What I gained from my experience in a psychiatric hospital

Two years ago:

“If you went home right now, would you be able to keep yourself safe?” I looked at the psychiatrist. I had just spent the night at the E.R. I thought of the past 14 hours, then back to the struggles I had been facing for months, the amount of stress I had been under. How the previous afternoon, I had haphazardly reached for multiple methods to stop the pressure and pain. “No.”
And so I voluntarily committed myself to stay in a psychiatric hospital.

I sometimes hear horror stories about people’s experiences in inpatient. While I do not want to repeat the experience, mine was not one of those.

Here’s some of what I gained:

Time away from my daily life, which included a number of responsibilities I was having difficulty meeting and fulfilling. I was under extreme stress where I lived and even one night away a week did not alleviate the feeling of pressure baring down on me. So it gave me time to pause.

Daily structure that I did not have to be in charge of creating. While I generally like creating my own structure, it was difficult maintaining the rhythms of my life while depressed.

A safe place to stay. It had been challenging for me to maintain my own sense of physical and emotional safety. At the hospital, that space was created for me.

Time to try new medications. They weren’t the right ones in the long run, but they were enough to get me towards stability…for a short time, and I didn’t have to adjust to them while doing so many other things.

Time to reflect. While in my regular life, I didn’t have much time to stop, reflect on, and evaluate what was happening; it was very much go-go-go. While there was structure and a schedule in inpatient, I felt like I had more breathing room.

Others validated my experiences. People took my pain and suffering seriously, and were committed to helping me. This helped me begin to recognize that I needed to focus more on my own healing.

Overall, I had a positive experience in the midst of challenging circumstances. I’m grateful that I was able to make that decision for myself.

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