The 1st rule of Mental Hospital Club is nobody feels comfortable asking about Mental Hospital Club.
People tend to think that what they see in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest: padded walls, straight jackets handed out like electric shock treatments is what being in a psych ward entails but in reality, the two psychiatric hospitals I’ve been in for depression, OCD and an eating disorder have been much less exciting than that.
I will grant you that there was a “quiet room” where the seriously ill were sometimes put and restraints were a necessity for some patients, but fortunately for me, that was on the other wing of the floor. The people that I was around were dealing with bi-polar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia or any other variety of mental health issues and usually admitted as a last resort. Maybe there was a suicide attempt, maybe it was a stop-gap for medical stability before being sent to somewhere more intensive. For the most part, even if we didn’t want to be there, we knew that we needed to be there.
While I was in no way “cured” after my two weeks there — I was forced to leave against medical advice because insurance ran out — for my $1,000 a day, I took away a few general learnings I can share about the experience:
1. You have no control over your time.
Upon admission you're required to check all baggage except the emotional variety for inspection. You’re not allowed to have things like belts, shoelaces, drawstrings on hoodies or sweatpants, nothing with violent images or anything sharper than a dull pencil. However, you could totally wear a prom dress if you really wanted to, as long as you didn’t mind the accessory being a hospital bracelet.
While you’re technically in control of your time, you’re put on a schedule much like you had in high school. There are groups to attend at certain times, activities you’re encouraged to participate in and therapy meetings you’re required to make an appearance at. If you’re on the eating disorder spectrum in any way, you’re also given a strict meal plan to follow, a narrow window in which you can shower while a nurse sits outside the stall, something they also do when you use the bathroom to ensure you’re not purging or self-harming. Someone comes by to check on your location every half hour, day and night.
Read the whole story at YourTango.