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The Hardest Part of Going Into Psychiatric Inpatient Treatment as an Adult

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Going into inpatient treatment is not easy when you’re an adult. The previous times I’ve gone inpatient for depression, I was under my parents’ roof or was admitted as “emergency.” This time, I am living away from my parents, in a different city. I have to deal with all the procedures myself and so I consider myself more of an adult, although I still am studying.

One morning, I phoned my school counselor in a sobbing state and admitted (no pun intended) I need inpatient treatment. It had been a rough couple months leading up to that. University was busy, I was swamped with classes, I stayed up until 3 a.m. daily to work on assignments and I was worried about the cluster of due dates ahead. I was sad all the time and often had suicidal thoughts.

When I made the call, I was deflated, I was tired and I was done. It was as if I had been in the driver’s seat for over 20 hours and all I wanted was someone to take over (my life) and drive (help me). But the burden, workload and my responsibilities didn’t just go away from the second I said I needed inpatient treatment. I was incredibly disappointed by that because it was what I wanted. You can image how desperate and exhausted someone is who’s at the brink of breaking finally and voluntarily surrenders and admits they need to go inpatient for treatment. That moment is when they need help and care the most.

But in reality, that didn’t happen. Instead, I was further burdened with “making arrangements.” As an adult living in this big outside world full of responsibilities, where no one knows about your mental illness, there are many things you have to take care of before you can just vanish and disappear for an undefined period of time. (Unless of course, you are very suicidal and in an emergency or crisis state. Then you should go to the hospital right away). In fact, it would be rather irresponsible of me to immediately check myself into the hospital that second. There were loose ends to tie, work to finish up or delegate, food to throw out in the fridge, people I had to inform so they wouldn’t worry about me if they couldn’t reach me, bills I had to prepay. I had to worry about finances, university, rent, family.

At that moment, I recognized my mental state was fragile, but there were matters I had to arrange that involved so much thinking ahead so my life didn’t fall apart when I was away or flop when I came back — both would cause me more mental distress and would cost me when I returned. All the arrangements and errands I had to make were hard work, and I even thought about giving up treatment because of it, because of how much I wished I could just disappear. Adult life isn’t easy.

The time for inpatient admission was a week later. Over the week and as time passed, I slowly felt better and calmer. Maybe it was due to the fact that I was no longer pursuing the tasks at hand, but making arrangements to set them aside. Or maybe it was having hope and knowing I would be at the hospital soon and finally receive help. When it got closer to the admission date, I seriously doubted whether I still needed to go in because I felt much better than before. Thankfully, my therapist reminded me mood fluctuates and what I felt before were true emotions. They were intense and had been bothering me for many months. I may have been feeling alright temporarily, but it did not diminish the pain and the struggle of the past. I have the right and deserve to seek help.

Getty image by MangoStar_Studio

Originally published: January 7, 2020
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