When most people picture mental hospitals they probably picture cushioned rooms, straight jackets, and crazy people; I can assure you, this is not what it’s like. A mental hospital, inpatient stay, is familiar to summer camp, in a weird and twisted way. It involves countless questions, group sessions, meetings with a psychiatrist, and, depending on your situation, meetings with your designated help, mine being a dietician. This is what being in a mental hospital is like; you wake up, eat breakfast, spend 3 hours in groups, eat lunch, spend 4 hours in groups, and then you eat dinner and have a night,again, full of groups. Throughout the day you are pulled out for your scheduled meetings and random meetings. These meetings are basically a series of the same, redundant questions all day long. The questions ranging from eating to suicidal thoughts. This, among many other things, made the mental hospital stand apart from summer camp.
Our freetime was only given to us in limited amounts of time, which we used to either try to contact our disillusive parents or get ahold of them and cry on our bad days; bad days in a mental hospital are in no way rare. When one person was to get upset it started a chain reaction and everyone would get upset. This made the day hard for everyone involved, even though some of fronted an okay-attitude. When I was there I never really felt like crying, towards the end, I even started feeling hopeful but sometimes I question whether that was more about going home than it was in general.
Home, the place most people are suppose to feel the safest in, was the place most patients found exhausting. The place taught me that my life was incredibly blessed. I had a great support system of family, friends, and even some strangers. I had the best support system out of the whole lot. My amount of friends empowered everyone there to be hopeful to one day have that.
During my stay I only called my best friends and let them know where I was, they even came and visited me. I am blessed to have that. I was lucky enough to see my parents during visiting hours on all of the visiting days too. One time they broke out a puzzle and, trust me, if you ever have the pleasure of staying in a mental hospital, coloring, puzzles, and board games become incredibly boring by the end of your stay. Scratch that, by the third day. Despite, being over all of the coloring and board games, I learned to use it as a coping skill.
Ah yes, coping skills, the two words that become annoying as your week wears on. Coping skills are good to learn as they help us to deal with our anxiety, depression, self harm, etc. However, I can probably repeat general coping skills verbatim.
My stay taught me things I never knew that I needed to know; coping skills, friendship, eating right, and most importantly, taking care of myself. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. I, personally, was not the biggest fan of it but I know it was important for me to learn and grow in a safe environment.
People are struggling all around you, even the popular kids. Reach out, no matter how hard it is and never give up on being a great friend. We need you as much as you need us. Trust me, I survived a mental hospital.
The mental hospital, surprisingly taught me to smile. Bigger and brighter than ever before!