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What is hospitalization like?


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I've made it through the thick of my mood swings without being hospitalized (knock wood). The thought of being hospitalized terrifies me though, I think it's mostly because of the UNKNOWN, though I know it's always a possibility for the future. I'm okay now but I've been thinking about this a lot recently. If you've been hospitalized, what was it like??

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I feel like I could write a book about this. Overall, I find hospital to be a frustrating place. There are a million rules to "keep you safe" and while some of them are totally necessary, not all of them make sense. Major med changes are likely, so you're probably going to be dealing with side effects. Lots of waiting. Waiting for nurses, waiting for meds, waiting for groups, waiting for bed. Waiting, waiting. Which makes things rather boring. I usually try to sleep a lot to pass the time. 

So yea... not a scary place. Just a boring, frustrating place. 

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I think it also matters on whether it's the psych floor on a regular hospital or an actual IP psych facility. I've been to both, and while they're not too dissimilar, I found the hospital psych units want you in and out.

I just realized I could go on and on about how much I dislike both environments, but I won't. I will say that IOP and PHP are by far the most beneficial if you are moderately stable and can find/afford them, in my opinion.

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Rules, rules, rules!  

You are only allowed in your room during the night or of you're showering or changing clothes otherwise they expect you to be within plain sight so that means in the main recreation area with everybody else or in art therapy or drug rehab group stuff.  I was at a facility for both mentally ill and those who were having drug issues.  i was just MI.    

At night they don't like it if you get out of bed and walk down the hall because you're unable to sleep.  They will keep making you take another pill to help you sleep every time you get out of bed and if you are too persistent about not laying back down then you will get an Olanzipine injection and probably be put in restraints.  I am not making this up.  This was my own personal experience.  Other's experiences will vary.  I was administered an Ativan about 4 times one night and still couldn't sleep- bed was too hard, I was too cold, the pillow was hard, and I was paranoid.  If a few Ativan don;t work and you're not too out of line they will give you a Zyprexa or Seroquel pill to try to knock you out.  I somehow managed not to sleep for 10 days and 10 nights.  i didn't sleep until i was at home in my own bed despite the lavish amount of medications.  

I made friends there and that was a plus.  I was probably made friends with the druggies more often than with the mentally ill patients to be honest.

During my stay a younger patient climbed up a gutter on the side of the b building during our smoking break and was actually on the roof of the facility.  The rest of us were all corralled into a small room while the police and fire department had to get this kid off the roof!  

Most of us were smokers.  

The food at this particular hospital  was actually something to look forward to as it seemed to made with loving care by somebody who actually gave a shit about us. 

The psychiatrist i had to see was a pill pusher and I had to kindly/politely argue my way out of taking a zillion meds at high starting doses.  He didn't speak very good English and there was an obvious language barrier there.  I found out the number of my psychiatrist and had her call him so she could tell him what meds were best suited for me and which were necessary.  If I hadn't ensured this communication between the two doctors then I might have been up shit creek.  

I didn't mind the people who were sicker than me.  I'm not judgmental or squeamish.  

I was on my best behavior and never got the Zyprexa shot and never had to be restrained but I felt bad for the people who did.  I was threatened with it when I kept getting out of bed and going down the hall to the med window.  It was really the only place I could walk to without getting into trouble with the nurses.  If it meant I had to take another pill then so be it.  

I guess all i can say is that if you land yourself in the hospital, make the most of it.  You might end up finding people you connect or bond with and even if you never see them again the for the rest of your life, the memories will live on.  What doesn't kill you can make you stronger and if anything it will make it easier for you not to stop taking your meds for fear of going back there.  

By the way, there were no cell phones or computers allowed.  So theres that.  I suppose that is why it's important to make friends while you're there unless you;d rather die of boredom.  :-)

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I had a great IP experience which was quite different from aura's. There was never a reason to be bored because there were always groups and if you didn't want to attend groups there were big televisions to watch. Something was happening at every moment and we ate every 4 hours. - 3 meals and an evening snack. I didn't find it boring at all. Socializing with the other patients was great too. We got outside, and there were sports to play if you were into that which I wasn't.

I was hospitalized in a mental hospital, not a ward in a general hospital.

I got to see a psychiatrist and a psychologist every day except on weekends.

We were allowed in our rooms during the day, but it was strongly discouraged. However, they didn't lock the rooms or anything.

The only thing that I didn't like was they didn't do a whole lot for me except stabilize me. It was mostly crisis management and once they got you over the acute crisis they turn you out. But after my hospitalization, my OP psychiatrist took me a lot more seriously and began to aggressively treat my depression.

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I also have had good experiences IP. I've been hospitalized on the psych ward at two different general hospitals. It's boring, but that's about it. I never saw anyone get put in restraints or get a shot.

One hospital I was at had multiple psych wards and they separated you based on how sick you were. I was not psychotic or disruptive, but I once got put on the ward for people who were because they didn't have any beds in the other ward. I found that a hard place to be, but I was quickly moved to a ward that had more manic/depressed people. There was art/activity therapy and televisions to watch. One hospital had an activity therapy room and we'd leave the ward to go to activity therapy twice a day. There was a computer with internet access there too, which was nice. 

There were no computers or cell phones allowed on the unit. Any valuables you had when you were admitted were locked up during your stay. There were a handful of phones in the common area that patients could use to make (local) calls. In one instance I got permission to use my personal cell phone to make an international call but I had to be supervised by a nurse while I made that call. That was an unusual circumstance though.

The best part of the day was visiting hour (on the days when I had visitors, at least). I had a friend who would come visit and bring card games to play. At one hospital, visitors could bring food. At the other, they could not.

I ate regularly, and the food was okay. At one hospital, the psych ward had its own little cafeteria and we actually got to leave the ward for meals. The other hospital had regular hospital trays and we filled out a menu a day ahead of time. In both cases there were meals at 8, 12 and 5 and then an evening snack around 9pm. 

I made friends with other patients and have maintained contact with some of them even after we've been discharged. 

At both hospitals, patients were closely monitored. There were nurses or techs recording my activity every 15 minutes. It meant I found it hard to sleep because there was constantly someone coming into the room. They didn't seem to care if I slept during the day, and I was allowed in my room during the day. 

All necessary toiletries for things like showers and brushing teeth were provided. This included shampoo, soap, toothpaste, combs, toothbrushes, and so on.

I saw a psychiatrist every day. Nurses dispensed medications and often wanted to talk about how I was feeling. Some of the nurses were more approachable than others but all in all I found them kind and caring. I was pleased to find I was treated like I imagine they would treat any other non-psych patient, and not talked-down to or anything.

So, it's not fun - mostly it's just boring. I generally find it a relief, though. It's somewhere safe and quiet, I don't have to think about adult stuff like making meals or looking after the dog. There is no access to the kinds of tools I'd use to hurt myself, and medications are dispensed in exact doses, so I don't have to worry about any of that. I can just eat and sleep and not worry about being able to concentrate to do work or whatever. When it's time to go IP, I'm ready for the break from life. 

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For me, it depends on the hospital.  I've had good and bad experiences. 

I can't give details right now because I don't want re-hash bad the times I spent there.  The good experiences, well it used to be, was when we were fairly free to anything on the floor, go to groups, talk to the psych nurses, see pdoc on-call.  I actually loved it there and actually wanted to move in there (no lie).  After I left, a new person was head of the unit, and set strict rules that sucked.  I was in there with him one time, and I don't want to go back there then. 

Another one had different levels ... when I was first there, they put you in one building.  After a couple days once I calmed down I was moved to a less secure building, then again to the regular part where they work with you more than the other 2 places.  Another place I went to, too many bad things happened I'll never go there again.  But I did like the first time I was IP.

So I did have positive and negative experiences. Hoping to never need psych IP again though in general.

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Wow, it sounds like it varies a TON mostly depending on where you go. Everyone had something positive to say though, which is good to know. (Thanks for your pep talk at the end of your description, TakeAChillPill - cool to hear you feel that way even after your rough experiences.) I guess it'd help if I looked into the psych hospitals near me now, so if I need it I'll have an idea of where to go. Thanks!

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I've been hospitalized twice, both times during a depressive cycle. I went to our local ER accompanied by a bodyguard of sorts (being therapists mostly) as a triage to one of the general hospitals in a nearby city. The psych ward there was ok, but as others have stated there are LOTS of rules.

Overall, I found that (as another poster mentioned) they want you in and out as fast as possible. Med changes in my case were minimal. The meds used are mostly to make you sleep, which is impossible when they wake you up every hour with a flashlight to make sure you haven't run off! It seems they have a standard protocol at this hospital where every patient gets the standard "calm down" meds. Which never worked for me, but hey, that is me. Personally, because I hate being grouped with a lot of people and having to talk about my "feelings" in groups, I could not wait to get out of there fast enough. I admit, I faked as best I could on my paperwork and interactions with doctors and nurses to get myself out. I am what you can call a "smiling depressive" until I completely lose it...which is usually a mixed episode. Anyway, once I got to the hospital, I was like, why am I here? I'd much rather be in my own bed, in my own pajamas, eating junk and watching mindless telly. You get assigned different nurses every day, and one doctor. Frankly, my last experience with the PDOC I was assigned was horrible. He barely looked at me, asked maybe two questions, and brushed me off only to meet me once more to question my ability to pay for his services!!!! Luckily, I now know he has been dismissed from practicing at this hospital.

I realize I am venting, but I don't want to scare you off from going to the hospital. Not all places are the same. I won't lie, it won't be comfortable. You lose basically all right to your privacy. Everything gets searched. Everything has to be authorized. But it could just save your life when you need help the most. So don't be afraid to make that step. My stays lasted maybe 5 days at the most. You won't have to stay there forever. And you may just find the doctor you need.

Best wishes,

Poem

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I feel like this is a really useful thread, so I'll keep it going.

I've only been IP once, but it was the right decision. I didn't have complete control of my thoughts and I needed to be protected from myself - and I was.

Some of the rules were very difficult for me, but I did okay. I am a person who likes my routine and my stuff. Living with the bedding provided (vinyl coated to prevent bedbugs and very noisy) and only receiving meds twice each day were tough adjustments.

I did take one piece of very helpful info from there that literally felt like a light bulb in my brain. It was such a simple thought, but it had never occurred to me before.

I was there in the winter and I remember looking out at a snowstorm and thinking, "I am safe here." That was what I needed.

The worst part? Being without my bra for 3 days. That sucked. It was easy to tell a female new admit because we were the ones that walked around with our arms crossed over our chests all the time, waiting to be given back our bras.

Edited by batshitprincess
Clarity and spelling
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7 minutes ago, batshitprincess said:

I've only been IP once, but it was the right decision

I feel the same way. At the time I didn't want to go IP, but in hindsight it's exactly where I needed to be.

The hardest thing for me was getting discharged and going right back into the situation that landed me in the hospital to begin with.

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21 minutes ago, batshitprincess said:

The worst part? Being without my bra for 3 days. That sucked. It was easy to tell a female new admit because we were the ones that walked around with our arms crossed over our chests all the time, waiting to be given back our bras.

Funny, this is actually the only thing I like about IP. I hate wearing a bra and wouldn't if I could get away with it. 

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1 hour ago, aura said:

Funny, this is actually the only thing I like about IP. I hate wearing a bra and wouldn't if I could get away with it. 

 

I was allowed to wear a bra. Oh, I just found it curious.

Where I was inpatient there wasn't any kind of activity during the day, the most interesting thing was meals and the pdoc visit in the morning. I was there for 30 days.

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I think everyone covered it. However for me hospitalisation has always been a huge step backwards (with the exception of the one I got my diagnosis). Yes, it's good if you need it but you lose years of your life just by staying there for a couple of months. All my school friends have finished or are finishing university and I got another year of college before I start. I'm doing a third year of college because I lost a year out my life from being ill and spending time in hospital. I started college a year late because I was in hospital. Once you come out, you got to 'take it slow' as well.

If you can get enough help as an out-patient, take it. Where ever you go your problems follow you, if you're poorly enough to need to be in hospital you won't tell a difference between being out or in. The only time where that moment of "fuck I'm in a psych ward" hits you is when you're well enough but they are still taking it slow before they release you. Everyone is poorly but you're not.

What really got to me was, when I was in-patient when I was 15. I spent 6 months in a medium secure hospital for psychotic mania.  During the first couple of weeks they had to force me to have clonazepam because I was singing up and down the corridor and jumping from sofa to sofa. They had to restrain me. When I got better, those memories literally hunted me because of how embarrassing I was acting. I hate hospitals and that's why I only consider them a last resort. I try to recognise my symptoms before they go out of control.

Edited by The Right Honourable Jimmy
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My local hospital was more the kind to try to process you quickly and get you out and they would usually over medicate, but there is another one that is a major hospital at a university a few hours away that takes more time and makes sure you are better before they release you. The only real problem I had at either was boredom. We joke around that its main purpose is to serve concentrated boredom. There were the rules others mentioned that go along with trying to keep several mentally ill people safe and medicated but they never bothered me. It was quiet most of the time and I could read as much as I wanted and didn't have any responsibilities except be compliant with treatment and hopefully feel better. I admit that I am in an area with pretty good medical treatment. I wouldn't hesitate if I had to go again, although I'd rather be at the university hospital.

I'll just add that when I first had to go over 20 years ago I was embarrassed and ashamed, but after several times being admitted I got over that.

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