Going to a psychiatric hospital, or mental hospital as I refer to it, doesn’t mean you’re “crazy” (whatever “crazy” means).
Yes, I have been to the “mental hospital” not once, but twice. The truth is that going isn’t as scary as it sounds. I’m not going to lie: it’s not fun either, but it is a good place to heal and get better, to take a break from the fast-paced norm and focus on oneself. Just like one goes to the hospital to stitch up a cut, one also goes to stitch up wounds that aren’t visible.
You might be wondering why a seemingly “normal” Modern Orthodox girl had to go to a psychiatric hospital, twice at that. Well, I was suicidal, and my therapist didn’t think I could keep myself safe.
Two Trips; Two Experiences
I was at the “mental hospital” for about one week each time. The first time, it was extremely scary. I cried all the time and didn’t get much out of it. You have to want to get help to get help, and at that time, I didn’t want to get help. However, the hospital still did its job in keeping me safe.
My second stay was a lot more helpful. I participated in groups and talked to my social worker. I also happened to make some really good friends. They were just like me; I related to them. I never thought I would relate to someone in a “mental hospital,” and yet I did. The people there were just like any one of us.
A Day in The Ward
A day in a psychiatric hospital is very structured. There is a specific time to wake up, eat, go to group, meet with your social worker and psychiatrist, and of course free time.
The day which stands out is my last day in the second hospital. It started like any other day there. We woke up, ate breakfast, had our vitals checked, went outside to get some fresh air, and then had group. This group was divided based on the reason everyone was there, so we could relate to the others in our group. My group was me and three other girls around my age. We proceeded to become really good friends since we had a lot in common: we were all 19, in college, and struggling. Even in “mental hospitals” there are friend groups!
We began a project in which we had to create a poster with any theme we chose, but each of us could only choose one color and we had to stick with it. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. My group decided to draw a farm. In the end, we had to explain our picture and the experience of making it together. It was a great bonding experience and we learned a lot from and about one another.
Even though I don’t keep in touch with all the friends I made there, I think about them every so often and wonder how they are doing. They are probably the most genuine, down-to-earth, relatable friends I’ve had. I miss them dearly and hope they are doing okay.
Described above is just a little glimpse into a typical stay as a patient in a psychiatric hospital.
Why I Speak Up
I am sharing this experience to help break the stigma surrounding mental illness. If you have to go to a psychiatric hospital, it’s okay to be a little scared, but just like with treating a wound, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Know that everyone there wants to help you get better.