Thank you all for your support, love, and encouragement during what has been a difficult time. Much love to you all. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
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.
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.
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?
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?
Before I describe what my days spent in the psych unit was like, I’d like to address a few comments from the previous post, The Psych Ward – March 2018. frazzled again of Rant and Reason asked how I could remember things in such detail. We were allowed to have journals and pencils. Also, I was given a brochure that outlined what the ward was like and its rules, like you weren’t allowed to have mobile devices, probably so you wouldn’t take psych ward selfies! Seriously, it’s probably for the other patients’ confidentiality.
Astrid of Blogging Astrid discussed locked and open wards in the Netherlands, where she lives. I’m not sure what the difference is, but in the US, at least in the state of Illinois where I reside, all of the wards I’ve been to are locked — you can’t just leave or go outside. However, we were free to meander around the unit — we weren’t locked in our rooms. I’m not sure if that’s considered an open ward in Illinois. I don’t know if this addresses Astrid’s questions, but I hope so.
SLEEP: I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but I didn’t sleep well during my stay. I wasn’t sleeping well before I was admitted, but my sleep disturbance was worse in the psych ward.
It probably had to do with my bed, the mattress of which wasn’t firm enough. I’d wake up around 2-ish AM, stay up for a couple of hours, then fall back asleep til about 6:00 AM. One day I was up from 3:15 AM – 10:00 PM.
I learned from another patient that if you request something to help you sleep by 1:00 AM, your assigned nurse would usually give it to you. Any requests after that were deemed “too late” in the night. I was able to request an additional 50mg trazodone to my usual 100mg, but it only helped me sleep for 2 more hours.
HYGIENE: The advantage of being awake early is that I didn’t have a lot to do other than journal, work on the crossword puzzle book or read the book my husband brought me. My eyes still burned from lack of sleep, so I’d shower. I began maintaining my hygiene on Saturday, the morning after I was admitted, and was able to do so throughout my stay. The rule was that you were supposed to be dressed in street clothes (if you had any, brought by visitors) by 9:00 AM, but it wasn’t strictly enforced.
PHYSICAL THERAPY: Since I had to discontinue physical therapy after being admitted, they had a physical therapist see me on Monday. He showed me more stretching exercises I could do during my stay, so I’d do those after showering.
The unit was large, and of course my room was far from the main TV room, main nurses’ station, therapy rooms, and dining room. I did a lot more walking than I’ve done since December, when my primary care physician told me not to do as much walking as normal, because of the excruciating pain in my hip. All of this walking on the unit inflamed said hip, but the stretches helped. They also gave me energy.
MEALS: I was anxious about who I would eat with in the dining room for my first meal on the ward (breakfast on Saturday). After a staff member gave me my tray of food, I felt like I was in high school, not knowing the “right” group of people to sit with. Fortunately, one woman was sitting alone at a table, and welcomed me when I asked to join her.
She became the first patient with whom I was friendly. She knew a few other patients, to whom she introduced me, and we ate most of our meals together. There was a lot of conversation and laughter among our group.
Morning meds were administered during breakfast.
GROUPS: After breakfast, we spent the days in one group or another from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (lunch), and then again from 1:15 PM – 3:00 PM (snack time). These groups had 15-minute breaks in between, and included goal setting, stretching or open gym, yoga, illness education, coping skills, group therapy, and occupational/recreational therapy, which was my favorite! In the latter group we got to color, paint, make wooden models (like the one of a pteranodon skeleton I made in the photo), crochet/knit, and other crafts.
There’s a white board in your room on which your assigned nurse writes your schedule for the day.
FREE TIME: We were pretty much free from 3:00 – 5:00 PM, when we had dinner. Over the weekend, I spent the time in my room, but once the week began and I got to know other patients, I’d hang out with them and talk or complete jigsaw puzzles, an activity that I found I enjoyed.
VISITING HOURS: On weekends and holidays, visiting hours are from 2:00 – 4:00 PM and 6:00 – 8:00 PM; Mondays through Fridays were just 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Fortunately for me, I always had visitors — my husband, and sometimes my sister and brother-in-law. For some reason, you could only have 2 visitors at a time. We talked, played board games, and completed jigsaw puzzles kept in the visiting room.
Once they left, I’d either hang out with other patients and watch TV or work on jigsaw puzzles. Medications were administered around 9:00 PM, and I went straight to bed, and started over the next day.
If you have any questions or want to share your experiences, please leave them in the comments. Thanks!
Tomorrow, I’ll post about how the stay affected me, and how I’ve been doing now that I’m home.
After they obtained a bed for me in the psych unit, I was suddenly back in a wheelchair and brought there. If you’ve read my post, In the Psych Ward, then you know that my last hospitalization was at ECT Hospital (where they perform my ECT treatments when I need them), and that the unit is swanky. I got a few details wrong in the post, so I’ll correct them here. In this post, I’ll describe the ward and its “amenities.”
I was wrong about there being carpeting — there isn’t any except in the day rooms. The corridors, therapy rooms, and dining room are all tiled. The individual rooms have a wood-looking floor, but I’m pretty certain it isn’t wood. It’s like a tile made to look like wood. In this post, I’ll describe the actual psych ward.
MY ROOM: . . . didn’t look as clinical as the one in the photo, but I couldn’t find a comparable image. Anyway, as I mentioned in my last post, I had a single room instead of one of the 2 doubles, so I didn’t have a roommate. The room contained a bed on wheels, though it didn’t have rails (it was in the center of the room), and a bureau with a shelf instead of drawers next to it. There was a closet on which I could store my clothes on shelves.
Next to the closet was a cushioned window seat, and next to that was a long desk made of what looked like marble, but which I doubt was actually marble because people could probably hurt themselves on it. There was a cushioned chair with arm rests at the desk.
On the wall across from my bed was a mural of a field of wildflowers. I kind of wanted to sneeze every time I looked at it because of my seasonal allergies lol! The unit overall was decorated with murals of nature scenes.
The sink and counter was in one corner of the room. There was a mirror that looked like it was made of glass, but I’m sure it wasn’t. I don’t know what it was made of though, and I forgot to ask. On the wall next to the sink were a few shelves for your toiletries.
The bathroom was next to the sink. It had a door, a toilet, and a shower. You pressed a button in the shower, and the water would come on for about 5 minutes, so if your showers are longer than that, you have to keep pressing the button. I made it a race to see how quickly I could shower and press the button as few times as possible. Fortunately, the water was a good, warm temperature.
Next to the bathroom and across from the side of the bed was the door. Obviously, you couldn’t lock it from the inside, but staff could lock it from the outside. Within the door was a second door that you couldn’t open from inside the room, and that they kept locked. At night, they opened this door so they can peek in on you when staff did their rounds every 15 minutes, and not wake you up.
My room had windows, but inches from the actual glass were frames containing some sort of unbreakable glass, so that obviously you couldn’t hurt yourself.
THE DINING ROOM: There’s a dining room they keep locked except during meals, which were at 8:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 5:00 PM, and during snack time at 10:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 8:30 PM. They definitely don’t cheat you on food! Snacks were optional.
The 2 earlier snack times consisted of graham or regular crackers stored in a drawer, or anything you might have saved from a meal and stored in the full-size refrigerator. There’s a machine that dispenses coffee, decaf espresso, and decaf coffee, and another that dispenses ice and cold or hot water.
During the last snack time, they offer sandwiches that consist of cold cuts (turkey, ham, roast beef) or cheese or peanut butter and jelly for the vegetarians. These also come with grapes. I didn’t usually partake in snack times, but I sometimes went just to hang out with other patients.
PATIENT LAUNDRY ROOMS: There are 2 patient laundry rooms, in which we could do our laundry. You have to ask a staff member to unlock these rooms for you.
I haven’t done laundry in years, and wasn’t about to start again in the hospital. My husband would bring me clean clothes during visiting hours, and I’d send my dirties home with him.
MEDITATION ROOM: They have an enclosed meditation room that a staff member has to unlock for you. I didn’t use it, but I saw it. There’s a sofa with a weighted blanket, which apparently is good for anxiety (I may have to get one!); a TV screen that plays relaxing music and displays nature scenes; aromatherapy; and the only lights are colored, and gradually switch from one color to the next. Because of these lights, some of the other patients and I called it the party room lol!
DAY ROOMS and PHONES: There are 2 day rooms, each of which contains a TV. Whatever program we watch has to be a consensus among the patients. There are a few armchairs, and cushioned benches along the wall. There are also regular chairs with arm rests, identical to the one in my room, and tables where you can play games or do jigsaw puzzles. The walls without the benches and TV are made of some type of glass that’s unbreakable, and through which staff can see you. The main day room, which is closest to the main nursing station near the entrance to the ward, also had 2 computers on which we could check e-mail, surf the Internet, etc. We could only use them for 10 minutes each, and they were unlocked only at the top of the hour.
A smaller day room was also near the main nursing station. It contained chairs, but only a computer. No TV.
There were 4 phones on the unit that we could use at the top of the hour. These were located near the day rooms.
GYM: Near one of the 2 therapy rooms, is a gym that had a stationary bike, and several treadmills and ellipticals. Patients could use these during open gym times. Because we couldn’t have shoelaces, there were gym shoes you could borrow from the unit, since there was always a staff member monitoring gym times.
THERAPY ROOMS/VISITING AREA: As I mentioned above, there are 2 therapy rooms. Most of the groups are held in either a smaller room that has tables — usually for recreational/occupational therapy. The other is in a larger room that also doubles as the visiting area in the evenings.
This pretty much sums up ECT Hospital’s psych ward. As you can probably tell, it’s a large unit that holds 20 patients. It doesn’t sound too bad, and compared to other wards I’ve been hospitalized in, it isn’t. I think it also helps that it was newly remodeled about 5 years ago. It looked and had the same “amenities” as when I stayed there in 2014.
My next post will discuss what the days were like. Thanks for reading!
Does this unit sound like any in which you’ve been hospitalized?
On my post last week, Downshift, I talked about how I didn’t feel safe in terms of suicidal thoughts. I managed not to hurt myself and went to bed that Thursday night. When I woke up Friday morning, I wasn’t sure whether or not I felt safe. Because of these doubts, my husband and I decided to go to the emergency room (ER) at ECT Hospital, where I undergo outpatient ECT when necessary, and is also the place I was last hospitalized in October 2014.
I left the house in my pajamas, but as you can see in the photo, they had me change into a hospital gown. We arrived around 11:00 AM and it took about an hour to process whatever they needed to process. By noon, they moved me (in a wheelchair) to the psych ER because I didn’t have physically medical issues.
This ER is removed from the hustle and bustle of the medical ER, so it’s quiet. It consists of 3 side-by-side rooms divided by walls, and with curtains on the front. These were left open so the nurse and security guard could keep us under observation.
I was moved there around lunch time, and there was a stack of food containers on the counter. I didn’t have to wonder if any of them were vegetarian because I just knew that they weren’t; I was right.
An ER resident saw me and asked me why I was there. He also asked what meds I was on, and told me I’d be meeting with a psychiatrist, which I already knew.
My husband and I sat there for hours, and eventually, I met with a crisis intervention team, which I believe consisted of a nurse, a social worker who did all the talking and asking of questions, and a psychiatrist who typed my answers into a computer.
Again, we talked about why I was there, and discussed what seemed like my entire mental health history. They asked me what I saw in my future, and at that point, I figured I needed outpatient ECT, which my psychiatrist strongly recommended a few weeks ago. Although I felt safe by the time I talked to them, they felt that I needed to be admitted. I figured that I would be, but was still hoping they’d let me go home, and pursue ECT on an outpatient basis.
A nurse talked to me about the process of being admitted, confidentiality issues, the ins and outs of the psych ward, and had me sign a bunch of paperwork. She said they had a bed for me, but I had to wait for a few more hours.
I was concerned whether they had a vegetarian menu, and she assured me they did. *phew* But my biggest concern was whether I’d have a roommate, and she said that I wouldn’t. At this particular hospital, there are 2 rooms that fit 2 beds; the rest are singles, though if necessary, they can add a bed. Thankfully, they didn’t during my stay.
I was still in the ER at dinner time, which is at 5:00 PM, and fortunately, the admitting nurse was able to get me a vegetarian dinner of fruit and a vegetable hummus wrap. It was surprisingly good. (!)
A little after 6:00 PM, I was admitted to the psych ward. Six hours is a relatively short time spent in the ER. Other patients have had to wait over a day to get a bed.
My next post will be about my stay and my reflections on that.
If you’re willing to share, have you ever been to the ER for psychiatric reasons? What was your experience like? If you’d rather discuss it privately, feel free to use the Contact form.