I've been admitted to a California state hospital before, for three months, back in 2007. I do not have a lot of history of being in the hospital, but that experience alone helped me come to terms with my illness and motivate myself to stay in treatment in order to avoid hospitalization.
However, don't misconstrue my experience and goals of trying to stay out of the hospital. I do not agree that the hospital is a bad place or is the enemy, and that we should avoid it at all costs. Yet, I understand there are incidences where hospital staff abuse patients, which is frightening and upsetting, at the same time.
I can understand that some of my peers need to be hospitalized for diverse reasons and periods of time- some shorter than others and some longer than others. In fact, I've had close friends who were in and out of the hospital over the last two years, and that was upsetting to me, therefore, I can relate to family members who experience a relative in the psychiatric hospital- their worries, compassion, confusion, and hurt.
I've come to this realization, hospital stays are not always bad, because of my own experience. Prior to the judge mandating medication compliance and admission to the state hospital I was very sick. I became catatonic- not speaking, moving my body, or eating, and not even getting up to use the bathroom. During this time I had racing thoughts and sometimes no thoughts, which was even weird to me while in that state of mind. On top of this extreme symptom of my mental illness, I sensed things that other people did not experience- hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling, and tasting things that were not there. One time while I was in my jail cell alone- I was incarcerated because I stole a military pick up truck with the keys in them while not in a rational state of mind, but experiencing psychosis- I felt what seemed like a tarantula crawling on my back and I immediately scrambled to get this huge spider off of me, because I was frightened, but later realized I was hallucinating after I reintegrated into the community from institutionalization.
Also, the voices in my head were coming in and out more frequently. Instead of hearing occasional voices from time to time while alone, they started to interrupt my conversations with other people which was very confusing, because I couldn't understand what the person in front of me were saying, and I would become irritable.
My hospitalization helped me tremendously because of the treatment, education, and relationship with my treatment team was respectful and trusting. Therefore, I had a good experience in the hospital, which I am thankful for because some of my peers were not as fortunate to have had a good experience in the state hospital.
In fact, last summer I think I prevented a relapse because when my symptoms gradually worsened I sought out help through the center where I received treatment immediately. And I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and given antidepressants, which I was hesitant about taking, and I described that in an earlier post, "Fear of Openness to Medication."
What triggered my distress, anxiety, and poor concentration, was the stress of my overactive life with a lot of volunteer projects, leadership roles and personal responsibility of being a long-term girlfriend, and mother. In addition to seeking a professional, I stayed at a respite center for a few short days to recuperate. During this time I had a girlfriend babysit my son. Then I visited family out of state for a while to relax, sleep, and to refresh my mind with their emotional and physical support by helping me take care of my son. Despite being on antidepressants and antipsychotic medication, I still have moments of depression, but I find ways to overcome them with self-determination and my support system. A friend once said: "that same mind that put you in a funk can also take itself out of it."
How do you feel about hospitalization?- Has my experience and opinon changed your perspective on hospital stays, why or why not?
To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, NAMI, Choices in Recovery, or Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).