Month: February 2019

A Short Peek At the Mental Health System From the Inside, Written by a Patient With Schizoaffective Disorder

Very famous hotel in Edmonton where the Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen and many other icons of 20th and 21st century have stayed.

Well dear readers, as the title of today’s blog states, I am currently a patient in a psychiatric ward. Right off the top of my head, I think it is relevant to note that life on a psychiatric ward is infinitely better than life in a psychiatric hospital. There are a few ways you can make your chances of going to a psychiatric ward better, the first of them is having written out a personal directive that specifies a specific hospital you want to be treated at, or a specific Doctor at a hospital you would prefer to be sent to in the case of severe problems. Another way is, when you are feeling well, to take a number of courses like anger management and classes on nutrition and other classes such as one on relationships or self-esteem. These will not only benefit you, they will increase the amount of time you spend between hospital visits. When medical professionals see that you are a person who heeds advice, and takes proper care of yourself in everything from taking your medication to keeping your shoes laced and tied up, they will be much more willing to fight a bit to keep you in a friendlier place. Location of nearby family visitors is also a factor they will consider. I don’t want to recommend it too much because I haven’t undergone the treatment yet, but there is a lot of buzz these days about the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and how well it works.

So now you’re on the Psychiatric Ward. You may be suffering from depression, anxiety, delusional thoughts or sensory input. Your best bet at this point is to be as honest as possible with your treatment team. If you hear a voice that sounds extremely convincing telling you someone in your family is in danger, don’t make an effort to leave the ward. If you are really concerned, try and just phone the person you are concerned about. 99.9% of the time there will have been no such event. Then you need to talk to your nurse/doctor and explain what went on. This will make it so much easier for them to treat you. Was it an auditory hallucination? (did you hear something that was false?) or a visual one? (you saw something that didn’t exist or as is often common, you have a combination. One time I saw a TV change what they were talking about and I heard them talk about me, being both). When you first get to your treatment area, it might make sense to just rest, sleep, and eat for the first while. It is a really good idea (for anyone with a tense living situation not even related to mental illness such as a woman in an abusive home) to keep a bag packed with some items such as an mp3 player/iPod, some clean underwear and a change of clothing. You could also bring snacks and a book to read as well as a book of puzzles.

Quite often the first thing a person wants to know is how long they will be in the hospital. This is a good sign because people who don’t really care about the outside world may end up being kept under a treatment order for some time. I am not 100% sure about how the US system works, but where I live in Alberta in Canada, if you seem to be a danger to self or others, you will be certified and there will be no formal review of your hospital stay for 30 days. I have, in my many admissions, found that rarely does a hearing do much good. After attending many to hopefully get out of the hospital, only once was I released and I had to pour out animosity about how my father treated me growing up which helped make a bigger rift between him and I and also made me leave the hospital far too early to get feeling 100%. The best way to leave the hospital is to participate in group and one on one therapy, to be honest with the doctors and nurses treating you, to take your medications diligently, and to not drink alcohol or use street drugs. There are many more factors of course, but the best advice I received was not to take on the problems of others or to let them get in the way of me getting better. I think I will continue this post in the next entry, until then, stay gold dear readers, stay gold.