Psych Ward On The Inside
Before a start this article regarding my three visits to the psych ward I need to offer some clarification first. The main one being I do live in Canada so my experiences on the psych ward here may be different than where you live. Over the years I have had three separate psych ward visits in two different facilities for a total of three months. I have decided to break down the visits into three separate areas to avoid any confusion. So lets get this article started with my first visit to the psych ward
Psych Ward Visit One
So I went to visit my family doctor and put forward the normal complaints regarding depression along with some suicidal ideation I was dealing with at the time. The family doctor prescribed Paxil and boy did my brain not appreciate this particular anti depressant. Within three weeks the medication put me into a manic state and before you could say boo my depression fell to an all new level. I met with my new psychiatrist who immediately realized the danger that I was in and before I knew it I found myself in the local psychiatric hospital
Now this facility had four floors that were designed for specific reasons. The first floor was where all the doctors offices were located along with the admission office. The second floor was an open floor for adults meaning they could leave the floor when ever the desire came upon them. The third floor was for adolescents and the top floor was a closed unit for adults meaning they locked the darn doors. Among the fourth floor was the PIC unit which was the psychiatric intensive care meant for adults with the most severe conditions who poised immediate risk of harm to themselves or other, thankfully I have never experienced the PIC.
I was assessed in the admission unit and it was determined that I would begin this psych ward visit on the fourth floor in a closed unit. The first nurse I met gave me a tour of the unit showing me where I would sleep which was in a room with three other males. The nurse also explained that once per hour the people who were smokers would be brought outside to indulge in their habit. I soon found out that almost everyone went out smokers or not just to get some fresh air. On the floor the nurse went through my initial checkup where she took my blood pressure, asked about my sleeping habits, examining the numerous cuts on my arms and my overall mental state.
I think I was on this closed unit for three hours when my psychiatrist showed up and determined that I should be on the second floor as I did not present any security threat nor was I likely to harm anyone else. So I moved down to the second floor and was again given the tour. On this specific floor the main difference was that if you wanted to go for a smoke or for fresh air you just signed the board next to the elevator detailing what time you went out.
Again I was shown a room where I would sleep and it also contained four beds like the room on the fourth floor. The majority of patients on this floor were dealing with depression and/or anxiety. The fourth floor patients tended to have more volatile psychiatric conditions such as bipolar, schizophrenia or were long termed patients who had a tendency of leaving the facility without permission.
The psychiatrist that I had on the street would also be my acting doctor during the stay on this particular psych ward so I would spend five to ten minutes per day with him Monday to Friday. What began was a course of medication that felt like changed every couple of weeks as the doctor attempted to find the right combination of psychiatric medication to combat the battle going on in my head. At the time I was just diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety.
Three times a week I would meet with a mental health therapist who attempted to find the root of my depression and anxiety. She was very qualified and may have been the best mental health therapist I have ever dealt with. This particular therapist encouraged me to write out my life story to help both her and my psychiatrist to find the best approach to dealing with my personal war..
The food at this particular psychiatric hospital was actually really good and with the combination of a string of meds I managed to gain nearly fifty pounds over my three month stay which was not a good thing. No matter on how much I exercised the weight kept on increasing due to certain medications that killed my metabolism rate.
Day to day in a psych ward is actually pretty boring. Most of the patients in this particular psych ward either read or watched TV or participated in one of the group activities, yes arts and crafts was one of them. There would be the occasional patient freak out but for the most part it was pretty quiet.
One of the problems I did have on this specific psych ward was that certain nurses would use threats of transferring you to the fourth floor for not complying. If you attempted to stay in bed all day or did not participate in group activities or got mouthy with one of the nurses if was responded with a threat of transfer. Needless to say this did not promote a relationship of trust with certain nurses.
About a month and a half into this psych stay my psychiatrist came to realize I have a very picky brain that was not responding well to the medication so ECT was suggested. Now ECT stands for Electro Convulsive Therapy which most people know as shock therapy. I will cover this in my next article so will not go into much detail here. After the seventh session it was becoming apparent that this particular therapy was not working as desired and I was taking longer and longer to wake up so it was stopped.
Three months into the psych ward stay I did not want to be there anymore as it was Christmas time and I wanted to be home with my wife and child. I managed to convince a rather new doctor to sign my release which turned out to be a bad idea
Psych Ward Visit Two
I managed to stay out of the psych ward for about a year before my self harm addiction came roaring back to life and everyday I was losing more and more control. I went to see my psychiatrist and showed him the damage on my arms. It was determined that the meds I was taking at the time were ineffective and the new antidepressants he wanted me to try meant I had to come off of everything before starting this new med. Obviously leaving me on my own while I came off of the four medications I was taking at the time was not a good idea so it was back to the psych ward for me
This time I did not go back to the local psychiatric hospital but to the local hospital that had a separate wing for psychiatric patients. Now this was a twenty room psych ward that was both locked down and had a security guard present. Instead of going outside for a smoke or fresh air the had a balcony area that was covered by steel bars to prevent people from jumping. During the two months I spent on this particular psych ward I left the hospital once to visit with my mother who signed me out for the weekend.
Again the nurse would give me the rundown of the place and showed me to a room where I would once again would be sleeping with three other males. One of the main differences with this psych ward to the last one I spent time on was the wide variety of psychiatric patients who covered every mental health disorder under the sun. Also the length of stays was much different where the average patient would be gone in under a week with a ton of people coming and going with seventy hours holds.
There was no therapist on this particular psych ward and how they attempted to get around this was through group sessions. Now I do not function well in a group and on top of that I used to teach everything that the group sessions were educating the patients on so needless to say I never attended. The one exception was a mandatory group session for people who were being signed out for the weekend where I had to state my goals for the visit.
A month into this psych ward visit it was determined that Electroconvulsive Therapy would be tried again and after one session it was discontinued as I stopped breathing briefly. The new meds took a long time to kick in and were a complete pain in the butt. As you had to be aware of a ton of factors that could send my body into a tailspin. I wrote out my life story again and due to my education I was able to diagnose myself with borderline personality disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, severe depression with psychotic features and generalized anxiety disorder. After the doctor read my life story he would confirm all four psychiatric diagnosis
For this particular psych ward stay I wrote a lot. During the two months I spent on this psych ward I wrote a three hundred page book by writing eight hours per day. Like I said the psych ward could be a boring place.
Two months in and I was tired of living on the psych ward so I signed myself out and went home
Psych Ward Third Visit
The third visit was two years after the last one and I ended up back in the same psych ward in the local hospital. This stay would be seven days as it was mostly to figure out the right balance of medication. After a week I signed myself out and went home
That would be the last psych ward stay and it has been over seven years since than