Let me just say it...I recently spent a month in an inpatient mental health treatment facility in Florida. This facility was both a Drug Rehab/Mental Health treatment center. I was there from March 20th to April 20th. Now, let me tell you WHY I want to disclose this...because God did a work in me while I was there and I want the world to know about it.
There's SO much to say about my experience! Let me start by saying that May is Mental Health Awareness month so now is the perfect time to share my story. I am diagnosed with cPTSD, Major Depressive disorder and anxiety. Back in February, my therapist mentioned to me about inpatient treatment options. She mentioned this to me because I confessed to her that I was struggling with feeling stuck. What I was really dealing with was my hard headedness, fear, and avoidance. Lots of mental health work has been done on my abuse but I had a few really important things to work out and deal with. I explained to her that it would take me a while to even consider opening up in group therapy every week here at home. Once I actually would, the time would be up and I would have to bottle my story up for another week. I would go back to being a wife, mom, and nurse while stuffing my thoughts away- only to repeat the process over and over again. STUCK and FRUSTRATED.
I gave inpatient treatment a lot of thought and started talking to my insurance company on how that works. I had a lot to consider - being away from my family for at least a month, the stigma, my job, the costs etc. The biggest thing to consider was that I would be immersed in my story for at least a month - my sexual abuse, the trauma, the stories, the perpetrators, my feelings, my emotions, new therapists! There would be no avoiding it. Prior to going, my depression and anxiety worsened. I hide it very well and I was exhausted from pretending.
After talking with my husband, we decided that I should go. I bought a plane ticket and prepared to go to Florida. Naively, I packed my suitcase with my belongings and comfort items and was taken to the airport in New Orleans on an early Monday morning. That was a hard hug and goodbye. Once I landed in Orlando (which was hard because everyone else seemed to be going to DisneyWorld), the Mental facility sent an Uber for me. The Uber then drove me an hour from Orlando to the inpatient hospital. It was considered inpatient but thankfully this facility was a rural/ranch style setting with lots of acreage. Thats one of the reasons I picked it. During my ride there, I was filled with anxiety, anticipation, and fear for what lies ahead. When we arrived, there were several people outside talking, walking around or smoking. The driver asked, "what is this place"? I told him it was a camp - lol. I wasn't ready to tell someone that I was being dropped off at a mental hospital.
Admissions took a while. I had to use a breathalyzer, do a urine drug screen, answer a million questions, take a picture (mugshot), and get strip searched. Remember, this is a drug rehab facility as well as a mental health place. All of my belongings were sifted through, sorted, and some were confiscated from me. My makeup mirrors were broken off, glass makeup bottles were not allowed, anything with wires or sharp objects were locked up (hairdryer, curling iron, bras with underwires, razor). We couldn't have any aerosols so my hairspray and dry shampoo were taken. I had brought a journal with metal binding that I couldn't have. No metal - no fingernail clippers, no tweezers. Cell phones were forbidden and taken from us and locked away. The only way to have music is if you brought an MP3 player. I did not have one and underestimated how much I would miss my music while I was there.
I made a "safe call" to my husband to let him know that I arrived. I would not be able to make another call until another 72 hours (facility rules so that you can "get adjusted to your new environment"). I also learned that I would only be able to use the phone twice a week for small increments of time. I cried to my hubby on my safe call and somehow he was able to reassure me and encourage me. I then signed paperwork about rules for leaving AMA (against medical advice), and that this facility had the right to call the sheriffs office if I acted out, or was a threat to myself or others. I would then be handcuffed and hospitalized in a locked unit for 3 days. To say my anxiety was high is an understatement. I was absolutely overwhelmed and cried to my Behavioral Health tech that I thought I might be in the wrong facility.
I was then taken to my cottage where I would be staying. There were 4 cottages. 2 female cottages, 1 male cottage, and 1 co-ed cottage. The co-ed cottage was where the nurses station and nurses were and I was told that the patients that needed to be watched more closely stayed there. I quickly unpacked the things that I brought that were not confiscated, and was shown around the facility. After that, I was told that the next group started a 3pm. I had a little free time before 3 so I just walked around a little. There were people smoking, people sleeping in pool lounge chairs (the facility had a big pool), people swimming, people chatting, people dancing, people walking, people reading, people journaling, people cussing, people talking to themselves, people yelling...I walked to the furthest corner of the building by myself and cried. OVERWHELMED!!
I somehow got through groups that evening and was greeted by a sweet lady patient who introduced herself to me. After group, she walked me to the cafeteria where supper was served and showed me the process and allowed me to sit with her and her friend. She also introduced me to a few people who were sitting around us. I was SO thankful for her. Game changer. I sure hope she is reading this and realizes just how much that meant to me. After supper, I learned that there was one more group and then you are able to go to your cottage. I learned the grueling schedule that is expected of us.
7:15 - wake up
8:15 - meds then breakfast
9:00 - 1st group
10:00 - 2nd group
11:00 - 3rd group
12:00 - lunch
1:00 - 2:45 - break (outside)
3:00 - 4th group
4:00 - 5th group
5:00 - Supper
6:00 - 6th group
7:00 - Cottages for shower, laundry, visiting, designated phone time
8:15 - Night meds, then bedtime
Monday, Wednesday and Friday - individual therapy with my appointed therapist in addition to scheduled group therapy.
I learned that this schedule was 7 days a week (I repeated this schedule for 32 days straight).
I did not have a room mate on my first night. My cottage was set up to house 2 people per room and those 2 people shared a bathroom. Our cottage held a total of 8 women. There were no door knobs and the bathroom doors were cut down/shortened for emergency access if needed and cameras were set up in the living room.
That first night I was so sad, so humbled by where I was, so overwhelmed and so scared. I had packed my bible and clung to it that night. I randomly flipped my bible open and it opened to Psalms. My eyes seemed to focus straight on Psalm 30:11-12.
Psalm 30:11-12 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.
That was my HOPE! I have worn a "sackcloth of abuse" my whole life and God was telling me that he will remove it and clothe me with joy! I needed and wanted desperately to get my JOY back. I've been sad and depressed from my abuse for soooooooo long. I knew I had final work to do here and HE just confirmed it for me. My work would be hard, sad, embarrassing and scary. With the therapy schedule, I knew that I would be focusing on my problems, hardships and sexual abuse non stop as well. I still held on to that hope from God and rested soundly that night.
I think this is a good stopping point for now. I will probably blog a little more frequently so that I can sing God's praises and also share my journey. Thank you for your interest and stay tuned for more.
Much love to all,