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Visiting the Psych Ward

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I haven’t posted in a  while… I haven’t been unwell (thank goodness!) but I have been busy. With other stuff. Like a post graduate degree. Kids. Family. All that life stuff.

But Madam Bipolar’s post today got me thinking so here I am.

I have been hospitalised for psych related issues many times. Probably about eight to ten times. 5 that I clearly remember. I am pretty sure there have been more though. So let’s say 8 to 10 times. 9 of those times have been in my local public hospital in a general ward. One time has been in a private psychiatric hospital.

The first time I was hospitalised I was 16 and I had taken an overdose of assorted over the counter drugs that I found in my family home. I was in hospital for 2 nights. I recall being visited by my mother and my youth pastor and his wife (at least twice). The second overdose I took was when I was 28. This time it was prescription meds and alcohol. I was in hospital for about 10 days. I was visited by my father, my son, my then boyfriend and my then best friend. Other times I was in my local hospital I was visited by my husband, kids and father. I have assumed I didn’t have other visitors mainly because no one knew I was even in hospital let alone why. I was ashamed to tell anyone why I had been admitted. I didn’t want people to know I had mental health issues. Particularly people from work. Particularly my line manager who I had a fraught relationship with at the best of times.

Then there is the time I was in the psych hospital for 3 weeks. I was visited by my immediate family (Husband, kids and Dad) and a close friend. A few other people knew I was in hospital and why. One person I wanted to come and visit me but they didn’t end up coming. Another couple wanted to come and see me but I put them off. I was hurt at the time that the one person I wanted to come didn’t. I knew this person would understand what I was going through. I have never gotten into it with than friend as to why they didn’t come. I have chosen to take them at their word as to what the reasons were for them not being there in person. They did keep in touch via text message. The other couple that wanted to come I put off because I was ashamed. I had never really talked to them about my mental health issues and so I was embarrassed and ashamed for them to see me like that (distressed, drugged up and in a psych ward). They wouldn’t have judged me, they aren’t like that. It was about my own feelings about being in the state I was in.

What hurt me most was that prior to that hospitalisation I had been extremely active online. Then I dropped off the face of the earth (Net wise) for about 3 months. Only 1 person got in touch with me to find out how I was or what was happening. No one else emailed me or text me or anything. That stung. It made me question the friendships I thought I had (particularly the real life friendships that were maintained online due to distance). It also made me more aware of getting people’s phone numbers and staying in touch if they suddenly weren’t active online, just to check in and make sure they were ok and let them know I was thinking of them. I haven’t held any grudges towards those people who didn’t chase me up to find out where the hell I had disappeared to. But it stung and I will admit it still does to a degree.


*edit to add*

There were some people who did keep in touch with me via text message and email and that meant a lot to me. I wasn’t very open about where I was or what I was going through so I don’t blame people for not realising there was something really wrong. And I understand that a lot of my friends simply live too far away to have come and visited me at that time. It was probably more about my own sense of shame than it was about people not caring. I have some of the most caring, amazing friends and I love every one of them. I know who they are and I hope they do too.


2 responses »

  1. Had I lived nearby, wild horses couldn’t have kept me away. I would have had to know you wanted to see me, of course. But I would have been there if you had wanted me.

    The experience I had in California was interesting in that when my son was hospitalized, I saw a woman in the waiting room I had known from college. She seemed somewhat agitated and uncomfortable, which could have been about anything, but she pretended not to know me. Possibly from shame. At the time, I thought the situation ironic if only because we were at the hospitalfor similar reasons: one of us was no doubt close to someone already admitted, or was herself about to be admitted. I wanted to say hello to her and do a little catch up, but decided to honor her feelings, whatever they were.

    I wonder if people think of the psych wards they’ve seen in movies and believe it’s like that. In reality, it’s just like any other hospital ward. Sometimes pretty on the outside and often rather dreary-looking on the inside, but populated by average people who just happen to have a different kind of life-threatening illness. I wish people would visit their friends and loved ones in the psych hospital. Then they’d be able to tell that it’s not any scarier than any other hospital, and whatever illness their people have, it isn’t catching.

    • I know you would have been there. You were there as much as you could be via online. And I take on my part in this, I mean I clammed up and didn’t tell many people what was going on. Only about 5 people outside my immediate family knew about it (or I only told about 5 people at the time it was happening – they might have told other people).

      I am going to do a post about what the psych ward was actually like.


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