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That Girl

What do you know now, that you wish you knew then?

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I posted this in my blog - but, eh, I know not everyone reads that ;)

My youngest sister was placed IP yesterday. This is my families first experience with one of us being IP. They are depending on me quite a bit to help navigate all this. Both because of my education, and my fairly decent insight into my own MI issues.

I am asking for your 20/20 hindsight. Please share with me what you know now, that you wish you had known prior to any IP experiences. Or what you wish your family knew, especially if you happened to be IP as a minor.

I would certainly like to be able to help my sister make the most of this, so that maybe she can avoid having to spend the next 20 years dealing ineffectively with her issues - which happen to be very similar to mine, despite our age difference. It's odd to look at her & essentially be looking into a mirror of myself at her age.

I know this is a first person sight - so I hope this is OK. I really am looking to help myself in a way... Because while everyone is melting down around me, I'm trying to keep the focus on how potentially postive this could be for her. So, if there are pitfalls I can help us avoid in this situation - I can help prevent my crazy ass family from turning against the mental health system - which would not be good for me or anyone in my family in the long run.

Thank you all in advance for your invaluable input.

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I don't know anything about your sister, obviously, or why she's gone IP, so this might not be of any use to you, but here's some things that I think shocked my parents when I was IP last year:

1. I suppose psych wards are different everywhere, but the one I was in was very hospital-y. White walls, nurses hanging around the whole time. There was also absolutely no privacy to have a conversation with family without other patients potentially over-hearing. The nurses confiscated the cookies they brought me and searched everything else they brought. Two locked doors before you actually got into the ward. It really was a lot like a prison, and this can be kind of shocking. It's necessary for patient safety, though.

2. On the ward I was in, there were people who were full-blown psychotic, wandering around talking about the antichrist and warning people that the hospital staff was going to kill us. I was in there because I was depressed and suicidal, but reality-testing okay. I think these psychotic people scared my parents, honestly. If your parents also have no experience with psychosis, and if there are psychotic patients on the ward, you may want to reassure them that the hospital is a safe place, and though some patients may be off in a world of their own, they are not dangerous, just ill. My parents also felt that I did not 'belong' in the hospital and wanted to take me out immediately. Many of the patients were probably more ill than I was, but I was suicidal and needed the safe environment.

3. I think an important aspect of going IP is that you get access to a social worker etc., and it's a really good time to set up a good, intensive treatment program for after getting out. IP will, hopefully, help your sister weather out the crisis she's in, but the real work will probably happen later.

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I would agree with calypte that things can vary widely from place to place. I had two very different experiences, though fortunately they both were beneficial.

The first time I was in a mood disorder wing of a psychiatric hospital. So to some sense, they could feel like I belonged there. Not to say that i wasnt just as mentally ill as others on other wards, but it seemed more familiar. There were other people who were depressed (at the time thats what it was). That said, it was a locked unit, people (including me) frequently looked pretty awful and were out of it, etc.

The hardest thing for them, which I learned after the fact, was leaving me there and coming home after a visit. It scared them and saddened them that I was that dangerous to myself that they weren't able to keep me safe. They were scared by just how bad I was (first exposure to mental illness to such a degree, though it runs all the way up my family tree). And they were scared about now knowing how long it would take for me to get better.

The second time, I was in the psych ward of a general hospital, but by then psych stuff realy didn't phase them. Plus, I was really out of it that time (really, really out of it). So they really knew I needed to be there. The same things mentioned above were still challenges.

It can help the hospital to see what you can bring. Sometimes things like blankets are allowed, sometimes food can be brought (thohgh she may not be able to eat anything, so check if she's actually eating first so no one feels worse). I could have my ipod for limited times (really, really unlikely, but who knows).

Edited by danceintherain

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I posted this in my blog - but, eh, I know not everyone reads that ;)

My youngest sister was placed IP yesterday. This is my families first experience with one of us being IP. They are depending on me quite a bit to help navigate all this. Both because of my education, and my fairly decent insight into my own MI issues.

I am asking for your 20/20 hindsight. Please share with me what you know now, that you wish you had known prior to any IP experiences. Or what you wish your family knew, especially if you happened to be IP as a minor.

I would certainly like to be able to help my sister make the most of this, so that maybe she can avoid having to spend the next 20 years dealing ineffectively with her issues - which happen to be very similar to mine, despite our age difference. It's odd to look at her & essentially be looking into a mirror of myself at her age.

I know this is a first person sight - so I hope this is OK. I really am looking to help myself in a way... Because while everyone is melting down around me, I'm trying to keep the focus on how potentially postive this could be for her. So, if there are pitfalls I can help us avoid in this situation - I can help prevent my crazy ass family from turning against the mental health system - which would not be good for me or anyone in my family in the long run.

Thank you all in advance for your invaluable input.

I don't know if this is what you are asking, but I was hospitalized when I was first diagnosed and I wanted people to listen to me. My family was dealing with the doctor and it felt like they weren't considering my opinion. I'm an adult, but I imagine this could be an issue with a minor, too.

Also, there can be great differences in the quality of care. I was in a county hospital once that felt like a big warehouse. You were supposed to take care of everything yourself (get food, talk with the pdoc, make a bed) which was really hard for me when I was psychotic. I've been in other places that held groups during the day, and where I felt like I got more help.

My stays weren't very long and lasted 3-5 days. They changed my meds and waited until I was stabilized on them. Hospitalization didn't have a big impact on how I dealt with my illness. The first time I was on a 72 hour hold and I was still really fragile when I was released.

She'll have any med changes monitored so they can make changes faster than they would outpatient and she'll see a psychiatrist often.

Ask what sort of items from home can she have. I wanted pictures, phone numbers, my clothes. The warehouse place i was at took my shoes because they had laces, so when I went voluntarily I wore sandals. Can you bring in food when you visit? That could be nice. I remember thinking no one sends you cards when you are in the psych ward so maybe she would like a little note. There may be a limit to visitors. I would get overwhelmed with too many people and it felt like they were crowding in on me.

I'm sorry to hear your sister is IP and I hope she feels better soon.

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I don't know anything about your sister, obviously, or why she's gone IP, so this might not be of any use to you, but here's some things that I think shocked my parents when I was IP last year:

1. I suppose psych wards are different everywhere, but the one I was in was very hospital-y. White walls, nurses hanging around the whole time. There was also absolutely no privacy to have a conversation with family without other patients potentially over-hearing. The nurses confiscated the cookies they brought me and searched everything else they brought. Two locked doors before you actually got into the ward. It really was a lot like a prison, and this can be kind of shocking. It's necessary for patient safety, though.

My mom was flipping out about it being 'like jail'. I am pretty sure I quelled that fear with pointing out that A) that's completely necessary for patient safety and B) She's not the only one there & you have to consider the other patients. Some of them may not have anything, let alone anyone that gives a crap about them. Others may have pieces of their own issues that would compell them to take something that is important to someone else - so it's also necessary to avoid that sort of drama, I'm sure, in a ward full of teens (as if teens don't have enough drama causing outlets, MI aside! ha)

I would agree with calypte that things can vary widely from place to place. I had two very different experiences, though fortunately they both were beneficial.

The first time I was in a mood disorder wing of a psychiatric hospital. So to some sense, they could feel like I belonged there. There were other people who were depressed (at the time thats all I was). That said, it was a locked unit, people (including me) frequently looked pretty awful and were out of it, etc.

The hardest thing for them, which I learned after the fact, was leaving me there and coming home after a visit. It scared them and saddened them that I was that dangerous to myself that they weren't able to keep me safe. They were scared by just how bad I was (first exposure to mental illness to such a degree, though it runs all the way up my family tree). And they were scared about now knowing how long it would take for me to get better.

Yes, I think this is part of what sent my mother into meltdown mode. That & having to face, head on, her role in the issues as well as not being able to help my sister before it came to this.

I don't know if this is what you are asking, but I was hospitalized when I was first diagnosed and I wanted people to listen to me. My family was dealing with the doctor and it felt like they weren't considering my opinion. I'm an adult, but I imagine this could be an issue with a minor, too.

Also, there can be great differences in the quality of care. I was in a county hospital once that felt like a big warehouse. You were supposed to take care of everything yourself (get food, talk with the pdoc, make a bed) which was really hard for me when I was psychotic. I've been in other places that held groups during the day, and where I felt like I got more help.

My stays weren't very long and lasted 3-5 days. They changed my meds and waited until I was stabilized on them. Hospitalization didn't have a big impact on how I dealt with my illness. The first time I was on a 72 hour hold and I was still really fragile when I was released.

She'll have any med changes monitored so they can make changes faster than they would outpatient and she'll see a psychiatrist often.

Ask what sort of items from home can she have. I wanted pictures, phone numbers, my clothes. The warehouse place i was at took my shoes because they had laces, so when I went voluntarily I wore sandals. Can you bring in food when you visit? That could be nice. I remember thinking no one sends you cards when you are in the psych ward so maybe she would like a little note. There may be a limit to visitors. I would get overwhelmed with too many people and it felt like they were crowding in on me.

I'm sorry to hear your sister is IP and I hope she feels better soon.

So far, so good. They are trying really hard to get her input - but, she's having a really hard time giving it to them.

As of this afternoon, they have officially diagnosed her & started meds - I think she will be able to take a more active role in the process once the meds start doing their job. I do wish there was a way I could stress to her that there are people who will never get the opportunity to have access to this kind of care & that she should try to take in everything they are offering her. Take all the knowlege she can get her hands on. After a few years of inadequate treatment (IMO), I am so very relieved that they have given her a diagnosis that really seems to fit her to a T. Unlike the last shrink, who saw her for 10 minutes, gave her a single questionairre that only looks for Bipolar disorder, diagnosed her & started her on drugs for that (which were zero help, but she just kept switching her to other meds for that - all unsuccessful). :( God that pisses me off still. Anyway - her new, thorough, assessment has revealed severe major depression and social PHOBIA. I knew for sure she had bad social anxiety, but it never dawned on me that it had tipped into a full blown phobia. I am frankly irritated that her anxiety has been missed time & again. I cannot really recall a time EVER in her life that she has not had some anxiety - she went from painfully shy as little one and has simply gotten progressively worse. And, since she has pretty much always been anxious - I don't think she knew how to describe it. But god damn, is there not a single empathic medical professional that could pick up on that?! I essentially demanded that they give her something for the anxiety that I could feel coming off her before I even walked around the corner into her room at the regular hospital before she was transferred. My mom & the nurses & my sister herself were blown away at the difference after they hit her w/ some ativan.

Unfortunately, she will be spending her 16th b-day IP. AND, they're pretty strict there about visitors and bringing in food or presents & stuff - which is completely reasonable I think - but it still makes me sad. HOWEVER, more than being sad, I am overwhelmingly happy that she is spending her sweet 16 there, instead of in a casket. This was something like her 4th attempt.

But - perhaps a party when she gets out will be good... get that social phobia down from a deafening roar & she might actually WANT a party! :)

My mom is coping much better now that she has some answers. I sort of want to dance around doing an 'I fucking told you so!' dance regarding her actual diagnosis. Not that I'm qualified to diagnose anyone, but she IS my sister and all her stuff is SO similar to mine. Except for the suicide attempts - which I've not done - but I'm surprised it didn't happen on accident when I was her age at the rate of self medicating I was doing.

I want so badly for her to see this as a positive opportunity & for it to be productive & deep down helpful for her. I can't control that though, as much as I want to. Hopefully, I can help influence her perception a little bit at least though. I keep stressing to her that had I been able to deal with my stuff when I was her age, I can't even fathom where I would be now - how much better off I would be.

Thanks everyone.

Edit - perhaps social phobia & social anxiety are the same thing - phobia just sounds worse to me I guess & my sisters is so much worse than mine (well, actually, I think I may just hide mine better than she can)

Edited by That Girl

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I'm glad it's going well and that she has a dx that fits. I have a lot of anxiety. I take lexapro that helps me with anxiety and depression. That's great that you were able to have them give her something for her anxiety. It's too bad she's IP on her birthday. I think a party sounds good when she's up to it.

Getting the right dx and medications is so important and it sounds like she's got that now.

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Yep - Lexapro is what I'm on too - and surprise surpise, that's what they are starting her on! I'm so excited for her to get some relief. SO excited. I'd suffer all her pains if she never had to feel how I know she feels =/

The Lex doesn't cover all my anxiety actually, but I'm getting better at supplementing with xanex when I should. I'm real bad about taking them for some reason. Don't get me wrong - the anxiety is a million times better - but it does still crop up.

Anyway - After the stuff she's pulled (her attempts have involved hand fulls of pills), I am doubting she will have access to her own meds, so I imagine they will probably do a sidecar of benzo as needed for her, as long as she doesn't have direct access to them.

Much relief going on in the family - which is good, because the focus can stay where it belongs - on my sister & helping her get well.

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