Over the last 12 years I have been an inpatient in a psychiatric unit numerous times. While all of these admissions have been to a unit in a public hospital, I think that most of these tips can be used for a private unit too. Being admitted to a psychiatric unit for the first time can be a daunting experience. I hope that these tips will help someone feel a little more at ease about the process.
- Ask questions about anything you don’t understand. There is a lot to take in when you first get admitted and you might not always been well enough to understand everything that is going on. The staff are there to answer any questions that you have, so please utilise them. No question is silly, I’m sure they’ve been asked similar questions 100’s of times.
- If possible, take someone with you to the admission. This person could be a family member or a friend, someone that you trust who can speak on your behalf if needed. It really helps to have someone you know and trust when you are going into a place that is unfamiliar to you.
- Take a jumper. Even if it’s the middle of a stinking hot summer, the unit will be cold. Hospitals seem to have this ability to be freezing year round. Psychiatric units are different to general hospital units because they prefer to have their patients up and about rather than confined to their room all day. So a jumper is helpful if you don’t want to spend most of the day wrapped in a blanket.
- Take a journal. I found that I wrote the most when I was an inpatient. The units I was in didn’t have groups or much structured activity so really there wasn’t a great deal to do except sit with your thoughts. Getting them down on paper can help stop you from ruminating on those thoughts. It’s also helpful if you feel that you can’t talk to the doctors or nurses, but can write how you feel quite well.
- Concentrate on yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the problems of other people on the unit. You are living with them, sometimes for weeks on end, it’s inevitable. I’m not saying don’t talk to anyone, just be mindful of the reason that you have been admitted, to help you. Taking on the problems of other people can really hinder your progress, especially when you are in such close quarters with other people.
Hospital can be a helpful tool to keep you safe. I hope that these tips will help you to make the most of your time in hospital.