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I'm tiptoeing the line between inpatient and continuing with weekly therapist visits and regular life. So tell me, because I haven't been inpatient for so long that I've forgotten, what have you gotten out of inpatient services that you couldn't or didn't get with weekly therapy? Would it be worth the inconvenience to everyone around me to do it? I'm not actively suicidal, just ideation, but my therapist says she will support me 100% if I want to plan an inpatient trip. She prefers that I plan one, rather than waiting so long I have to get Baker-acted in.

So what do you think? Did your inpatient experience provide you with services or counseling that you couldn't otherwise obtain? Did you learn something more than you could have learned in the outside world?

(If you want to see my current state of mind you can read my blog - it's all in there)

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I'm not bipolar, but I'll tell you a little about my experience. I was put in the hospital following a suicide attempt. It was the best place for me at the time. I cried for two days non-stop. I don't even think I slept for those two days. Those first days are really fuzzy to me. I saw a psychologist everday except weekends where we discussed the thing that finally made me snap. I cried. My meds were adjusted, but I was there for just 2 weeks, not long enough for any meds to start to work except that I was put on carbamazepine which worked rather quickly.

The real benefit of the hospital was that it interrupted my life and put me on a little safe island free of all the cares of the outside world. All I worried about was taking my meds, meeting my psychiatrist and psychologist, and eating my meals. I made a lot of friends, and it was like we were all in this together. I would venture to say that I received more support from the other patients than I did from my doctors.

However, I left that hospital with no more hope than when I went in. The real work of trying to put my life back together began after I got out. The hospital didn't help me with that. They have skills groups, but I found them elementary and not very helpful at all. Really, the only benefit that I can see for someone who does not have uncontrolled psychosis is that it interrupts your life for a little while and gives you a chance to reset yourself. But that is just me.

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I had a horrible experience 30 yrs ago in the hospital, which is why I have avoided it for all these years.. but finally my pdoc talked me into going, and damn, it was nice in there! I think what benefited me most was spending time with other patients and spending time with the techs and nurses. They were all so nice and genuinely caring. The psychiatrist was also very kind and wanted to talk to me daily about how I was doing, etc. She did change my meds, and it worked.

I had a nice room with a nice bed and a view of oak trees out the window. It was nice and cold in there and the sheets were clean (unlike my house). And we had 3 meals a day that were really good. (I tend to not be very healthy about eating, so that was really nice.) Having a respite from my trainwreck of a life was very soothing. I really didn't get jack out of the groups, but that was because the social workers were like 12, and very inexperienced. I went to IEP after that, and that was a good experience as well, but I went to a different hospital because I wanted experienced social workers.

So I say go for it.

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... it interrupts your life for a little while and gives you a chance to reset yourself. But that is just me.

I totally agree. You get to "reset" yourself. In fact, I am stressed out and wanting to go back in the hospital to reset myself and my pdoc won't let me. She wants me to go to partial hospitalization instead. yuck. There is no relief in that. It's a lot of work instead. More stress. It lasts from 9 am til 2pm 5 days a week, and it's not the place I want to be.

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I think it really depends on the hospital. And your state of mind. I've never enjoyed the hospital much, but I've always been in pretty extreme states when I've gone in which case it is helpful in rapidly increasing/changing meds and keeping me safe.

Anna

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I'd say go for it. It really does give you a chance to put life on hold and get your priorities sorted. Plus it will keep you safe. I had a good experience with hospitalization though - it was way better than the alternative at the time. Whatever you do, you have our support! :)

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All the times I've gone, I've gotten something I can't get out of regular weekly therapy, which is a short break from life and a safe place to live. I can't say that the actual counseling or visits with the doctor inside the hospital provided me with something I couldn't get outside, because the doctors only ever saw me for a short periods in the morning, and the group activities/therapy sessions felt like a waste of time to me. I just like knowing that there are people there to care for my well-being and to make sure I am and feel safe. It's nice to know all you have to worry about doing are taking meds, eating, and sleeping.

With that said, my experiences have greatly varied between the two different hospitals I went to. The first times I went in were at one place, a not so very helpful place, and the most recent time I went in was at another, and that one provided me with a much much better experience and feeling of safety. There were also nurses there that truly cared about you and would actually sit down and have a conversation with you. With that, I am trying to say different hospitals will provide different things, obviously.

After one of my hospitalizations, I was put into an partial hospitalization program, that provided some therapy in a group which I felt was useful, though I was manic at the time and making the groups kind of weird. Maybe that's something you could look into if you don't feel full hospitalization would offer you anything more than you could get from weekly therapy.

Anyway, I wish you luck in making your choice, hope I've helped at least a little.

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It helped me. I went because I had some kind of breakdown and was probably going to do something fucking stupid if I didn't go, so I did it to keep myself safe. Well, it worked. It kept me safe. I even opted to stay an extra day because I was afraid to go home, but it really did help. Like someone else said, the group activities and shit like that didn't really help me, it was the med adjustment, I think. It really calmed me down and I left feeling a lot better than when I went in.

But yeah, it probably does depend on the hospital. My experience was good overall.

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For me, Inpatient is reserved for when I feel that the suicidal ideations are uncontrollable and I'm a danger to myself and/or others. They're great for serious med tweaking because they meet with you daily, but the therapy side of it is lacking. It's more a safe haven if you are out of control. In case of emergency, get your ass there. Also consider your health benefits and what the cost would be. Depending on your coverage it can be way more expensive than it's worth.

Intensive outpatient programs have been more helpful for the therapy side of things, in terms of coping skills & group support. LiveOak is right - they are a lot of time & work but to me they reduced the stress as long as it's a good program. The only drawback for me personally was that they insisted on putting me in the substance abuse group in addition to the mental health group because of my longstanding history with pot, and that group required attending 12-step meetings which I DETEST. Had I been able to only go to the mental health part, I would have benefited more I think.

You could try going to your therapist more often, I often feel like once a week is too infrequent.

I happened to watch some House episodes a few days ago where he goes inpatient and it seems like a more life-changing, therapeutic atmosphere. I wish that was what my IP experiences had been, instead of just a safe place to be and refocus for like a week.

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I've only had one inpatient experience (a little over two years ago- and I did NOT want to go) and the hospital I ended up in was awful (the initial one my family took me to was full at the time so I had no say in where I went) it was one of the worst experiences of my life. So I agree with the person (forgive me, med fog...) who said it depends on where you go. I believe it depends ENTIRELY on where you go, and so if you have the chance to research/get input locally on hospitals then I'd suggest doing so before you go in if you can.

Of course, if you feel you're a danger to yourself don't debate, just get help asap.

Having said that- do you know what I just did that REALLY did help me much more than the inpatient did?

Weeks ago I was referred to a 'partial hospitalization program'. It was all day, five days a week with writing assignments and stuff to do on weekends. I did two weeks plus one day- and it was the best investment of time and money I think I've ever made in my life. Four hours of group a day plus bi-weekly pdoc visits (I saw him my first day at intake though and they got me on new meds straight away- I'd been not taking any but the klonopin they prescribed when I went to the ER the previous Friday) and also meeting with an individual therapist a couple times a week too.

I don't know if you have such a thing in your area but you might want to look into it- it could be a good alternative to going inpatient.

I was very lucky the program I needed could take me in immediately- but unlucky that they don't take Medicare so it cost money we really couldn't afford. Still, they gave me a sliding scale and we managed to do it. I actually wished I could have finished a third week- I wasn't ready to be done quite yet and everybody knew it. But when the money runs out...

I'm due to see my new therapist at the same center later this week, hoping it goes well cause I REALLY liked the pdoc there and get to keep him and want a therapist at the same office.

So to sum up, partial hospitalization helped me WAY more than inpatient did-- and led to me getting the right dx where as inpatient I was misdiagnosed and then just medicated into the abyss. Of course, I had someone here to watch over me in my 'off hours' and make sure I was okay. So if you don't, and you don't feel safe being alone- then just do what you have to do to stay safe.

Whatever you decide, good luck.

thelizardqueen

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I have never found hospitalizations very useful. I agree that it definitely matters where you go, but as someone who was hospitalized in recently (in april) I have to say that unless you are a danger to yourself or others I think outpatient treatment is more helpful. Twice now I've had them mess up my meds- I realized they were messing them up, tried to tell them, was told I didn't know what I was talking about because I was the crazy patient and to take them anyway- just about the time it was gonna get ugly cause I was refusing to take something that I wasn't on another doctor came over and corrected the situation. That happened TWICE.

Also, I feel like the worksheets and therapy you get in the hospital are aimed at fixing the immediate problem, i.e. making sure you are not a danger to anyone. So if you need help with your life or things going on in your life, in my experience, you won't get that in the hospital. Also, the doctors are not your regular doctors so they don't know you, sometimes don't believe you, and will change meds and give advice based on very little information just because that's all they have to go on. It's not their fault- that's just the immediacy of a hospital stay. It's not long term like outpatient where you really get a chance to work on things that need work. I agree with the person who said that you could see your therapist more than once a week. For a period I saw mine twice a week because that's what I needed. And it worked better than once a week.

Yes, a hospital stay is a break from daily life but in my opinion, not a good one and not a helpful one (although I have become a very good spades player). A vacation would do just about the same as a hospital stay and be a lot more fun. I don't know anything about partial programs- maybe you could look into that?

But the bottom line is- as much as the hospital sucks - if you're a danger to yourself or somebody else, it's necessary. It will keep you safe until things get a little more figured out. I'd just try to avoid it if that isn't the case.

Good luck. I hope things get better for you! :)

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Thanks for all the replies!

After further consideration and a second therapist appointment this week, we've decided to refer me to the local day program. It's 5 days a week 8-12 or so, but i can go twice or even three times a week instead of every day. I just really don't have the time for a hospital stay and I'm not in immediate danger. So we'll try this out and see how it goes.

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