A day in the life of a mental hospital

Every morning I would wake up (or be woken up) around 7am. I’d shuffle down the residence hallway to the office where I’d get my monitored meds from staff. Then I would go back to my room and get dressed for the day. Dress code was similar to that of my high school. No leggings unless wearing a shirt that covered your bottom, no super tight clothing, don’t show too much skin, etc. During my first two weeks I was on the buddy system which meant I had to walk everywhere with another resident. Because of this, my friend Ashley and I would walk to all meals together and we would also walk to the Women’s Program together. We would have breakfast from about 8am to 8:30am, and then head off to our program between 8:30am and 9am.

Once we were wanded at the door for any contraband, we were weighed (blindly) by staff. Then we had to fill out our daily diary card which was a sheet of paper that listed urges, actions, and feelings that we had to rank 0–10. We also had to describe a goal for each day, and mention if we had met the goal for the previous day. Our check-in started around 9:15am, and all the women would gather in our large group room. We would state our name, read off how many urges and actions we had, and describe our feelings and goal for the day. After everyone had checked in, it was time for one of the case managers to come do group with us. Every day was different, for example, Monday was addiction group, Tuesday was art group, Wednesday was community group, and so on.

After first group, which ended at 10:20am, it was time for snack. All EDS (Eating disorder) patients were required to eat their snack in the pantry with staff supervision, while all Non-EDS could take their snack out of the pantry to eat. We had a little bit of free time depending on how quickly we finished snack. This time was usually spent socializing, coloring, or relaxing on the sofas or the floor in the hallway. At 11am it was process group time and we would split off into our smaller groups led by our case managers. My case manager’s name was Celia. This group was focused on individual share time, how we could relate to each other, and letting out anything we were holding back. Process group was like fight club- you don’t talk about it. Sometimes during process group I would get pulled out by my doctor for consultation. Our doctors would meet with us about 1–2 times per week.

After process group it was time to get our lunch tickets and walk with staff down to the cafeteria on the main part of campus. The EDS patients had to carry our meal plans with us and write down what we chose from the cafeteria line. Then staff or the dietician would check our trays before and after we ate to see what we consumed. For the longest time a part of my meal plan required me to be supplemented with Ensure if I didn’t finish 100% of my meal (this happened at least 1–2 times a week for me). After we ate and everyone finished we would walk back to the program and get checked again for contraband. Then it was time for food process group, a 30 minute group with the dietician were we talked about our experience at lunch and what we thought about the food.

When food process group was over it was time for the second large group of the day which also varied daily. My favorite days were days that Bethany, a part time case manager, was there because her groups were the most fun and entertaining. When group was over, all the inpatients would have snack and all the residents would go back to the women’s residence. I was required to have a snack when I got back to the residence around 3:15pm. We would have community check-in at 4:30pm to make sure everyone was present and doing okay. Then it was dinner time. Ashley and I would go eat together. After dinner we had different meetings to attend each night. Some days we went to Emotions Anonymous, some days we went to an eating disorder meeting like ANAD, and on Thursday we would have a special women’s group. Evening check-in was at 9:30pm which was around the time for evening monitored meds as well. I would typically go to bed straight after evening check in, but not before I had my required evening snack.