Out Of The Hospital

Hospital stays are never the number one option for anyone. Nobody wants to be hospitalized for physical or mental illness. Who wants to be in an unfamiliar place filled with unfamiliar people for an unknown amount of time?

I just got released from a psychiatric hospitalization yesterday. It was my 11th one, after starting having them at 14 years old. This one happened to be in the local hospital’s psych ward. It was my third time in this particular setting. Being released is an excellent feeling, but it all starts with a not so excellent admission.

I had been experiencing symptoms of the high part of my bipolar disorder, or mania. I couldn’t sleep or sit still. I was having emotional breakdowns every day. My speech was fast and my mood was elevated. I felt extremely happy, yet scared and sad at the same time. My paranoia and hallucinations were out of control and I was freaked out half of the time. I couldn’t even write for my blog, which was highly distressing for me. All I could concentrate on was the Deadpool movie, which I watched 14 times and am in the midst of my 15th.

I started my new job at the library, working a twenty hour week. All was well. Sure, I was a little more hyper than usual and felt invincible, but I just figured it was excitement. Then my parents went away for the weekend. I had a hard time handling this, especially with the mania going on. I was in a tough position.

My parents got home on Sunday, and I was so happy they were home. I had another breakdown that day, which I felt guilty for ruining my parent’s homecoming with. I managed to make it through another week.

Mania is scary to the extreme. You never know what you are going to do or feel. It was Saturday, June 26. I woke up, thinking it would be a close to normal day. However, I should have known that with bipolar disorder, there is no such thing as a close to normal day.

I have a fuzzy remembrance of that day. I know I had a breakdown. I know I was hitting myself in the head. I remember being out of control.

I remember storming off into the kitchen to the pill cabinet and pulling out a bottle, opening it up, and tipping it toward my mouth.

Luckily, my mother had followed me, probably because of something I said, and grabbed me and the bottle before any pills fell out. It was then decided that we were taking the wonderful trip to the emergency room.

Once again, I vaguely remember what happened. It feels like there is a blurred lens over the part of my brain working during this whole episode. I am getting a lot of this information from my mother as I sit here writing this.I believe it was pretty busy, but I know they took me back quickly. Then I had all of the typical tests you get in an ER. Blood tests, urine samples, and an EKG are the norm. I sat on the bed and waited for the doctor to come in, along with a mental health resource worker. The strange thing is, no mental health resource person came to evaluate me. The doctor just said that I had to be admitted. I don’t know if this is because it was serious enough no worker had to come, or if there was just no one available.

I said goodbye to whichever parent was back with me when I started to go down. My dad brought my suitcase in, and I was wheeled down to the psychiatric unit. My family didn’t get to go down with me, as always. I had a short introduction and exam, but not nearly as extensive as it had been my first two times on this unit. Then I was set free to go to my room. They asked if I wanted a roommate, to which I was responded with a strong NO. I went in my room and settled in as much as you can at the hospital.

I have gotten to know the workers at the unit well, which I am not happy about. I guess at least I got to see some familiar faces. It’s not a bad unit at all and everyone is there to help and support us. I got through the first day,once again, with the blur on.

Each day, we had different groups. My favorites were the ones done by the recreational therapists. I have gotten to know two of them very well. We had exercise groups (which is normally chair exercises or walking, but his time was always walking), art groups, aromatherapy, and there is normally animal assisted therapy, in which a therapy dog comes in, but no dog came this time.

My favorite is walking group. I walk around the unit pretty much all day anyway, so getting to listen to music while doing it was a good pastime. The therapist normally let me choose the music because I was so into the group. I always chose either twenty one pilots radio or Fleetwood Mac radio on Pandora, mostly tøp. We would walk a mile around the unit. I normally get around five miles a day on exercise group days because of my other walking throughout the day.

Aromatherapy is hard for me with my issues with smell. The person who runs it, the same one who walks with us, knows what smells bother me, and finally found a good combination that doesn’t bother me. She uses essential oils in the diffuser. We also get cotton balls with synthetic oils. She knows I like orange, so she always gets me the orange oil. It is very soothing to me.

People always talk about how bad hospital food is, and sometimes it is. Other times, it is really good (pulled pork sandwich day for the win).  It really depends on the day. We also get regular coffee in the morning and decaffeinated at around 3 pm and 8 pm. I’ve never drank much non-Starbucks coffee before, but with plenty of sugar, cream, and milk, it is really good. I drank quite a bit of it over the twelve days I was there.

I met with the psychiatrist, who happens to be my outpatient one as well, every day. He changed one of my medications and meddled with the doses. I had a hard time sleeping while I was there. I normally took a pill to help, but one day, he decided I needed to a shot to help me sleep. It was just one night, but was not enjoyable at all. At least it did knock me out. I’ve been sleeping better since, probably just because the mania was settling down.

Going home is always the best part of every stay. I was supposed to go home one day, but I had a meltdown that night while my parents were visiting. My doctor decided I needed to stay another day, which bummed me out, but at least I got to go home.

I met many nice people of all backgrounds. It was a good stay, and I believe I actually got help this time. It’s been a little rough this time coming home, but I know I am getting help and I feel genuinely better.

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I’m Sorry, Sister

I am my sister’s biggest fan. I try to attend all of her school concerts. When she has science fairs., I’m right there behind her, looking at projects and encouraging her, especially this year when she got to participate in the county science fair. She is the biggest part of my life.

 

I’m not bragging about being a good big sister. There are some times where we argue and I often start the argument. I guess that’s not exactly correct. The reason my vocal argument starts is because of some physical thing she has done. She pinches, pokes, hits, and does pretty much anything to make me angry. I tell her to stop, and she calls me mean.

 

I often ask her what makes a person mean. She won’t answer, except for her word of the week (right now it is toaster)  or a growl.  She also calls our parents mean. She knows we are not.

 

I often hear “That’s your sister for you” or “That’s just how she is” I don’t like this, because it is not who she is. She is just a fifth grader who uses those words she hears at school. I know she is a sweet kid at times. She kisses me every night then I kiss her, both kisses on either our foreheads or top of our heads. She helps me with origami which is always MUCH worse than her beautiful artwork. One time, when I was in college, I came home for the weekend. I had math homework from my geometry and measurements for teachers class. I was struggling with scalene and  isosceles triangles and  she, a fifth  grader, helped me with the worksheet. I wouldn’t have gotten through it without her.

 

There are many other things my sister did that I wouldn’t have been able to do without her. The first time I went to the physician for a mental health issue, I was terrified. When I got home, I went downstairs and cried my eyes out. My sister came down after a while with a unicorn Pillowpet for me. She gave me a big hug  and told me she loved me. I don’t think she has told me that since, except for a quick “love you” before bed. I know she loves me, she just doesn’t show it.

 

After I started going to hospitals, I felt terrible. I had left her at home, wondering what was wrong with me. I still wonder how she feels about my hospitalizations. It’s gotten to the point where when  my mom says that I need to be hospitalized, she just says okay and sometimes asks what she needs to take to my grandparents house.

 

Every time I came home, she used to make me a card, Now it has gotten to the point where she doesn’t even do that anymore

 

I am so sad that she has learned to accept it, at least vocally.  Who knows what is going on in her precious head? At  most hospitals, children under 18 years of age couldn’t visit. That meant I was not able to see her for weeks at a time. I heard people tell me she missed me, or she wasn’t herself. I felt like a terrible big sister. Here I was, in a place getting help, while she was struggling as well. I know she was getting special attention, which makes me happy. My fear with that is that she might have gotten less attention than I was receiving.

 

I can’t imagine how confused she was. Not knowing what city I was in, what was wrong, and why she couldn’t see me. I had those problems as well. I often didn’t know what was wrong, and hated that I couldn’t see my beautiful little sister. She is everything to me. I didn’t want to put that much pressure on her.

 

One time, in 3rd grade I believe, she had to write in a journal about how her week had been. I read it and there was a page she had written that about how she had visited me in the hospital that weekend (this was during residential, where kids could come in). It broke my heart that the only time I was mentioned was because they had visited. She couldn’t write about what  we used do together. No playing outside or dance parties, She couldn’t even write about an argument we had, which I would have much prefered than writing about me being in the hospital

 

I think she is still afraid that I will be sent away again. I am too. I am  working on that goal as well,  not only for me, but for my family, and especially her. I worry about her all the time. Sometimes I worry about her having to go away someday. She is strong, but after my experiences, I start to worry about everyone having to go away. I even keep my phone on ring in case any of my friends are in trouble. I’m scared for them, but more scared for my sister.

She might be mean, and this time I’m talking about MEAN, but she has a  soft-side not seen often. I love her. I will never stop believing in her. My hope is she will never stop believing in me or herself as well.

Sissy’s favorite artist

Stronger- Kelly Clarkson

How A Simple Action Gave Me Hope

It was probably my sixth hospitalization. As a 15 year old, I was in the worst state I had ever been. I now realize that I was probably severely manic, but there wouldn’t be a bipolar diagnosis for three more years. Every other time I had been in was mostly for suicidal ideation, which was also a factor in this stay, but was not the main reason.

Every other time, I had seen some scary things. Temper tantrums, fights, kids being dragged to the quiet room or carried to their room for restraints. I had always thought  of them as the “bad kids” I was always a “good kid”.

This time, I was definitely one of the “bad kids”. I threw juice in people’s faces. I smashed somebody’s tray onto the ground. I tried to run away several times, one time getting out of the unit, the front door, and halfway across the grass until one of the staff caught me and took me inside. The quiet room got to know me well, as I was in there a lot, sometimes several hours in a day. My first time being restrained was during this stay, and I figured out how to break my arms free by the third or so time.

One of my big problems was how I dealt with my hurt within. I banged my head on the wall all the time. I would just sit in the hallway banging my head and crying. My favorite lady on the staff came up to me one time when I was having a severe meltdown. She sat down and tried to reason with me, but I wasn’t listening. Then she did something no other staff had done before. She put her arms around me and just rocked. I curled up into her lap and just cried while we rocked and she whispered comforting words into my ear. We sat like that for a while until I calmed down.

She didn’t have to do it. I’m almost sure she wasn’t allowed to do it. She still did. All I wanted was some comfort from my pain, and she provided that. I felt safer.  Worthiness called my name. If someone who knew more about me than I will ever know about them could show me that much compassion, maybe I actually deserved it.

After that time there, I headed to residential. It was my last stay at that hospital after four times. I learned many things, but the biggest one was that I deserved to be cared for.

Remember  that “bad kid” and “good kid” thing earlier on? I’ve realized that there are no bad or good kids, especially in a psychiatric hospital.  The “bad kids” were the ones eho externalized their problems. The “good kids” internalized their problems. We all had problems, we just expressed our hurt in different ways. We weren’t good or bad. We were just kids trying to learn about ourselves in the way we knew best.

 

 

Fix You- Coldplay (I’ve been waiting to use this beautiful song for a long time. This was the perfect fit)

Banging Heads And Breaking Hearts

Trigger Warning: Self Harm

 

Freaked out girl in a hospital gown

Mattress pulled out after a breakdown

Slept by the nurses who talk all night long

All while I was thinking, soon I’ll be gone

 

Banging heads and breaking hearts

Everyone could see I was falling apart

Gauze on my wrists, taped and pure white

Pulled them off,  told myself it is all alright

 

When the gauze turned from white to red

They taped it tighter so no one saw that I’d bled

I loosened the tape and pulled until it fell down

Bigger pieces don’t do squat when no one is around

 

Banging heads is a version of self harm

Bruises on head, scars on my arm

Eyes and ears trick me, say I’m just stressed

Fire beneath me, but they say I’m depressed

 

 

Moved on to the short term side

Where they thought I’d be just fine

Think again, doctor, filling with pills

Just fine, two words that mean I am ill

 

 

If ill is the bottom, how did I dig so deep

Underneath the surface,  I find the old me

Reaching out for someone to ask

Is the past yours, or are you your past?

 

Being carried to the quiet rooms

Always felt l was in a tomb

Crying as they locked the door

Gave up sat down on the floor

 

Velcro and a needle filled

With each kick my dreams were killed

Breaking free from loose restraints

As drugs made me have no complaints

 

The part of me I’ve pushed aside

Victory is  once again mine

Never again will I get that low

Step back and let the feeling flow

 

My Experience With Residential 1

Sometimes things get too tough. What happens to someone depends on the risk someone is for hurting themselves or others. Hospitals are the only way to help sometimes. If you have been in a hospital, it is enough for you? Sometimes acute wards aren’t enough for a person. When that happens, it is decided if you are going to stay on acute or moved to residential behavioral health center. In my case, they decided to send me to residential.

Before I start, I’d like to say that these are my experiences, as I do not know about everything that happens in every hospital.

To be admitted I had to be at least a little bit stable, but still exhibit symptoms of a moderate or severe emotional or behavioral diagnosis. I had to have an interview over the phone with the director of the program. My parents took me there and we looked around. It was good. The first person who introduced their self to me ended up being my favorite person there. I then had to say goodbye to my parents. They then drove the three hour trip home.

The first thing I did as a patient was play with water balloons outside. It was a lot of fun and I got introduced to many other patients. I was a good first day except having to be so far from parents.

We had many types of therapies. Individual, group, dialectical behavioral  therapy (DBT), art,  and recreational therapies. We each were assigned one of four individual therapists. I got Ms. T. who I stuck with the whole stay.

The art therapist Ms. L. was outstanding, Most art sessions included telling how we were feeling that day and then having a project to tell our stories and  let out our feelings.

Recreational therapists were iffy for me. We always played games that included rules that that I couldn’t  comprehend fast enough to  play the game right away. I also asked an RT intern if he thought I had Asperger’s to which he replied “Not at all”. Guess what now? He was wrong.

The RT also planned a summer game  camp, which I absolutely despised. School in the morning, games in the afternoon. Yes, we went to school all summer but it was more fun than the regular school year.I hated it so much, because the boys were too aggressive, as were many of the girls. I am NOT competitive. My days of competitiveness started and ended at my first soccer game at five years old. One game, me and my best friend ran down the field holding hands and picking dandelions.

Animal I Have Become- Three Days Grace

 

Schooling For Inpatients

When most people think of school, they think of lockers, homework, and football games. They think of relationships, friendships, and dances. Many complain about stressing out over college applications and tests. Cafeterias are huge to compile all of the students in one place. Three lunch times so there ere enough spots. It is scary. However, we have it harder.
Harder, you say? What can be harder than a pre-cal test and a Spanish presentation ON THE SAME DAY?!?!
 I will admit that the work was not harder, but the situations were  First hospital I went to, I was in eight grade. We each had a different schedule  written by a teacher. We mostly did work that our home school sent them. Whenever we finished most of our work, we could play Uno. Uno and trash were very popular there. We got stickers for each class we attended. For me, I got all of them, but other kids, not so much. You could hear children screaming in the halls, crying and kicking . It was hard to hear and concentrate  on work, when you heard a 6 year old in such  mental anguish.  Lunch was in a small cafeteria, where we said what they wanted, they gave us food, and then we ate. School was done after lunch.
The second, third, fifth. and sixth hospitalizations were all at the same place. School was different there. We would have a mix of a few classes. We took classes such as science, math, English,and  Social studies, We also had a combination of art class,,computer technology, music class or gym. Music class might as well be called music therapy. We had iPods to listen to, instruments to play, Garage Band where we could make songs. and do projects. We had to make a video about the tsunami in Japan in  2011. We had to find a song, pictures, and words to put in the video. I used Sing by My Chemical Romance. .You can hear the song, but not my work, at the bottom..
They had a quiet room, that I spent a lot of time in on my seventh stay. It was worse than it had been since it stared. I was fed up. which causes me to bang my head on the wall constantly; I would leave class and started doing it in the hallway. I would cry and scream. I got restrained a lot. I refused to go to school several times.
My fourth stay was the worst running hospital I have ever seen. Everything was screwed, including the school. There was one classroom where we would sit and do our work from home. It was only a 1-2 hours that we did then we did nothing. No therapies, no original teaching, and no person you felt comfortable  asking questions to. I was very depressed, and I still feel like the hospital and schooling were terrible.
The best schooling at a hospital was my seventh stay. When I say stay, I mean STAY. 9 months for me. In a residential setting, the teachers better be good, because no teachers at the resident’s home school were going to send work to you for 9 months or more. I luckily has three excellent teachers. Ms. Pas my earth science teacher. We didn’t do much besides reading text books and watching  “Magic School Bus”. I mean, I like that show but darn it, woman, you’re supposed to be teaching us. The good teachers were exactly that, good. I liked Mr. B because we read some really great books, including “The Gatsby” (I have now read it three times, the second at my alternative school, and the third at my home school. My favorite teacher was my homeroom, math, and life skills teacher. Mr. T would not give up on me, no matter how many times I needed help I actually passed the standardized test on Algebra  2 (I also passed in Earth Science without the teacher’s help. Life skills wasn’t too bad. We learned about taxes, rent, apartments. checks,  and keeping a budget (I’ve forgotten most of it in 3 years). I loved homeroom because we had debates and read interesting books. Mr. T was amazing.
Clearly shown by the preceding paragraphs, every hospital has different ways to handle it. Whether it is a teacher who could care less, or a teacher who could not care any less than they already do. Schools with classes like we had are only in children and adolescence hospitals. I only spent one year as a fulltime high school student. I did marching band (colorguard), concert band (clarinet) made a few friends, graduated with a 4.1 GPA, and actually had a normal senior year. The hospitals had okay to great schools, but they are nothing like my home school. Some days I wished I was back to those schools, but I never will go to either high school or hospital schools. I have survived both kinds of schools in very different ways, but I did it. I have overcome those battles.
My Last Semester- The Wonder Years

Mental Illness in Emergency Rooms

TW Self Harm, Suicidal Ideation
People go to the Emergency Room all the time. You see vomiting, blood, and broken body parts. You hear kids crying. people screaming in pain, and doctors calling the most sick back. Nasty smells and bright lights. People often wait hours to get in unless it is extremely urgent.
These are all experiences that physically ill patients deal with. There are also the mentally ill patients that go to the ER to discuss hospitalization. I’ve been through many mental health ER visits. My first time was  several years ago. I was with a therapist that I met with once, maybe twice. I absolutely hated her. That day my parents had found a tool to harm myself with. I freaked out about my parents searching in my room. I ran out of the office and headed toward the road. The therapist told me that if I moved one more step she was going to call the cops on me. I finally went back, but was told I had to go to the hospital. Of course, she told us to go to the ER that was 45 minutes away.
When I got to the hospital, they made  a security guard stay with me and my mom, in case I tried to run again. They called me back fairly quickly and gave me a check up. My mom was in there with me, and I know it was hard for her to see my stomach with covered with cuts. I felt so bad for my mom having to see it. The doctors then took me to a room with a bed so I could lay down while the found a hospital for me.
I’ve also been in the ER three times since last September. It is a very different process at the ER near my house. They normally get me in very quickly, except for last time. every ER visit is basically the same. You go to the mental health assessment part of the hospital. There are only two beds in that part. They do an EKG, blood pressure, temperature, and urine and blood tests.. After the medical side, you often to wait a while until the mental health worker comes in to discuss your symptoms, and decide it you need to be admitted somewhere.
The first two adult hospitalizations were decided quickly, mostly because I was admitted into the mental health unit at the hospital we were already in. The third one though was not so easy. I was extremely manic. At first the worker said I probably wasn’t going to be admitted anywhere. luckily the head doctor looked over their records and said that I should be admitted based on past experiences.
One bad thing happened: They had no bed is the hospital we were in. I had gotten to the hospital around 7:30 pm. After searching for bed for what felt like forever. They found an open bed. The person at the mental health hospital talked to the mental health worker and me. That was probably around 3 am. Then the mental health worker told us that they only had one transport van and it was taking someone already. So, on to more waiting. Finally, at 6 am. I had been there for about five and a half hours .When the transport van (actually an ambulance) got me, we started on a 2 hour journey to the hospital.
The ER can be a scary place, even for adults. A lot of noise, waiting, having my mom have to sign my hospital bracelet, even though I was adult. I’ m not sure if it was because I looked like I was14 (which I do), but I think it is because I was  so manic there was no way for me to sign or answer any questions. Mania like that is scary, as are suicidal thoughts or attempts, psychosis, and  a number of other mental illnesses.
Sometimes a person can manage themselves at home, but when that is impossible, hospitalization is often required. As an adolescent, I always got evaluated at the community services board.. When I was 18. I went to the community services board after trying to call my crisis counselor (who I had only given her my information) who I had met the day before  That was also the day when I went in to talk to her, she said either you go to the hospital or I’m calling the cops to come get you. I went voluntarily, like always. I don’t want to deal the cops or court rooms.
The ER might sound like somewhere you never want to go. I have two sides of the story.
First Side: Nobody wants to go to the ER. The illness you are dealing with, mentally is telling you not to go. If you want to avoid the ER and hospital, be on top of things. When something is building up, talk, write, or do anything that is not harmful. Stay the heck out of the hospital it possible.
Second Side: Sometimes the ER is the best idea. Hospitalization is necessary sometimes. Don’t be ashamed. You are getting help and t6hat is the best thing you can do. You don’t need to go every time something gets hard to handle. When the pot is overflowing and on fire, that is the time to go get evaluated.
Take it from a hospital veteran,  who only mentions four in this article. You are worth getting help. No matter what unhealthy habits you have to manage. you can change those to healthy. It is extremely hard to give up past behaviors, but you can make new behaviors.  Hospitals can help  you learn how to do those things. The ER is the place it starts.
Keep Holding On- Falling In Reverse
Falling In Reverse is a band known for not the most pleasant things, but this song is an exception. I went through my FIR phase, but this one sticks out to me.