Having a mental illness sometimes means shit happens. Meltdowns occur, chaos erupts and boom, we say hello to crisis. Those of you who yourselves live with MI no doubt know exactly what I am talking about. So happens to be the latest saga in the diaries.
I recently found myself as a guest at the local “Spa” for said crisis. It wasn’t my first ride at this kind of rodeo so I went in knowing what to expect but I encountered many people who were experiencing their first encounter with a hospitalization and it inspired me to write a few tips to prepare you.
If you ever find yourself needing to be in hospital for your mental health, here’s a practical guide to making the best of it.
1. Follow the rules, even if you think they’re stupid. They’re the same for everyone and they are there for the protection of everyone on the floor. Meltdowns happen and behaviour can be unpredictable so they have to control as much of the environment as they can, and they do that by having structure and routine.
2. Talk to your nurse every shift. Know who is in charge of your care for that time. Ask them questions if you have concerns and be involved in your care. Your nurse is your best support and advocate and it’s to your advantage to communicate with them if you can.
3. If something seems wrong or you have questions, don’t be afraid to speak up. Being mentally ill doesn’t mean you’re mentally incompetent and you are the best judge most times of what is happening with yourself. Check that your medication is accurate and if there are changes be sure that you’ve discussed them with your Doctor. If you know that you shouldn’t mix a medication with something, don’t be afraid to mention it. You are your best advocate for your care.
4. Take the time that you are in hospital to practice self-care and compassion to allow yourself to heal. Remind yourself that you are unwell and deserve understanding and love during this time and you’re right where you need to be.
5. Decide what you need your stay to be. Some people don’t want the added stress of having people come visit them and it’s ok to let people know that you’re not up to having visitors. Others want the extra support of their loved ones during this time and I’d encourage them to reach out and ask them to come and visit or help them. It’s about setting the boundary that feels good for YOU. Because that’s what is the most important thing right now.
The thing is that the crisis will pass and you will recover. Sometimes we need to be somewhere safe to do that. Just like if someone had a heart attack and needed to be in hospital for awhile, sometimes we need the same care for our brains.