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What is it like to go to the hospital for mental problems?


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Everybody's experience is different. I had a very good experience. The people were wonderful - both staff and patients. How long you are there depends on many factors. I was there for two weeks, but there are people who are there just a few days.

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Last time I was in was just for a few days. Some of the staff were ok, but some of them fucked me over with things I told them in confidence. I also had a big falling out with the consultant psych and he tried to change my dx and got rid of my benzos. He was a real arsehole.

I have had goodd experiences in hospital though, Apart from high sec, that wasn't fun at all.

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I have had all good experiences except for the last one which was not all bad but  ended up not good. (Part of that was due to cultural differences -I am an American who lives in Europe and the system here is, obviously,  different than in the US). 

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I have never been, myself, but my mom who was also bipolar like me had a very psychotic mania and went to the hospital. She went to a private hospital, it was more like a small place where people stayed to recuperate from their acute troubles. I hadn't heard of a place like that since. Usually I hear about actual hospitals. Anyway she said she had group therapy where everyone just talked and shared, and there was a pdoc who got her back onto her meds, and they let her out too soon I must say but that's a whole 'nuther story... lol

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The hospital I've been to is very boring. Not much to do but TV and sleep and cards. I sleep a lot at the beginning, and then I can't sleep towards the end. My doctors are super smart and I've received good treatment in general. Overall I guess I've had satisfactory experiences.

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I was in an adolescent psychiatric ward before, over ten years ago.  This was in the UK. My experience was that it was an 'open ward', so we were allowed fairly regular trips out to the local supermarket and went on supervised trips and so on.  I just remember it being either extremely boring, or extremely stressful and painful (but this wasn't really a reflection on the hospital itself, aside from being forced meds for schizophrenia when I had severe anxiety/depression etc. and getting horrible reactions). The people you meet there are often amazing, though.  We had weekly group therapy and a couple of meetings basically every day.  We weren't allowed phones or laptops or anything like that.

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Mostly it's boring.

I've been IP at two different hospitals, admitted through the ER. They take away your clothes, shoes, phone, etc. and make you wear paper scrubs initially. You can "earn" back your clothing (minus any strings, like shoelaces or drawstrings in sweats/hoodies) usually within a day or so. Other belongings are kept locked up. I was allowed to keep a book and a journal (no pen though, had to use pencils in the dayroom). The journal was gluebound, not wirebound. My friends/family brought me clothing after I was admitted, if you're planning to go you could bring a bag. Bring three days of clothes and keep it simple. There's laundry facilities for if you're there longer. I've had several stays ranging from 2-10 days.

You can have visitors for short periods of time, how long and how often varies. There are patient phones for making calls in/out, though it takes special permission to make long distance calls. The phones are usually available most of the day, something like 7am-11pm. They're in public areas where you can be easily observed. 

You'll be under constant supervision. The two hospitals I stayed at everyone was checked on at least every 15 minutes and their location/activity recorded. If you're considered more of a danger to yourself you could be put on one-to-one where there's someone essentially by your side all the time. This is done rarely. You'll see a pdoc every day. The nurses and aids will take your temperature and BP twice a day. Your meds will be doled out and you will be watched to ensure you take them. 

During the week there is an attempt at group therapy during the day but it's not very intense/deep. Evenings and weekends/holidays are usually "free time" which has meant for me pacing the halls, staring out the windows, and watching the shared tv in the day room (never anything good on though). There's usually paper and stuff for colouring. One hospital I've been at has an art therapy room and everyone makes beaded bracelets (not necklaces though). No sharps. One hospital I was at didn't even let us have plastic knives with our meals.

I've met good people while IP. I've met good people in post-hospitalization day programs. People like you find here - normal folk who happen to have mental illness and are having a bad spell. 

One hospital I went to offers ECT, and I was able to start receiving ECT treatments while there. 

The restrictions and treatment from the staff varies depending on your level of safety and how you treat them. There is some looking down on the patients of the ward for being there that seems to be universal, but if you're polite and kind and friendly they will be to you too. 

Mostly it's boring. There's not much therapeutically to be gained from it. If you want therapy you'd be better off in a day/IOP program (where you'll be monitored by a pdoc). It's a safe place to wait out a bad spell of your depression. It's unlikely any medication changes they make while you're there will change your situation, meds for depression just don't work that way (unlike if you were there for psychosis or mania, for example). My pdoc says any impact from med changes while in hospital is placebo effect. If that works, I say take it. 

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We've been in a bunch of inpatient psych units, both child/adolescent and adult, and the most honest answer I can offer you is that your experience will depend on two things: how things are run wherever you end up, and what you make of it.

Geek's partially right. There's some units that are unbearably boring--beware of ones that include "quiet time" as a designated activity on the schedule.That's code for sticking everyone in their rooms with nothing to do and no one to talk to. A lot of places also prefer to entertain with basic cable television and outdated board games with all the pieces missing. It doesn't have to be that way, though. I have been to some truly wonderful programs that offer the right amount of structure and leisure without ever leaving you hurting for support. Some people hate schedules that include lots of group therapy, but I love them. Some of the longest lasting insights I've taken away from treatment have been things I learned in a hospital-based group 4 years ago. 

Also, I've never been to a hospital that makes a policy of confiscating belongings. Obviously they take away anything you could hurt yourself with, but they've always let me wear the clothes I bring once they're inventoried. Some hospitals are stricter than others. I've been to a couple where they let you leave in piercings, have ballpoint pens or pencils, jewelry, makeup, and even flat irons and electric razors. 

For phones, some of them let you call whoever you want but some require you to make a call list when you get admitted. You also have to make a code/password for yourself, and anyone who tries to get ahold of you has to know the code before the staff will transfer the call. I don't know where Geek was, but at all of my units there were strict designated phone times during free time. Also, some had phones in corners of the dayroom or way down at the end of the hall and actually offered a very nice amount of privacy. Some hospitals have restrictions on who can visit and the number of visitors you are allowed at once. The strictest units only allow family members, but even the looser ones will usually have some sort of limit that bans small children. 

More on those checks Geek mentioned--they're called rounds and while it's typically every 15 minutes, some places with level systems let you move up to a point where you may only need checks every 30 minutes. That's especially nice at night, because when they're rounding they open your bedroom door really loudly and shine a flashlight in your eyes. There was one place that had a level called "close observation" which meant you weren't allowed in your room by yourself at night and had to sleep on the couch in the dayroom instead. Sometimes doctors only come round to see you on weedays, and there's usually a fill-in on weekends. They can't make any treatment decisions, though. 

Expect that the food will be gross. Usually you have a different meal option from day to day and then some that stay consistent, like hamburgers and salad and chicken breast. Sometimes they write down what silverware they give you and your have to turn it back in to a staff member at the end of the meal, otherwise they do strip searches and toss the unit and everyone will be pissed at you for it. 

Once in a blue moon, you'll come across a unit that will let you go outside. Mostly they have a little fenced-in area for you to stay in, but one had a completely open area! I asked what happened if someone ran, and the staff member just said, "Where are you gonna go?" This was in the middle of a forest preserve in unincorporated central Wisconsin, and it was a low-security unit for people who could contract for their safety.

I've had some truly awful experiences in inpatient, and I've also had some life-changing ones. I met my very best friend during a 3 week stint. Like Geek said, you're not going to have any Eureka moments on the ward, but if you're suicidal, it's the place to be. 

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I have been to 3 hospitals. I always get lonely for my family and want to go home. The longest I have been in was about 5 days. It depends on how well you are to when you get released. Only once was I very stable when i went home, the others I was still symptomatic and fragile but better than I had been.

The first one I went to was after a 5150 (72 hour hold). They took me to the closest place and it was not very good. There were security guards, like Geek mentioned they took anything with strings. There was a room with cots that you were supposed to make yourself and they would roll out a cart with drinks and snacks. I was psychotic and did not understand what was going on. I only saw a pdoc because i was wandering around trying to figure out where voices were coming from.

I was transferred to a community hospital, but it was in N. California, near my sister, and i live in the south. The whole time i just wanted to go home. This place was lower security, no guards. There were groups to go to during the day and activities. My nurse was with me, a lot, and was cool. I think I had a room to myself. My sister said they asked me a lot of questions to make sure I would fit in the low security.

I was also in one closer to my home. They had groups but not the activities like the other place. This one I was in a room with 3 other women. The pdocs were good. They changed my meds some. I wrote with pencils.

They would not let me sleep all day. They wanted us in groups.

All of them had limited visitation at set hours. It is much different from the regular hospital. I could not have a phone or computer access, but I hear some people do. I have not been in since 2005.

There are also partial hospitalization day programs, where you go for day long therapy in rooms outside of the main floor and go home at night. You see a pdoc frequently and tdocs run the groups.

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