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How the Psychiatric Hospital Helped Me Find a Reason to Live

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

I recently got discharged after being in a psychiatric hospital for five weeks. I saw many, many people come and go. The average stay is five to seven days. I was originally discharged after one week but was readmitted the next day.

Psychiatric hospitals aren’t as horrible as they sound. My mother would always use it as a threat when I was younger. Hospitals are made to help people and keep people safe. Now I was in the child in the adolescent unit. Because of laws, it is a little different than adult units, but it’s not the worst thing ever. It saved my life.

I wanted to die — I really did for a long time, hence why I was there for such a length of time. I kept hurting myself while there, which got me on IVOS (“in view of staff”), which sucks because someone even has to watch you shower. It’s the worst.

I figured out a lot about myself — who my support system is, who I care about, reasons to live. There was a patient care provider (PCP) there who really changed my life. She would always talk about this concert festival she went to. She said how there’s so much out there in the world, like music festivals, that I haven’t done yet. She also said how college is the best thing that helped her, so I only have a year to deal with, then I’d be free (I am currently 17).

I realized I had reasons to live. The biggest thing that helped was that I found reasons for myself to live, not other people. I wasn’t just wanting to stay alive for my nephews or friends, but for my future, for college. Once I found a will to live for myself, everything changed. The PCP always said, “Everyone should be kind to everyone. You are already with others, you just need to learn to be kind to yourself.” That has stuck with me a lot regarding self-harm.

I’m not saying I don’t have bad days or moments anymore. It’s still hard, but I’ve found ways to cope and manage the feelings. To observe the thoughts, not act on them.

If you are struggling with finding reasons to live, I suggest finding at least one reason for yourself to live; not others, you. Something you haven’t done yet, but really want to; that’s a reason to live.

Don’t be ashamed if you have to go to a psychiatric hospital. It shows you are asking for help and that takes strength to admit.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via a-wrangler