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The Hospital Stay

In my experience, I stayed in the hospital for 2-3 months to get an official mental health diagnosis, and also to regain competency for trial. I was in jail and in a state hospital for taking a military truck from the airport. Taking the truck was related to my nervous breakdown or psychotic break.

My hospital stay was productive. I reunited with my mother and family, and participated in group therapy. I was sent to a California State Hospital because my (unknown) mental illness had gotten so severe that I became catatonic- not moving my body limbs for periods at a time. I was extremely paranoid that staff would try to poison me and thus, I stopped eating and drinking. As a result, I was sent to the emergency room several times. Also, I failed a competency test for trial, in short, I was so sick that the court hearings could not proceed and the judge mandated medication compliance and a visit to the state hospital.

My illness had taken over the loving, ambitious, go-getter, Ashley. I became angry at my mother and family for no concrete reason, the illness made everyone the enemy including my very own loving and supportive family. However, my family did not give up HOPE. And when the medicine kicked in, my mother and family were there to accept me.

In the hospital, I was required to participate in diverse group therapy. Some of the classes I took included: yoga, cardio, coping with mental illness, medication education, informational court, and an art class, (I did not take all these classes in the same period, we rotated classes like mini semesters).Whenever, I was not in class I was visiting with family.

The following is a selected parts of my diary while I was staying in a California State Hospital:

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Now I am at the State Hospital and not at the psychiatric unit in jail. I am a little nervous because of my new, large surroundings. The people are friendly, but a little intimidating because the group is larger than the group I came from which was about 16 people...

Friday, August 17, 2007
Day #2 at the State Hospital. Everybody is friendly. I switched bedrooms because a couple of my peers got into a fight. Today I also gave blood and met with my social worker, nurse, program coordinator, and doctor. I took what seems like the same interview twice today and I completed a test that focused on my reading skills. For the most part the staff seems laid back, which is a good thing. All of my peers are friendly because they are very considerate... I am still adjusting to the large group, I think I will do well here. I know that He is with me always and will hold my hand through this experience.

Friday, August 31, 2007
Yesterday, my mother and me did not visit, however, we visited today and she plans on coming back this afternoon. We discussed Supplemental Security Income (SSI), my recovery, arrest, and my newborn niece, and family. My mother says she became a member of a mental illness awareness group. I thought that was courageous and proactive. She also encourages me to apply for SSI...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Today was my first day participating in regular classes, I took Medication Education. My social worker and psychologist taught the class, they both shared videos, and both videos were interesting. I also spoke to my aunt, I called her at work. She told me some of the details of my case... she will make a specific prayer for me that the judge will release me without felony charges. We had a good conversation. Some of the reasons that I was upset with her is most likely a part of my paranoia, we said we would discuss it in person during our visit this Sunday.

I just spoke with my mother and she is on her way. My step-father is with her... Our visit went well. My mother is moving close to the hospital in order to visit me daily. She says that she will visit me Friday and move to the area this weekend. Seeing my mother daily will make my stay here much easier. We could talk about my classes, because she wants to learn what I am learning.

Granddad will visit me tomorrow. I am excited to see him, he goes out of his way a lot too. I am blessed to have a family that cares so much.

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Today I went to Conflict Management and then I had a visit with my mother. First, in class we talked about our support system and how some people avoid their problems. We also discussed the difference between sanity and insanity. Insanity is not dealing with any problems, while sanity is. Our support system may include our peers, family, education network, and self. We had the opportunity to record our support system in different colors on circles. I used blue and purple. Second, my mother visited me earlier. She was like herself. Today she sang Christian hymns and we prayed together...

As you can tell by reading bits and pieces of my diary from the hospital stay, the hospital can be a very scary place, but it could also be a place to recuperate. My family was very supportive and hopeful that I will get better. They played an active role in my recovery from the beginning, we experienced the hospital stay together.

From the selected journal entries, a person can imagine how faith played a role in my life during this critical moment. My family and me were praying for a tolerable solution to the incident, and through faith, support- I received character references from family, church members, and others to give to the judge- and an official diagnosis, I was not convicted with a felony.

My mother became a member of a mental health support group. Both of my parents suggested that I apply for SSI. And, my hospital stay is where I gained the foundation to my recovery by learning more about my illness.

To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., NAMI, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

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