What it's like inside a psychiatric institution

What it's like inside a psychiatric institution

At 12 am in March of 2014, police officers rushed into my quiet hospital room and told me I had 5 minutes to get ready go to the nearest psychiatric institution. I had recovered psychically from a suicide attempt, but had to be involuntarily admitted to the psychiatric facility. Policemen put me in handcuffs and walked on either side of me until we were outside the building. Because I didn't resist or try to run away, they didn't put on the ankle cuffs. The psychiatric institution I was admitted to has a very bad reputation, if you read the Google reviews. They are completely true. The officers had mistakenly gotten me a day early, so I sat until 4 in the morning in the silent, empty waiting room. Finally they took me in the back room, asking me the basic questions to be admitted. When she asked about my religion, I told her i was an atheist and she openly shamed and judged me.

Nurses led me back to the ward I would be staying in, and took me to the medical room, where I underwent an invasive psychical exam where the nurses checked for marks of self-harm or abuse. After that was more questions to be admitted, and by that time it was 6 am. I had an hour and 1/2 to sleep before I was expected to get up at the same time as the other kids on my hall. With no instruction of where I was supposed to go or do in the morning, I wandered aimlessly trying to find the cheap toothpaste samples. My parents were bringing me clothes and toiletries later, but at the moment I was wearing a too-big hospital gown and had nothing with me. Clothes couldn't have strings, shoes couldn't have laces, and everything brought in was scanned for traces of metal. We stood in a long line for our morning medication. Unlike the nurses, the kids on my hall were mostly kind and helpful. I didn't know what I thought they would be like, but they were all around my age, and I instantly made friends, one of which I still talk to today.

I was amazed to hear the stories of some of these boys and girls. Alexa (not using real names of course) had undergone years of abuse but sang so beautifully and said she wanted to do it professionally one day. Danielle was anorexic, but was smart and a good writer. Bella had cut off her hair and did not speak, but we laughed together for a long time about things that didn't need to be put into words. John had scars all over his arms, but was so funny and was always helping out the kids that needed it. One girl that really stuck out to me was Olivia. She was schizophrenic and severely traumatized. Every minute or so, she would ask if everything was going to be okay. The nurses gave her Hello Kitty coloring books and told us not to talk to her. John always sat with her and said that yes, she was going to be all right. I was told that in the hospital there would be intensive therapy, but I was very misled. We had a group session every other morning or so, where we had no chance to speak, a lot of the kids were disrespectful and disruptive, and the therapists spoke about things completely irrelevant to my life. Other than that, we sat in the main room for about 3/4s of the day. And when I say this, I am not exaggerating. They put Nickelodeon on the quiet TV and locked us inside. There wasn't enough chairs for everyone. When I asked to get my book from my room, I wasn't allowed to. We stared at the wall for hours. Fights broke out, and the nurses didn't break them up until the last minute. Sometimes the staff would come in and curse us out for random things. They blame your illnesses on you. The environment was tense. Staff would comment on people's psychical appearances or make racist jokes even though it was obvious that it made the person uncomfortable.

One day they made fun of me for anxiety I couldn't control in front of the entire group. We walked in single file to the meals. Using knives wasn't allowed and they took away the salt and pepper to punish us. We would rotate to the playground outside, the art room where we colored with dry markers, and the gym with mostly flat balls and a basketball hoop in the middle. An hour and 1/2 each night was parent visiting hours. My parents came every night, but the majority of the kids lived far away from the hospital and were allowed a 5-10 minute phone call. Alexa had driven 4 hours to that psych ward in that police car with the handcuffs on and nothing to entertain herself. At night, the staff walked in each room with a big flashlight every 15 minutes. my roommate Allie & I talked for hours about our lives to help each other fall asleep. When someone was leaving, we all made them cards during art and hugged them goodbye. I was a patient there for about a week. All in all, it was a very negative and stressful environment, designed to simply babysit rather than provide appropriate care. The mental health system is very flawed.

On the bright side of things I am in a much better place in my life now. 

Cover Image From Google

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