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Content warning: Mentions of suicide, and suicide ideation.

In September 2018, I tried to intentionally end my life for the first time. Something in my brain suddenly snapped and I became acutely suicidal. I felt like I was a plague that only caused harm to others around me. I eventually suffered a mental breakdown, and after that, it was a revolving door of trying to cope with a mix of short and long-term psychiatric admissions. 

My psychiatric experience thus far has been profoundly positive. I have received a combination of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services. However, I will mainly share my experience with my inpatient program. The hospital was and is the place that healed me, and I believe this care can help others, too. You don’t have to suffer or go through this alone. 

I didn’t know what to expect before going in other than what I’d seen in movies, which made me anxious. It can be absolutely terrifying when you’re first going in. Prior to being admitted, there are a lot of unknowns. You don’t know the nursing staff and the hospital may feel strange and unfamiliar, but I can assure you that as you get settled in and get to know the people around you, you start to support each other.

You may remain in the ER until it is decided whether you may be admitted to the psychiatric floor. A crisis intervention worker might meet with you and ask you questions about what brought you there. They will likely relay that information to a psychiatrist, who may also come to speak with you. This process can take up to 12 hours. I once spent 10 hours waiting.

Upon entry to the psychiatric floor, you will likely first meet with a nurse who will go over the rules as well as the schedule. A nurse will also do a body check for any scars or open cuts. You will then likely be assigned a room. For this, you may either be alone or have a roommate. There is a schedule that isn’t necessarily the same every day, but you can be sure the staff will keep you on schedule. You are expected to go to bed at a reasonable hour and sleep for at least 8 hours. There is order to the day and depending on risk factors, you may be under 24-hour supervision. 

My day often looked like this: time to prepare for the day (I got an hour in the morning), meeting with doctors, breakfast, quiet time, recess/physical activity, TV time, recreation time, and group therapy. After lunch, more of the same activities follow until a break for dinner, which is often followed by visitor hours, movie time, and lights out. 

At nighttime, you are required to stay in your room. You must also leave your door slightly open, a little less than halfway. This is because the floor’s nurses check on you every 10 minutes (yes, all throughout the night). There is a nursing station usually set in the center of the unit, this is where we met with nurses and received daily medications. There is a lounge area for the patients, which usually includes one television and a section for board games, books, and art equipment. I was able to bring a book into my room but generally, the staff limit your number of items. You can take naps, too, which I did a lot. 

I found it enjoyable to interact with the other patients, conversing and telling stories. I have met a few people who really helped make my stay much more bearable, and I am still in contact with them to this day. Other patients are not allowed in your room if they are not your roommate.

You might be sitting across from someone at breakfast who may be experiencing psychosis, but there’s such a level of compassion between other patients, and you just feel for them, and the nursing staff are professionally trained to ensure everyone is safe.

I found that being there had more of a positive impact on me than I knew it was having. 

I first experienced anxiety and depression when I was 13 and have relied on cognitive behavioral skills and regular psychotherapy sessions to manage it through the years.

In 2018, I was very emotionally dysregulated and overwhelmed with the feeling that I needed to end my own life. It was a constant thought in my head, and I saw it as the only good idea. Since then, I have tried to end my life five times and have had countless involuntary and voluntary hospitalizations that I can say have saved my life. 

It’s a shame that the hospital is not as easily accessible as it should be.

I am very open about talking about my experience because I think it’s very important to normalize talking about mental health because you never know how you’re going to react in your life; you mentally completely spiral. I was unrecognizable to myself while I was in that state, and I had never seen myself getting into that state. 

They looked at me as an equal, which was really, really important to me. They properly listened to what I was going through. In the hospital, you have room to finally breathe. 

Afterward, they don’t just show you the door and say, ‘enjoy your life’. There are different step-down programs that you can do when you finish. There are different services you can access even though you’re not a patient there anymore.

Recovery is a “constant process”.

It’s still a process. I still have my bad days. I’m on my anti-depressant medication. It’s a constant process. It’s still on my mind all of the day. But I don’t have those suicidal impulses anymore. I feel like I have more of an understanding of my brain now. If you’ve been through something once, you at least know where to turn. You don’t have to continue suffering. You can get the help and care you deserve.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call, text, or chat with the Lifeline at 988 or


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