My Stay at a Psychiatric Hospital
What I Learned During My Stay in a Mental Hospital
The days leading up to my hospitalisation are quite a blur. All I do remember was that I feared my own safety. I had always been suffering from depression and from suicidal ideations however those previous days were on another level. My thoughts became active. I like to distinguish between two types of suicidal thoughts: Active and Passive. Passive suicidal thoughts are just thoughts that are floating around in your head - you do not plan on acting on them. Active suicidal thoughts on the other head are more lively thoughts that you may or may not act on them. Both of these are horrible and I do encourage anybody who finds themselves relating to what I am saying to seek help immediately.
On the day of my hospitalisation I woke up and as I had been feeling the previous days, I felt this massive weight of sadness on my stomach. It hurt, physically, mentally, emotionally and in any other way possible. Luckily I had a therapy appointment just a few hours later so I had been looking forward to talking to my therapist immensely. As I entered my therapist’s office I knew that I was not going to get out of there the same way that I had entered. I knew that I could not stay on my own until I got help and got better. I explained to my therapist that I had been seeing death in everywhere. I explained how it was even a struggle to get myself safe to this office as I had extreme intrusive thoughts about throwing myself in front of a car. Unlike any other day and unlike any other appointment, my therapist looked me in the eye told me how I could not go back home. Not in this frame of mind. I had never seen that look in my therapist’s eyes ever. She looked genuinely worried and sad for me. As I continued to explain to her how I felt, she made me an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist and phoned both my parents and my brother and told them to pick me up from her office and she was worried that I may attempt suicide on my way home. She did not even let me go home by myself that day. At that point, I realised how serious mental illness is and how much I needed help that day.
A few hours later I went to my psychiatrist who after a long session hospitalised me in a psychiatric hospital. Unfortunately, the psychiatric hospital available has a big stigma surrounding it. It is known mostly for drug abusers who get mistreated by nurses, however, as I later found out, this was nothing but a myth. When my psychiatrist filled out the note for me to enter the hospital I felt like a massive burden to my family. I still cannot to this day erase the image of the look on my parent’s face. It still hurts to this day when I remember how much I put my family through. However, hospitalisation is what was needed and I am glad that I spoke forward instead of acting on my impulses just like I had done a couple of months back when I attempted suicide. Prevention is always better. I guess that my hospitalisation was better than my funeral.
As I arrived home I packed my basic needs: a couple of clothes, a book and my notebook. This was not a vacation in any way and I just wanted to get this experience over and done with. No sooner had I arrived at the hospital than things started to get even more uneasy for me. As I arrived, the nurse instructed me to take off my shoe laces; they said that they could not take any chances. I saw the inpatients from the window. They all looked like zombies to me. They were all extremely medicated. However, as I got to know them personally, they were nowhere near zombies, they were individuals, like you and me who were facing a rough time in their lives. Anyways, let’s get back to the storyline. After the nurses took my essentials (blood samples, blood pressures and even asked me basic questions as to why I was in this hospital instead of enjoying summer with friends) I entered had to say goodbye to my parents and made my way inside.
It would be an absurd thing to say if I said that the patients looked happy. But they did look calm. Calmer than what I had been expecting. And I guess that’s the best thing about a psychiatric hospital. There are no responsibilities inside. All you have to do is stay alive and breathe. You do not have to worry about work, or your studies, or paying the bills. You just have to focus on yourself and you just have to focus on getting better and becoming a functioning human being again.
The first night was extremely rough. I could not fall asleep at all. There were around three big rooms with six beds in each room and considering that the person next to me kept snoring all night, it was extremely difficult for me to fall asleep. So I stood there almost all night long thinking why I had found myself in this hospital. I tried to figure out where things where went wrong. I questioned why I wasn’t just another ordinary guy enjoying summer with his friends. But I guess that’s the thing about mental illness. It doesn’t care who you are or how old you are. It knows no strangers.
My stay in the psychiatric hospital lasted for ten days. Ten long days. Ten days where I shared meals with people I do not know. Days where I had to share a shower with people I do not know. But most of all, ten days where I learned a lot of things about life and about myself. I will now start listing the things that I learned out and hopefully you can then leave this page knowing that even when things get bad, really really bad, suicide is never an option.
The first thing that I learned in my stay at this psychiatric hospital was to never judge people. Never. No matter the scenario you find yourself in, do not judge a person based on what you think. The reality is that the person is completely different to what you’re thinking. I myself judged the people I saw right in front of me on the first day but as soon as I got to know them they turned out to be completely different people to what I had thought and they all individually had amazing stories to tell.
The second thing that I learned was that you can always learn something from someone. Always. Everybody has got good advice to give you and if you listen closely you can learn something from every single person you converse with. So do not be afraid to talk to people. You will soon learn something from that person. You can either learn what to be like or what not to be like. For example, I met this guy who I talked to a lot in my stay and the reason he had been hospitalised was because of drugs. In this case, I learned what should not do in my life and he himself gave me good advice which I shall carry with me throughout my lifetime now.
Moreover, I also learned to listen. Whenever you find yourself conversing with a person, listen to them. Listen to their thoughts, listen to what they had to say, listen to their story. Not only will you learn more about the person but you will also start appreciating people more. Since the day I came out of the hospital I realised how amazing people are. No matter how shitty one person may be, on the whole, people are great. Every person has their own story to tell and every story is amazing in its own individual way.
Another thing that I learned was that life is a balance between peace and panic. To find a middle ground would be a blessing. But life generally is either a state of panic or else a state of peace. Let’s carry out an exercise real quick. I’m going to ask you to look back on a memory in your life and once you do, assign an adjective to it. You will find that that adjective either has a bad connotation or else a good connotation to it. And that sums up what I have been saying. Life is a balance between peace and panic. You cannot have one without the other. Both are equally important. If you’re wondering why I think that panic is important, it is because that if we did not experience bad things in life, good things would not exist either. Just like the concept of light. Darkness does not exists, it’s just an absence of light. You need both to appreciate the light and in this case you need both the good and bad in life to truly appreciate the journey of life itself.
Furthermore I also learned that money is not the most important thing in life. Sure it would be nice to have a steady flow of good money; but money does not bring happiness. I used to focus on money mostly and I always considered money as to be one of the most important assets in life. However, I soon realised that money does not bring you happiness. Money does not bring you a peace of mind. Money does not bring you love. Money does not bring you human connection. Your health, that being both mental and physical health, are more important than money. Your health is something that not money nor anything else can replace.
Another important thing that I learned was to get back up. It does not matter how many times you fell, what truly matters is how many times you get back up. Even if you fall down one hundred times - it doesn’t matter. What matters the most is that you get back up one hundred and one times. No matter how horrible things get, no matter how much you are going through shit, keep going. You have to keep getting back up.
The last thing that I learned was to have hope. Always have hope. I learned that hope is most probably the most important human emotion one can feel. If you hold on to hope then that will bring you peace. Always have hope no matter how bad things get. Always trust the universe or God or whatever you believe in. There is something or someone out there looking out for you and everything that is happening is supposed to be happening. So please be hopeful. Always.
Stay. That is the one word that I left my hospital experience with. I am in no means cured of this illness, however I now have learned that no matter how suicidal I get, I have to stay on this earth. Things will hopefully get better but no matter how bad things may get in the future, I have learned that I have to stay on this earth and experience life. I hope you the reader will leave this article knowing this too. If you’re ever at rock bottom just close your eyes, take a deep breath and acknowledge what you are feeling. Afterwards get up, call a close friend or family member and talk with them. Tell them everything. You do not have to go through this alone. Even if hospitalisation sounds like an option, it is not as scary as people say it is and it is definitely not as scary as much as you’re making it out to be in your head. Have hope, always. And make sure to always stay on this earth. :)