They weren’t in any hurry for me to leave.
I’d been inpatient for five days when my doctor and the treatment team asked me when I wanted to go home. I wasn’t quite ready, but I was eager to get out before the weekend. I wanted my husband, my pets, my freedom. And I really, really wanted my own bed because the one I was sleeping on jerked knots in my back.
So we settled on Friday, even though the team suggested that if I felt even a little freaked-out about going home, I was welcome to stay longer. What a contrast to regular hospitals, where they boot you out the door before you’re fully awake after a day surgery. But I was determined, because I felt safe and I didn’t want to become so comfortable in there that I wouldn’t be able to manage on the outside.
I continued to take advantage of groups and individual therapy, except the art classes because I’m about as far from artistic as one can get. I did join the drumming group though, and I played blackjack with some of the other patients on my last night in the facility. What fun that was—all of us were in there because we were or had been suicidal, and here we were laughing and having a good time. What a difference a week can make!
Then Friday dawned, and I performed a quick mental inventory to assess whether I was truly ready to go home. Yes, I was. The experience of being in the psych unit had been a good one, but I needed to resume my normal life, as stressful as it was. So when Dr. W met with Will and me, he agreed that I’d improved enough to leave. Then it was off to the nurses’ station to gather my belongings and get my discharge medications…..and then finally through those locked doors to the outside, where an impossibly blue sky and brilliant fall trees awaited me.
I never knew that fresh air could feel—or smell—so good. I marveled at the grass, which had never seemed so green, and the bright orange pumpkins that remained in front of a few houses. As we drove home I had to fight off the urge to stick my head out of the car window and take in the commingled aromas of burning wood and newly-fallen leaves. Everything was so beautiful that it nearly took my breath away. Who knew that a week in a mental hospital could make one appreciate life so much?
But I knew that week had made a real difference in mine. For one thing, I was alive, and I might not have been had I not checked myself in when I did. For another, I’d gotten over my fear of the place, and if/when something like this happens again, I’ll be less reluctant to go. And I’d learned that being around other mentally ill people had its benefits too—there was no judgment, because we were all going through a bad patch and we could relate to each other’s suffering. No one else can do that, no matter how much they love us or how hard they try to understand.
Thus endeth my story about my first (and hopefully only) hospitalization. Thanks for following along on my journey. 🙂