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Disclaimer: Although I have worked with persons with mental illness for twenty years, I do not have a Master's Degree or a license. This is not meant to be a substitute for mental health care or treatment. Please obtain professional assistance from the resources listed on the right of the page, if needed. And call 911 if you or someone is in immediate danger.

A key word that you will see:

Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lessons and Perspective From a Patient

After spending about 76 days in the hospital with 64 of them in a psychiatric hospital, one gets a very skewed sense of life. I’ve become a little institutionalized. These are some of my thoughts:

1) Staff says that I need to take a shower and change my clothes. I think, it takes too much energy and no one is going to care anyway. (just because it was four days) :)
2) Staff says that I need to eat more. I think, I’ve gained 50 pounds over the past year.
3) Staff says that I’m compulsive, I say that I am just neat and tidy.
4) Staff says that they are going to give me a staff badge. I think, is it because I know most of their job duties, help them remember things, and know their work schedules.
5) Staff says that I have insomnia. I say, I like looking at the bright moon and waiting for dawn to break.
6) I say that I really need to be in the hospital, my therapist vigorously shakes his head “yes.”
7) My psychologist says that I go days without smiling. I learned that it was true as my therapist said, “days, weeks, months.”
8) It is good to know the rules and regulations because you can make staff angry and like it. :)
9) Some staff know how to do considerate 30 minute bed check and others haven’t a clue!!
10) I learned that I can yell at staff and kick a door open and not get sent to the locked unit. In fact, they were happy that I found my anger.
11) I know that meals are at 8am, noon, and 5pm.
12) I know that juice only comes in little square-rounded plastic containers.
13) I learned that a 5:30 am fire alarm going off make for very grumpy people.
14) I know that there are helpful staff and those you just want to hit upside their head.
15) I learned that writing a complaint sometimes ends up with none to immediate action.
16) I feel good that housekeeping and the cafeteria staff remember my name and preferences. I think, I’ve been here too many days.
17) I still wonder why housekeeping sometimes leaves only leaves one bathmat and five wash cloths.
18) I learned that you can sprain you ankle on a cherry tomato.
19) I learned that you can choke on dry salmon and look up to find six charge nurses staring at you.
20) I learned that it is okay not to like everyone.
21) I learned that I can really cuss someone out!
22) I found that screaming even if it is into a pillow a great way to release anger.
23) I discovered my anger…rage.
24) I yelled at my therapist and he raised his voice in a heated discussion for the first time. To my surprise, he was happy as I found my anger and nothing bad happened and he still wanted to work with me.
25) When my psychiatrist, psychologist and therapist all say that I will know when it is time to leave. I say, “I don’t want that responsibility. I want to blame you for whatever decision you make.” Deep down I know they are right.
26) I thought that a man coming off of heroin after 8 years needs more supervision, three days later staff put him in the locked unit.
27) I learned that there is a hierarchy of stigma within patients with mental health issues. I try to educate and why people with schizophrenia and DID act the way they do. I have some success in some changing their perspective.
28) I learned that safety doesn’t always come from the outside, but from the inside knowing that you can take care of yourself.
29) I learned that if you try to look at the breaks on the bed to make sure that help is around just in case you get stuck between the wall and the bed. Staff will also laugh at you before helping you! :)
30) I learned that there are some smokers that are accommodating for non-smokers. We played which way is the wind blowing and musical chairs just for me.
31) I embraced my new identies of “fag hag” and that I’m a “gay man.” I now support gay rights.
32) I learned that it is fun to sing Broadway show tunes with a bunch of men who are gay. And, that it is “so gay” to be doing that and that others could hear everything that we sang.
33) I learned that I like to reach out to those who are “outcasts.” Such as an over six feet tall man with a blonde ponytail and had been in state prison for 17 years and just his presence intimidated others. We became very good friends.
34) I learned that coffee can be so bad that I begin to use half and half. Once home while look for the half and half, my husband reminds me that I drink my coffee black!!
35) I learned that having a coffee addict for a therapist has its advantages, good coffee three times a week for sessions.
36) I am beginning to like myself.
37) I know that I have some hard work ahead of me and the hospitalization was well worth it as I feel the best that I have in a long time.
38) I learned that I can miss an entire Nordstrom sale and survive.
39) I learned that having an anniversary, doesn’t matter where you are just that you are together.
40) I learned that absence does make the heart grow fonder.


20 comments:

becca (L) said...

that's.. pretty.
and thoughtful. hmm. >.< x

Wandering Coyote said...

Great post, CC! The list is excellent beyond words. Like you, I've learned so much from my hospitalizations that were unexpected and surprising. I especially loved #27 - it's so true. My experience is that people with mood disorders are treated way differently than people with other diagnoses.

NOS said...

It's uncanny that I too have learned a lot of the same lessons from being hospitalized.

And it's lovely to hear that you're beginning to like yourself.

Wishing you the best,
NOS

Mike Golch said...

A geat posting.# 40 well sometimes.

Borderline Lil said...

I love this list, what a great reminder of everything you've overcome and learned! My favourites are #20 and #23 - definitely on my own list this year. Thank you CC.

Miss Ash said...

I love that you found your anger. Anger can be SO empowering! And to like yourself. What a wonderful step to take!

Sid said...

Sounds like you learned a lot, which definitely helps a person grow. Don't think I've ever learned quite so many positive things from being inpatient myself, but I have at least learned a little.

WillSpirit said...

Great list. Sad, though, that you needed such a long stay. As I just found your blog today, I hope you are better now. I will explore your writing more to find out. My own (two) hospitalization experiences were mixed. One hospital made me want to kill myself even more than before I came in. I actually tried several times while there. The second helped me learn how to live. And I am still kicking, in spite of all the problems since my discharge ten years ago. That place schooled me in being a successful human. Sounds like you learned good things too.

svasti said...

I'm glad you found your anger. I think its so important to the healing process - genunine anger needs to be let out in order to get better. :)

Clueless said...

becca, thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog. I went to read yours, but couldn't because the font is too small for old eyes. :)

Clueless said...

Thank you Coyote,

I could have gone on. Yes, on #27.I noticed that people tend to take their actions and what they say personally. Where I was it was primarily a detox treatment center, so everyone was pretty understanding, except those with mood disorders only.

Coleen

Clueless said...

NOS,

Thank you and beginning to like myself is a tough thing to continue. I'm glad you stopped by

Coleen

Clueless said...

Mike,

For me, it really didn't matter and staff was very nice...they knew us well enough and trusted us, so thier were no bed checks every half an hour. Shhhhh. Don't tell.

Coleen

Clueless said...

Borderline,

Thanks you. Yes, I hope that I remember those two. It is hard not to slip into old patterns. But, hey I started.

Coleen

Clueless said...

Ash. I so missed everyone and was wondering how you were. Yes, it felt good to be angry...can I curse others out everyday?

cc

Clueless said...

Thanks for stopping by Sid. I bet if you thought about it you would find more postitive things. And not all of mine were positive.

cc

Clueless said...

WillSpirit,
I'm glad that you found my blog. I hope that you enjoy it...it can be intense. I've had four hospitalizations (1992, 2006, two in 2009). The length of stay was just right down to the day. But, I'm still struggling with the amount as it was quite costly, so I feel bad about it even though my husband says that I am worth it.

Clueless said...

Svasti,

Finding my anger was definitely a break through for me. I know that I'm getting closer to finishing. But, I know I have a lot of work ahead.

cc

Clueless said...

WillSprit,

During my last three hospitalizations, my suicidal thoughts became more intense because I was dealing with issues that I always ran from. This past one, I knew that what we were getting into that the thoughts were getting worse and that if I didn't get help that I was going to be in trouble. I expected that as I dealt more with my anger that my suicidal thoughts would increase and become unmanageable, so I checked myself in.

Faith Hoffen said...

I'm glad to hear you are improving. I hope you continue to do so.:)

Faith H.

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