I Was Hospitalized In A Psychiatric Ward. Here's What It's Like
Start writing a post
Mental Health

6 Things I Learned From My Time Inside The Psych Ward

Sometimes our darkest moments have the most to teach us.

451
6 Things I Learned From My Time Inside The Psych Ward

Only the nurses were awake when I arrived at 4 a.m., shaky and exhausted. It had been a long night spent in the ER, and I just wanted to sleep. One of the nurses showed me to my room, a small space with a bed, a bathroom, and a large chair. The intake paperwork only took 20 minutes or so, and then they left me alone to rest.

The built-in radio by the window was mostly static, but if I tuned it just right, I could listen to Frank Sinatra on the '50s station. Something about that music playing softly in my hospital room made me feel safe. I watched the lights of downtown Cincinnati sparkle like fallen stars in the dark and could feel myself healing, as cheesy as that sounds.

I still felt uneasy by morning but made my way to breakfast anyway, then to group therapy, then to lunch, and so on. I kept my days full like that for the next week, going to every scheduled activity and therapy session. For the first time in a long time, I was putting real work into my recovery.

Here are some things I learned during my hospitalization.

1. Getting help is not a sign of weakness.

The EMT who rode in the back of the ambulance with me had a kind smile. He let me crack as many jokes as I wanted in my poor attempt to cope. I told him that I asked for help because I felt unsafe and wanted to start treatment again. I shared how afraid I was to be admitted to a hospital an hour from campus in a city I'd never even spent the night in before. I was scared that the doctors there wouldn't be able to help me. I dreaded the scissors at the nurse's station they'd soon use to cut the strings out of my favorite sweatpants. I was terrified that the state I was in would break my mom and dad's heart.

At the same time, those anxieties didn't hold a candle to the fact that I still needed help, and as scary as it was to ask for, I got it. That is a strength I didn't know I had. As we pulled up to the hospital, the EMT gave me a tiny package of cookies and told me that I was brave.

2. Friendship is a healing force.

The other patients, ranging in age from 18 to late 60s, were some of the most loving people I've ever met. There's always an air of comfort among those who understand you, a feeling of freedom to just exist as you are. We paced the hallways during the slow afternoon singing songs from "High School Musical." We made ice cream sundaes with snack pack Oreos and half-melted ice cream. We could cry with no questions asked besides "what do you need?"

There was no hiding, no stigma, no shame.

The oldest patient, a woman who lived to make other people laugh, treated me and the other college-aged girls like daughters. She told us jokes at breakfast and gave life advice at lunch. There was a mutual understanding between all of us there that we were not fighting this alone. To connect with others like that during such a lonely time is like breaking through the water's surface for a breath of fresh air. The way we bonded together like a makeshift family was unexpected and utterly beautiful.

3. A week without internet is good for the soul.

The moment I was admitted, my cell phone was shut off and put in a locker somewhere else on the floor. Without the internet and social media, the days felt a lot longer, conversations were more fulfilling, and I had less generalized anxiety about checking my accounts. I couldn't read any depressing news headlines, and I couldn't get left on read. There was no longer a tiny screen to filter the world through.

I found that time away from my phone provided me with a lot of opportunities to ground myself in the present. Instead of sitting on my phone at dinner, I could focus on the meal and the people I was sharing it with. I went to sleep much faster at night without an endless scroll of tweets to read. I know life without the internet is practically unheard of in the real world, but it was nice to be separated from my screen for a while.

4. There's nothing wrong with needing medication.

The stigma surrounding psychiatric medication had gotten to my head during the year leading up to my hospitalization. I thought if I stopped taking my pills, I could learn to manage and adjust to the world without needing them. Obviously, I was very wrong. During my stay, I had to change the way I thought about medication, working to perceive it as an aspect of my treatment instead of a punishment for being sick.

Adjusting back to my doses helped me to slowly feel like myself again. The brain is an organ like all the others, and sometimes the right chemicals aren't being made. It's nobody's fault, but it's still something to be managed. For some people, medication can help with that. Once I pushed past my own internalized resentment, I was able to utilize that resource and take control of my recovery.

5. Recovery isn't a choice you make one time.

I had to choose recovery every morning I woke up in the hospital. Going to therapy, taking my medications, and practicing self-care took energy and effort. Breaking unhealthy patterns and relearning how to manage a chronic illness is difficult, and on some days, it felt nearly impossible. With encouragement and patience from my treatment team, it became more natural each day.

I also learned that recovery is not linear.

There will be times when I'm thriving and others when I'm definitely not. The ups and downs of life make no exception for me, even when those dips and highs become extreme in ways that disrupt my life. I kept forgetting that I do have a choice, that I've always had a choice, to keep going and striving towards a healthier state. My problems won't be gone, they'll just be a little easier to carry.

6. There is a time to leave.

On my last day, I was hesitant to leave. In the hospital, you are protected from the world and its chaos. A week staying inpatient wasn't going to fix all my problems, and I knew I'd have to go back to school and finish the semester. I had to return to my life. This would be the starting point to a brand new treatment plan for me. Of course I was worried I'd make the same mistakes again, but a stronger part of me felt ready to face both the good and bad times ahead. I left the ward with a collection of new coping mechanisms and a newfound hope for the future of my mental health.

I am grateful for the beautiful stories and lessons that were born from the dark, and I will never forget my time there, the people I grew to love, nor the single stretching hallway that we made into a home.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

My 4th Of July Look

MISS SWISS - Glamour On The Go

208
My 4th Of July Look

Whether I can get to the beach this weekend or I'm just at a friend's pool, I know I'll be picture ready. Fourth of July weekend following so close behind Pennsylvania lifting the state mask mandate has me anticipating many smiling faces, eager to capture the moment.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Eat and Drink Your Way Through Los Angeles With Me

When i die spread my ashes at the Bubba Gump at Citywalk

1020
Eat and Drink Your Way Through Los Angeles With Me
Hailey Hastings via Canva

First and foremost, I am a foodie. In any city that I am in, the first thing I want to know is where the best places to eat and drink are, and I imagine a lot of you are the same. Los Angeles happens to be one of the greatest food cities in the United States, so it's only right that I present you guys with this list. These are the best places (that I have tried) in Los Angeles to eat or drink.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Your Guide to Dryness-Preventing Nutrition

You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of women over the age of 50 struggle with uncomfortable symptoms due to vaginal dryness. This is an extremely common issue for those entering menopause, but it can also affect those of a younger age as well.

2351
Dryness-Preventing Nutrition

You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of women over the age of 50 struggle with uncomfortable symptoms due to vaginal dryness. This is an extremely common issue for those entering menopause, but it can also affect those of a younger age as well. Common issues like UTI’s, yeast infections and medications can cause vaginal dryness but one of the big culprits for both cause and prevention is diet. Supplementing your diet with nutrients and vitamins to encourage your body to produce the hormones it needs are one of the many home remedies for dryness. There are many factors that can cause dryness and the uncomfortable symptoms that come along with it, and diet is one of the big culprits on the list. Keep reading to learn about adopting nutrition habits that both alleviate and prevent dryness!

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Artificial Intelligence: the Upward Downfall

We are walking a dangerous road with AI

4170

“Alexa, I want the truth.”

Keep Reading... Show less
https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/07/10/17/24/sparkler-839806_960_720.jpg
Free-Photos | Pixabay

It goes without saying what July 4th symbolizes for Americans and undoubtedly its more important holiday. From parades to foods to speeches, all Americans know that it relates to the day when the 13 original colonies broke free of England, then ruled by King George III. A sometimes-overlooked aspect of Independence Day is bonding with family and friends. That is, after all, where my favorite memories were.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments