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Despite being 61 years old, having my first depressive episode in my twenties, dx'ed with MDD at 40, which was changed to bipolar II at 50, I have never been hospitalized, so I have some rookie questions about voluntary admittance due to suicidal thoughts.

The hospital I would go to is a regular medical hospital with a decent-sized pysch ward, and here are my questions:

Is it likely that I could be admitted directly to the pysch ward, or would I have to go through the ER?

My state has a 72 hour minimum mandatory stay length if you're involuntarily committed. I know I need to look at the statute to be sure, but is the mandatory stay time likely to be applicable even if you're there voluntarily?

In reading other patient experiences, it seems like it's typical to be in a shared room (although coronavirus may have changed that), and that there are bed checks every 15 minutes all night long. Has that been true for you?

I have read that during the day you have to be in the common area, so no daytime naps, and lots of forced socializing, and the TV is on all day. Is that likely to be true?

I have also read that cell phones aren't allowed, and you can't bring your own toiletries, or books, or really any private possessions. Is that correct?

I understand that I could find a lot of this out by calling the hospital, but I'm paranoid that through the magic of GPS tracking, they would send the cops to come and visit, and possibly take me to the hospital. It would be the same hospital where I have been getting ECT, so they have my records, and know my regular pdoc, although he's in private practice.

ECT is back up and running but I'm trying to hold onto my job, so haven't had the luxury of going as much as I apparently need to. (ECT is an all-day activity.) This depressive episode is kicking my ass, and I don't know what to do, which is why I'm seriously considering the hospital. Any input you may have, or hospital experiences you're willing to share, are greatly appreciated.

My last comment is that I wish there was some kind of psychiatric urgent care. I know it would be helpful to talk to a professional right now, but I'm not sure I'm ready to sign up for a minimum three day hospital stay.

Edited by Catnapper
{edited for typos}
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When I was in the hospital there were plenty of people who came in for just a single night. I was surprised because I didn't feel ill but they kept me for over 2 weeks by threatening to make me pay in full because insurance wouldn't cover me if I left before they decided to discharge me (I entered voluntarily under the thought I could leave when I felt better). This was a long time ago so I don't know if they can do that anymore.

People who had actively tried to commit suicide came in and stayed for such a short time. I considered their issues to be more life threatening than mine was. 

I was allowed to bring in books and a sketchbook (I was forced to use crayons though). 

Edited by saintalto
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An update a few hours after I wrote the original post:

I called my pdoc's after-hours number and spoke with the doctor on call ( multi-provider practice).  She said that if the hospital pdoc thinks I'm stable, it's certainly possible that they would release me before the 72 hour minimum has elapsed, partly due to the extreme shortage of pysch beds in this state and the desire to keep them open for the sickest patients. I'm not sure I entirely believe her, but that's probably just my paranoia.

The plan we made together is that I will go to bed early, and call my regular pdoc in the morning and set up an emergency appointment with him, assuming I feel safe. If not, then I agreed I would go to the hospital.

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2 hours ago, Catnapper said:

Despite being 61 years old, having my first depressive episode in my twenties, dx'ed with MDD at 40, which was changed to bipolar II at 50, I have never been hospitalized, so I have some rookie questions about voluntary admittance due to suicidal thoughts.

The hospital I would go to is a regular medical hospital with a decent-sized pysch ward, and here are my questions:

Is it likely that I could be admitted directly to the pysch ward, or would I have to go through the ER?

My state has a 72 hour minimum mandatory stay length if you're involuntarily committed. I know I need to look at the statute to be sure, but is the mandatory stay time likely to be applicable even if you're there voluntarily?

In reading other patient experiences, it seems like it's typical to be in a shared room (although coronavirus may have changed that), and that there are bed checks every 15 minutes all night long. Has that been true for you?

I have read that during the day you have to be in the common area, so no daytime naps, and lots of forced socializing, and the TV is on all day. Is that likely to be true?

I have also read that cell phones aren't allowed, and you can't bring your own toiletries, or books, or really any private possessions. Is that correct?

I understand that I could find a lot of this out by calling the hospital, but I'm paranoid that through the magic of GPS tracking, they would send the cops to come and visit, and possibly take me to the hospital. It would be the same hospital where I have been getting ECT, so they have my records, and know my regular pdoc, although he's in private practice.

ECT is back up and running but I'm trying to hold onto my job, so haven't had the luxury of going as much as I apparently need to. (ECT is an all-day activity.) This depressive episode is kicking my ass, and I don't know what to do, which is why I'm seriously considering the hospital. Any input you may have, or hospital experiences you're willing to share, are greatly appreciated.

My last comment is that I wish there was some kind of psychiatric urgent care. I know it would be helpful to talk to a professional right now, but I'm not sure I'm ready to sign up for a minimum three day hospital stay.

If you go in voluntarily and are not ruled an immediate threat to self or others, involuntary commitment rules aren’t applied (at least in full) that said, if they think there is a way to help you with meds or whatever, that would probably entail staying more than three days. Some of your other questions - it’s up to the facility. First time in I had the psychiatrist overrule the ‘no naps” policy for various reasons and in another place people occasionally were allowed “alone time.” Cell phones probably a no, although I know one place that allowed like a couple hours of tech time every so often. They might allow some approved toiletries - but not when your admitted they’d have to come later. Books are usually fine, cuz there is a lot of boring time. Is your psychiatrist read in to your plan? 

Sorry ignore my last post then... you posted update right before I hit the button

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To answer some of your questions from my experience (two times in one hospital). Both voluntary admission.The place I've been does not seem to like you bringing your own toiletries, or at least full sized products (which I guess one could drink?), and seem to like to give you their own. I have both shared a room and had my own room depending on how crowded it was. When I shared, they were nice enough to let me move to my own when people left (I asked). They did do round the clock fifteen minute checks. I tried to time showers and getting dressed for just after they'd been through so I didn't have to worry about privacy as much. The hospital I was in encouraged you to not be in your room during the day, and to participate in group activities, but if I had a migraine or felt emotionally awful and didn't feel up to leaving my room. there were no repercussions, they just checked on me and encouraged me to come out and participate. And there was a little bit of time in between sessions when I could have some alone time, and after dinner. Yes, the TV seemed to be on most of the time if there weren't an activity going on in the common area, and people had to sort of compromise on what to watch. Books should be fine, cell phones more likely than not will not be allowed I would think (we had a couple of free phone booths we could use and people could call us on). Whether or not you go in directly or through the ER also probably depends on the hospital. I unfortunately had to go in through the ER even though my Pdoc is head of psychiatry and called ahead to the social worker the last time. I guess they still had to triage me and go through the insurance stuff before I went to the ward. As an aside, make sure there are no strings or cords whatsoever in any of the clothes you bring, even ones that seem harmless, because they will likely take the clothes away (but return them when you leave). I will say, that though it was painful deciding to go in both times and having to deal with the intake process, and I don't think anyone enjoys being on the psych ward, that I didn't have a bad experience either time. It was a relief to not have to think about keeping myself safe, and to push the restart button. I hope that whatever you decide it goes well for you. Definitely not an easy decision.

Edited by Unstrung Harp
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