There are a lot of rules when you’re in a mental hospital. They’re designed to keep everyone safe. Which makes sense because that’s sort of the point of a mental hospital. The hospital I was staying at doesn’t have adults separated out into “acute” and “non-acute,” though, so some of the rules seem extreme and sometimes they don’t seem extreme enough.
Some of the rules:
no metal of any kind. which includes the little spring in your clicky pen, and the eraser-holder bit on the end of a pencil. I had to temporarily filch a pencil stub from group in order to write in my journal. also includes the spring in any pump bottle, like say a lotion bottle. womp womp. Lucky for me, a friend from my days at Tower Records had sent me a feel good care package that included a tiny bottle of lotion that did not have a pump (and had the added bonus of making one smell like popsicles)
no drawstrings/cords/straps. Standard and obvious.
no cell phones, ipods, laptops…no cords basically…which made it especially ironic when a patient attempted to choke herself with the telephone cord (can’t have cordless, they’re throwable. also no remotes for the tvs or dvd/vcr combo player)
no chocolate. I don’t know what the logic is behind this, but The Boy tried to bring me a couple bags of M&Ms and was told he couldn’t bring them in and only hard candy was allowed. Screwy thought maybe it was because you can inject chocolate with stuff, the rest of the people I talked to had no other theories.
As mentioned above, a patient tried to choke herself with a phone cord. It happened during visiting hour when everyone was focused on their visitors. This patient also would bang her head against a wall repeatedly when she couldn’t choke herself and she wanted to/felt she had to. I think she definitely would have benefited from an acute ward. There was also a patient that repeatedly said lewd things to and about the women on the unit and the female staff on unit. When he wasn’t doing that he was shouting about how he owned the hospital and would fire anyone that wasn’t respectful to him, or complaining that the staff had coffee (usually, sometimes other things) that they were supposed to share with him and he wanted it, dammit! I don’t think he was intentionally threatening, but a lot of us felt threatened. Initially they did not have women’s rooms separated from men’s rooms at all (though each room was segregated by those gender lines) but after enough of us complained, they made a guys’ hall and a girls’ hall, which helped a little, but it was in the public spaces that we mostly encountered him so it wasn’t a huge help.
Putting aside the personalities that needed more care, there were a lot of people in the unit I just found grating to be around. I was lucky to find a few people among my fellow patients that I liked, and that helped, but I definitely would tell myself “go home instead!!” if I could go back to when I was reluctantly agreeing to follow the ER psychiatrist’s suggestions. As I said in a previous entry, I could have done this alone, though it was helpful to not have to worry about work or meals and all that. I think that hospitalization is really for people who are worse off than I was. Which segues into why I was there so long and post-hospitalization treatment (aka part 4).