Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 460

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Being hospitalized

Posted by Angel Girl on June 29, 2002, at 0:07:03

I don't know if I'm posting this on the right board, sorry if I'm not.

More and more people are telling me that I need to be hospitalized for observation. :( I've never been hospitalized before for psychological reasons and the mere thought of it is extremely depressing and leaves me feeling very panicky and frightened.

Would anybody please like to share what is involved with being hospitalized, what a typical day is like, any info at all. Even something that would possibly make it sound a little more pleasant than it does to me now.

Right now it petrifies me to death and I feel I would go immediately back to the 'black hole'.

Angel Girl


Re: Being hospitalized Angel Girl

Posted by judy1 on June 29, 2002, at 1:48:24

In reply to Being hospitalized, posted by Angel Girl on June 29, 2002, at 0:07:03

Why do people feel you need to be hospitalized? Are you suicidal? Is this coming from your shrink or therapist? I will worn you my views are negative, simply because I have only been hospitalized involuntarily which is a very frightening experience. You sound afraid- I guess I don't see how a stay in the hospital would benefit someone who is terrified. Some people feel they need a rest- to be away from stresses in their lives. I guess I can understand that. But that is not how you are coming across. If you feel you need more support in your life now- can you see your shrink or therapist more often? Even phone calls help during difficult times. Or perhaps a structured day program would help. I wish you all the best- judy


my positive hospital experience (long)

Posted by katekite on June 29, 2002, at 10:15:18

In reply to Being hospitalized, posted by Angel Girl on June 29, 2002, at 0:07:03

There are people who've had positive experiences, like me. I'll describe it in a bit. I've been to two different hospitals (two hospitalizations total), they are all pretty different, apparently.

It's important to have a plan in place, even if (as for me) the whole idea seemed overwhelming and I felt like I'd rather die than be a locked up wacko. So if you're depressed, even if you think you'll never get to the point you need to go, its a good idea to think about it and to plan. By planning I mean asking around to find out what the best hospital around is, where it is, how much notice you would need to give to be able to go there, whether they are often full, having a back-up. For example there are about 10 hospitals in driving range in my area. They differ immensely (which might be less true in other more urban areas). Ask as many people as you can (your psychiatrist, any doctors you know, your therapist or a counselor. If they don't know ask them to find out. In my area one hospital was known to be the place to send elderly people who'd lost their marbles: a good place for them but perhaps a little scary for those of us who still have them. Some hospitals have different wards, if they are big enough, and separate out the women and men, or the young people vs older people, etc.

Ok, so my positive experience: I had been depressed and on and off suicidal most of last summer. One day at my psychiatrist's office I realized it really wasn't safe for me to leave (I had been driving really dangerously on the way there, had passed trucks on the shoulder because I no longer cared etc). So I asked to go to the hospital. An hour or so of phone calls ensued and they managed to get me into the best place around (at that point I didn't know there were differences, I was scared of them all).

I was terrified of the hospital but more terrified of going home. Mainly I had this idea that there would be screaming people or that drooling zombies would be wandering around bugging me. My hubby picked me up and drove me there. I was scared because there was a door where you buzzed and you couldn't just walk in: very much locked up. The nurse was really nice, though, asked if I'd ever been before (I was crying by this point) and said it wouldn't be as bad as I thought. (I thought, yeah right).

My hubby stayed while we talked to an admitting doctor. It was nice he was there because the doctor wanted me to take a drug I was allergic to, and we had to explain several times that it would be bad for me. (Since sometimes when really depressed and scared its hard to converse clearly, maybe have a list of the drugs you've had in the past and what they did to you. Although you can always refuse to take any pill at any time, it's your right). We finished with him.

The nurses checked the bag I'd brought to make sure I hadn't brought anything stupid like a knife (later I had my hubby bring my own pillow, a Walkman, Gatorade for the fridge, candy, etc). They took away a plastic bag and a belt, which they kept for me. Two days later I got the belt back when I wasn't a risk. My hubby stayed way past visiting hours were over. My room was a lot like a college dorm room, with its own bathroom (I shared a room -- my roomate was an old woman who's house had been robbed and she was terrified to sleep because someone come back and kill her. She was sweet, quiet when awake but snored some, I felt really sorry for her because it was so obvious that no one would want to kill her.)

There were 14 beds in the place, total, but they somehow managed to only have 11 patients ever, because that was what they felt they could handle.

Around 10:30 my hubby left and I went to bed but couldn't sleep -- the meds. I got up and wandered the one hall. Since everyone was in bed but me it seemed safer to explore. The nurses were really nice, asking would I like ice cream -- they could run down to the kitchen for me, etc. I finally lay down on a couch in the common area. Around 5 I went back to my room and fell asleep. No one bothered me. It was quiet. A nurse came and looked in on me every 15 minutes (I was on a suicide watch).

At some point that night I realized that I was safe for the first time in 3 months. There wasn't any way to hurt myself, an impulse I'd been staving off desperately for way way too long on my own. It was an over-whelming relief. It felt like I could breathe deeply. I knew nothing was solved yet, but it helped.

I was still scared of the place the next morning. It took me two days to go to meals with the other patients (just a little socially phobic, LOL). For the first day the nurses were really nice and let me just stay in bed, bringing meals to me. After that they started knocking, letting me know about meals, telling me it was 'break time' (people who smoke have to go outside, so there's always a patio of some sort, this place had some trees and a basketball court -- not like I felt up to basketball). They were nice but insistent, cajoling, not mean in any way. Seemed to understand how hard it was and how it didn't seem like anything would help, but somehow saying that it would.

This particular hospital had a big therapy program. I didn't want to go. I thought it would be hokey. It turned out the therapists were really good. One was a 'recreational' therapist who was this really good looking guy (ooh)... he led little workshops on relaxation techniques and on stretching routines, and came to my room to invite me out to play basketball just with him since he knew social things were hard for me (hard to say no to that).

When I cried because one of the meds (Celexa) was giving me bad side effects, and I wanted to not take it but couldn't make up my mind to say no, the nurse who was supposed to give me the pill went and got a booklet on being assertive, instead. The nurses were all really good at spotting behaviors that they thought I could work on. I was issued a journal and told to write (I had given up on mine at home).

Gradually I met the other patients and introduced myself: they were as scared to be there as I was. We were all happy there were no nuts in there. Which we said and then had to laugh.

The other patients were as follows:
one alcoholic woman who'd woken up from a bender with broken ribs and to realize her budgie was dead from lack of food (which understandably made her suicidal). She looked pale and shaky but made good jokes.
Two quiet, kind of slow teen boys who shared a room and were both technically schizophrenic. One was hearing voices, one was pretty normal acting. The one hearing voices would just look up now and then as if something had happened. He looked confused. We mostly talked about their dogs at home.
There was one very annoying chatty woman who I think was hypomanic or manic, but she wasn't any worse than an overly chatty mother -- certainly not threatening. I avoided her, in fact I complained to a nurse about her (couldn't help it, was like saying 'mom she's bugging me') and thereafter the nurses would intervene if she was seen talking to me for long... they were great.
One depressed woman my age who'd lost her boyfriend -- we still keep in touch even though we didn't talk much in the hospital because we were both wrapped up in ourselves.
One older man who'd broken a hip and thought it was the end -- sort of like a grandpa except he cried a lot.
A woman somewhat like me, depressed, who was about to go home feeling better. Was nice to see someone smiling.
I'm thinking that's it. All of the people were very real people: the kind you would meet anywhere, no screaming and no total nuts. Nothing at all like movies.

What made this particular hospital good? Small size. No long-term patients. Large caring nursing staff. Really structured and complicated therapy program (so you have something to do all day). And an outdoor area (which for me is critical -- nothing like staying indoors for a week to depress me). I'm sure I was also somewhat lucky, but it seemed like the nurses thought that week was par for the course.

When I left, the nurses said they hoped I'd write or come back and visit so they could know I was OK. That I could call the desk any time to talk, etc.

The one other experience I had was less good but still ok: lower nurse to patient ratio (so nobody coming by to just talk about what's on your mind), nurses on weird shifts so they were different all the time so you couldn't even learn a single name, no outdoors, not much of a therapy program (one group therapy session a day doesn't count), etc. There were so many nurses that they just hung out together and talked rather than talking to patients. It was still good from the standpoint of safety -- and I could have transferred to the other hospital if I'd really wanted to.

There have been many many times during the last months that I've thought rather longingly of going back to the first hospital - like just for one night, for example. Knowing I could call and go there has helped me through a lot of rough moments. It feels like a safety net. The thing for me that helps the most is being drawn out, encouraged to talk and encouraged to participate in life. The first place was awesome for that. The second was more just a safe place to be until you felt better on your own (so I can't say it was bad). The meds didn't hurt either.

So anyhow, I had a very positive experience the first time. The second time, I wanted to go back to the first place but they were full and I didn't want to wait a day, although I could have -- if I'd realized how different hospitals could be.

Hope this helps -- they aren't necessarily bad places.



typical day at a hospital

Posted by katekite on June 29, 2002, at 10:39:52

In reply to Being hospitalized, posted by Angel Girl on June 29, 2002, at 0:07:03

Typical daily schedule from the first hospital:
Keep in mind these activities are all scheduled but none are compulsory. Most people end up going to most but not all. Sometimes doctors appointments or visitors mean you don't go, sometimes you just don't feel like it. Always are encouraged to go to everything.
(With the schedule and so much talking, it can feel a lot like intensive therapy camp.)


8 (so early!) someone comes in to take blood pressure.
8:30 -- newspaper arrives, breakfast, news on tv in common room. meds given out.
9:30 -- break outside for 15 minutes.
10:00 -- group therapy: example: anger management. video shown then talk about it.
11:00 -- recreational therapy: relaxation tapes for an hour. (led by the cute guy).
12:00 -- break outside
12:30 -- lunch. meds given out.
until 2 -- free time (wrote in journal)
2:00 -- social worker leads group therapy just a free time to talk about why people are there -- talking not compulsory.
3:00 -- doctor visit lasts about 1/2 hr.
4:00 -- art workshop -- instructor shows how to do several things (craft projects, yes its hokey) for example pressed metal engraving (pretty cool), necklace making with really good beads, but if you're suicidal you only get colored pencils (bummer). Since only a handful of people go, instructor spends quite a lot of time talking to each person about what their hobbies are, etc.
Some people have an hour of individual therapy instead, come late to art.
6:00 -- dinner. Another break outside. meds given out.
7:00 -- video -- this place shows only PG videos because they occasionally have youngish teens, Pretty Woman and Big, for example.
9:00 -- tv and free time. Not too much available to do: some craft things left out, or tv, or reading, can go to room or stay out.
9:10 -- a nurse shows up and wants to talk if you want to, one on one, for about an hour.
10:00 -- one last break outside (last smoke for those who smoke).
10:30 -- go to bed.


Ok, the negative story

Posted by judy1 on June 29, 2002, at 12:50:38

In reply to Re: Being hospitalized Angel Girl, posted by judy1 on June 29, 2002, at 1:48:24

And please remember- unlike Katekite my hospitalizations were involuntary for mania or suicide attempts/ or ideation. I was taken to several different ones (one with an ocean view which my son thought was a hotel) and others very highly rated. I was taken in restraints and when they were removed if I was agitated I received a shot of haldol or thorazine in the butt (chemical staightjacket). If I was manic, I was chemically sedated and would lie all day in the common room watching the PG videos. If suicidal, I was under watch every 15 minutes- even in the shower a nurse would sit by the shower door. All I remember was waiting in line for meds, if I didn't show up they would come to my room and force me to take them. I always had a private room. In the breaks between the 15 min checks, I would put my wrist where the window was partially open and try to hurt myself to keep me there (trying not to dissociate- which didn't work, because mostly I would be gone). The nurses were nice in all the hospitals, but I wasn't allowed to do art therapy or group therapy or anything- just watch videos. And since I didn't smoke after the 72 hour watch where I wasn't allowed to go outside for any reason, they didn't let me go outside because I didn't smoke. At one point the meds weren't working and the shrink ordered ECT, I went before a judge with my advocate and did the 'normal' act, and escaped getting that. I write this not with the intention of frightening you, obviously I was very ill-but to give the other side-judy


Re: about day programs

Posted by Penny on June 29, 2002, at 15:49:58

In reply to Being hospitalized, posted by Angel Girl on June 29, 2002, at 0:07:03

Angel Girl,

I, too, have never been hospitalized. But a few weeks ago, my therapist told me it was between hospitalization or entering some sort of intensive outpatient program. Of course, I opted for the IOP, which consists of group therapy for three hours - two different types of group. The first is 'agenda group', where you just talk about whatever you want to talk about. The second is 'planning group' where you plan for the week or the weekend, except on Wednesdays when it is more like a class on different skills that might help you through the hard times. I go MWF, though some folks go MWThF. Despite my best attempts to remain down and on the verge of collapse, I must say I really think this group is helping. Of course, I'm taking longer to get through it than some of the folks do (they told me the average was 2-4 weeks, I've already been doing it for over 2 weeks.), but whatever. I think it's good, and I really like the therapist. Of course, I also have a regular therapist and a pdoc who are both very supportive. But I'm not having nearly as many suicidal thoughts (tho' they are still there somewhat).

There are also partial hospitalization programs which are more intensive and last most of the day every day. My therapist recommended the IOP b/c her feeling was hospitalization wouldn't teach me to deal with my reality, whereas IOP does, b/c I'm still living in the real world.

Of course, if you're seriously considering suicide, I'll say the same thing as everyone may need to be hospitalized. And I know it's scary, it is for me too, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to save your life.

But IOP and partial hospitalization programs are an option you may want to consider. Many hospitals offer them.

Take care of yourself.


Re: Being hospitalized

Posted by Angel Girl on June 29, 2002, at 19:56:31

In reply to Being hospitalized, posted by Angel Girl on June 29, 2002, at 0:07:03

I have absolutely no recollection of even typing this post to begin with. :( This is starting to happen to me alot. People telling me I'm emailing them and me not recalling it but then finding it in my 'sent' folder.

It was originally my therapist who mentioned to me awhile ago that I should consider hospitalization. Lately all of my family and most of my friends have been strongly trying to convince me to do it for medication reasons.

I have severe depression and I think BPD. I get my final assessment on Tuesday. I'm taking 267.5mg of Effexor XR and have been for several months. It's no longer effective enough. I need something stronger. I'm barely out of the 'black hole' most of the time. In the last 5 weeks or so, I've been suffering from 'electrical sensations' and light-headedness. Through experimenting with my meds, I have proved it's from the Effexor.

I also take meds for sleeping. I've had insomnia since starting taking ADs last Oct/Nov and after trying several had settled with Triazolam .25mg, which was working extremely well for me. BUT then I started suffering also from agoraphobia and couldn't force myself to get to the drugstore to pickup my renewal for my Triazolam. So I had one night with nothing. Of course, I didn't sleep and even though I did manage to get my renewal the next day, it no longer worked. I've tried several diff sleep meds since then, all to no avail. I now have my days turned to nights and vice versa. I'm starting just as of yesterday to get this turned around.

The problem I have is that my meds are prescribed by my GP. I don't have a pdoc. My GP refuses to make anymore psych med changes and wants all future changes to be made by a pdoc. I will be seeing one on Tuesday and hopefully something positive will come out of that appointment.

Due to the bad side effects of the Effexor XR and it also not being strong enough and not being able to rid myself of the weeks long insomnia and my current state of nervousness and constant worsening depression, that is why everybody feels I need to be hospitalized. I am not currently suicidal but if they were to reduce my Effexor, I'm sure that would return with a vengence. They feel I need to go through some med changes and be hospitalized for observations to how I would react to those changes.

I have also told friends that I have this overwhelming desire to get in my car and just drive and drive and drive and never come back with no destination in mind. I know I wouldn't do this, it's just what I would 'like' to do. I don't understand why that statement seems to frighten everybody so much.

The problem is that I am PETRIFIED to be hospitalized. I have NEVER liked to be in the hospital for any reason and I've never been in a psych ward before. I KNOW I would be EXTREMELY depressed and fearful of the other patients. Under those conditions how could they fairly evaluate any changes to new meds when that's the way I would feel on my current meds????

Sometimes, I think it's all these freakin meds that are screwing up my brain and if I came off them I'd be fine. But in reality I know that they are keeping me from killing myself.

I'm just so scared.

Thanks for your info and support.

Angel Girl


Re: Being hospitalized Angel Girl

Posted by judy1 on June 29, 2002, at 20:37:21

In reply to Re: Being hospitalized, posted by Angel Girl on June 29, 2002, at 19:56:31

I have also told friends that I have this overwhelming desire to get in my car and just drive and drive and drive and never come back with no destination in mind. I know I wouldn't do this, it's just what I would 'like' to do. I don't
I don't understand why that statement seems to frighten everybody so much.

-I have often felt that way, it sounds very much as if you want to escape your current situation. Since you are feeling so badly, that sounds perfectly normal to me. Perhaps they are afraid because you said you didn't want to come back- and they equate that with suicidal feelings. Maybe you can make them worry less by just saying how you want to get away from your current situation/feelings but not to the point of suicide.

The problem is that I am PETRIFIED to be hospitalized. I have NEVER liked to be in the hospital for any reason and I've never been in a psych ward before. I KNOW I would be EXTREMELY depressed and fearful of the other patients. Under those conditions how could they fairly evaluate any changes to new meds when that's the way I would feel on my current meds????

-I would hope that seeing the psychiatrist will help sort out your med problems so that being hospitalized won't be necessary. You sound like you have a fairly complex disorder, something a GP is not at all trained to handle, and may as you pointed out- made things worse by prescribing the meds that he did.

Please try to get a good relationship going with a psychiatrist and therapist- you will be amazed what a difference it makes to take the proper medication and to work with people who really care about you. Please let us know how things go and wishing you all the best- judy


Penny, did you get the job? (nm) Penny

Posted by bookgurl99 on July 1, 2002, at 20:23:39

In reply to Re: about day programs, posted by Penny on June 29, 2002, at 15:49:58


Do everything you can to avoid it!!!

Posted by Katt on July 1, 2002, at 23:00:03

In reply to Being hospitalized, posted by Angel Girl on June 29, 2002, at 0:07:03

typical day: locked in all day, group to group, breakfast, lunch, dinner.

"observation": doesnt really exist. there are nurses around, but dont care. psychiatrists are either not there or there to mess with your meds.

hospitals suck. thats my experience though, many times over again.


Re: my positive hospital experience (long)

Posted by Mark H. on July 2, 2002, at 0:34:05

In reply to my positive hospital experience (long), posted by katekite on June 29, 2002, at 10:15:18

Katekite's beautifully written and heartfelt account of her experience relates what hospitalization for psychiatric problems is supposed to be like. Judy and others tactfully (and quite correctly) point out that it isn't always that way. Katekite's suggestion to work on a plan before you no longer have a say-so in the matter is pure wisdom!

At our local in-patient facility, the staff are compassionate, non-judgmental, grounded, helpful and genuinely interested in not only your safety but your rapid recovery and return to normal life as well.

In contrast, anyone who watched a segment produced by Helen Malmgren for 60 Minutes last year knows that there are private contract facilities run like chain-stores that are interested only in profits -- these despicable "facilities" have a vested interest in keeping you sick to increase the amount they can bill your insurance company or the state for "services." No wonder responses to your inquiry are so wildly varied!

I have to agree with the poster who suggested that you avoid hospitalization if at all possible. However, only you, your family and your doctor can know when you've reached the point that you need to relinquish some of your freedom so that others can help you to survive. Some of us choose when we're feeling well to empower others to make that decision for us. In that way, even if it comes to involuntary care, we have had a say-so in the planning stages.

Both sides have spoken the truth on these issues. For some, hospitalization is a respite and a true chance for survival and healing. For others, hospitalization is for the convenience of doctors and family who don't have time to take care of the ill and don't want to be liable for what the person suffering from the illness might do to herself or others.

Please broaden your options by working out plans and alternatives with your doctor and family members. Re-read Judy's and Katekite's responses carefully. Be an informed and empowered recipient of health care, and don't deny yourself whatever you need to survive.

With appreciation,

Mark H.


Re: Don't know yet... (nm) bookgurl99

Posted by Penny on July 2, 2002, at 14:33:20

In reply to Penny, did you get the job? (nm) Penny, posted by bookgurl99 on July 1, 2002, at 20:23:39

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