What to Know Before Checking Yourself Into A Mental Hospital

Would you put yourself on voluntary psychiatric hold? One woman shares her story of inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and what she wishes she knew before she was admitted.

How to Admit Yourself Into A Mental Hospital

The first time I was admitted to the psych ward, I was 16. I was still a minor, so I had the benefit of boarding with the youth in the juvenile behavioral unit in the local hospital. I wasn’t prepared in the least for what I would see and encounter, nor was my mind in a state to readily accept this place.

Leading up to admission, I had the tell-tale behaviors of mania and depression. But at first, my family and I didn’t recognize these moods as symptoms of bipolar disorder.

While I waited for what seemed like hours in a hospital gown on a cold metal table in an ER admissions room by myself, Mom and Dad signed papers and consulted with the administration to see what could be done for my extraordinary outbursts and melancholy “suicidal” ideations—which, by the way, were not actually suicidal ideations or intentions.

I simply had a sense of my life being cut short—a symptom of manic paranoia—which the hospital interpreted as a threat of harm to myself or others. Another check on the list of criteria for admission.

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