Psychiatric hospitals are really boring. When the EMTs wheeled me in they stuck me in an assessment office with doors that lock regardless of what side of them you’re on. I fiddled with my phone, emailing my boss to let him know I didn’t know when I’d be back at work and why, and updating my FB page with a photo of my ER ID bracelets and letting my FB friends know I was going to be in a psychiatric hospital.
A young woman came in and asked if I minded if another guy sat in on my intake, because he’s new at the hospital. I was fine with it and we got started. I did a little paperwork, then answered the many questions necessary for intake (most of which I had answered approximately 1 billion times already for different ER staff, so I had them mostly down pat.) When we finished I was escorted to the bathroom (because, again, so many locked doors) and the guy who was sitting in on my intake reminded me that I am not alone. Then I got to sit alone in the intake room, lol. Eventually the next person was ready and came and got me and lead me to another office where I did registration and handed over a lot of my things (car keys, cell phone, anything made of metal, wallet….) I was still in my hospital gown at this point, BTW. More paperwork, and then I got to go upstairs to the adult unit. They took the rest of my stuff behind the nurses station desk and because my room wasn’t ready yet, sent me to sit down in the lounge. While I was waiting, group started, and I participated until I was called out to speak to my psychiatrist. That first day I found him very obnoxious and condescending, but he was less obnoxious the rest of the time. He revised my diagnosis. I’ve been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder for 5 or 6 years, but after talking with me and hearing my history he diagnosed me as bipolar (I don’t know if I or II, he didn’t say) and he prescribed lithium to be added to my regular prescriptions. (Since my antidepressant was prescribed for migraine prevention and it works amazingly well for that and doesn’t interfere with the lithium, I got to keep that.)
After that my room was ready and some of my stuff had been put in there. Since I hadn’t gotten much sleep at the ER I planned to nap, but not long after I lay down a social worker needed to see me, so I had another meeting and answered the same questions again again again. And then offered a second hospital gown to wear like a robe so I wouldn’t be exposing myself all the time. After that meeting it was lunch time. Lunch, unsurprisingly, was not great. It was also not terrible. Although if you’re gonna say it’s tacos you should include a burrito or taco shell. Seriously.
I think I had 4 or 5 meetings with different people that day, and I skipped the rest of the groups except for the wrap up group at the end of the day because I was tired. I got a nap in after lunch and before dinner, and visited with The Boy and my friend Dixie after dinner. I spent the evening in the back lounge watching a movie someone else had put on, and then watched most of the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice until they insisted we all go to bed.
It’s really hard to sleep when staff come in your room every 15 minutes to make sure you and your roommate (who snores, and who also sometimes talks to people who aren’t there when she’s awake) are still alive. And they don’t close the door all the way. And the hall lights are always on. But eventually I did fall asleep.
Most of the weekend days went like this: they wake us for breakfast, we sit around waiting to eat, we eat, get our vitals taken, we have morning meeting, get morning meds, I shower then hang out and read until group starts. The rest of the day is a mix of groups, reading, and meals until visiting time, then there’s the final group and I’d hang out with a couple people and watch movies until bed time.
After this week started, it was similar, except at some point (I don’t remember when) I started going downstairs to the cafeteria for meals most of the time (you can’t leave the unit for the first 24 hours minimum, but after that if you’re taken off unit restriction, you can go downstairs for meals, sometimes go outside after dinner, and go to art therapy, also downstairs.) I’d go to some groups but not all of them, and most of them seemed not too helpful for me, but some of them were. I really liked the movement therapy group (and the woman who ran it is one of my derby friends’ neighbors and also looks like the future of another derby friend, like IDENTICAL but older. Because of this group I have gotten a new coping strategy, which is the emergency dance party.