My most recent stay in a psychiatric hospital was much less rocky than at earlier times in my life. Instead of fighting a steep uphill battle, as I did when I was much younger, I felt myself going on an easy ride. This hospital stay was after a gap of nearly nine years in the psychiatric system.
Unlike the past, this time I saw the warning signals in my behaviour and thoughts. I started to feel more impulsive and out of control and so admitted myself as a voluntary patient.
I could pretty much put my stay in hospital as being a bit of a rest. However, I was put to the test. The staff constantly tried to teach me time management and independent living skills. They got me into a regular routine of waking up early, eating properly and being more considerate of others. Anything learned could then be practised when back at home.
I am lucky enough to have private health insurance and felt more like a guest in a five-star hotel than a patient in a psychiatric hospital. For instance, I was fortunate to be given a private room. It felt great to have my own space. In the past I sometimes had no choice but to share a room with others.
The kindness of many of the patients and staff stopped me from getting down and literally staying in my dressing gown.
The daily help of my psychiatrist and the nurses saw me getting better quickly. This was unlike when I was younger and rebelled against the nurses and doctors and wouldn't listen to reason.
At the hospital I really needed to be watched and supervised. But that is not to say it was a prison. As time passed and I got better I was able to come and go as I liked. This was unlike my last visit to a psychiatric hospital where I couldn't even go out for half an hour and was cooped up in my room.
It was great not having to cook and clean and being looked after by the caring kitchen and cleaning staff. It was wonderful not having to pick up after myself. I normally worry about household tasks when at home. But at the hospital I could focus and work on things I love such as reading and writing.
I found myself taking advantage of the good opportunities offered at the hospital. I went to many important classes such as occupational and relaxation therapy. Playing around with art materials and doing crafts in occupational therapy was great for my concentration. Practising deep relaxation helped me feel calmer and better.
I spent wonderful times in the communal lounge watching television and chatting to the other patients. Or I sat in the lounge and did beautiful jigsaw puzzles of animals and landscapes. I particularly enjoyed doing this. In many ways I felt I was putting the pieces of my life back together again.
With their great understanding and acceptance, the nurses, doctors and patients helped put me on the mend. Thanks to them I felt myself slowly coming out of the woods and able to face the real world again.