A Letter to Anyone Considering an Inpatient Stay

You are much stronger than you believe you are.

I used to see having a stay in a psych unit as a sign of weakness. To me, it meant you were no longer the kind of strong you thought you were. I guess in a way I was right. But when I say I was right, I mean that you aren’t the strong you once were: you are stronger. You’ve learned to accept that sometimes, you need to get away for a while, and take care of yourself. You’ve learned that accepting and receiving help for your symptoms isn’t selfish or some terrible thing. It means that you are taking necessary steps towards mental and emotional wellness. Take pride in that.

I just ended an 18 day stay at a psych unit. I pushed it off for so long, but the pain kept building up. The depression, anxiety, and unprocessed trauma constantly running through my mind were torturous. I was having nightmares. Night after endless night I’d wake up either in a panic, in tears, or both. That started leading to my insomnia. Not sleeping for days on end, terrified of what happens behind my eyelids. The depression and anxiety came crashing in, each day worse than the day before, due to the lack of sleep.

I felt out of control. My trauma had taught me that silence was my enemy. It taught me that I wasn’t worth much at all. Fortunately, I got to get a lot of my trauma out of my head, having been able to talk about my feelings every day. I was under constant monitoring, and although at times I hated it, this stay made me realize, even more than ever, that everyone deserves time to be human. That even those who put on a brave face for everyone else has to get the help they need.

Inpatient stays are scary. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. You have a lot of time to think. You have time to realize just how hard life has been lately. But you also get to talk through and process a lot of things you’ve been burying deep into yourself. Things you never thought you’d share, things you thought you’d take to the grave.

Not every unit is suitable for every kind of person. I personally loved the unit I was on (as much as you can love a psych unit), but not everyone there found it helpful. Regardless, you must try to trust the process. You must try to get the help you need, no matter who you work with. Advocate for yourself. Speak up for what you need, but also what your values are.

If you are currently struggling, I want to let you know that your feelings are valid. A lot of the time, we don’t hear that often enough. You have every right to be upset, mad, depressed, anxious, or tired. But I promise you, it can get better. You can find the light at the end of the tunnel of darkness you’ve been in for so long. It’s right in front of you. There will be obstacles. There will be barriers. But you are strong, brave, and resilient.

I believe in you, even if you are currently lacking the belief in yourself. Remember, an inpatient stay doesn’t equal weakness. It equals a strength that you never believed you had. And when you realize that, you have the power to accomplish your goals. I hope this letter has helped you. And I hope you realize the amazing things you are capable of.

 

Rachel is a young adult who hopes to someday become a peer mentor or a peer specialist. They are currently working on writing and publishing a book of poetry.

5 thoughts on “A Letter to Anyone Considering an Inpatient Stay

  1. I am a working professional parent dealing with a son in a deeply alcohol, and crack, cocaine daily usage. I have supported him through longs years in every step and ways I know how. Even excepting and never letting go the faith he will make it. He has experience many in and OP programs and have had negative and positive experience’s through out his life. I as a parent, cant even imagined what patients go through. I would like to be able to understand more of inpatient stay, so I can support my son when discharge of facilities. I am a concern parent with desperate needs to better understand the substance/alcohol/ mental health issues. Thank you for reading and sending me this update. Truly, Minerva Lopez

  2. Helen Keller said “It is not possible for civilization to flow backward while there are youth in the world…” Our nations youth are leading the way in Florida and elsewhere and now, here you are Rachel stepping out to fight stigma and spread awareness. It is appreciated, thank you.

  3. Thank you for posting your story. It takes courage to ask for help. I struggle also with depression and anxiety. I work in the field. So sometimes it is hard for me to practice self care. I struggle with compassion burnout. I love what I do. Sometimes I get lost in my work. I haven’t been hospitalized in 17 years. Sometimes I feel I need that extra support. My mind goes back to the long waiting time in the emergency room. Which hospital will I go to.

  4. Our family (nuclear and extended) has been affected with mental health challenges for many years and this letter and the responses are meaningful to me. Thank you everyone, who has been with PPAL over the years and now, for your tireless work to make the world better for us.

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