I was checked out from a psychiatric ward just 1,5 weeks ago. I´ve spent a lot of time in a hospital during the past few months, so believe me, I know my stuff and write this from a fresh memory. I was hospitalized at the beginning of November 2018 and I spent six weeks in the hospital. Things got ugly soon after going home and I was hospitalized again at the end of January. This time I also stayed in six weeks.
During these weeks in treatment, a psychiatric ward became almost like another home. I want to share my experience because it might be helpful for someone who is afraid of a treatment in a psychiatric facility. I am writing this from North of Europe so my experience may be somewhat different from yours. I have only stayed in one hospital so I can only write based on this one particular facility. There are probably lot of differences between different countries and facilities. I am going to share my experience and hopefully will give a positive glimpse of treatment in a psychiatric ward just like my experience was.
A typical day started at 07.30am with a breakfast and distribution of morning meds. On weekends the breakfast was served half an hour later. Nurses would wake you up and ensure you have some breakfast. At the time being I took some antidepressants in the morning so I had to get up to get my medicine.
After a breakfast and meds everybody gathered in a common room for a morning info. There was a different topic every day such as anxiety, sleeping, alcohol and drugs, suicide preventing ect. Morning info was quite short and I believe for most of the patients a longer lecture would have been too much. Some lectures were held by nurses and some specialists like an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist.
Before lunch one could participate in various psycho-education or therapy groups. There were different groups available from Monday to Friday. During the first six weeks in the hospital I didn’t take part in many groups. I was in much more worse condition the first time but during the second stay I was very active and participated in as many groups as I could. One I found very helpful was DBT therapy (dialectical behavior therapy). I also liked very much occupational therapy where we expressed feelings through art.
Lunch was served at 11.30 am. Food in this particular facility was pretty amazing. I had some prejudices about food in hospitals but my prejudices were proven wrong quickly. A three course meal at lunch and dinner. The best part was obviously to sit in a table and enjoy food prepared by someone else. After lunch, at 01.30pm was a coffee time. Coffee is very important where I come from. We are a small country but consume more coffee than any other nation. Or at least that´s what I´ve read.
Days in a psychiatric hospital go by quite slowly. Meals are the highlight of the day and set the pace. There are some activities available like books, magazines, a computer, a tv, puzzles and of course socializing with other patients. Dinner was served at 04.30pm. The ward I stayed in is not a closed ward so I could go outside for a walk, run errands, meet family and friends or visit home. I am quite social so I socialized lot with other patients. During the second stay I made a friend and we went for a walk everyday together. I also had the kids and friends visiting.
There was a nurse for every patient in a morning shift and an evening shift. Nurses usually came to talk once during the shift but they were available whenever needed. Some nurses seemed to be very dedicated to their work and some little less motivated. Doctor’s appointment was usually once or twice a week. One of the nurses always took part in the appointment. Appointments were usually very short meetings, matter of some minutes. The doctor relied on what nurses had written in their system about the patient. Usually some adjustments were made on medication
A supper and evening meds were served at 07.30pm. Patients took care of serving the supper. Every room had a kitchen shift when they were responsible for serving the supper and cleaning up. The kitchen shift was part of the treatment. I really liked the kitchen shift and I was there often helping even if it wasn´t my turn. Some patients watched tv in the evening, some patients prefered staying in their rooms. I usually stayed in my room and went to bed early.
My mood was mostly quite good in the ward because I felt safe and relieved. The second time I was very suicidal so staying at the ward was necessary. The first time I had lot of physical issues like Lithium toxicacy and dehydration. Treatment in a psychiatric facility is all about crisis management and fixing the basics. I was in such a bad place that I had stopped eating, drinking and generally taking care of myself. At the ward I learned to eat and drink again, my sleep was supported with medication and basically learned to take care of myself again. Fixing the medication is also important part of the treatment. Many of the patients were also treated with ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). The first time I was in, I recieved ECT ten times. I will get back to this interesting topic later and write a post about my experiences.
That was pretty much a typical day in a psychiatric ward. It’s quite easy to get hospitalized here but psychiatric wards are usually short time crisis treatment and wards are often full. Some people like me need to stay in longer but some come only for few nights or a week or two. For me my stay at the hospital was a very good experience. I hope I was able to give you a positive glimpse on treatment at a psychiatric ward even if it wasn´t the same as my experince. If you have experience of your own, please share shortly in a comment. Especially good ones.