14 Little Discoveries I’ve Made on a Mental Health Ward


OK, so almost anyone would agree that spending your teenage years in hospital is not exactly where the fun’s at…

Let’s face it, you know life’s not at its finest when you get excited about a trip to the shopping center to buy… wait for it… cereal bars! (Seriously though, don’t judge because if I see another digestive I may actually turn into one.)

Surely living life to the fullest in a “house” (I use that term loosely for literary purposes…) full of teenagers, with free food six times a day and a free pass to give school a miss for a few months is ideal? 

Eek, not so much. Maybe that’s because I’m currently living it up in Casa del… Crap. Yep, that’s right, a mental health ward! 

But hey, it’s definitely taught me a thing or two.

1. Peeing alone is a luxury.

Yep, you read that correctly. A luxury. You see, in the exciting life of Lauren, privacy goes out the window. Someone watches me pee, shower, eat … It’s literally taking the piss! 

2. I will never listen to the “TOP 40” again.

Have you ever argued over the remote with a sibling? Back in the days when my brother wasn’t the 15-year-old gentle giant he is now, I usually managed to negotiate, OK, manipulate him into “agreeing on something” when it came to the TV.

This is not so easy in a ward with 15 other people. (Somehow most teenagers don’t seem to share my interest in BBC One’s “Holby City.” In fact, I’m generally met with the response, “Oh yeah, my granny watches that!” My conclusion is only pensioners seem to have top notch taste in television.) 

So despite my protests, the music channel seems to cause the least mutual angst and is therefore a constant. 

*Just to let 12-year-old girls everywhere know: Justin Bieber is not even vaguely attractive. I’ve watched his music video on MTV 18 billion times… I’m confident when I say, give up your obsession and make a swift but educated transfer into the world of Channing Tatum*

3. Digestives are the devil’s biscuits.

Ugh. Digestives.

When stuck in the lovely world of weight restoration during anorexia recovery the word “meal plan” becomes a venom and the dietician is the devil’s advocate. 

Seven digestives a day. Let that sink in… seven. I’m fairly certain I’m currently 90 percent digestives.

5. It’s not like the movies.

Sorry to disappoint but this “Psych Ward” features no straight jackets, barred windows or lunatics — just a heck of a lot of adult coloring in booklets! 

6. Mocha-flavored Nutri Drinks are kinda fab!

In the exciting world of anorexia recovery, we drink these horrendous high-cal nutrition drinks known as “Fortisips.”

My flavor breakdown: Strawberry = VOM, Chocolate = WRETCH. Vanilla = RANK. Mocha? Surprisingly pleasant! 

7. I really hate semolina.

*Shudders*

laurenhouston

8. Netflix is a babe. 

Huge shoutout to my hospital for free wifi.

9. My family deserves a medal.

Oh, how I could whine and moan all day about the fact that my dad insists on singing “I’m just a sweet transvestite from Transylvania” (“Rocky Horror” song) loudly and extremely frequently, despite the fact that he is neither of the above. Or I could whinge about the fact that my brother Sam insists on using “Shut up, Lauren” as his catchphrase these days…

But seriously, big shoutout to Madre and Padre for putting their everything into getting me better. Oh, and Sam I guess you’re all right…

10. National Health Services mattresses are a crime.

Blue, sticky and well just general ew.

11. Card games are a life saver.

Got boring 1:1 obs? Cards. On meal support? Cards. Nothing on TV (no, the music channel doesn’t count)? Yep, you guessed it: Cards! 

12. Leggings are 100 percent acceptable as pants.

Believe me, when my food baby is in full swing leggings are my best friend.

13. Coke Zero is major rebellion — how thrilling! 

Contraband, hollaaa.

14. I’m capable of resembling a gorilla.

Speaking of banned items, a razor is a big no-no for all, resulting in furry legs — hawt! 

OK, so I may not be getting a PhD, but I’ve definitely made some major discoveries. Right, I’m off to watch the music channel, until next time… au revoir! 

Follow this journey on Rambles of the Recovering.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

‘The Rock’ Had a Moving Moment With Oprah About His Depression

What words come to mind when you think about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Tough? Rugged? Strong? Manly? The 43-year-old actor is all these things and more; and he’s proving that experiencing depression doesn’t make you less tough, rugged, strong or manly. On Oprah’s “Master Class,” a series where celebrities and public figures discuss their triumphs and challenges, Johnson [...]

7 Things I Want All Parents to Know at the Beginning of a Diagnosis Journey

I’m often asked, “If there is one thing you could tell others in the beginning of this journey, what would it would be?” Depending on my day, this answer varies. There are few things I would like to share with that mom or dad whose child was just diagnosed (with anything really; it doesn’t need [...]

To My Friends With Medically Fragile Children Who May Be Afraid to Talk to Me

Hey, Momma! Hey, Daddy! Yes, you, the one who has that beautiful child labeled “medically fragile.” Yes, I’m talking to you today. I know you. I see you. I know what it’s like to rejoice over crazy milestones that many parents may never experience. I know what it’s like to coax my tiny one to [...]

To the People Wondering Why I Struggle With Eye Contact

Dear concerned classmate, friend, co-worker or person on the street, You may have noticed that at times talking to me can be a strange experience because I appear to be: looking down a lot, looking at a spot over your shoulder, flitting my eyes around like a spotlight, looking right through you as though we [...]