Lots of stress comes upon the prospective patient when they are on the cusp of committing themselves to the psychiatric ward. Here are some things I wish I knew ahead of time, to keep in mind when beginning the admissions process:
- Bring your best advocate with you. (Spouse, parent, close friend or relative who knows your situation)
- Take a deep breath, they want to help you, not hurt you.
- Have patience, there are steps to go through and paperwork to fill out.
- Be your own best advocate. The doctor will see you. Be honest with him.
- Your picture will be taken, and no, they are not stealing your soul.
- You will be in a secured unit, locked in.
- You must earn your way out, and work for it.
- Don’t mind the eclectic behaviors of others, they’re fighting the same battle you are.
- Be aware the insides of the building are not always pretty. (That said, don’t concentrate on abstract paintings if they have them. Abstract art is a bad idea for any head case. In fact, ask them to take them down if they bother you.)
- There will be a TV on at some point. It may seem like they’re saying your name, but they’re not. And try to tolerate the a/v stimulation.
- Mind the opposite sex. Set up personal boundaries and adhere to them, that will help you.
- Listen to the staff and don’t give them a hard time.
- Be friendly and polite. Human beings are here, not second class savages.
- Seek out a friend and get to know some people.
- Read your patient rights. They must be listed in a public area.
- The phones may be “tied up” and the fence in the courtyard “broken”. All that is code for is someone temporarily disconnected the phone lines and someone prayed in the courtyard (if you were there you’d know what I’m talking about).
- Give yourself time and space. You are on a journey to getting better and that takes: time and space.
- Take a photograph in your mind’s eye. Journal about it. Capture the chaotic and colorful journey. Write about it. Express yourself. Get to know who you are in this time.
- Be kind, regardless. Don’t expect people to respect you because a, everyone’s imperfect, and b, they can’t respect anyone if they don’t respect themselves.
- Your personal belongings will be inventoried, so they will take out shoestrings, belts, hoodies and anything else deemed potentially dangerous.
- Challenge your mind and do a puzzle, just don’t read into it – it’s just a brain exercise.
- Take advantage of physical activity when there’s recreation. Your body needs a physical outlet.
Any other suggestions or questions? Leave a thought in the comments and let me know.