Most of us have very specific, vivid ideas about what staying in a psychiatric hospital looks like. These ideas have likely been shaped by Hollywood or sensationalist news stories. Because how often do we hear about someone’s real-life stay at a psychiatric facility?
If going to therapy is rarely talked about, the conversations surrounding psychiatric hospitals are virtually non-existent. So we tend to imagine wild, worst-case scenarios.
Not So Bad
To shed some light at what a stay at a psychiatric is like I’ll share with you my experiences.
First, your experiences may vary depending on some tangible variables. There is good , bad, and everything in between in everything in life. This to include restaurants, movies, doctors, and medical hospitals.
However as a general rule, you get what you pay for, the difference between public facilities for people without insurance is significant compared to those with insurance affording a stay at a private facility. A step further those with private insurance and are monetary well off generally can stay at a facility a notch above.
My experience has been where most working class folks are. That said, there is good and bad care in any of these economic circumstances.
I was relatively lucky, and would consider my stays (twice at the same facility)
Different strokes for different folks
First I would summarize my stays as bland and boring. Everyday was essentially the same. Breakfast in the cafeteria at 7:30am, morning group at 8:15am, to go over the planned days events, which generally consisted of various groups and activities.
At 9am medication pass took place. Each day met with your assigned psychiatrist, discussing issues and starting the process of medication changes or adjustments.
Contrary to popular belief generally speaking the best part was the patients and the bonds and friendships made. These were people who might be your neighbors or co-workers. Regular folks, suffering from different degrees of depression, uncontrolled bi-polar disorder.
Going back to my opening statement of bland and boring stays, it should be noted it was designed that way. Safety and insuring people felt safe was paramount.
Most stays were not more than 5-7 days. For me it was an opportunity to recharge my batteries, get a reprieve from reality and the daily grind.
The real work would start upon discharge. Of course the therapists would have an outpatient plan, doctors appointments, medication prescriptions.
I had a semi private room with a bathroom and shower, with a desk also in the room.
Most of all I left with at least a half dozen phone numbers of like minded folks with like minded issues
I left knowing I was not alone, and that was comforting. I left without the fear I imagined what it was I thought I was walking in to.