The Unit

psych hospital

This is the last of a three part “series” of my trip to the psych hospital.

As you can imagine, I was pretty thrilled when they told me I had a bed and I could get out of the recliner. So they drug me off to the unit where I would be staying. I still only had the scrubs I was wearing….we couldn’t have any real clothes till they were inspected by one of the techs on the unit. Fortunately, my husband was quick on the draw and had clothes and all ready for me. He brought them down and it wasn’t too long till they called me up to the desk.

You can’t have anything with strings on the unit. So drawstring waists or hoodies with drawstrings are out. We passed this test pretty quickly…I had yoga pants. Make up was another story. I brought a powder brush which had metal around the part where it held the brush hairs. That was OUT. By the time they checked my make up, I decided it wasn’t worth it. I sent it all home and decided to go commando on my face. After all, who was I trying to impress in a psych unit? It wasn’t as though I was going to meet men. All of the men were about 25 and suicidal. Probably not a good choice for me.

Another thing you can’t have is anything alcohol based like shampoo or moisturizer, etc. Alcohol cannot be one of the first four ingredients in your item. Now this seems like no big deal until you start reading labels. It’s harder than you think.

We each had what they called a “hygiene box”. This is where they let you keep your toothbrush and paste, shampoo, deodorant, hairbrush, etc. You can check this out as needed.

Let’s talk about shaving. They had to WATCH you with a razor. So in order to get your legs, etc. shaved, you had a buddy in the bathroom. This flipped me out so I decided to let my underarms and legs just grow a little. (I hope this isn’t too much information!) To combat this grossness, I was showering and using lots of deodorant and I did have long yoga pants. And once again, who was there to impress?

The image above looks a lot like my room. A few hours after I got there, I got a roommate. She slept constantly and only hopped up when they said it was time to eat. I have never seen anyone sleep so much! She didn’t go to any activities. Just slept. But, hey, she was young.

I thought I’d run you through the daily schedule.

6 am- coffee was available. This was easily the worst coffee I have ever had. It was unbelievable. But I was sort of desperate so I drank it. It came in a large plastic container with a spout. We couldn’t have glass pots in case we smashed them over someone’s head and then cut everyone up.

7 am- time to shower, get dressed, and make bed. (My roommate skipped this part.)

8am- breakfast. Now here’s the deal on the food. I thought it was pretty decent. I didn’t have to shop, cook, or clean up. I will say they put gravy over everything that was supposed to be meat. I recognized all of the meat except the pot roast. They stumped me on that one. They didn’t let you have even a plastic knife so it was a challenge to use a fork on the meat. I did my best and tried not to use my hands.

When you first come on the unit, you have to eat there. You can’t go to the cafeteria in case you decide to run for it or do something nefarious with the cafeteria items. After a day, they let me head to the cafeteria. But it was a zoo. We ate with the adolescent unit and they were yelling and throwing food. It seriously got on my mentally ill nerves. So I asked to just eat on the unit. It was really a lot better.

9 am- vitals and meds. You got your blood pressure, temp, and pulse measured. And the the nurse started giving out meds. There was about one nurse for every ten people. I thought the nurses did a great job of getting the meds out on time.

10 am- unit meeting. We would gather in the dayroom (those of us not sleeping) and discuss any problems on the unit. No one ever had any. The tech who led this group tried such conversation starters as “If you had a magic wand, what would you do with it?” Ugh.

11 am- group therapy. This was an interesting waste of time. Basically, we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves and tell what brought us to the hospital. Then we had to answer another dumb question like “Give us your favorite slogan.” The only slogan I really liked was “Smooth sailing does not a skilled sailor make.” My slogan was “Never give up hope.” I copied that from a NAMI meeting but no one really knew.

noon- lunch

1 pm- recreation! We either got to go outside and watch the younger people in our group play basketball or on some days go in a room and make bead bracelets. The bracelets were quite the fashion statement and everyone wore them, even the guys. I politely declined. One nice thing about recreation was the leader’s radio. We got to hear real music. That was nice.

To wrap this up quickly as this post got too long…..

2 pm- more group therapy

3 pm- jpurnal writing

4 pm- more therapy

5 pm- dinner

6-8 pm- visiting hours

8 pm- AA meeting for those in need (I thought about going to this to have something to do. But I couldn’t figure out what to say when they came around and you had to say “Hi my name is Lily and I am an alcoholic!” so I skipped this one. Drinking or drugs have never been a problem for me. I am naturally crazy and don’t need additional chemicals.

I went to bed about 8. I was woken at nine to get my night meds. I have no idea what went on after that on the unit, except I knew they all had to be in bed by ten. And that they watched really loud movies.

I had very good nurses, a bizarre doctor who barely spoke English but overhauled my meds nonetheless, and a really chatty social worker. He bordered on weird.

So there it is. A visit to a psych hospital as seen by a hard working blogger.

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