Tales from a Psychiatric Hospital

July 17th, 2010

Just wanted to share some of experiences and tips from my 6 week Psychiatric Hospital stay from September-October 2007……

1. When in lock down you can’t keep your used floss in your garbage. Can you believe that! When my nurse “David” held his hand out with a paper towel on it, I said you have got to be f’in kidding me that wouldn’t hold me….then in my mind I was like or would it? That’s why you can’t have floss in your garbage in lock down.

2. When in lock down pray you don’t get the room by the phone. I got that room and it was brutal. I felt terrible for one patient who was calling all the plastic surgeons in the phone book about getting a tummy tuck and when the price wasn’t right he then started calling veterinarian offices…the phone was taken away for 2 hours shortly after that.

3. When hospitalized food is currency. When friends and family bring yummy goodies SHARE. Most people will do the same. It’s all about Karma!

4. There may be patients that are physically challenge, so if they need assistance help them. I would set out their meal trays before my own, so they wouldn’t have to wait for their nurse.

5. When voting at the portable voting station don’t crap your pants! Seriously this happened! Hilarious and very direct BP lady that I was in the hospital with me was at the portable voting station and all of sudden said “Pardon me I just S*** my pants”, then got up and went to the washroom. We laughed for 3 days about that. My favorite part was seeing the uptight polling volunteers faces, I thought their eyes were going to pop out!

6. Once I was on the open ward I was allowed to just sign out in a book and could go on walks “on the grounds”. Luckily for me the hospital was across the street from a Petcetera, so me and another patient would visit the cats for adoption, go for coffee etc. etc.

7.  The Psychiatric Hospital is not a place to meet a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, life partner, lover, mate etc. etc. During my 6 week stay I saw plenty of romances brewing. My opinion on it is when a person is at a point in their mental well being that they have to be hospitalized a new romance is not what they need on their plate.

Bottom line for me if you can’t laugh at life’s experiences you’ll cry and I’d rather laugh! I hope this journal entry gave you a laugh.

My Views on Social Stigma and Bipolar Disorder

July 7th, 2010

I have made the decision to be open about my diagnosis in both my personal and professional life. I didn’t take the decision lightly and certainly was advised by my psychiatrist,hospital therapists, and my parents to definitely NOT tell work.

I found it quite humorous that on one hand my psychiatrist and hospital therapists were telling me that I have nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s like any other disease like diabetes. Then in the next breath they told me not to tell work. Why? Because there is social stigma surrounding bipolar and last time I checked I have never heard people gossiping around the water cooler about Joe’s blood sugar level. Unfortunately I have heard the term “off her meds”, “belongs in a looney bin” too many times to count.

Social Stigma is a form of prejudice and just like a person doesn’t need to experience racism to know it’s wrong neither does a person need to have this illness to have empathy for a person with it.  I work with a group of racist people and it has taken me 2 years to train them not to make racist comments around me. With the inappropriate mental illness comments I often get, but I wasn’t referring to you. Sorry I spent some time in a “Looney Bin” and I don’t care if you weren’t saying it to me it’s not okay.

People often ask how do we correct this? It does take time and I do my small part by being open about my diagnosis, but a person doesn’t need to be open about his or her diagnosis to make a difference. Prior to my diagnosis I was a daughter of a mom with bipolar and if someone made inappropriate comments in front of me I would call him on it. I have had brass balls about this topic since I was about 14 and now that I’m diagnosed I’m even more passionate about it.

We are all people first and none of us asked for this illness. It’s not a character flaw and it’s not because we are weak. If anything I think I’m stronger than the average person.

This quote from the Canadian Mental Illness Awareness Week website www.miaw.ca  sums up how many people feel: “People with mental illness and their friends and family often say that the stigma and discrimination they face is worse than the illness itself”.  For me the illness is worse than what I have heard from ignorant twits, but it still hurts. Thanks for reading and please lets all do our small part.