I was packing my suitcase today just in case I’m admitted to hospital sooner rather than later, when I felt a wave of disappointment wash over me. After three admissions last year, I had really intended that I wouldn’t go back for another unless I absolutely had to. I felt a bit like I’d let myself and the people who care about me down, needing an another admission so close to my last in November. Personally, there’s a certain feeling of failure that comes with knowing you need to go back into the Psych hospital. The logical, mental health advocate part of my mind that knows damn well that if I needed to be in hospital for a physical ailment I wouldn’t feel any shame or embarrassment. And then there’s the unwell part of my brain where self stigma prevails, that makes me believe it’s entirely my own fault that I can’t get it together and I should be ashamed that I can’t keep myself out of hospital for more than six months at a time. I feel an incredible amount of guilt and hopelessness not being able to maintain a plan for wellness after discharge. When I’m in hospital, everything is so rigid. Every minute of the day is accounted for. Sleeping, Eating, Waking, Activities, Meditation. I find that after I leave, I can maintain the same rhythm for four weeks or so, but then all it takes is for one nights sleep to go haywire and in turn so do my wake times and before you know it, I’m back on the downhill path that leads me back to increased OCD symptoms, exacerbated anxiety and Depression with suicidal ideation.
I guess I should be relieved I have somewhere to go and hit reset, as opposed to just trying to deal with it myself because let’s face it, I’m not very good at that. As I folded loose pants and comfortable tee shirts, I tried to remember the positives of going to hospital. It gives me a decent sleep schedule, which is something I’ve struggled with since I was in high school. Lights are out by 11.30pm, and they’re not kidding. They come and do a headcheck once an hour, shining the torchlight in your face so there’s no point fighting the sleep schedule. A Nurse enters your room at 7am to wake you gently, which is alway nicer than waking up to a screeching alarm clock. There’s the social interaction, which I personally believe is one of greatest therapies in hospital. Peer support can be so amazing. Saddening, maddening, hilarious and tear inducing. There’s the in jokes, the commentary on whatever is on television like an oversized, medicated version of GoggleBox. I swear it’d make for the most hilarious television. There’s all the laughter and support that goes on amongst one another in the smokers area, which brings individuals from all three different wings of the hospital together, the general psych, the substance abuse, the geriatric. I’ve learned about Subutex, Suboxone, Opiate Addiction, GHB, Ice, Alcohol, AA and NA. I’ve gained Nonnas, translated Italian recipes for bolognese, relaxed on a contraband velvet sofa that two patients snuck in from the hard rubbish that was the talk of the town for two weeks. Now, it’s the stuff of legend. There’s Tony, the hospital cat who’ll sneak into the dining room if the door is left ajar for a quick poke around and is always down for a selfie. There’s the afternoon tea treats that are so delicious you end up having gained 5kg by the time you leave. Plus there’s always new classes to attend to help your recovery. Hospital doesn’t make you well, but it does help you learn to cope in crisis times and guide you through recovery. I think I need to print this out to remind myself of the positives of going back to hospital and to remind myself that I’m not going there because I’m weak but rather because I’m strong enough to admit when I need some help.