What Is It Really Like to Stay in A Mental Hospital?
I was diagnosed with bipolar about 16 years ago and it took years for me to find an effective treatment. At the time, I was very suicidal but I wouldn’t go to a hospital. I said, and I really meant, “I would rather die than go to one of those places.” But, much to my surprise, a few years later, when I was again very suicidal, I checked myself into one of those places. I stayed in a mental hospital.
What Are Mental Hospitals Like?
Mental hospitals, or psychiatric wards (which is, technically, where I was), are all different. Some offer the basic service of keeping you alive while others offer all types of therapies and treatment. Some are really designed for shorter term stays, like three days, while others are more able to handle longer stays such as those of a few months. It really does vary. And I would say that the quality of care available at different mental hospitals vary as well.
What Was My Stay at a Mental Hospital Like?
I admitted myself to the mental hospital after tearfully explaining to too many professionals in the emergency department that I was acutely suicidal. Doctors, of course, made the ultimate decision to admit me. Once there, they went through the few things I had brought with me, confiscated my medication (except the birth control pill) and showed me to a bed (it was late by the time I got there – hours in the emergency room to blame).
Not surprisingly, I was in pretty bad shape so every little thing seemed like an ordeal. I brought, quite intelligently, my own tissues and used far too many of them (those given out in the hospital are scratchy and unpleasant if you’re going to cry your way through the days).
The next day a general doctor came by to assess my overall health. Basic blood tests were run, my blood pressure was checked, that sort of thing. And then my psychiatrist (who worked at the hospital) came by. He promptly changed my medications drastically. Not surprising considering how badly I was doing but rapid medication changes are highly unpleasant under any circumstances. It seems to me, though, that this type of treatment is more common in the mental hospital as doctors know that any side effects that come up will be medical supervised and while unpleasant, are likely not dangerous.
The next morning I woke up to a nurse shaking me awake and yelling at me to come and have breakfast in the common room. I said to the nurse, “I can’t see.”
However, she didn’t hear me, she didn’t believe me or she didn’t care because the last thing I remember was her leaving my room yelling at me to go have breakfast.
At that point I realized something. I realized that if I looked straight down, I could see my toes. I didn’t know why I could only see my toes, but somehow, that day, I made it to the common room and ate breakfast, only looking at my toes.
What had happened, of course, was side effect. For me, the medication was so strong I couldn’t wake, and when I was forcibly awoken, I remained so stoned that my eyelids, physically, wouldn’t open. This gave me the impression of blindness but, really, it’s just that I could only life my eyelids a tiny amount and thus could only see my feet.
I saw my psychiatrist again that day and explained what had happened. While I was rather disturbed by the experience he didn’t seem concerned in the least. I can’t remember if we adjusted things at that point or if the side effect wore off on its own. I saw him most days and we tweaked things regularly.
I was then introduced to group therapy – an every morning event – and art therapy --- every other day. And that was it for the therapies offered. It was pretty lackluster.
What It Was Like for Me to Stay in the Mental Hospital
In my case, as I was in a non-locked ward and I had signed myself in, I could sign myself out for short periods of time too so while I was “in” the mental hospital, I actually spent a lot of time in the park next door.
I will say that while I was there, they mixed up medications twice – I have no idea why. Maybe a doctor who writes too fast, maybe too many changes at once, who knows. But the nurses never took kindly to being told that.
I will also say that I thought the nurses were mostly crap. While I’m sure it varies all over, my experiences with them were mostly negative. When I went to speak to them at the desk, they would literally ignore my presence and go on about their conversations as if I wasn’t there. And I, being extremely sick, was in no position to assert myself. It’s like they thought they should ignore me because I was “crazy.”
I was also allowed to use the phone (one per floor) when I wanted – not that I really wanted to talk to anyone.
I had visitors and I don’t remember there being any set hours for their visiting. Someone dropped off books and another took me home so I could shower there instead of at the hospital.
All in all, it was really unpleasant. But then, I was so depressed and so suicidal, I can’t imagine anything being anything but unpleasant.
I cried my way through two weeks there until I and my doctor thought I was okay to go home. When I admitted myself I never thought I would stay that long. I thought they would keep me from killing myself for a couple of days and that would be it. But, instead, my doctor did want to see an improvement of some sort before I left.
In my next article I’ll sum up what I learned in the mental hospital and whether I think others should go to mental hospitals.
You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or Google+ or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.
Tracy, N. (2015, January 20). What Is It Really Like to Stay in A Mental Hospital?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, April 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2015/01/what-is-it-really-like-to-stay-mental-hospital
Author: Natasha Tracy
I've been in two hospitals after suicide attempts. I was fortunate to have had a positive experience. The staff were kind and helpful and there were activities throughout the day. While nobody wants to be sick enough to be hospitalized, it helped me a lot.
I am getting anti religious thoughts in my mind for last 4 years which has made my life miserable. i want to commit suicide.
I'm sorry to hear you are having intrusive thoughts that you don't want. I know that can be very hard. Please know that therapy can help with this. If you're feeling suicidal, you should see a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Please call a helpline if you feel you are in danger right now: http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/international/united-kingdom-suicide-hotlines.html
I know this is hard, but it can get better.
- Natasha Tracy
I wish I can stop all the pain that I feel inside cause of what my spouse told me.
I'm sorry to hear your spouse has been so unsupportive. I recommend some therapy to help in dealing with the ramifications.
- Natasha Tracy
I would love to be in the mental facility cause I know I’m too crazy and insane and I laughed too much and I just feel right at home in there. Cause there no hope for me not any more.
Hello, I have been going through a hard time this month due to my boyfriend being in Florida to visit his,family and being as insecure as I am I don't believe he'll be back even though he has told me he would.. today I hit myself with a,hammer in the face deliberately and to be honest in felt good.. I don't know if therapy is helping or my anti depressants but I don't know what to do I am only 23 and I hate my life.. I also think I may be bipolar.
I'm sorry you're going through a tough time right now. I can understand that sometimes self-harm feels good, but you have to understand it's not good for you. You need professional help as soon as possible. If you feel you may hurt yourself, call 9-1-1 immediately.
You can also reach out to a helpline: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer… You do not have to be suicidal to call.
You may also wish to note that if you have bipolar disorder, antidepressants alone could actually make you worse. Make sure you discussed your concerns of bipolar disorder with your therapist and with a medical doctor.
I understand hating your life, I really do. But it doesn't have to be this way, you just need the right help.
- Natasha Tracy
I am so tired. I just don't want to live anymore. Been thinking of checking myself into a psych ward but the last time I went I had to go to an underfunded hospital and my experience there did more damage than good. I pretended to be better just to get out.
I need help my kids dad is gonna take.my kids away from me and if he succeedes i have no reason to live anymore i am all alone i have no friends or family my kids are all i have if i lose them im done
I'm sorry to hear you are in that situation. I'm sure it's very hard.
I recommend you talk to a lawyer immediately. If you can't afford one, I recommend searching for free law clinics. Do some Googling around your area and see what lawyers might be able to help you.
If you do have a mental illness, I recommend contacting the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) as they may have more suggestions.
- Natasha Tracy
in some cases its humiliation of some kind, in others its not. I've seen some bad stuff however normally the staff and people who are in charge are there to help you.
In the psych ward, the staff does not interact with you. They observe you. They evaluate you. They warehouse you. If necessary, they sedate you. At least until your insurance runs out. They are not there to make you feel better. They are there to make you "non-suicidal."
This is one of the reasons I want to be a psychiatrist. This shouldn't happen. These people should be there to help and offer assistance.
I just want to be comitted to a mental institution and in adult diapers
have you ever stayed in one
Yes I have been in 2 different mental hospitals 5 times within the last 13 years. Of course they are different. The hardest part for me was I was working at the hospital that I was admitted to. The longest I was a the hospital was 3 weeks. They have different groups throughout the day with different Therapists for each group. You can be a part of the group or just sit and listen that's what I did the first time. But once I got used to the different surroundings and people I learned to relax and it was much easier to participate. The last time I was hospitalized was just in September with very high suicidal thoughts. I was in there for 10 days. The Dr. Did change some of my med which is very hard for me because I'm not real sure about a Dr. That I've only seen for a week can change my med without talking with my Dr. But I have to admit it was the best thing for me at the time.
I am angry, bitter, mad, frustrated,in pain, hurt and so many other emotions
I can't even talk to anyone because I am scares of being judged because that's the world we live in right?
I don't remember when it all started but one thing do sure is i have become very good at living two lives, the person everyone expects to see in me and the real broken me when I'm alone
The only thing that consoles me is that death will be my peaceful place of rest.
How can one come back to being normal again?
A life without tears every night
I am drowning in my mess of thoughts and emotions everyday
Crying out for someone to help yet no one actually notices
Mental facilities?? Just another way to earn more points for condemnation
I just don't know what to do anymore
I've never been diagnosed with anything because I've never asked to be taken to see someone. I feel a need to more now though. In the past few months I've gone in a downward spiral starting my cutting problem that I'm trying to stop. Then the suicidal thoughts that are constantly there. It's like a constant battle on whether or not to listen to myself. I think I'm worthless or if I upset someone I deserve to lead from it and never to make the mistake again. I have actually attempted suicide before which makes me want to talk now. Everyday especially in social situations things become too much and I'm thinking stuff like someone kill me. I want to die. So I'm ready for a mental hospital, I just want to go and get the help I need, fix me before it's too late. Plus on top of those things sometimes I think I shouldn't eat and sometimes I won't because of that. Anyway I was reading this to try to get a sense of what it would be like for me
Psychiatric Hospitals aren't as good as they paint them to be. I feel like being in a psychiatric hospital is better suited for me. I just need to find one that will treat me nicely because I hate when people ignore me, yell at me, offend me and make me feel stupid. I suffer from major depression and ADHD. I've gone to various therapists and they are minimally helping me. I feel they are. My family thinks I'm stupid and I really feel like I don't belong anywhere. Distancing myself from the world I think is best.
I lost my 26 week old daughter over 3 and a half years ago and I still feel like the world's ended and what it would be like to die so I could be with her.
I've never been to a hospital but I'm considering admitting myself because I've been imagining ways to kill myself and the urge to do it has never been this bad. This reoccurs everyday several times a day. I'm not diagnosed with any disorders but I believe I may have ADD, PTSD, bi polar and possibly schizophrenia (I'm not entirely sure because no one ever hears or sees the things I do when they happen). I've never been ballsy enough to attempt suicide but I have a history of cutting pretty bad. Never too deep, but deep enough to leave a gaping scar. I used to be "addicted" to cutting but the urge went away when it wasn't enough anymore. The urge is coming back but I hate the scars I have already enough to resist going through with it. Now I struggle with intrusive thoughts and I'm unable to do anything to move forward with my life. I have motivational issues and it's entirely too exhausting to care for myself. Due to past events I don't see myself as beautiful or useful and I have insecurities that my mind uncontrollably exaggerates daily. I overthink and pick apart everything until I drive myself insane laying there with heartache because I can't get myself to stop thinking. Memories from my past are eating me alive and I can't take stress or myself anymore. I'm going crazy and I never though I would ever reach my breaking point. I'm close to losing my sanity and it's because of everything in my past and present. I don't want to go to a hospital but I don't feel safe in my head. If I admit myself I'll be worried about everything happening that I can't see and I'll go crazy being confined. But if I don't admit I don't trust myself to stay safe. I refuse to tell anyone what I'm feeling because I've built a barrier between showing emotion and being emotionless and I can't break that facade. I don't trust anyone and I can't bring myself to trust even the one person I love most because I can't let myself be hurt. I don't know what to do because a part of me doesn't want help so I can give up and another part wants to try because I can't imagine losing my sanity completely.
What you are describing sounds like a personality disorder. Personality disorders are one of the worst mental disorders to have, you sound like you are explaining borderline personality disorder but it's hard to tell without the right questions. I suggest you get an appointment with a psychiatrist and see if they can diagnose you. If they do then you will be given medication and/or a recommendation for a form of therapy. I highly suggest you look up personality disorders and check if you have one because you sounds like you do. Stay safe.
By worst I mean it's one of the most painful to go through
my mom has borderline personality disorder and what you are describing sound just like that its not easy and i can tell you it will be so hard but from how it went with my mom the best thing you could do is get help
i know that its easier said than done but im glad thats what she did or she wouldnt have been here today x
please try and get the help you need and deserve and just know that i am here to talk x
Mental hospital's are horrible places they don't help people past locking them up! Then forcing drugs on them!
my mom wants to put me in a psych ward because i hsve ""delusional thoughts"" when i started talking about my beliefs about myself (?? i wouldnt say thwyre beliefs because theyre true and i know theyre true and my girlfriend knows theyre true) and my brother thinks i have schizophrenia even though im only 14???? its rly funny because when i was younger (7-10, i had gone through a severely traumatic experience st age six so that Might be why this is all happening) i always talked about how i was actually a cat, and once in a while i actually had images/sights of me being a cat and i told my mom about it because it had confirmed that i was a cat!!! my mom reacted strangely since i was "a little old to be playing pretend" but i wasnt playing pretend at all i was actually a cat . i guess this kind of stuff has "escalated" in a way??? like sometimes im still a cat but for instance im for the most part supposed to have eight-fold vision and im a god and i helped create this universe which is true because i remember doing it and my girlfriend says that she does too since she also helped, and only now my mom wants to send me to one!!!! i mean i Guess that its probably "not normal" but when youre a god ur not. really normal. i guess im only on here to vent about stuff but like. how do?? i convince my mom that im not "delusional"???????? ive been panicking for two days straight because mom told me that she might send me to a psych ward and i dont want to go to one because they make me scared and feel sick
Thank you for reaching out. I'm not quite sure what to tell you. I certainly can't diagnose you online but what I can say is that your thoughts are very unusual and you may need help to deal with them. In other words, your mom may be right in getting you help. This could be a very positive thing for you. I have been in the hospital and it isn't like you see in the movies. Please understand this might be the best place for you.
- Natasha Tracy
When I stayed at a mental hospital it was actually good. This was a hospital for minors, all of us were under the age of 18 and did not have major illnesses as it was a low-level one. I arrived at 2am and was greeted by one female nurse and one male. They were nice and asked me questions regarding why I was there and how I calm in case if I ever got triggered by something. I went robbed in a guest room because I would have a roommate and they couldn't bring me into the room in the middle of night. My roommate was amazing we actually became quite close in the week I was there. It was a short term hospital and allowed roommates. Only females had roommates and I had two. We became quite close and we supported each other. The staff was nice and would play games with us. The doctors were not there often, but did not bother us much. The nurses were okay, but the therapists were much more comforting and were more enjoyable. The other patients were nice and welcomed me. I was also the youngest there so I was very nervous, but the staff made me feel at home. I was actually pretty sad to go, but now I'm feeling better and hopefully never have to go back.
I'm the mother of a 25 year old who has been dealing with schizophrenia and anger about 5 years, and we have used every drug halodperiod to the new one rexuilt and nothing seems to work, so he us self medicating with marijuana and beer, what to do.
ThatKid, I really encourage you to just call one of the crisis lines and get help. My daughter has most of the same things you do, and she has had three hospital stays. Each one helped. It is the best place to figure out meds in complicated cases, because they watch the side effects closely and can really make dramatic changes. They are also really good at diagnosing, so your home doctor will be better able to help you once you get out -- right diagnosis, right meds. They are scary and instrusive and boring, but worth it. Yes, tell your parents, but if they don't listen, call the crisis line yourself.
DEFINETLY tell your parents.
Everyone seems to be getting put into wards for depression and suicide attempts. Even parents are putting their kids in there. I barely a teenager, but I want to be put in one. To be honest it sounds horrible, but I'd prefer it right now. I have multiple personality disorder, extreme paranoia, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and social anxiety. I've been suicidal and self harming since I was 6, (So for 8 years) but no one will do anything because they think its me attention seeking. I don't want to tell my parents, because I don't want to concern them, should I? I bet they wont even know what to do with me or just brush me off. I'm seriously past the point of sanity. Anyone know what I should do? Please?
I have thoughts but I don't want to go back to a psychiatric ward. What can I do to prevent this?
Hey, I was wondering if you could help me for a minute. A few months ago, I was forcefully admitted to a psychiatric ward, for being suicidal and homicidal. It's an odd combination but it's me. I was the youngest one there, being only eleven. I was discharged three days after I was admitted, and I was still the same as before. Maybe it was the lies that I was fine but I don't really know. Could you please tell me what I can do to prevent myself from going back? Preferably without changing my feelings, they are who I am.
I have never been in a mental hospital for my bipolar depression, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, or Social Anxiety issues. I get outpatient mental health services with a place called the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board in Virginia. I take Zoloft and Ritalin. For certain circumstances there is no need to be admitted to a mental institution or hospital at all especially if there is outpatient clinics to go to instead. The medication I take prevents me from being admitted to a psychiatric hospital, it's actually a lot better than to placed somewhere where they don't treat you very well.
A number of years ago, spent 2.5 days in sub-par suburban hospital psych ward after half-hearted suicide attempt prompted by an abusive bf. First, ER doc was arrogant who clearly had no training in psych issues. Second, psych nurse had terrible tic and possibly her own psych issues. She exaggerated what I told her on the admittance form... when I read her notes, I complained that they were patently inaccurate and made my symptoms seem worse than I had self-reported (as though ANYONE needs that!). And while I was there, a very physically large, possibly schizophrenic male patient entered my room (BR doors weren't locked!) and was "cleaning" (or doing something!) my bathroom while I pretended sleep to avoid be possibly assaulted... the nurses were on break and had no idea where this man was until I informed them he had been in my bathroom for at least 10 minutes. Needless to say, I told the head psych-Doc I would sue the hospital if he didn't release me immediately. He did. Just because you might be bi polar doesn't mean you're stupid and have no rights! I think some psych wards in for-profit hospitals have to report to the CFO and CEO like any other for-profit company... the more patients, warranted or not, the more profits!!
I have niece that we all believe she needs help. She has shut us all out of her life and has threatened to call the cops on us. She says that she is talking to Charlie Sheen and he telling her to drive through corn fields and he told her once to just stop in the middle of i95. She was put out of you grandparent home, her uncles and she also took her father to court for sexual abuse and harassment. So, my question is she is 24 years and we took her to Sheppard Pratt and they say she is no harm to herself and no one else that they couldn't keep her. It has to be voluntarily bases and she believes she is fine and there nothing wrong with her. Can we have her committed for a 30 day evaluation to spring grove without her consent? We are afraid of her on her own.
If your niece isn't a danger to herself or others, there is really no way to hold her without consent. The best you can likely do is to call the police if she is a danger and that will help your case with the doctors.
That said, I'm not a healthcare professional so I would recommend talking to one or to a lawyer who specializes in this area for a definitive answer.
- Natasha Tracy
I need to be in a mental Hospital i have no insurance and no SSI .Do they have free Hospitals? can anyone give advice or know of places. I live in PA.I would like to admit myself so i have control when i can leave..firstname.lastname@example.org Thank You so Much for your Help..
I'm sorry, I can't help with your specific request but I recommend you look at our hotlines and resources page as you may find something that can help you there. Make sure to call a hotline if you feel you are in distress: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referr…
- Natasha Tracy
I was admitted for bi polar mania(?first time at age 56) which was probably more a combination of medical marijuana and thyroid replacement that was too high. Anyway, the psych wards are terrible for anyone with sleep issue - 24 hr. light in the room and they come in every 15 minutes. You would think in this day/age they would just mount a night-vision camera in each room and take a snapshot and look every 15 minutes on a monitor. Cheaper and easier.
Low fiber food that binds one up. NO earplugs, no night-time sleep mask. Unrelenting noise and light. IT's taken me a few months of light therapy to "almost" get my circadian rhythm back to somewhat normal.
I'll do anything to avoid going back to one of those places!
I have had several stays in a mental hospital. The last one in August of 2024 was hopeful my last visit . After a failed suicide attempt I spent two weeks in a complete lock down ward. What a traumatic experience for me living with angry violent individuals who could not cope in the community. Once I was stable of the drug and alcohol overdose I was fearful. I It was impossible to sleep
in an environment filled with raging out of control people. Many of the personnel lacked compassion and understanding for the suffering and destitute. The time spent in this surrounding was a wake up call to pull myself together to avoid any recurrent stays.
To freya, my son is in a pic mental ward. There is a complete loss of his civil liberties, and he has been subjected to a number of experiments. Non of these have benefited him. Its like a nightmare I can't negotiate and the staff will never admit they have done any thing wrong. My son's been abused and molested. Nurses have tortured him and wrote false reports.
Hi. I was wondering if I could possible do an interview with you for a school research project. I am looking for ways peoples human rights have been taken away will in mental hospitals. If you could contact me via email that would be amazing. Thank you.
I admitted my self in mental hospital.. Because I was very depressed but the dr thought it was best for me.. Well I never expected a mental hospital to be this.. I thought it be be a regular hospital. It was horrible when they shut slam this iron doors .. And the security guards intimated , I was so scared . The best way I can describe is one flew over the co coo nest.. And these hospital are very well know .. What a shame. Everyone I know is not to ever go there in a mental hospital. Try and seek support and a really good private dr. Unfortunately the Drs don't take insurance( the really good doctors) I went thru hell and back. This is just a piece of my story.. People should go and explode what goes on in these hospital they treat you like garbage and I don't about anyone else but I felt I was in the worst prison.. And it's not just one or two or three mental hospitals it's all over.. But if you had a lot of money you wouldn't be in a place like these mental hospitals.. Ty Donna
I worked at a Mental Institution in New Jersey back in the 1980's. It was well before the internet and mass media had come about. As a staff member you could pretty much get away with whatever you wanted. A lot of the orderlies would dope up patients and do all sorts of weird things to them. It was so prevalent that i began to feel as though it was simply part of being there. For fear of retribution i never told anyone. I have always felt remorse for not intervening. I was witness to some really heinous acts. I wish i had done something but my supervisor was one of the main culprits and i was afraid of losing my job.
Here's what I believe that it is possible for you'll to get better without the meds, because I think meds do more harm than good. And going in an environment like the mental hospital will make you strongly that you'll are mad and all the negative.
Please get a quite relaxing place and listen to relaxing music,
Write down all the positive things about yourself
Exercise and do yoga or ballet exercises
All in all, believe to yourself that you are strong and whatever you going through will pass soon with the right amount of work and determination.
Do research and find a homemade method to relax if possible and let love ones help program you to relaxation.
Just breathe slowly and clear your mind
I was forcibly admitted to a mental hospital when I was 16-17 & it was...scarring. I was one of the youngest people in the ward of about 12 other women all over the age of 24 & while that didn't bother me it was kinda weird. A male nurse came up to me & told me to comfort a new arrival. I thought that was a little weird but I did it anyways all the while being super wary because she had attacked her husband & she could snap at any moment.
We had our own small rooms & at night you could lock the doors from the inside which I did because (like clockwork) some of the women would wander the halls screaming, crying and banging on doors. Mine was no exception. I didn't sleep or eat much & when I did sleep it was because I was so doped on the meds they were giving me I couldn't focus. I was allowed visitors, phone calls, & my mom brought in food; They had a policy at the hospital I was in that no outside food of any kind could be brought in. I could have easily cut my wrists with the glass bottle I was given. We never had group sessions or anything like that. We just medicated & left to our own devices. I was released & nothing else happened after that. 8 years later & I'm facing the choice of admitting myself into hospital again. I've attempted 3 times now & my doctor isn't really concerned. I just don't care anymore.
Hi, my friend went to a mental hospital in Seattle , and when he came back he was a whole different person , he didn't recognize me , or his mom , before he went to a mental hospital he was completely normal , he had straight a's he was funny , and now he can't think straight , he has trouble speaking , and I don't know what the hospital did to him, but he said that they didn't feed him , they treated him poorly , he said he saw the devil, and people were trying to take him. His parents are suing the hospital for what they did to him. do you think there's any chance that he will return to how he was , he takes a lot of xanex , because the hospital told him too, and they gave him so many medications ,