You’re in a hospital, but it isn’t because you are physically ill or injured. You don’t really understand why you’re there, you just remember telling your mom something and she rushes you to a hospital. You don’t remember anything else.
You wake up in a really uncomfortable bed and there’s a lady sitting there that you’ve never seen in your life and a policeman is by the door. You look down at your arm and there’s an IV in your arm with what looks like a thousand tubes coming out. You look over and your mom is sitting in a chair next to you, crying. You try to speak and ask why you’re there, but your throat is too dry. There is a tube coming out of your stomach. Your nose tickles, you go to scratch it and there’s a tube coming out of it. You’ve seen one before on your brother, a feeding tube. Your mother notices you’re awake and she starts asking questions. Too many questions. You roll over and go back to sleep.
The next time you wake up you feel a cold hand on your wrist, a nurse checking your pulse. You really wish that she doesn’t find anything and that this is just a recap of your life. She starts asking if you’re hungry, you shake your head no but ten minutes she brings you a turkey sandwich, a sprite, and a cookie. You reluctantly eat the food, you would rather starve. After you eat and get liquids in you, you ask the nurse why you’re there. She explains that you took a bottle of Tylenol, and a half bottle of your sleeping medicine. You remember and it all hits you at once.
You tried to kill yourself.
After the nurse tells you what happened, you sit there for a while, staring at the barren white walls. A little while later a doctor comes in and says after your more stable and your body is “healthy again” (news flash: after you do something like that to your body, it’s never healthy again) you’ll be sent to an inpatient psychiatric hospital called North Key. Not only did you try to kill yourself, but now you’re being sent to the nut house. You can’t help but cry at the news, you’re officially crazy! You’re going to the white padded rooms that no one can hear you scream, and you’re in a building with literal psychopaths.
Now that you have that image in your head, know that this is something that really happened. It happened to me. The IV, the feeding tube, the stomach pump, and the white padded rooms. Except, they’re aren’t any padded walls. A psychiatric inpatient center is really like a daycare for people with problems. Shocking, isn’t it? The stereotype of murderers and sociopaths in the “nut house” is all a lie. Now that you know the truth, let me tell you what the experience is like.
Did you know that approximately 20 percent of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood, and between 10 to 15 percent suffer from symptoms at any one time? Also, approximately 10 percent of teenagers and 40 percent of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder of some kind. In fact, about 1 in 5 teens in the United States suffer from a mental disorder severe enough to their impact daily activities, either currently or at some point in their lives. Even nearly 8 percent have regular violent outbursts that would fall into the category of a mental health disorder. That’s the kind of kids that are in these kind of hospitals. No murderers, no sociopaths, no crazy people waiting to kill you. Just teens with little discrepancies that need some extra help. Some have anger problems, yes, but they are there to fix it.
I was taken to the inpatient hospital by an ambulance, exciting, right? Nope, the most exciting thing that happened was that I learned my EMTs liked the smell of skunk spray. When I got to North Key, they took me into the nurse’s station and took my weight, checked my blood pressure, then my temperature, then my height. Pretty much just a regular check up. Then they asked me why I was taken there. Great, someone else has to know that I was stupid enough to try to kill myself with a mere bottle of Tylenol. I tell the lady why I’m there, and she takes me to my assigned room. It has a bed, a dresser for the clothes my mom can bring in for me, and another bed with the same dresser on the other side of the room. She tells me that I may have a roommate at some point. She tells me that I get to take a shower and then I can meet the other people in here. She hands me a bin with my toiletries in it and hands me some clothes that I know will be too big for me when I put them on, but I don’t say anything.
I head to the bathroom and take a long shower. The water never gets warm enough, but I don’t mind, the cold water feels good on my back. I get shampoo in my eyes and my eyes water, then the real tears come. I cry because I’m at the hospital, I cry because I scared my mom, I cry because I tried to kill myself. I tried to kill myself. I regret it. I want to go home.
After my little breakdown I hurried to clean myself and take my dirty clothes back to my room. I set them in the bag that we put laundry in, and head to the group room. When I walk into the room, I see a girl with faded pink hair, a transgender boy, and a staff member playing a card game I don’t really know. The transgender boy introduces himself as Alex and the girl with pink hair as Jasmine. They ask if I want to join them in the game. I say yes and they deal me in and teach me how to play. I feel kind of uncomfortable because of the surroundings, but being introduced and accepted as quickly as I was made me feel at home. After playing for about an hour, we are told to get ready for group. Groups are pretty much where everyone talks about their problems, how we’re going to get better, and we play a game that’s about a certain problem. We wait for the rest of the people to either leave their rooms or come from the opposite gender’s hall. The first game we play is Jenga but with little questions taped to the top. It was pretty fun, and I learned a lot about the different people there and about different way to help myself become better, called coping skills.
I was at North Key for 8 days, and every day was just like that. Groups, hanging out with the other patients, and getting better. I was better for a while, but was hospitalized twice after that visit, both at different places, but they were all the same. A psychiatric ward isn’t like people think it is, it’s a safe place for people that need a little extra help. I have been hospitalized three times, but it doesn’t mean I’m any different than the next person. I’m not crazy, I just struggle a little more than them at normal everyday tasks like, well, living. It’s okay if you’re hospitalized, nothing is wrong with you, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed of your hospitalization. Have you ever suffered from any of these disorders/mental illnesses, and would you be willing to share your story? Next time you hear about someone being in a mental hospital, will you laugh with the others or will you be understanding and be more caring and considerate towards them?