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What It Was Like To Be a Patient In a Mental Hospital, pt. 2

[Trigger warning for frank discussion of mental illness]

In the morning, I met with a doctor who shook my hand and asked, “How are you feeling this morning?”

“Really good.”

His eyebrows rose. “Really?”

“I slept really well. I haven’t slept more than a few hours at a time for a couple of months.”

“How often are you having suicidal thoughts today?” he asked.

“Only about once every minute.”

“How often were you having them before?”

“Nonstop. I just hear voices over and over saying, Nobody likes you, you should kill yourself.”

“Do you know it’s voices in your head, or do you sometimes think it’s an actual voice you’re hearing?”

“I know it’s in my head, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.”

“You don’t have to keep smiling all the time,” he told me.

“I know. I do it so people will like me.”

We talked about my nightmares, and how it was sometimes hard for me to be sure I had woken up from them. He said, “First of all, you need something to help you sleep.”

“I’ve been using chardonnay for that.”

He laughed and asked how much I’d been drinking. Once I told him, he said, “I don’t think you’re an alcoholic yet, but you could go that way.” He wanted to double my Prozac, give me Trazadone for a sleeping pill, and Klonopin to help with anxiety. “And I think you should stay here for a little while,” he added.

“I thought maybe I would go home today,” I said. “Or tomorrow.”

“I know it feels weird to be here,” he said. “And you’ve got a really good game face. But given everything you’ve told us, I think you’re very close to a psychotic break.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“Losing touch with reality,” he said. I thought this over, and concluded he was probably right.

“I’m afraid of getting fired,” I told him. I felt I was a complete pain in the ass to my husband, and my paycheck was the one thing of value I contributed.

He told me it would be illegal to fire me, and I felt relieved. My company didn’t do illegal things. “I guess I can stay here for a while.”

By Bryn Donovan

Romance writer, poet, quilter, and dog cuddler.

7 replies on “What It Was Like To Be a Patient In a Mental Hospital, pt. 2”

You are very brave to write this. I was not put in a mental hospital during my worst episode of depression, but it was a close thing. Another week or two and I think my parents would have had me committed.

I still haven’t written about it even years later so I think you posting this is incredibly brave.

Bryn, my best friend came out of IP last week after a few days and they were some of the scariest of my life. We talked about it in endless detail afterward but for those 3 or 4 days, I had no idea how he was doing.

Thank you for this series. It’s so good for me to hear about it again.

(He also got fired, too.)

Oh, I’m so sorry about your friend. He’s lucky to have you to talk to about things!

Did he not have any access to a phone? We had one public phone outside the main lounge area, for local calls. Whatever patient was closest to it would answer it and then scour the ward for the person being called. Sometimes, the patient didn’t know the person and would ask around, like, “Does anyone know a Martha?”, so it could take a while.

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