I’ve had severe depression for quite a while. I started receiving treatment (meds and counseling) a little over two years ago. I had some success and got my depression under control, to the point where i didn’t need meds. But over the last 6 months, my life has fallen apart. I’m back on the meds (even though I didn’t want it) and in counseling every week. My therapist is helpful and while i trust him, i feel like i’m not able to tell him everything that is going on. For the last month or so, I’ve had serious suicide ideation. I told my therapist my plan, but promised I wouldn’t act on it that week. But each week it’s getting harder and harder to make that promise. As the stress of the end of the semester builds up, suicide seems more and more like the answer. In my session yesterday, my therapist got worried because I had a difficult week dominated with suicidal thoughts. He said that I should consider hospitalization. But that scares me even more. I know I should do whatever needs to be done to be kept safe, but I can’t go to the hospital. No one knows how bad i feel and it would devastate my parents and family if they found out. I’m not sure what to do… Truthfully, I am scared of what I might do, but I think I’m more scared of what happens when my family finds out… What do you recommend?
Thanks for listening.
A: I’m sorry you are having such a difficult time. I hope you can hold onto the fact that treatment helped you before. That is the best indicator that it will help you again. But — your therapist can only help you if you let him. We therapists aren’t mind-readers (although sometimes we really try hard to be). You do need to be straight with him.
However devastated your family would be if you go into a hospital, I’m sure you know they would be far more devastated to lose you. Yes, it is hard for many families to come to terms with someone they love being in such emotional trouble that it takes a hospital to keep them safe. But bottom line, they do want their family member to get the help he or she needs. Often family members relax once they realize that psychiatric hospitals aren’t like what is often depicted in movies and on TV. Good hospitals simply provide structure, some intensive therapy, and a safe place to work out the right medication for the patient. Often, there is a family therapy component to help family members know how to be more helpful and supportive. You can give your therapist permission to explain to them what a hospitalization is like and what could be accomplished there.
I think you’ll find that you will feel a little better just by finally making a decision to go ahead and allow an admission. Once that big decision is made, you can turn your attention to dealing with the depression – which is the point, after all.
I wish you well.
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Fearing hospitalization. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/12/15/fearing-hospitalization/