A friend of mine has been struggling recently. She has never been hospitalized, and she said she was considering inpatient hospitalization. I, having been hospitalized many times, opened my mouth and shared with her that a) Without insurance, an inpatient facility probably wouldn’t admit her unless she was suicidal; and b) Even if they admitted her, again, without insurance, they would probably only keep her for 72 hours. My insight, opinion, knowledge, whatever you want to call it, was not appreciated. I think my friend has a romanticized opinion of what a hospitalization would be, that it would be a nurturing experience of unending therapy for what ails her, when in reality hospitalization is just a warehousing of the mentally ill where they pump you full of medication, sometimes treat you with ECT, give you some useless group therapy (often just lectures), and release you as soon as you appear to be stable. They also take away your phone, your freedom of movement, most of your clothing and other belongings (anything you could harm yourself with), and in some ways your humanity. In reality, I will do anything to avoid being hospitalized again. I have been suicidal many times since my last hospitalization, but my memories of being in the hospital and being stripped of choices, being woken up early when I was tired as hell from medication by some rude bitch, being forced to go to group therapy in order to earn the right to go outside to smoke, eating sub-standard food, being subject to room searches, and lectures by mental health technicians with big egos and Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology at the most, has left me with a desire to stay out of the hospital at any cost.
Being hospitalized can keep you alive when you’re suicidal, but aside from that, I haven’t found it to be especially therapeutic. I’ve in fact found it to be more of a negative experience than a positive one, which is probably a good thing, because I do everything I can to avoid re-hospitalization. In fact, in writing this I’m reminded of exactly what I need to do to avoid being hospitalized again. Daily self-care is a must. Taking medication, exercising, and practicing gratitude are all forms of self-care for me. Even with the best or most vigilant self-care, I can still become unwell. I’m not perfect, and I do have Bipolar Disorder. But being in touch with myself daily, I know when I’m slipping and I know when I need to get in to see Dr. Drugs. Sometimes medication needs to be tweaked. At times, I’ve had to make adjustments with work, such as working at home. At other times, I had to stop working. I hope that doesn’t happen again, but I know in reality that it might. I have to live one day at a time, like the recovering alcoholics. Today, I am ok. And for that I am grateful.
I’m curious what other people’s experiences have been with hospitalization. Have they been positive or negative? Do you have the same aversion to hospitalization that I have? Also, how are you? I think about you all and count you as blessings when I say thank you every day. Have a great weekend.