Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Story: I get admitted to the psychiatric ward

I arrived at the ER and was immediately taken back to a room with a curtain.  I thought that was pretty great, considering how often people complain of having to wait forever at the ER.

I went in not having the slightest idea that any tests were going to be run on me. Attendant after attendant came in asking the same questions. I repeated the same information to several groups of medical professionals.

I wasn’t prepared to answer questions regarding what had happened a few nights prior, especially regarding whether I intended to press charges. I was still trying to get my head around the fact that it could have happened, and I was in no way prepared to have a male doctor do a vaginal and rectal exam on me. How did “sleeping in the hospital for a few days” mean this?

I don’t remember the exact words of how the tests were explained to me, but I just remember thinking it was hospital protocol. That I didn’t really have a choice. The test made the whole experience feel even more surreal than it already did.

How was I in class just a few days prior, feeling stressed about classes? Now, I was in the emergency room being questioned about whether I wanted to press charges against a guy I had known since high school? For rape?

I have no idea how long I was in the ER, but by the time I would make it up to the psychiatric ward, all but two patients would be asleep.

A doctor came in to inform me that there was no physical evidence that an assault had occurred, but that was to be expected given that several days had passed since the assault and I had already showered multiple times.

Finally, I was told that it was time for me to be taken to my floor. I assumed that I would just walk to an assigned room, but instead I was told that I had to be pushed in a wheelchair – hospital protocol – up to my floor. I was beginning to think F’s wouldn’t have been so bad on my exams after all because things felt like they were getting weirder. I was confused and felt so disjointed that I just continued following the motions of what everyone was telling me to do.

Get into a wheelchair? Okay, that's weird...but sure...

Even after going through locked doors with cameras, I had no idea I was in the psychiatric ward. It still had not even crossed my mind. When I thought psychiatric ward, I thought about “Girl, Interrupted” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Besides, no one told me until I arrived to the psychiatric ward. In fact, it wasn’t until I was sitting down with medical professionals going over the paperwork I needed to sign that I began to understand what was going on.

I was told that I was being voluntarily admitted into the hospital. That I could leave at any time but that I should remain for “few days.” They told me I could expect to meet with several doctors and that I’d be given medication to help with my sleeping and anxiety difficulties. I was told that I’d have a roommate about my age. I said, “okay,” and signed the papers.

Maybe I had lost my mind, and I didn’t realize that I needed to be there…

8 comments:

  1. thank you so much for sharing this part of your story

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    1. You're welcome. Thank you for reading it! xx

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  2. Thank you for being open and honest with your raw emotions. Blessings and safe hugs.

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    1. Just Be Real, thanks for reading and letting my voice be heard. xx

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  3. I think they treated you like you were messed up of crazy. No wonder you feel so crazy now, sometimes. They basically talked you into signing yourself into jail. I am sorry for what they did to you and for how they did it. I get the impression that you didn't need admittance into a facility, you just needed someone to talk to and tell you that what you think happened to you really did happen to you and then give you a hug. I wish I could have been there to understand.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jaime. Your validation and encouragement means more than you know. xx

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  4. Alas the hospital treatment is so non-wholistic! Emotional trauma is now a medical condition, relegated to correcting brain chemistry. And those of us with brain problems get locked away. What does that tell us?

    I personally find the hospitals add to the trauma of the emotional/ mental health experience. Largely because empathy and compassion play such a small role in these institutions. So little is explained to the patient, and we are supposed to BE "patient" and forbearing, while they follow protocols. Then there is the reliance on medications (that have significant side effects, sometimes sedating us so we don't care) over human caring. They do their best under the circumstances.

    I pray earnestly for the day when the psychiatric profession goes back to treating the soul. That is what "psyche" means anyways..

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    1. Smitty, thank you for reading and providing your thoughts. What you wrote reminded me of the following quotation by Oliver Sacks (in Awakenings):

      "Yet modern medicine, increasingly, dismisses our existence, either reducing us to identical replicas reacting to fixed 'stimuli' in equally fixed ways, or seeing our diseases as purely alien and bad, without organic relation to the person who is ill. The therapeutic correlate of such notions, of course, is the idea that one must attack the disease with total impunity, without a thought for the person who is ill."

      It's unfortunate, but at least based on personal experience, I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that within the psychiatric profession, particularly in hospitals, there is too large of an emphasis on treatment of "symptoms" instead of the individual. Like you, I hope and pray for the day this changes.

      Being in a medical school graduate program for speech-language pathology has restored my faith to some degree because I have found that there has been a huge push in my program to address individuals using a more holistic approach. Also, a close friend who is in medical school to become a doctor recently shared with me that her program has begun to emphasize the importance of treating patients using a more holistic approach. So hopefully, we'll see changes down the road if there truly has been a shift in the right direction.

      Thanks again for visiting my site and providing your insight.

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