My Voluntary Commitment to a Mental Institution: Pt. 1
Too Many, Too Much
The Fourth of July-Fireworks, Indeed
The Fourth of July this year, 2012, was not a celebratory event for me, not at all. In fact, it was one of the most bizarre and disturbing days of my life.
I am one of the most tolerant and calm people I know; I am a homemaker, a writer, full time grandmother of a 22 month old little boy, the caretaker of 4 dogs, 4 cats, 1 hen, and a husband; it goes without saying that these 'duties' carry quite a lot of responsibility. It is a veritable zoo here in my home; however, I am usually able to handle day-to-day challenges with ease and even pleasure.
Expecting to enjoy the usual activity, I began my routine: showering, making coffee, feeding the animals, and waiting for my grandson's arrival. My husband had already left for work, and was not aware of my distress at the time.
Rather than nonchalantly going about my business, I began feeling annoyed and resentful of virtually everything that needed me and expected me to serve them somehow; I have always felt that I was a 'natural giver', but on this day, I wanted no part of it, I was through.
Uncharacteristically, I began screaming at the animals-particularly the dogs-and their usual demands for food, water, and going outside; I was actually resentful of the dogs' wagging tails and their enthusiastic morning greetings. As soon as they calmed a bit, I insisted they go outside so that I could have some peace. My expectation of serenity was not met, not at all.
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- The Trouble With Suicide and Extreme Emotional Distress
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- Help with Suicidal Thoughts
My Initial Symptoms
Rather than sitting down and enjoying my coffee, finally without the animal-induced chaos, something within seemed to unravel. The tapestry of my emotions was torn and suddenly without form; I 'watched' myself as my mind began to disintegrate into something alien: a hopeless, malignant, and alarmingly dangerous reality.
As soon as I settled into my rocking chair-a place of peace, usually-I began fantasizing about knives. I began thinking about how I could end my life, I imagined a detailed scenario of the event; It seemed a viable and sensible decision at the time as a solution to my stress-related despair. In addition to the maddening situations at home, I was overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable financial problems, the recent release of my husband from the hospital, now a changed man, and my decreasing sense of self-esteem.
But rather than act on these delusions, I tearfully phoned the local sheriff's station and reported my intentions.
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Into the System
After the call, everything seemed to take on a strange quality of its own; it was as if I had sold my very soul to an unknown entity; 'the system' was now in control. I had given my near future to something obscure, the legendary 'big brother' was now my superior, the director of my life. Yet I had volunteered my being to this social structure with semi-blind trust; as a trained/educated sociologist, I was acutely aware of the possible consequences of my actions, yet somewhere in my disturbed mind, I knew I was in desperate need of help.
Thankfully, my husband arrived home from work soon after my conversation with the sheriff and I told him in no uncertain terms that I needed to be driven immediately to the hospital. I mentally noted that he was mystified and concerned by this demand, but in hindsight, I was so self-absorbed that I barely noticed the man at all. We drove the short distance to the E.R. in uncomfortable yet pregnant silence; it was as if he intuited that I was in deep emotional turmoil. I now know that he had sensed the change in my behavior and attitude days before.
Bound for West Hills Hospital
Upon arrival at the emergency room, and after a number of phone calls to find an open and available bed, the social worker in charge of my 'case' determined that I was to be admitted to West Hills Hospital by ambulance, The hospital is a facility 200 miles from home in Bishop, California. West Hills is in Reno, Nevada-one of my least favorite cities on earth. Despite my misgivings, I went willingly.
Below is the mission statement West Hills provides:
"Acute inpatient hospitalization occurs only with a physician's order for conditions that cannot be safely or effectively treated on an outpatient basis. It is the most intensive level of care offered, providing 24-hour skilled nursing observation; daily interventions and oversight by a psychiatrist; and intensive, highly coordinated treatment by a physician-led team of mental health professionals. Inpatient hospitalization is always short-term and designed to quickly stabilize the most serious symptoms to allow a quick transition to less intensive levels of care.
West Hills Hospital offers acute inpatient care for adults, adolescents ages 13-18, and children ages 4-12. Dual diagnosis programs are available for adults and adolescents with a secondary chemical dependency diagnosis.
Advantages of Acute Inpatient:
- Safe, controlled, structured environment
- 24-hour skilled nursing care
- Intensive physician involvement
- Physician-led multidisciplinary treatment team
- Able to utilize both medication and psychotherapy, as appropriate
- Medically supervised detoxification (for alcohol and drugs)
- Intensive treatment not available on an outpatient basis
- Tutorial-based school program available
- Up to 10 hours of daily programming
- Seven-day-a-week programming"
Fear of the Unknown
The Rest of the Story
- My Voluntary Commitment to a Mental Institution: Pt. 2
This is the second part of my story of voluntary commitment to a mental institution. My 3 day stay during the summer of '12 was a life changing experience.