Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Psych Hospitalizations: The Good, The Bad...And The Slightly Out Of Control? - Part I

When I had a psych consult earlier this week, one of the questions posed to me was, have my previous hospitalizations been helpful to me. On balance, I would say yes. I do advocate hospitalization whenever you are in crisis, absolute dire straits, suicidal or in danger of hurting yourself or anyone else.

I've been thinking of how to write about my hospitalization experiences for a long time now. I've had five, in total. I've thought over and over how to make it all cohesive and coherent but I'm not sure if I can. That might be okay as when you're inpatient, you may not be all that cohesive and coherent yourself.

So I think I'll just give it a go. Be forewarned, this will be long and will contain some can I describe it...intimate, graphic, ludicrous detail? However, this blog being what it is it should not surprise you.

Hospitalization #5: Cutting - Medically Helpful Yes, Psychiatrically Helpful No

I had self harmed for the second time and required stitches. I knew that this would result in me needing to be admitted to the psychiatric ward but there was no way around it. The cut was bad. And really, I was in pretty rough shape. In retrospect, I think I had been cycling all over the place and had pretty much reached a peak. I knew the drill since this was number five. I packed a bag with all of my essentials, called a cab and off I went.

Now I had not been hospitalized in several years. My how things had changed! I was stitched up in the ER by a decent enough doctor who was certainly not unsympathetic. She wasn't overly kind but at least she didn't treat me in any negative way. I was seen by the Head of Psychiatry early in the morning and he actually remembered me from previous stays. This was kind of impressive but I really didn't care. I just wanted to get out of the ER.

So there began my stay. I wasn't sure how long I would stay but it quickly became evident that it would be the minimum 72 hours. The nurses were locked behind some kind of fishbowl and were completely inattentive or rude. And I don't say this with any ill-tempered patient judgment. I love nurses! I wanted to be one! It is just plain fact. No one could get any sort of help if they needed it. You couldn't even ask a simple question. You were routinely ignored. This was not the psych wards of days gone past!

So I actually took it upon myself to assist patients in need. Oh it was sad. One poor soul couldn't even cut her food she was so distraught! She asked me to and I thought, well shit, half the time everyone's so damn depressed they don't want to eat, the least I can do is help the poor woman out!

I met a young-ish (slightly younger than me) man with Schizophrenia and we seemed to get along. He was terribly awkward and shy but he was somehow drawn to me and eventually we began to dialogue a bit. So one evening, we went and talked in my room (after I had stolen a bunch of scientific-type magazines to try and read from "the lounge.") We were promptly interruped by a nurse who told us that men and women weren't allowed in each others' rooms! What the...? We were just talking. What on earth did they think we were going to start doing? We departed to the "the lounge" where they told us we had to go but with everyone else congregating there and banging and clattering, he withdrew and no longer wanted to talk. Very helpful.

They did try to "stimulate" us with crafts and some type of art therapy. I was so bored out of my skull I thought I'd give it a try. And I was curious. I'd never done this while hospitalized as it was simply never offered. Well the crafts were a bloody joke. Something about making things called "happy boxes" or something with ridiculous cartoon quotes inside. I turned mine into something that looked like an acid trip/horror movie prop. I don't think the group leader was amused.

The art therapy was kind of interesting, however. We were asked to draw "how we felt at that moment." Then, if we could we were to try and explain the drawing to the class. Oh dear. I'm the sort of person that can't really draw a straight line with a ruler. Most people drew stick figures representing themselves. Not me. I came up with something that was actually kind of impressive. In a freakish sort of way. Rather abstract and morbid. I don't know if I impressed everyone or shocked them or a bit of both.

Anyway, after running around doing a whole lot of nothing, I decided to leave. My psychiatrist there was not willing to discuss any treatment options other than what he had already decided in his mind so I was out of there as soon as I could discharge myself.

Postscript: In reviewing this, I've decided that I will post each hospitalization separately as otherwise, this entire piece is going to be way too long for everyone to read.


Sarebear said...

VERY well written and excellent series, here.

Patient Anonymous said...

Hi sarebear, thank you for your comment. I appreciate it and nice to see/hear from you!

Medblog Addict said...

Just dropped by to catch up and say hello. Interesting series. But then, your whole blog is fascinating. I never know what I'm going to read here.

Shinga said...

Years ago a friend was hospitalised with depression. One of the things she couldn't understand was why the staff insisted on running games of bingo and getting huffy when no-one ever cried house.

Did it never occur to the staff that by and large most of the patients lacked the concentration to follow the game?

Regards - Shinga

Patient Anonymous said...

Hi, MBA, What? fascinating?!?! EGAD. I so often think this blog is a disaster!

You've just given me a rather huge compliment and ego boost. I really don't know what to say other than thank you. I've been in a bit of a blogging "funk" lately and struggling with *life* so your comment is extremely heartfelt.

I shall endeavor to keep you "fascinated" *grin*

Hi shinga, oh that makes me laugh. Yes, takes me back to hospitalization #5 where at least they did provide us with something to do but it was rather weak and inconsistent. For all of the others, there was nothing, I repeat nothing! for us to do!

During a couple there were some decks of playing cards so if so inclined, you could get a good Euchre tournament going on and there were semblances of games or jigsaw puzzles but who on earth could concentrate on a jigsaw puzzle! I still can't to this day! And a lot of the time, they were all broken/pieces missing anyway so that would definitely require further psychiatric intervention!

Butterfly said...

I was sectioned last autumn for some pretty bad mania... not fun. The nurses where I was were also locked in a fishbowl most of the time... though I suppose they were civil enough.
I was horribly shaky back then though and didn't actually leave my room from sheer paranoia, except when they made us come out to take meds... I even refused to eat and when they made me I just wolfed down a fruit or a sandwich as fast as I could so I could return to my room...
They tried to make us do art-therapy as well... (the only activity on offer... other than wandering the corridors, sitting in the not too inspirational common areas or do jigsaw puzzles.) I'm a proffesional, classical artist (ink and oils mainly) and to me the whole thing felt like some horrible joke which just sent me running back to my room. *shudder* Esh! (If a friend hadn't brought me some sketchpads and pencils I'd have gone mad.... well more so.^_^)

I was there until my then boyfriend managed to get me released into his care...
Hospitalization and me are not friends... being in hospital actually makes me worse as it makes me so nervous I become a skittish, nerve-wracked wreck.

Patient Anonymous said...

Hi butterfly, nice to see you again. Yes, I know. Being hospitalized can be incredibly difficult and it sounds like it is even harder for you?

I found that after #5, I was not getting any therapeutic benefit (or rest) by actually becoming more of a "nurse" or a "counsellor" and the whole thing was completely ridiculous. I know I did not have to do this or assume these responsibilities but it is just the sort of person that I am. And I was "functional" enough to do so.

Perhaps oddly enough, people could sense that(?) because they were coming out of the woodwork to talk to me! I had nothing better to do so why the hell not listen too others' problems for a while? Give them a leg up for a change? "Crazy" people don't scare me. I am one. I'll lead the fucking parade!

That's great to hear that you are an artist! I am so envious. After #5 in a hypomanic frenzy I took to buying an easel and various supplies, canvases and paints (acrylics...much more forgiving!) and decided that I TOO would paint!

Guess what? I suck.

Maybe *one day* I shall try again but every "interest" I pursue I immediately drop. Pretty much been that way all of my life now that I look back.

Again, I suck.

It's surprising my blog has lasted this long? But...I haven't even reached the three month mark yet...all things considered, however, that might be pretty good...? *wink*