“My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward” by Mark Lukach

Photo from HarperCollins

NOTE: This is not a book review; these are just my thoughts–which may wander.

This book’s rating is 4.08 of 5 stars on Goodreads, so I guess people really liked it. I gave it a 3. It was just okay.

While the author is a great storyteller/narrator, what really killed it for me is that so much of the story is unbelievable. Anyone who’s ever been in a psych ward would know that.

At one point Lukach describes how he and other family visitors were allowed to hang out in the wife’s hospital room during a holiday. Are you kidding me? That would never be allowed in real life.

In a real psych ward, visitors are welcome to hang out in the visiting room with the patient; nowhere else. They enforce that rule. But in all the time I’ve spent in psych wards, I’ve never seen anyone try to break it.

Who’s “they,” you might be wondering. “They” are nurses and mental health workers. The latter are, in my experience, mostly male, strong, and probably worked security in the past. But that’s just a guess.

Anyway, there were many other unbelievable scenes in the book, none of which I remember of course, thanks to ECT. Well, and it’s been a few months since I read it; I’m only now writing down my thoughts.

Have you read My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward? What are your thoughts?

The Ride

Photo on Visualhunt

NOTE: This is a retrospective post.

I woke up in the psych ER at ECT Hospital. It was about 5:00 AM, and no one had talked to us, as promised. My husband was slumped in a chair, asleep. It didn’t look comfortable at all — I had a bed. I woke him up and insisted that he go home, take care of the animals, and so on; and that I would text him when  I had news.

Not one hour later, a private ambulance showed up to transfer me to the Behavioral Hospital. I texted my husband, and told him where they were taking me, and said that I should be “processed” in about an hour. The ambulance driver and his partner were professional and empathetic. They said it would take 20 minutes to get there. Of course it would! It was really early on a Saturday, so there was no rush hour.

As they pulled up to what looked like a very institutional building (cement exterior walls), identical windows on every floor, I couldn’t hold it in anymore — tortured tears rolled in rivulets down my cheek. Soon, they were dripping from my chin.

The in-take coordinator greeted us, and as the ambulance left, the driver and his partner told me, “Good luck.”

Daily Prompt: Rivulet

Being Brave

Photo provided by author

This bravelet got me through my time at Behavioral Hospital. It was much worse than ECT Hospital.

BELONGINGS: What you could and couldn’t have was more strict at Behavioral Hospital. It would disrupt my way of life in a way that ECT Hospital didn’t. No underwire bras; no toothbrushes; no hoodies, even without drawstrings; no full-zip sweaters/fleeces, but quarter-zip was ok (though the head Tech on my unit allowed me to have a full-zip fleece); contact lenses were kept locked in the Medication Room and I had to ask for a new pair each day. Except for the combination shampoo/body wash and lotion, we were not allowed to keep toiletries in our rooms. All of this was a pain in the ass, especially because I had my recent stay at ECT Hospital to compare it to.

FOOD: We didn’t get menus where we could make choices; there was a set menu for the week. During mealtimes, I grew anxious because I wasn’t sure if they’d have a vegetarian meal for me. Most of the time, they did. One day, though, I ate potatoes 4 times: O’Brien potatoes for breakfast (quite good); a twice-baked potato for lunch (dry); parsley mashed potatoes for dinner (not that bad); and potato chips for our night-time snack.

They steamed everything, so the vegetables were mushy, as were the English muffins and waffles. Also, they didn’t salt anything, so the vegetables and other food were bland. Mushy and bland.

Meals were cafeteria-style, where you grab a tray and a plastic fork and spoon (no knives) at the beginning of the line, and slide the tray down the rails to go through the salad bar. I’m picky about salads, so I usually skipped to the area where the servers plop food on a styrofoam plate and hand it to you over the counter.. The only beverages were decaf coffee, (disgustingly) flavored waters, and plain old water. No iced tea or soda because they wanted to limit our caffeine and sugar intake. At ECT Hospital, we could drink whatever the hell we wanted. I remembering ordering 2 coffees each day for breakfast, and iced tea for lunch and dinner.

The one nice thing was the night-time server sometimes passed out desserts: ice cream sandwiches, Rice Krispies treats, mini-Fudge Stripe cookies. A rare treat.

ROOMS: These were okay, except you had to double up. Fortunately, I had a series of 3 very cool roommates, so it wasn’t bad. Still, the private rooms at ECT Hospital are awesome, and you could have your toiletries and your own toothbrush! At Behavioral Hospital they gave you a toothbrush with a flimsy plastic handle that you can break in half to shank someone. One roommate and I were afraid that this might happen to us overnight! (Long and confidential story.) My bathroom wasn’t even cleaned when I was admitted — the first time I went to take a shower, there was a huge clump of hair in the corner. YUCK.

THERAPY: This was definitely better than the groups at ECT Hospital. Those were more educational, while the ones at Behavioral Hospital were often about processing emotions or issues we have. The art therapist was totally awesome, and his groups were fun.

*I looked at and read my bravelet every day, several times a day: “be brave.” And I was.*

What are some situations in which you had to be brave?

Daily Prompt: Disrupt


Thank you all for your support, love, and encouragement during what has been a difficult time. Much love to you all. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Being admitted to Behavioral Hospital. Photo provided by author

As some of you know, I was in the emergency room on Friday, March 23, because I couldn’t stop self-harming. I was there from 4:00 PM until about 6:30AM the next day, when I was transferred to, I’ll call it, Behavioral Hospital. It’s a mental institution, but calling it that would be self-stigmatizing.

I was transferred because they didn’t have any beds at ECT Hospital, which devastated me. I like the psych ward at ECT Hospital, and know what to expect, especially because I was just there in the beginning of March. I was scared when the ambulance arrived at Behavioral Hospital.

Just got home. Photo provided by author

But I ended up loving many of my fellow patients because I was admitted to the Women’s Unit. No, the facilities weren’t as nice nor the food as good as ECT Hospital, but the various group therapies were so. Much. Better.

They made a few changes to my medications, which my psychiatrist planned to do, anyway. I’ll see him on Friday, my therapist on Monday, and this Thursday, I have an in-take interview with an Intensive Outpatient/Partial Hospitalization Program (IOP/PHP). I describe this type of treatment in My Experience with Partial Hospitalization Programs. I’m actually looking forward to it, and should have done it after my last hospitalization earlier in March. But we had travel plans. Also, I don’t think ECT Hospital recommended that I go to IOP/PHP, so I didn’t explore that type of treatment.

First meal after discharge: Candy Apple French Toast from Over Easy. Photo provided by author

Well, it’s part of my aftercare this time around, and I think it’ll help me transition from being an inpatient back to being on the “outside.”

Have you gone to an IOP/PHP after being hospitalized, or even without having been hospitalized?

Daily Prompt: Explore

Reflections on Being in the Psych Ward & Being on the “Outside” – March 2018

This morning; Photo provided by author

This is the last post I’ll write about this experience, I promise! First of all, my stay there was very therapeutic, in terms of maintaining personal hygiene, socialization, and most importantly, structure.

Nearly every hour of our days was scheduled for one thing or another, like the various group therapies and meals I described in yesterday’s post. Even when I awoke, long before mealtime, I took a shower immediately and got dressed. I had to take a few shortcuts because I didn’t have conditioner, my entire skincare regiment, or a hair dryer, but that worked for me.

My inpatient psychiatrist met with me both Monday and Tuesday. He said that I could be discharged Wednesday, which I found surprising (but wasn’t complaining) because it seemed to me that the average stay is at least a week — I was admitted on a Friday evening and didn’t think I’d get out until the following Friday or Monday.

When my husband picked me up, and we got outside, I found that the world wasn’t as captivating as I expected it to be. I thought I’d see it in a better light, but it looked the same as it did when I went into the ER. My mood began to dip.

I tried to duplicate my inpatient schedule as much as I could at home, but that lasted 2 days. By Saturday, I was back to staying in my pajamas and had to push myself to throw on sweats and accompany my husband to the vet for our dog’s annual check-up, drop him off at the groomer, then eat lunch at a pub a few doors down while we waited for him.

On Sunday, I stayed in my pajamas and barely got off the couch. I spent most of my time just lying there, or falling asleep. The social worker who discussed my discharge plans suggested that I go to an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), maybe after I return from our mini-vacation. I texted my therapist last night about how I was feeling, and she also suggested going back to PHP because of the social aspect and structure it provides, particularly at the last one I attended.

My therapist told me to think of 3 things I could do today, and concentrate on those: 1) take a shower, which I did but took shortcuts; 2) do my physical therapy exercises, which I started but didn’t complete; 3) write a blog post.

As you can see from the selfie I took this morning, I’m feeling pretty meh. I am, however, looking forward to seeing my psychiatrist tomorrow and finally transitioning my mood stabilizer from Tegretol to lithium.

Have inpatient hospitalizations helped you? Did you feel better once you were discharged?

via Daily Prompt: Captivating