Part 4: The Facility and Life After
T/W: light mentions of mental illness and mental facilities.
Hello to everyone reading this! This is the final part of my second mental hospital experience and with that in mind, I’d like to say a few things. For starters, I know I didn’t post anything last Friday (posts might be a little inconsistent sometimes) and that’s because simply, sometimes I’m busy or just tired and right now I’m putting my mental health first. Meaning, if I cannot manage posting something one week, that’s ok—I do this because I like to and it’s fulfilling to me, but I still need a break with it sometimes. Next, I want to point out that it is mental health awareness month (which I had forgotten about until I saw people mentioning it the other day) and I am so glad I get to end this story from this chapter in my life during this time when mental health is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. That being said, if this story showed you anything, I hope it was that mental health is important all of the time. So while it is wonderful to see a month dedicated to taking care of our mental health, the effort has to be put in all year. Listen to your body, listen to how you’re feeling, and if something feels off, please try to seek help and remember to give yourself all of the love and compassion you would give someone else!
On that note, let’s jump into the final part of this story…
I arrived at the facility in the afternoon and remember feeling oddly calm considering I was diving in head first (seeing as the first time I was in the mental hospital I had come in at night when everyone was asleep). It was an interesting feeling to say the least, but I think at that point I was a mix of feeling numb and also slightly relieved to at least be out of the ER in the other hospital.
Upon arrival, I had to meet with multiple people who would be overseeing my treatment and help me plan for life after I got out. I explained what happened (for the millionth time and then another million times after that) and even mentioned my mistreatment at the other hospital. Luckily, the staff here was much more professional and apologized sincerely (though obviously it wasn’t their fault in the slightest) and were eager to help me get in a better headspace.
I will say that the place isn’t perfect, especially because of Covid, it was very understaffed and there weren’t as many groups as there should’ve been for those who are going to a place to mentally heal. That being said, this place has helped me twice now, most of the people there are great and truly care, and I am grateful to them.
Anyway, after I talked with the overseers of my treatment and got settled into my room for the week, I headed over to the day room, figuring that getting involved from the start might be beneficial for me. I didn’t talk to anybody when I walked in—just sat in a corner quietly, figuring that somebody would come up to me—seeing as that happened my last visit. That being said, I was a little more nervous when I saw that this time the people were generally older than me, and I worried for a minute that I might be completely alone on my journey during this visit.
Thankfully, I ended up being wrong.
For the most part, it was one of those things where I kind of ended up talking to everyone at least once. There was a nice feeling between most patients this time and I think we truly all just had that sense that we were all in the same boat.
The first person to talk to me was a man in his forties who was there for addiction issues until they could get him into a halfway house. He was very friendly but was only there two more days from when I arrived. Luckily he introduced me to two people he talked to in there, a man in his fifties who I never got the full story on, and another man who was close to my age, who was there just until they could find him a better home to go to—he was very depressed.
These people were who I spent my time with the most for the next week, when I wasn’t writing or reading. The main event for us was our nightly uno games and monopoly matches! We had fun, and made a bad situation bearable. All the while, I did start to feel much better than I had in that past month and it was refreshing!
That’s the thing about people with mental illness who end up in those hospitals—most of us have a need in us to make others around us who are coming in feel comfortable. It’s like an unspoken role that we take on to help other people who feel the way we do to heal and realize that this pain is temporary. I guess we do that because we know how it feels, and wouldn’t wish that suffering on anyone else. It’s somewhat twisted, but also really beautiful at its core, that in my experience, people there were so willing to help their peers—even more so than the staff.
To wrap this up, I served my week sentence, and tried to absorb as much of the experience as I could. I wanted to remember how I felt when I came in first how I started to feel once I was leaving. I wanted to take in my surrounding and truly understand that when things get rough, they truly will not last. I wanted to sit with the fact that I truly wanted to continue to live and start on the next path of my life—giving myself all of the grace I might need on this part of my journey.
With all of that in mind, I said goodbye to the people who had been there for me that whole week—who made me laugh when I thought it was impossible—and then I was on my way to start over—again.