Looking back on my/our times inpatient, I see an array of different experiences. While at first I felt locked up, caged and incapacitated, later on I felt safer and more in agency of myself.
My first inpatient experience was in 2010. I was in a psychiatric hospital from April to June 2010. The rooms were cold, with white walls and loud air conditioning. I always fell asleep watching the wall, the shadows portrayed on it by the blinds.
The worst of all was when the visits went from once a week to none. When my phone was taken away from me. When I wasn’t allowed to see my parents.
Being caged in a room with no lock, no security, no privacy, without any contact into the world — and no hugs, that was what the hospital was like. I can’t believe I went there by choice.
The hospital rooms I’ve been in still aren’t all that comfortable. The one I’m in right now is a mismatch of blues and purples (with a blue ceiling, of all things!) and the clock on the front wall is loud and crooked. Here we fall asleep with not just our teddybear but also with our unicorn, bundled up in surprisingly comfortable hospital sheets.
Here there is much less need for the sort of musical escapism I did as a teenage patient. Here I am a subject, an agent in my own treatment, and my folks no longer dictate my medical ways. On the contrary, I/we decide how and when and why I am treated.
I was visited by a friend last night, and would most likely be visited by my family and other friends if I were/am to stay longer. My friend gave me the biggest of hugs and played with my hair and kissed my forehead while we lay on my hospital bed talking at ease.
This time around, I have my phone, my laptop, my tablet — all connection to the outer world is intact. We are not trapped or suffocated, though staying within these four walls does get a tad bit boring in the end, when I’ve finished all imaginable tasks on my computer. And I do not regret coming here by choice, or having come here the last few times this past February and the year before. In between we have been treated in an open daytime ward, a six hours per day sort of thing, like a part-time job except your job is your own health and well-being.