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When I Googled 'Should I Be Committed to a Psychiatric Hospital?'

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My studio apartment has always been situated around the chaotic noises of downtown. One night around 3 a.m., I was left wondering what on earth people could still be doing outside. As I tried to drown out the sounds of what I was convinced were the happiest people on earth, I Googled something I’d been dwelling on for weeks, “Should I be committed?”

I’ll tell you, the answers were not terribly helpful. I began to page through articles that talked about how horrible being committed is, and some saying that unless you are actively trying, you won’t get in. Or there were people telling folks to never let themselves be committed. This kicked my anxiety into overdrive as I was headed home to make my appointment for a rapid assessment with a psychiatric facility the next day.

The appointment had been made four days in advance and never in my life had I felt like I was white knuckling life like this before. So many urges were swirling through my head, guiding my fingers and fists to do things I didn’t really want to do. Sometimes, I actually sat on my hands to prevent myself doing something I’d regret or not live through. It helped that my friends and family knew enough about how I was feeling to take care of me and not let me be alone. In secret, I had begun cutting myself, but with so many people around, I didn’t feel like I could do more than I had. It was a comforting but also very suffocating feeling.

Finally the day of my appointment came and just as my stepmom and I were about to leave, I asked her to grab my suitcase. A certain calm had come over me as I accepted I was about to be committed. When we arrived, I met in private with a social worker I’d never met and just poured my heart out to her through huge sobs. Next came the psychiatrist who seemed to verify my current meds and how I was feeling. And then came what I was certain, yet a little afraid, of hearing, “We think you should stay here a few days…” I know he said more than that but all I could feel was me nodding my head through another waterfall of tears.

Inpatient was odd in that, on entering the ward, I had no privacy on what I was bringing in and they could remove anything they felt would be an issue for myself and others. It makes sense now but at the time it was almost enough to make me want to turn around and leave. Then I was escorted back to my private room, which I appreciated immensely, but they had to check on me every 15 minutes.

My first couple days there are a little blurry as I slept quite a bit, but once I was able to get up, I began participating in group therapy that centered on dialectical behavioral therapy. Getting to know the other patients was nice as a lot of them I could relate to, either because of their story or that I shared their diagnosis.

I’ve since been released and participated in another two weeks of partial hospitalization therapy. It certainly hasn’t fixed my issues, but the whole experience helped stabilize my medications and gave me realistic coping mechanisms I can use to prevent a relapse (because with my disorder, I’m working to accept there will be more relapses). But at least now I can function and am returning to work.

If you are ever Googling “should I be committed” or questions along those line, it might be past time for you to seek help from your psychiatrist, local hospital or family. If you really think you need help, you’ve just got to reach out and know there will be someone who understands. I was terrified, it was my first time being inpatient, but I know going to get help saved my life. And if you need help before a scheduled appointment, go to the ER right away and be honest about how you’re feeling. Inpatient sounds scary but when you need crisis intervention, it can save your life, your worthy and beautiful life.

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Photo by Xavier Sotomayor on Unsplash

Originally published: June 17, 2018
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