As you know (I mentioned it on socials) I have been missing in action these last few months, and I’m here to tell you a little bit of what I experienced.
Over Mother’s Day weekend, I became very ill, and I experienced hallucinations for the first time ever in my life. We have some working theories about what caused them, but the simplest answer for right now is that I experienced several issues in a trench coat.
Sleeplessness as I prepared an amazing pitch for a book. Emotional pain as some friendships fell apart. Someone accessing my accounts without my permission. You know, normal stuff right?? Ok, maybe not but regardless I know some wild shit happens when you’re out here in the world trying to change it.
And because those things became overwhelming, I found myself in a place I thought I’d never be again: the mental ward, fighting to get back to my regular life.
Many of us have been hospitalized before, and for many of us the goal becomes never to be there again. But there I was, waking up in the ward like a bad version of Groundhog Day. I don’t want to relive all the worst moments (though I’ll be telling a few of them for my Patreon subscribers). Today I’ll be telling you what you need to know if you’ve never been there before, and how to be certain you have the things you need in order to get well and get home soon.
One of the first things that will happen as you enter a hospital is the confiscation of your phone. The horror! If you’re like me, you haven’t memorized a number in a very very long time.
If you haven’t already, purchase an old school address book, and make sure that you have the people you want to contact you in the event of hospitalization written down there. For me, that was my fiancé, my parents, and a few of my favorite friends. Unfortunately for me on this trip, I had no access to an address book so I had to rely on my memory and fortunately some of the important folks in my life have NOT changed their numbers in a very very long time.
This can get complicated if the folks on the outside bringing you clothing aren’t aware of the rules of the facility (we’ll get to those in the next paragraph). You’ll want clothing because if not you’ll be stuck wearing whatever the facility has on hand for you. Most of these places are underfunded and the best they can do for you is paper scrubs.
Make sure the clothing you have is free of strings (those are big no nos) and that you’re not wearing anything that could be used to harm yourself or someone else. Toiletries vary from facility to facility so be mindful that you and your loved ones are aware of what those rules around soaps, deodorants, toothbrushes and more are in your mind as they pack a bag up for you.
Clear understanding of the rules
I was hospitalized for several days before anyone would clearly outline what the rules in the facility were. Never one to be beat, I walked over to the patient’s rights (something that should be printed and clearly identified in each hospital) and began to outline which of my rights had been violated.
I won’t get into the specifics of that here because I don’t want to give you incorrect information at all. Just make sure you ask questions if you don’t understand the rules, and follow them! A girl’s justice sensitivity was working overtime in that place. It is easy to get caught up in the rules and those can become a distraction for you – we all hate to see anyone being mistreated.
As difficult as it may seem, it is critically important to keep your eyes on your own paper. This is difficult, but you’ll need as much patience as you can muster to do well and get back home.
Honesty with the right people
If you, like me, are a chronic oversharer I am here to tell you that honesty is important, but make sure you’re being honest with the correct people. You’re not there to become best friends with every patient you meet.
Keep your conversations as casual as you can. Sharing with the wrong people can lead to bullying and major misunderstandings. You are there to get stable, and GET OUT. Becoming distracted by bullies will not get you closer to that goal.
Be honest with the people who are helping you towards that goal. Patience with the patients in there, honesty with the people who are treating you as much as you can will get you back to your regularly scheduled life sooner. If you’re trying to save the world, you can do that best outside the confines of your hospital of choice.
Someone to watch over your business outside
If you are in the hospital, who is watching your animals? Who is taking care of your rent, insurance, and other payments? Luckily for me, I have a supportive family. Even if they don’t understand as much of the mental health system as I do, they certainly understand what is necessary to keep a household running.
In this case, Kini (my fiancé) was right there and able to take care of the practicalities from her home in Georgia and coordinated those efforts with my mother who was on the ground in Pennsylvania helping with getting me appropriate supplies and clothing to keep me comfortable.
What to do when you need to check in
Being hospitalized is not a fun experience for anyone and it can take a toll on you that can seem even worse than the conditions that can land us there. After what I experienced, I’m hoping to take time to help you all get prepared just in case you find yourself needing to be hospitalized for any reason. Stay tuned, I’ll be working on that information in the next coming days. I don’t ever want any of you to feel as frightened and unprepared as I was.
I thought of some things I wish I’d had in place before my hospital stay. Click here to get a great planner page with options you can personalize with your own wishes.
Until next time,