It’s time that we flipped the script on the way inpatient psychiatric care is viewed. I shouldn’t even have to provide an explanation for the previous sentence. I mean, surely you notice the judgmental thinning of the lips and hushed voices too – whether we’re talking about involuntary or voluntary admissions.
Stigma seems to be equally attached to both. Perhaps part of this is due to past conditions and the treatment of patients within old psychiatric facilities. But they have evolved over time, as should we.
People who are admitted, both voluntarily and involuntarily, are sick. And like with many other illnesses, complications arise from time-to-time throughout the course of bipolar disorder, as it’s a lifetime illness. When this happens, inpatient care is required to sort things out as quickly and as safely as possible.
Patients don’t just sit around and watch T.V. all day, nor are they alone in a white padded cell. There is some downtime, of course. But people go inpatient to heal, not to rest. They are undergoing active treatments aimed at stabilizing mood, teaching them how to cope with life and manage their disorder. Sadly, hard-earned progress can quickly be negated by stereotypes and judgments upon being released from a healthcare facility.
Judgment and misconceptions stop many people from even seeking inpatient care in the first place. It induces shame and results in sicker people. This eventually leads to dead people.
“Honesty is sometimes ugly, but it’s the essential building block for self-growth.” ~KLP
From what I gather, the current consensus is that, you’re officially crazy if you’re brazen enough to cross over into the realm of inpatient psychiatric healing.
Involuntary admissions are nothing to be ashamed of, but I still think voluntary admissions deserve to be celebrated in some small way. Especially if you have a history of involuntary admissions.
For a long time I feared going back to inpatient psychiatric care. But I’ve since realized that it’s not going back to the hospital that I fear. I fear going back to “The Madness.” It’s being so sick that I no longer have a say in the space my body occupies, that’s what I fear.
I believe that I’ll eventually make my way back to an inpatient psychiatric facility in one way or another, simply because of the nature of bipolar disorder. But I hope to do so of my own volition. It would be a drastic improvement from where I once was, 9-13 years ago. Back then I was involuntarily admitted numerous times due to suicide attempts, self-injury, and alcoholism. I call that time in my life “The Madness.” It consisted of active addiction, undiagnosed and then unmanaged bipolar disorder.
So you see, if I admit myself for inpatient mental health care, I will be taking a proactive self-care step while I still possess the piece of mind to do so. I will be practicing self-awareness by listening to what my body’s telling me. I will be going against the lies my disorder is screaming at me. And I will be doing all of this despite the thin lips, hushed voices, judgments, and misconceptions. I will be strong and courageous. I will be putting my mental health care first, which is pretty badass if you ask me. And I think it deserves a small celebration.
Have you ever voluntarily admitted yourself to an inpatient psychiatric facility? Were you judged? How did you handle it?