My Time at the Psych Ward

Trigger Warning: The following article includes content regarding suicidal thoughts, sexual assault, stalking, psychiatric ward, self harm, etc.

I initially didn’t want anyone to know this story. My story. It only happened recently, but I was afraid that had anyone found out, I would be looked at differently or I would be made into a joke. Truth be told I would have probably, initially, transferred from Adelphi if it had gotten out. I feel like sharing my story is the best way to control the message before other people start to find out. I do not want this to be a reason for people to pity me, but I want to use my voice to help those who may need resources. I want to normalize discussions about mental health so that people receive the support they need before it’s too late.

This past weekend, I checked myself into a hospital for suicidal thoughts, self harm, and depression. A lot of people have always seen me as the happy girl, but very few have seen the struggles I’ve faced.

A lot of things led up to these thoughts. Over the summer, I was sexually assaulted once more in my life, had financial difficulties, and a lingering feeling that everyone would eventually leave me. Several other factors played into this including literature and media.

I felt as if the last few people in my life had left me, knowing that I was spiraling. I felt like a burden and I didn’t want to feel that way. I pushed everyone I really loved and cared about away because I felt like it would be easier on them had I decided to do the things my mind was telling me to. The one person I loved most actually did cut me out of their life after telling me just days prior, while laughing; kissing me; holding me; and crying with me, that they would never. This was done with absolutely no explanation and after sending message after message, trying to understand why they just stopped responding, it sunk in. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I ended up going to the hospital. While I was in the ER, I met with a woman who had told me that if I signed the paperwork, they would hold me overnight. She made no mention that discharges were not done on weekends or that I would be brought to the Psychiatric Ward. She said that I would spend the night upstairs, which is the only reason I chose to sign the papers. She also victim blamed me for my sexual assault, which was definitely unprofessional and out of line for her line of work.

Upon arriving upstairs, my phone was taken from me and I only was able to write down a small list of phone numbers to contact from the hospital phones. The only issue with this is you couldn’t call numbers with out of state area codes without special permission which made it difficult to get into contact with many of the people on my list. The one person that I felt I really needed wouldn’t answer or call back, even knowing where I was and after leaving voicemails of me crying and saying how scared I was and unsafe I felt. I was so desperate for outside communication that I called someone that I definitely should not have called, SOLELY so I wouldn’t feel alone because I had already felt that everyone else had abandoned me.

I was also told that there was no clear time that I would be discharged (remember when I had mentioned the woman saying I would be staying overnight?). Another nurse mentioned to me, when I explained the situation, that sometimes people are tricked into signing paperwork which completely takes away a patient’s right to informed consent.

I can definitely say that for me, being in the Psych Ward was worse for my mental health than it was beneficial, though it may be different for anyone. I genuinely feel traumatized from being there. I was given medication and not told what it was until I repeatedly asked. At one point I was given a sedative that made my body feel like I was hit with a horse tranquilizer. Within minutes of taking it, my body felt like it was moments from dropping to the floor, which I did. I collapsed and hit my face on a toilet and spent a decent bit of time dry heaving and couldn’t talk. My heart rate dropped DRASTICALLY. 

One of the other patients would stand outside of my room when I was alone and would sometimes watch me sleep. He followed me around the floor and almost hit me at one point but my concerns were dismissed, even when I had made mention of being sexually assaulted and stalked prior to my hospitalization. I woke up about ten times during the night due to screaming patients. There were patients who were picking up chairs to throw them and wandering into other people’s rooms screaming at night. This specific patient was put in a roughly 4x7 room with only a mattress on the floor, sometime during the middle of the night, and was still there during the time of my discharge at 1 p.m. The entire time, he was screaming and banging on the door. Truth be told, I don’t even remember a time when there was more than five minutes when people were not screaming.

I don’t want to discredit the nurses because I know being a nurse, especially one in the Psych Ward, is difficult. I’m also not frustrated in regards to the patients because they are there to seek help, the same way that I was. I’m sharing this because I thought it was the best option for me personally and it wasn’t. I would have done better with a night spent with friends. I’m not going to tell any of you not to go if you need to, but evaluate your situation and what’s best for YOU before committing to hospitalizing yourself. Once you check yourself in, you can’t check yourself out. You have absolutely no idea when you’ll get out. Luckily for me, it was only two days. If you’re anything like me though, the two days felt like two weeks (we also had no clocks except in the nurse's office and they didn’t want us hovering there, so we all had no concept of time).

The aftermath of me being there: I don’t feel comfortable being alone because I barely had outside contact; I am easily overwhelmed being around large groups of people because I spent most of my time alone. Sudden, loud noises and flashing lights cause me to feel like my body is going to shut down. The largest part: my mental health has not improved, but thanks to my sisters who have helped support me, I feel a sense of stability. I don’t want to be cheesy here but THIS is what sisterhood is about. Finding reasons to live and people who make you want to stick around is SO important during times like this and I cannot stress this enough.

I learned through being there that being isolated and having little to no contact with the outside is not beneficial to me. I personally need the support of friends to help me get back up when I’m down. But maybe for you, solitude is what’s best. This is why I’m stressing that you consider this before you get to a point where you have to make the critical decision of hospitalizing yourself or not. By all means, SEEK HELP. But do it in ways that are best for you. I would have without a doubt taken my life if I had not sought help that day. Whether you feel mentally well or not, create a safety plan: look into psychiatric facilities, have a list of friends to call, know what to do if and when the time comes.

I know that many of you may not want to call help lines, but I think it is important that I include access to free resources so that if you in any way need them or if this article triggered you in anyway, you have them here. I also want to point out that you can message me on ANY platform and I will be there to listen.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Online Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

Other resources are accessible through

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org