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Voluntary Commitment


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Lately my life has been falling apart and my depression and anxiety are out of control. It's seemingly taking forever for the medication to work and im afraid that I'll either hurt myself or completely destroy my life before the medication starts doing its job.

I have an appointment with my psychiatrist coming up soon and im thinking of asking flat out to be hospitalized. I'm concerned about what my family will say as I still live at home and I'm worried about my job but honestly I won't have either of those things if I kill myself because of what im going through.

Can anyone here tell me experiences about either voluntary or involuntary stays in a hospital? Will this give me a fighting chance at beating this illness? I really really need some help.

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Definitely tell this to your psychiatrist. Asking to be admitted can be a very hard thing to do, but sometimes its the right choice. Voluntary admission gives you more privileges, and keeps you safe, and you can see a pdoc almost every day. I did that last year, for a major med overhaul, I was inpatient (IP) for 3 weeks as a voluntary patient.

 

Going in voluntarily is a lot better than being put in involuntarily. I've been admitted voluntarily and involuntarily quite a few times (about 16 hospitalizations total). Most wards have group therapy, art therapy, etc. Every day a nurse is assigned to you, and I've only met one psych nurse I haven't liked. The staff was great. The nurses are always there to talk if you need it. They take care of you medically as well. 

 

I found it really boring. I had the groups during the day, but after 3pm, there wasn't a lot to do. We were allowed our phones (some people even brought in laptops, the hospital as Wifi) as long as the nurses kept the charger. If you needed it charged, they would do it in the station overnight for you. I downloaded a lot of ebooks and read a lot when I wasn't in a group.

 

Some hospitals don't allow any electronics, though. Ask about that first. Bring lots of books. I got colouring books and crayons, too, because I find it relaxing and it kills the time. I read a lot while I was there. Usually on my phone. They also had a computer we could use, but it blocked Facebook and Youtube.. we weren't allowed to use phones outside of our rooms, but that rule was lax, and most nurses didn't care.

 

Groups were very helpful for me. There was a CBT group, a couple art therapy groups (which were a lot of fun), exercise in the gym (usually basketball, but we also did some yoga), and relaxation. Relaxation was my favourite: the room even had a ball pit, and I'd snuggle up in it during the relaxation exercises. There was quite a bit to do. I was voluntary, and my pdoc urged me to get off the unit often, so my friends would come, and I'd go to the coffee shop with them, and chat. After 2 weeks I was given out-of-hospital privileges and could go out for 3-4 hours during the day. I had weekend passes, except for the first week (but they did give me a 6 hour pass to go to my parents for Thanksgiving), but I could go home on weekends if I wanted. 

 

Most units are locked, but some aren't. I've only been on one unit which wasn't locked. Even as a voluntary patient, you need privileges to go off the unit. If you smoke, they generally have patches, gum or inhalers, and e-cigs were allowed to use inside. After a couple days, they'd probably let you go off the unit. 

 

I've never really had a bad hospitalization. Maybe one, but that was my own damn fault. For the most part, I was able to relax, get out my real feelings (instead of hiding them from everyone) and it gave me a nice break from the real world. It wasn't scary or anything. The unit had a TV (the nurses had the remote though, and we'd vote on what to watch) and couches. We did two groups on the unit, and the rest off. 

 

It really isn't as bad as a lot of people think it is. The main thing is boredom. It gets very boring after a couple days. I met a lot of great people, a few who I still talk to, and one very special friend. There is always someone to talk to. 

 

The food sucked. I said I was vegetarian because the meat was so bad. I was well taken care of. Bathroom doors didn't lock, but the nurses would knock on all doors (including your room, even if the door was open) before coming in. Nobody walked in on me in the bathroom, though. Just a knock "Everything okay in there?" They were very respectful. I had a roommate, and she was fantastic. We had the same nurses and pdoc, too. We'd share books and talk about the nurses. 

 

Everything you bring in will be checked. I wasn't allowed to have my around the neck keychain. I could knit, but only if I was in the living room, and they kept my supplies after. They usually do a body check to look for wounds and such. They were, again, very respectful. I could wear my own clothes (but I wore the hospital pyjama pants, they were so comfy) and they even had laundry on the unit, for free. I was never strip searched. 

 

For involuntary stays, it was generally 72 hours in hospital PJ's (not all places do this), not being allowed off the unit, being checked on more often.. most places have the nurses check on the patients every half hour or so, sometimes more, sometimes less. After the 72 hours was up, I could get my belongings back and my clothes. Don't bring anything with drawstrings. They'll let you know whats allowed and whats not. The staff always treated me well, voluntary or not. 

 

It's not as bad as you think. It can be hard breaking it to family, that was worse than deciding to be admitted (at least last year). A doctors note for work always comes in handy, or a leave of absence. Your employer is not allowed to ask what for.

 

My stays were on average, about 3 weeks - 1 month. Sometimes more, sometimes less. But the care was very good and I always had someone to talk to.

I was admitted last year because I was in a mixed state, and freaking out. My pdoc asked if I wanted to be admitted, and I discussed it with my roommate and family, and then decided I would go in, that day. You can have your family come in, if you ask your pdoc, and the pdoc can help in explaining things to them. I found this very helpful because my mom was pretty pissed off.

 

I hope this helps!

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No problem! Glad to help.

 

You could probably get a voluntary admission, still. If you're willing to go to the hospital they probably won't put you on a 5150. That's generally danger to others, or danger to self, or unable to take care of yourself.

 

It's up to your pdoc, to be honest, but bring up voluntary admission with him/her. "I want to go to the hospital because I'm feeling suicidal. Would you admit me voluntarily?"

 

Good luck!

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I've been down both routes...mostly all involuntary (psychotic...raging)

My stays were filled with boredom.

Sometimes I would go to group but sometimes I couldn't get myself out of bed.

If I acted out for whatever reason I was restrained and sedated...but again it was out of my control. That's the bad stuff.

The staff is usually very nice.

That's very brave of you to admit you need help. I give you loads of credit.

My pdoc today asked me if I needed to go to the hospital and I said absolutely not.

But that's my problem I guess...I let things snowball.

Oh well.

Best of luck to you and if you do go IP it will be a good and worthy experience.

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I have done two stints in the hospital, one voluntary (arranged by my tdoc) and one involuntary (long story). Voluntary is the way to go. Have your pdoc call and arrange an intake appointment for you at the psych hospital, and then you just show up with a bag packed and it kind of expedites the process. In any event, be prepared to wait around for a whole bunch of people to sign off on your admission to the hospital. They will triage you and run it by a doctor to ensure that you'll benefit from inpatient treatment.

 

My first time in the hospital I was terrified. The first hospital I went to was very strict, I couldn't even have my bra unless I let them cut out the underwire, which was NOT HAPPENING because I have big tits and my bras are at least $50 each! So that was humiliating. My wife had to bring me some sports bras to wear. They will do a "skin check" which is basically a strip search (but don't worry, you don't have to crouch and cough!), supposedly to check for open wounds. That was awful, and made me cry really hard. I was vulnerable and having some nurse inspect my naked body was very unsettling for me. As San said, no drawstrings. If you bring a notebook to journal in, it can't have a spiral. Pencil only, no pens. Books or magazines are a necessity. 

 

Once you get past intake it's fine. You will be bored. Go to all the groups because the alternative is to be bored out of your skull or sleep all the time. For me, the best part about being IP was having structure to my day. They wake you up early, and then you go to bed pretty early. Kind of resets your clock. Don't call your family or spouse too often...take the separation from your daily drama and run with it.

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Can anyone here tell me experiences about either voluntary or involuntary stays in a hospital? Will this give me a fighting chance at beating this illness? I really really need some help.

 

I have gone voluntary every time.  I think the sooner you get helped the better chance you have at improving the symptoms, and getting the MI under control.  It isn't a guarantee, but IMO it gives you a better chance of minimizing symptoms.

 

What everyone else wrote here is what I would write also about being inpatient.  And like everyone has said, going voluntary is better than going involuntary.

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Really good descriptions so far. Pretty much jibe with what I went through during one stay.

I had a very bad experience though when I told the pdoc I had been thinking of hanging myself in the bathroom. I didn't think anything of telling her because I was in there for suicidality - but for some reason that got me In a lot of trouble. I had to sit in the day room day and night in front of the nurses stations. Couldn't go to groups and couldn't go to sleep until everyone left which was at like 2:00 a,.m. They starts coming in again at like 5:00 a.m. So that would have been 3 hours of sleep if I had slept which I couldn't. I have social anxiety and can't sleep publicly like that.

There was more than that, but for me the upshot is - between the boredom, the bad experiences if you "misbehave", and not very helpful groups - the hospital isn't really a therapeutic environment. To me, it's not a place to get better. It's a place to be marginally safer when you're a danger.

It's outpatient treatment that made me better.

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the hospital isn't really a therapeutic environment. To me, it's not a place to get better. It's a place to be marginally safer when you're a danger.

It's outpatient treatment that made me better.

 

^^THIS. I agree.  Hospitalization stabilizes me, but doesn't help me get completely better.

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