doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t be hard on yourself.
My hospitalizations lasted anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks, depending on how severe my lack of mental stability was. Sometimes it wasn’t that I was suicidal, my meds just needed to be adjusted, so those would be shorter stays at times. Part of embracing the treatment is letting your guard down and talking opening and honestly with your doctors. Over the years I had 9 inpatient stays on the psych wards.
I’ve felt every emotion, been to the edge of loosing myself. There is good news there is hope, there is always Hope! The light that once lit up your life can return. It’s been 12 LONG years since I’ve had to be hospitalized for my bipolar, yes I’ve been stable that long, I’m only on 1 med for my depression.
I know though if I had never walked a long corridor to the door at the end of the hallway in that psychiatric hospital I never would of fully known or understood why you’re afraid or how you feel or to be able to empathize with you. I do care and I am here for you!