Image: Anne Worner (CC)

My Tale of Depression: Chapter III

In April of 2016 I had a relapse, admitting myself into a psychiatric hospital again. It was a small ward located in a somewhat isolated area, a twenty minute drive from my house.

The hospital built in the 19th century was originally build as a T.B. hospital, which gives the hospital a somewhat eerie impression. The grounds of the hospital are spacious with neatly cut grass and a walking trail.

When I decided I needed to comeback to the hospital I was consumed by a sense of trepidation. Mostly fuelled by my previous experiences in the hospital. This time I was familiar with my surroundings, the daily routine and the staff. This made my first few days a lot easier.

Since I was stuck in an observation ward with 15 minute checks, I took to writing in my journal. This journal became my most important asset, as I was finding it difficult to verbalise my thoughts and emotions. Using metaphors and analogies I was able to form a more concise description of my mental state.

The days went by slowing, with many days spent sleeping as my body adjusted to the sedative medications. The only thing that really broke up the day, was visitors. My mother visited me nearly twice a day, and is the person I rely on most keep myself stable. I also received visits from my grandparents, uncles and concerned friends, which I am grateful to have.

Most portraits of psychiatric hospitals depict a grim, terrifyingly violent environment. I want to clarify that in my experience, this is untrue. That is not to say that such episodes and dramas do not occur; but rather that the majority of the patients are kind, friendly people.

One of the most vital assets that the hospital offers is patient community, although this is inadvertently offered by the hospital. The relationships that one can form with fellow patients is invaluable in the recovery process in the hospital.

It’s the knowing that there is people who can empathise with you, offer support and prevent you from losing your way on the path to recovery. Unfortunately there were very few activities and therapies supplied by the hospital due to lack of funding.

The main objective of the hospital is to stabilise patients through medication and offering a safe as possible environment. It is only as an outpatient that genuine therapies and treatment programs are offered. Psychiatric hospitals are not a nice place to be but it does its role in the recovery process, the hospital staff provide considerable advice and support.

After a month of being in the hospital, the days begin to feel long and tiring. Stability is an arms length away, yet it is a treacherous process to attaining it. There have been many set backs.

One of these set backs in particular left me in a highly suicidal and impulsive state. Under careful observation and support from nurses and fellow patients, I was able to remain safe and prevented from harming myself.

Even when I was granted leave from the hospital varying from a few hours to a day, I still felt as though I was not quite ready to leave.

This feeling of uneasiness about leaving the hospital environment is not uncommon. It can be hard to let go of the safety and routine provided by the hospital, and taking the step towards independence is difficult.

But with the will to attain goals and achievements act as great incentives to getting oneself back into the ‘real world’.

The road to recovery is long, but steady and slow progress, yet it can be achieved. There is always support to help you on this long road to recovery, you are never alone, no matter how low you feel.

I’m now re-prescribed lithium while although it’s a risk I feel it is my best chance at immediate stability. By using my past experiences and with the help of my psych team, I have been able to place a plan to aid me when I leave the hospital. It still remains a safety net.

But it’s all about taking that first step.

Take your first step today. It’s time to talk.

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