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How I Learned the Psych Ward Isn't a Scary Place at All

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Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

This summer, I ended up in the psychiatric ward due to having suicidal thoughts related to my bipolar disorder.

I was so scared to even go into the hospital. I was shaking as they took my blood pressure at the ER, and it was sky-high. I was so scared out of my mind, but knew I had to be there. I was more scared of what would happen if I hadn’t come in …

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I sat for six hours until they took me up to the psychiatric ward. By then, it was time to sleep. I calmed down a lot after that first night, and I realized I wasn’t in a scary place at all. I felt very safe there, actually. We had a regular routine throughout the day which probably helped a lot. We mostly did arts and crafts and did a group session at least once a day.

The patients I met there seemed rather “normal.” I felt so comfortable talking to them and discussed things I typically wouldn’t discuss with other people outside of the psych ward. Being able to discuss my mental health so openly was incredibly therapeutic. There were a few other people with bipolar disorder there, and we even discussed medications. Apparently, someone who tried a medication that is doing miracles for me actually ended up with bad suicidal thoughts on it. That’s pretty much the exact opposite experience I’m having on it, and it goes to show how different people react to different psych meds.

There was one woman there who was extremely nice. I wish I could’ve befriended her outside of the hospital, but I was too shy to ask. We were also discouraged from doing so. She had a similar disorder to mine, and I think maybe that helped me be more comfortable with her. She was a comfortable person to be around in general and even gave me a hug at some point. I was so sad to see her leave, but so happy for her at the same time.

I met a lot of people with so many different disorders, and you wouldn’t be able to tell unless they told you. Of course, if you actually knew them personally, it would be different. But they just seemed like “normal” people. My point is, unless you’re close to someone, you might not even know they live with a mental illness. You never know what another person is going through, so be kind to people as much as possible.

Overall, I had a good experience. Even the food was good at this particular hospital, but I heard stories about other hospitals having worse food. They fixed my medications, and I’ve never been genuinely happy as an adult (or maybe my whole life) like I am now. That experience changed my life.

The psych ward is nothing to be scared of. The one I was at was extremely calm for the most part. It’s a very controlled, safe place. If you need to go, try not to be scared.

Also, there is nothing wrong with needing to go. We all have points in our lives when we need a little extra help. It takes great strength to admit you need that help, and even greater strength to seek it. Going to a psych ward doesn’t make you “crazy” or any less of a human being.

Getty image by KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Originally published: January 15, 2020
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