Top 10 Things You Can’t Truly Appreciate Until You’ve Spent A Week In A Psych Ward

Depression and BPD Borderline Personality Disorder1. Not having to choose between scalding and freezing water when showering.  Seriously, they want you showering daily as a sign of mental competence, but the water does not recognize that warm is an option.  I even love hot showers.  Really hot showers.  This was burning.

2. Bath towels larger than a hand towel.  I get it.  I really do.  But with no real privacy from the roommate and checks to make sure you aren’t hanging yourself with said bath towels ever 15 minutes, being able to wrap myself in a towel and have it cover more than a single boob would have been nice.  Luckily I was allowed to be brought my bathrobe.  Had to leave the belt at home.  Obviously.

3. Unlimited pop, not a single tea bag in sight.  We Americans have such fucked up priorities.  I got funny looks for requesting bottles of water.  They use those for giving out meds.  I informed them I use them to stay healthy, which was supposed to be a mutual and primary goal.  If you can’t be sassy in a psych ward, you can’t be sassy anywhere.  That might be why this stay was longer than any of my others, in retrospect.

4. Not waking up every morning to the sound of the gentleman in the next room over hollering at the top of his lungs about everything he could think to holler about, or threaten over.  My favorite was when he woke the entire ward screaming about how rude it was they banged his door open on the 8AM check, waking him up from restful sleep.  Can’t make this shit up.  Earplugs were provided to any and all.  We shared a common wall though and ear plugs can only do so much.,

5. 3AM snack raids to a kitchen with unlimited snacks.  It’s a bloody shame orange sherbet only tastes that good inside a psych ward.  I mean, yes it’s good on the outside but not this is the only thing I actually enjoy about this place, good.

6. Ladies, I don’t care how annoying shaving can be, but trying going a week without it no choice.  M’kay?

7. Q-Tips.  Shut up, I use at least a half-dozen of them a day.  I have issues, we know this.  What’s your excuse?  Not you, you have issues too, the other you.  But apparently despite the fact I had some in my purse, because the package outright says they are not to be used in ears, I was not allowed to have access. Liability and all.  I seriously considered asking someone to smuggle some in to me.  And then I realized how insane that would sound.  Then I realized where I was and what great company I was in.

8. My dad may be schizophrenic but he doesn’t think he’s the messiah.  That probably sounds really mean but well… perspective.  I got some.

9. How amazing my real world shrink is.  Oh yes, we all know I adore her.  She listens to me, works with me, and consistently values my input and feedback on my treatment.  See, I’m annoyingly informed and intelligent.  A shrink can see this as an advantage, a tool to be used which I gladly offer up.  Or a shrink can decide they know best because they are the doctor no matter how intelligent my assessment is.  What do I know, it’s only my history and mind.  Let me demonstrate.  This is not, and I repeat NOT an exaggeration.

Shrink: I want to put you on Lamictal

Me: Why?  I’m allergic to Lamictal and Cymbalta has always worked amazingly for me

Shrink: Yes but the allergy might not happen (It doesn’t always, it’s hit and miss but can be deadly when it hits) and Lamictal won’t kill your sex drive

Me: … I’m going through a divorce.  I don’t need a sex drive…

Shrink: Well it won’t make you gain weight either

Me: Yeah… I’m going through a divorce, I don’t give a fuck how I look.

Shrink: …

Me: Know what, consult (my real world shrink) and get back to me. I’m not going anywhere.

That night I started a 20mg dose of Cymbalta.

10. I’m nowhere near as crazy as I think.  And neither are you.  Oh, and depression lies.


Look, depression really does lie.  It always gets better.  It takes work work more work, support, sometimes meds, then a little (lot) more work, but it always gets better.  Please get help if you need it!



4 thoughts on “Top 10 Things You Can’t Truly Appreciate Until You’ve Spent A Week In A Psych Ward

  1. I believe you left something out…or some things.

    The bath towels, teensy though they were, brought to mind a delightful frolic through a flotilla of soft, fluffy clouds. If clouds had the texture of #36 sandpaper, that is.

    Speaking of rough, what the hell is with the damn toilet paper in those places?! How can something that feels so unyielding to the touch yield so readily to a drop of liquid?

    And did you really get to go potty all by yourself? Even with absolutely no history of drug abuse, they insisted on a spotter for me. But honestly, the looney bin seemed like it would’ve been as good a place to start a drug binge as there could ever be. Probably loads of mind-altering substances around, and a little less reality in those places couldn’t hurt.

  2. I’m sorry, but this made me laugh! I’ve always thought that mental wards were grim, but I’ve always been a visitor when my brother goes in. Still, I wouldn’t like to be an inmate. You did miss out the free access to horror novels though. Like mentally ill people don’t have enough nightmares already!

  3. Shoelaces! After walking around in my zip-tied sneakers, I was so happy to have my shoes not falling off my feet.

    Comfortable, non-waterproof sheets. Seriously, I didn’t check in for bedwetting, and I have nothing to cut myself with. It’s bad enough to sleep on a hall with a bunch of mentally ill strangers and no locks on the doors, with a flashlight in my face every 15 minutes until I promised I wouldn’t commit suicide with…?, but every time I move I hear and feel crinkling? I’m not sure even the psychotic patients need them.

    And DEFINITELY #10. I checked in, had a lengthy interview and initial diagnosis/treatment plan session, and began sort of meeting some other patients. They asked what I was in for, and “Borderline” drew some grimaces and soft ohs. They were just anxious, depressed, suicidal, but not a personality disorder. Then I saw the “frequent flyers.” The guy who feel asleep anywhere, changed his clothes several times a day, often had his butt crack hanging out. The woman who kept discussing the film that was being made there, was I crew or cast?, what had they told me about it?, she was suspicious of it, this is what she heard. The guy who always had a nurse buddy with him. When you realize that you are comparatively well-functioning, you feel better and hopeful.

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