Before Checking Yourself Into A Psychiatric Hospital
The truth about going to the mental facility.
**Disclaimer** I am not a medical professional and am not intending to give medical advice. These are suggestions based on my own life experience as someone who has a mental illness and has checked into a mental health hospital. **Disclaimer**
In February of 2019 I spent some time in a psychiatric facility. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life.
Because of my mental condition, I felt that I needed permission to get help. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I had the support of my fiance (then boyfriend) and even the managers at my job. If you can't find the support from the people around you, you have it from me!
Just like you, I looked online for the facts about checking myself into a mental hospital. At the time, it felt like the right thing for me. Still, all that reading couldn't prepare me for the true experience. Now, I know that every hospital is different and perceptions are totally subjective, but it felt like those articles were not written by people with a severe mental illness or have been held for their own safety.
When you make this choice, understand that you are essentially giving up your rights for the safety of yourself and others. You can no longer wear shoes with laces, use pens freely, or even have a stick of deodorant in your room. The bathroom door does not lock and you can find little privacy elsewhere.
For those who are of sound mind and body, these sacrifices can have an unintended effect.
When You Should Drop Everything And Go To The ER
Don't get me wrong. Your local mental health facility is a great place to go if you are in crisis mode. If you are not experiencing a true crisis, you should probably save the bed for someone truly in need. When I was there, people waited days to get a bed.
However, here are some of the signs that you need to go to the ER and wait as long as they tell you to:
- You are experiencing inconsolable sadness with suicidal thoughts.
- You feel your medications are no longer working and that you should be monitored.
- You are unable to complete essential daily tasks, like eating and bathing.
- You feel angry and unable to control your actions.
- You are experiencing delusions or hallucinations.
- You have intrusive thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
- You need help coming off of serious narcotics.
If any of these situations apply to you, I recommend packing up immediately . Call someone you trust who can drive you to your local emergency room. If no one is available to you at the moment, you can even use a taxi or ride sharing service to prevent the urge to turn back and forget the whole thing. Trust me, you might experience that urge a lot.
What To Consider Before Checking Yourself In
Will this be the best environment for your healing?
There are a lot of sick people who need immediate assistance. If you are looking for one-on-one time with a psychiatrist, this is not the best option for you. Emergency facilities use group therapy and careful monitoring to ensure their patients can return back to their homes safely and take care of themselves.
If you are already comfortable on your medications, make sure the doctors know this! The psychiatrists' main focus is to stabilize their patients. If you do not want to change your medicines, make sure to check yourself in with other intentions in mind.
Will you be bored?
As just mentioned, you will not receive a lot of one-on-one therapy time. A lot of the time is yours to relax and wind down from your crisis. For those recovering from alcohol or drug abuse, the down time is much-needed.
Hard cover books are not allowed, nor are spiral notebooks. There may be one or two shared televisions for the entire ward. Can you get along with everyone until your release comes?
You have to show progress in order to be released. That means you should participate in group therapy sessions and talk with your psychiatrist about your health. Whether you take part in daily activities or not, each day costs you the same amount of money. Remember, time in a psychiatric hospital is not meant to be a vacation!
Can you afford this?
When all is said and done, are you able to pay the fat bill that will surely arrive right after? Not to brag, but I have a decent health plan with my job. I still received a bill for well over $2000.
We all know that emergency room prices are ridiculous for the average person. However, it costs a lot of money to keep patients overnight. In addition to providing safety and medications, they also need to feed you three square meals per day! Not to mention you will have access to cable television, snacks, coffee, and tea all day.
If you are experiencing a true crisis, the amount of money the stay costs shouldn't matter. Hospitals are made to help you first and ask for payment later. Remember that you can set up payment plans!
Alternatives To Checking In To The ER
After reading this, you might be reconsidering a trip to the ER. If not, remember that I give you full permission to drop everything and go. Don't worry about work or other obligations. If you are experiencing a true crisis, don't hesitate to get the help you need and deserve. Seriously, stop reading this and call someone!
Check if your area has a partial hospitalization program (PHP)
Typically, PHP runs for a few hours every business day. In involves lots of group therapy sessions and visits with an on-site psychiatrist. Although similar to full hospitalization, and just as costly, this service is ideal for those who are more stable and able to handle day-to-day tasks like bathing and eating.
People who recently came from inpatient care at the hospital may be sent to PHP to continue to recover before going back to their daily lives. A lot of people choose to skip the cost of the ER visit and overnight monitoring at the hospital and go straight to PHP. It is simple to get started and they also accept insurance.
Temporarily move in with a close friend or family member.
If you are worried about your current mental state but do not feel comfortable going to a hospital for any reason, consider calling on a friend or family member to take care of you for a few days. Even if they can't house you, they can check in on you more frequently than usual and help you stay on track with your self care regimen.
Look into getting a therapy pet.
This is not a responsibility to take lightly. However, this can be a breeze for those who already love animals. So far for me, it has been far cheaper to adopt my cat from my local SPCA than it was to spend a few days in the hospital. Yes, that includes the pet fee and monthly pet rent costs.
A registered therapy pet is typically trained to notice upcoming sick spells for a lot of different people. An unregistered therapy pet may not be allowed at work or school but can take up all the space it wants to in your heart.
Make The Right Choice For You
No one can tell you whether or not you should check yourself into a hospital. The choice and willpower has to come from within. Remember that it is far better to check yourself in than to wait until you become a danger to yourself or others.
Also remember that there is an entire community of people just like you. Although everyone's backgrounds and traumas are different, we all experience anxiety and depression in similar ways. NAMI is a national organization that has successfully brought people together. Representatives often visit mental health facilities to discuss upcoming group sessions and events that squash the stigma of having a mental illness. That's how I learned about them.
Check out https://nami.org/ so we can all get on the path to better mental health together!