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When a Psychiatric Hospital Becomes a 'Home'

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I have crumbled again. Rock bottom. They say there’s nowhere to go but up, but they don’t know I’m too far down with no GPS or perception.

Times like these are when the hospital crosses my mind. I find it as difficult a decision as any. Do I go? No, I have things to do. I have to go to work. I have to take a placement exam for fall classes. I’m supposed to be a functioning adult and member of society. I’m supposed to know how to take care of my mental health by now. I’m not supposed to get to such a dark place anymore.

Where is the line of life and death drawn? Where does hope come from? When do we lose it? How does a hospital become your home? A place of safety and familiarity? Are the nurses my friends?

I don’t know. It happened so quickly. It always does. The first time I was hospitalized, I was 16 and petrified. I couldn’t believe what I perceived as an insignificant overdose was taken so seriously. Then, a couple months later, it happened again. Then, a couple months later, once again.

Those first few hospitalizations were rough. I was hysterical every time I was hauled in. I couldn’t breathe. I was doing everything I could to leave the world and everyone around me was doing everything they could to keep me here. I hated them for it.

Fast forward to three more stays when I was 17. Countless ER trips, welfare checks and cop rides between that time and since then. Fast forward to a year ago, I had fallen apart after graduating high school, and there I was again. Then, I was decent enough for awhile, but three months ago, greetings from behavioral health. Would you like a postcard? Or do we keep this hush hush?

Perhaps they come in threes and I ought to go. They have become less frequent. So perhaps there is also progress in that. Maybe two steps forward and one step back is progress after all. Maybe going to the hospital doesn’t erase any prior progress, though it sure feels like a failure.

I have been ill for years and so understandably it will take years to become something or someone else. People seem to forget that. It is a strange thing when you have an illness where hospitalization is sometimes necessary, but it is also frowned upon, shoved under the rug and troublingly stigmatized. I don’t think I want the hospital to be my home. However, I have realized it takes time, work and energy to change the cycle, just as it would for you to pack up and move.

Perhaps the hospital is not my home anymore, but I’m still a renter with a room. Maybe that is progress in itself. Maybe one day, it will just be that vacation you can’t afford, few and far between.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 
Originally published: July 22, 2016
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