Wednesday, January 30, 2008

To People in the Psychiatric Hospitals

I just came out of the hospital after another little trip for medication adjustment. I was admitted because I was hearing voices telling me to commit suicide. My doctor gave me the option of signing myself in, but made clear that if I did not do so, she would Baker Act me, meaning commit me. (The Baker Act is a law in Florida that governs mental health.)

In the hospital I remembered everything I hate about being in the hospital. There are no books, no magazines, and no games. Nothing to do, in the hospital I went to. The only therapy offered is one support group a day, and nothing else is done to occupy the time but community meeting in the morning and at night, and meals three times a day, plus one snack. The days are very long.

And what I hate about the hospital is the way that I see people being treated by ignorant "mental health professionals" who are really uneducated, glorified babysitters.

So this is what I want to say to you, if you are locked inside a psychiatric ward right now.

1. You are human. Don't ever forget that, no matter how much you are demoralized, dehumanized, and degraded by insulting terms, power struggles, and idiotic rules and regimens. You are more than just a "patient". You are a human being. And you matter.

2. It won't last forever. You will be out sooner or later, and the time that you spend in the hospital is just that, time that passes. It will pass. Don't lose hope that you will never get out. There are laws to prevent you from being held for too long.

3. They don't understand you. People working in psychiatric hospitals are not all doctors. Some of them just have a high school education and a lot of ignorance about mental illness. They won't know how to react to your psychosis, if you're psychotic, sometimes, because they've never been psychotic and they've never been taught how to handle it. Try to be patient with them. They don't know of whence you came.

4. The voices you hear are in your head. You know you hear them, and I know you hear them, and I know how real they are. But they are in your head, not coming from the real world. I know this is hard to accept. I know that you might not believe it. That's okay too. If this sounds like it doesn't pertain to you, that doesn't mean it doesn't pertain to you, but it means you can't really deal with it right now. I understand, and it's okay. When they tell you to "snap out of it", or "get a grip" or "stop talking to yourself" they are speaking out of ignorance because THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND PSYCHOSIS AT ALL, and you might just be psychotic. And that's okay too. Psychotic is not the end of the world. It's a temporary state of mind. If you don't think you are, that's okay too. You're going to be okay.

5. Take the medication. Don't spit out the pills or tongue them or do anything else to get rid of them, unless they are making you physically sick, in which case you have evrey right to refuse to take them. But there is a reason why you're on medication, and if you're hallucinating or hearing voices, or even if you are just kind of having weird experiences that nobody seems to understand, you might need that medication to be able to be your regular self again. It won't kill you. It's not poison. They're not trying to kill you. Just take it. You'll get out of the hospital a lot faster this way.

6. The hospital w on't fix your problems. Hospitals are temporary holding cells for when life is too much and we can't keep ourselves safe or we can't tolerate the issues going on with our minds. Hospitals are not the place to go because you want to get away from your problems. I don't think that's why you went there, but if you go there a lot, you might want to consider that there are other solutions. There are community mental health centers, and there are doctors' offices, and there are therapists, and there are day treatment programs, and there are self-help support groups that are free, and there are drop-in centers, and there are clubhouses, and there are volunteer jobs, and there are paying jobs, and there are art classes, and there are many, many things you might be able to do for yourself that would help you a lot more than being in the hospital. This said, if you are in the hospital now, you probably need to be there, so make the most of it, and work on your problems as best you can.

7. Cooperate. You will get out of the hospital faster, and your stay will be a lot easier if you do. It's not always in your control, and I understand that. People usually end up in restraints in the quiet room because of things that are NOT IN THEIR CONTROL. The people who work there might not understand that, but the people who have been there do.

8. You are just as smart, just as capable, just as human, and just as important, as the people with the power over you right now who work at the hospital. Don't ever forget that even for a second. Because you may be talked down to, but you do not need to adhere to demeaning treatment.

9. Write. The best thing you can do when you are in the hospital is write down what's on your mind, and write down what you want to change about psychiatric hospitals to improve them when you get out, and write down what you want to change about yourself and your life so you don't end up in there again, and write down why you want to live and why you DO NOT want to kill yourself. Write how you feel and what you think and what you want to say. Write to the v oices in your head and tell them to shut up. Write.

10. Talk to people, and listen. The other people in the hospital may help you more than you realize they can. And you can help yourself a great deal too.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm...
    i would advise u to start incorporating exercise into your life. Dont get me wrong, this is not for your weight issue.

    It has come to my attention that research done by two outstading scientist in the field A/Prof Anthony Hannan and Dr Caitlin McOmish has found a lot of beneficial effects in relieving schizophrenia in mice? It hasnt been proven in human if the same beneficial effects would be seen but i dont see any harm in trying it out?


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