Treatment in a psychiatric facility

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.

My story

Everybody´s got a story. Some stories are short, some stories are long. Some stories are happy, some stories are all struggle. Some stories remain unheard. What´s your story? Your story deserves to be told. Mine too. My story is about pain, struggle, success, relapse, recovery and learning acceptance.

I grew up in a happy family with both parents and two younger siblings. Already at a very young age I was controlling, neurotic, reserved and guarded. Perfection was the only way of doing things. Maybe it was my qualities that had an impact on becoming ill with depression at the age of thirteen.

On the outside I was a good girl and good at school because I thought I was only good enough if I succeed in something. I wasn´t good at sports or musically talented. My only asset was my brain. Inside I was screaming in pain. I couldn´t tell anybody how much I was hurting. I felt like everybody´s got expectations that I couldn´t meet. I was supposed to go to med school and become a doctor. I kept on building walls around me because I didn´t want to fail and disappoint anybody and eventually drove myself deep in depression.

When I hit 18 things got out of hands. I was diagnosed with depression and started my first medication. It took few weeks before the medication kicked in and a new morning lighted up the darkness I had lost in. I can actually remember the exact moment I saw the sun again. I thought I had healed and stopped the medication. With today´s knowledge I understand that the antidepressants launched my first mania and I was actually more sick than ever.

What goes up, comes crashing down. My life was out of control. I had serious problems with alcohol because I couldn´t bear reality. I was wasted all the time. Paramedics, the police, hospitals and lockup became familiar with me. I attempted suicide twice. The first time I overdosed and the second time I tried to jump off a building. My life was messed up until my husband and I decided to have a baby. I was 21 years old when I gave birth to our son and a new era begun.

I was clearly too young and too sick to have a baby. It was crazy but it saved me. Literally my son saved my life. I enjoyed family life and I had some stable periods but my life was still a struggle. The next five years brought us two daughters. I gave all I had to give. I loved, I nurtured, I was their best friend and their mother. I had never felt pain like that. But that´s what mothers do. I pushed away my illness and hide all that pain behind my smile. My mind was shattered in million pieces.

Now it´s been a while. We have succesfully raised three kids to school age. Somehow I survived. Now that they are all at school and quite independent everything should be easier. And it is easier but my illness won`t give me a break. It´s worse than ever before. I got bipolar diagnosis few years ago. It took so many years to get it right because I just pushed and pushed until it wasn´t possible anymore. It was easy in the baby bubble. But my babies grew up and I had too much time to think.

It´s been a rollercoaster ride from Hell. Depression, anxiety, delusions, mania, hypomania and mixed episodes have exhausted me. I am stable at the moment but then again, I was checked out from a hospital only 1,5 weeks ago. Things can change quickly so I don´t have my hopes too high. This is new to me. I am actually doing good. It´s almost scary to say that out loud. i´ve been hospitalized three months out of the last five months. I was also in a hospital last summer.

Since I was thirteen my life has been a struggle. I´ve been able to achieve a lot anyway. I mean, I am married, a mother of three, I´ve got lots of friends and I´ve succeeded in work. Now the hardest part is not being able to enjoy all that I have gained with hard work and persistence.

That was, dear readers, my story. It´s not a full story but it will give you an idea of who you are dealing with here.

About

Hi there… Hello.

I am happy you found your way here. My name is Nina. I come from North of Europe. From Finland to be exact. I know that´s not really relevant but I just thought that would be an interesting fact about me.

Then why did I choose to write in english when it´sclearly not my native language? It´s just one answer to that question. I´ve always written a lot in english. Probably more than in finnish. It´s also one way to challenge myself which I like to do all the time. But more importantly I chose to write this blog in english because then I will be able to reach more readers everywhere around the globe and I hopefully will be able to interact with more people who are dealing with same kind of issues that I am.

But let me tell you more about me (because I am super awesome). I am married and have three school-aged kids. Two girls and a boy. I got my children young. It was crazy back then but I did good and now I see that was the right decision. I am not working at the moment because of my illness but let´s just say that I am a boss lady and I am good at bossing around and leading people. In my spare time I like to exercise, read and see my friends which I´ve got a lot. Many would describe me as a superwoman. Sometimes I actually feel like one but I prefere to call myself A MENTAL HEALTH WARRIOR.

Let´s get serious now. I am diagnozed with bipolar disorder. I also suffer from panic disorder and un-generalized anxiety disorder but I like to think all this as one whole set of symptoms or one illness. At the moment my illness controls my life. The last two years have been rough to me. I am good today but then again I was checked out from psychiatric ward just last week. A hospital has become my another home so I know my stuff. I know how devastating this illness can be. Bipolar disorder is a severe condition.

I will be mostly writing about bipolar disorder and other mental issues that I have personally experienced. This blog is based on my own experiences but I will share and write facts too. Secondly, I will write about being a parent with a mental illness and what challenges it could bring to parenting. After that comes everything else. I´ll call it lifestyle stuff. This could be a very variable niche because my interests change quickly. So basically lifestyle stuff could be anything from baking cakes to makeup and style.

I don´t like stereotypes but this blog is for MENTAL HEALTH WARRIORS. No matter what illness you´ve got, what unite us is that we are strong, we rise again and again and come back as winners even though we know this illness will be with us the rest of our lives. My goal here is to inspire and share experiences but also to create a community where we can support each other and be here for each other. No one should be left alone with a mental illness and suffering. No one should be left without help.

So, let´s do this.