I've Stayed At A Mental Health Facility And No I'm Not Totally Crazy
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I've Stayed At A Mental Health Facility And No I'm Not Totally Crazy

Sorry to disappoint, but there were no straitjackets.

I've Stayed At A Mental Health Facility And No I'm Not Totally Crazy

I’ve suffered with depression most of my life but over the years I have learned to live with it. If you are one of my family members or a close friend of mine, you probably know I had a really difficult time dealing with it in my mid-teens. When I was 17, my mom admitted me to a mental health facility for precaution and safety reasons. A lot of people only know the false knowledge of these places that’s portrayed in movies. No, not everyone who goes in there hears voices or sees things that aren’t there. No, not everyone who goes in there is a current or planning on being a serial killer. No, not everyone who goes in there is paranoid about their family, friends, aliens or government is out to get them. Although I did meet several people who suffer from what I just mentioned, most of the individuals I met were stuck in a rough time and needed some extra help to get them through it.

This was a typical day on the unit I stayed on when I was inpatient:

Good morning! Time to get up! The tech (we’ll call her Miss S) would always say very loudly at 7:30 a.m. as they turned on the extremely bright, LED light in the room that burned my eyes. After a few minutes, I’d eventually toss the blankets and get up and walk the few steps to the bathroom in our room. I’d come back out, slip my house shoes on and walk out into the hall and line up with the other adolescents, a mix of boys and girls, and wait to be taken to breakfast. Once everyone is out in the hall waiting, Miss S would walk us down to the cafeteria (set up very similar to a school cafeteria) and we’d line up to get our breakfast. I’d usually just get one of the prepackaged cereal bowls and a cup of apple juice and I was good to go. Eat, take your tray up, dump it, give it to the nice lady who cleans the dishes, and go back and sit down and wait for everyone to finish. Everyone finishes and we all line up and walk back down to our unit. Once back to the unit, we get a half hour to shower, get dressed, (or if you were me most of the time, get back in bed and get an extra half hour of sleep in) before it was time for the first group.

We all meet in the dayroom at 9 am, our common area/lounge place, and take our seats and wait for group to start. First group is the time for goal setting and what we want to accomplish for the day, led by Miss S. For the hour this is going on, every few minutes the nurse comes in and calls one of us back to go and talk to the psychiatrist, Dr. C, about our feelings, treatment, medications if you’re on them, etc. go back and sit through the rest of that group and once the tech announces we’re officially done, we sit and talk and wait on the rec therapist to show up. She finally pops in at 10:05 and has everyone follow her down to the art room. She turns on some music and we all just do our thing. Some go find magazines and scissors to make a random collage, a few go find the paper and paint, others find the pencils for drawing or writing, and some go find the clay to make things with. This is usually my favorite time of the day because it’s very laid back and we can just do whatever our little heart desires to for that hour. Time’s up and we head back to the unit and have about 15 minutes to use the bathroom and wash up for lunch at 11:30.

By the time we get there, the girls residential unit is already in line so our tech stands between the last of their girls and the first person in our unit because it’s a definite no-no to talk to people on another unit. We go through and get our food and sit and eat. Same deal as before, we wait for everyone to finish eating and we go back to the unit. The next hour and a half is what they call quiet time which for me means, nap time. Eventually they finish up shift change and come and get all of us for our afternoon group with our second tech, Miss J. This group is the one where if we have any new people, we all go around and introduce ourselves and why we’re there. If there are no new people they usually pick a topic for us and we go from there. After that group, we have about 45 minutes of free time to do whatever -- hang out in the day room and play games, stand up at the nurse’s station and just talk, go back to our room for a little bit, etc. Then it’s dinner time and we do our little ritual of washing up, lining up and heading down. Dinner ends and we head back to the unit for phone call time. Depending on how many kids are on the unit, this usually takes about an hour or so because we all get ten minutes per call. By the time everyone is finished, it’s usually about 7:30-8pm and time for our last group of the night which is, as usual, another hour-long group. We go around and discuss good things about the day, what we can do to make the next better, what strategies (they say coping skills but I’ve come to absolutely despise that term after hearing it hundreds of times) on how to handle our situations at home better, and what we can do to keep ourselves okay when we get in similar situations. We finish up group and we wait out in the hall for Miss J to call us up individually for the nurse to give us our night meds. We have about an hour left to hang out in our rooms and do what we need before bed. And before you know it, it’s 10pm and Miss J yells “lights out!” down the hall. My roommate and I usually stay up another hour or so talking and joking around before we eventually pass out.

That’s it. No, you don’t live in a padded cell confined to a strait jacket and they watch you from a little window. There’s not everyone walking around hallucinating and talking to themselves. No, there’s no rooms where they strap you to a bed and shock your brain. Nope, none of it. Trust me, I would remember it. Not to mention, I met several people who suffered from different mental illness and regardless if they heard voices, were paranoid, had an eating disorder, etc—most of them were some of the most interesting, kind, funny individuals I have ever met in my life. A lot of people really need to sit and think what you’re labeling people as, because if you don’t see the other side of them, you’re honestly missing out. Needless to say, no, staying inpatient in a mental health facility for a little while doesn’t make you crazy. Most people are “crazy” in their own way, I know I am as well as many other people in my life, so who is anyone to define that?

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

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