I was in crisis.
Suddenly the seemingly perfect life I’d been living was in total havoc and I just freaking lost it.
I needed help.
Time away where I could sit and talk with someone to work through my problems.
That is what happens at those inpatient mental health places…right?!
This actually wouldn’t be my first experience with the mental health system.
In 2011, I was put on a 72 hour hold after firemen broke my window to rescue me following a suicide attempt.
You can read more about that experience by clicking the link below ⬇️⬇️⬇️
This story leaves you hanging however in regards to the system.
The only thing I really remember from that experience was sitting in a dark room, completely isolated, only to be released in my hospital gown three days later.
There may have been other issues in protocol based on the severity of my condition at the time.
That was also 2011.
By 2018 they surely had new measures in place to give those in crisis a safe place to go….
“Alexis. Are you a danger to yourself?”
Well knowing that my response would decipher my freedom, I finally amounted the courage to say the word.
Life as I knew it was suddenly out of my control.
The walls melted beside me as the EMT’s laid me on a stretcher and wheeled me out of my doctors office.
You guys I’m a pretty normal human these days.
I don’t go out.
I don’t get in trouble.
I’m a mom to two beautiful little girls.
Call me basic.
Yet however “basic” I may be, I still managed to land myself in a crisis center on a 72 hour hold.
This could be anyone.
So what exactly happens to you once you get turned over to the system?
Is our mental health system enough to “fix” people?
See if my experience changes your opinion.
2018 inpatient mental health experience
After completing a gene test, it was determined that my antidepressant wasn’t a very effective choice for me.
Ready for better management of my depression I decided to make the switch.
I’d have to ween off my current antidepressant for three weeks before starting the new one.
This is actually protocol as taking multiple SSRI’s increases your risk of developing serotonin syndrome.
Two weeks in and I was feeling just fine!
“Maybe I don’t need this antidepressant after all!”
Until on week two, day five, when “life” happened.
Laying on the bathroom floor staring into space.
Every once in awhile reminding myself that I’m a mom and I need to get my butt out there and suck it up.
Only to inevitably explode tears in front of my children and end up back on the bathroom floor in effort to shelter them from my “crazy”.
Terrified of the system after my first experience, I attempted to sleep it off.
Fast forward to the admittance of needing help at the beginning of this article.
Here is what the next 72 hours had in store for me.
10am: EMT’s come to my doctors office to take me to the hospital.
10:30am: I arrive at the hospital. A guard is placed at the door of my ER room to keep an eye on me. Sitting still, sobbing quietly, trying to not distract the nurses from tending to actual emergency care.
12pm: A urine sample and blood work are finally collected and sent to the lab. I still have yet to talk to a therapist. Regret starts sinking in.
3pm: The medical tests came back normal. I’ve now been cleared from medical and an order has been submitted for me to speak to a counselor for placement.
9:30pm: Just shy of TWELVE hours in the emergency room staring at a wall. What did I sign up for? AT LAST the counselor is here to do the assessment. Following a stack of paperwork, the decision is made to send me to a crisis center. Now more waiting while they search for an available bed. The nurse said this can take up to 24 hours.
11:30pm: A surprisingly short (2 hour) wait time until I found placement. But wait there’s more…. time to submit the pre authorization for insurance. I was told once again this could take up to 24 hours. Please get me out of here.
1am: Once again I’ve “lucked out” as insurance only took an hour and a half to respond. How people could be stuck helpless in the ER for DAYS possibly… I can’t even begin to fathom. Can I speak to a therapist yet?
1:30am: EMT’s arrive to transport me to my new “home”.
2:15am: I have finally arrived. However, it is the middle of the night. I guess I won’t be seeing a therapist today.
Note: This entire ridiculous day was enough to make a person crazy. I was over it. This definitely was NOT what I was expecting. There were not therapists on duty to help me through it. The panic attacks were unbearable. I had missed the window for medication distribution so I’d have to manage without the pills that help me sleep at night. I felt so trapped and out of control. Everyone was sleeping so I couldn’t even cry it out like I so badly needed to. Choking on my tears, hyperventilating, trying to be quiet.
It was the ultimate depressive low.
5am: Finally I decide to try and sleep after my attempts at escaping were unsuccessful.
7am: Time for breakfast. I was able to fall asleep for a little over an hour. 😫
8am: Medications are given. If you haven’t seen the doctor yet, no meds. Even if you brought your own medication in the original bottles with your name on them. My body is literally so used to taking my medications that if I miss a dose my skin gets all flushed and I feel like I’m dying. These symptoms adding to my already full load of problems.
9am: Group therapy. Essentially, working through coping skills. It’s incredibly hard to focus while I’m still overflowing with the problems that got me in here and the fact that I still haven’t been able to talk to ANYONE about them.
10am: Free time. Either read a book if you brought one, color if that’s your thing, or lay in the dayroom and sleep like 90% of people did.
1pm: Group therapy.
1:30pm: THE DOCTOR FINALLY CALLED ME! Andddd, my visit with her was a whopping 5 minutes. At least the order had FINALLY been put in for my meds. I’d have to wait until evening medication distribution to get them though.
2pm: Free time. More day sleeping…
4pm: More group therapy… still can’t focus.
7pm: Group therapy… again.
8pm: Medications. Which thankfully included me this time.
This routine was the same schedule every day. The only difference the following day was that I FINALLY SAW A THERAPIST. For a ten minute one on one session. ONCE.
So, if I ever found myself in a mental health emergency again, would I make the same choice in asking for help?
As much as I hate admitting this, absolutely not.
The mental health system failed me.
I 110% left feeling WAY worse than I did when I got there.
You guys, how is this our system?
How is it that treatment for someone who is suicidal doesn’t involve any quality one on one time?
Why was the day filled with free time and taking naps (which is terrible for depression) while activities involving exercise (great for depression) didn’t exist?
Shouldn’t it be a priority to get severely mentally ill patients their medications in a timely matter?
Our broken system has psychiatric patients using emergency care rooms as waiting rooms… potentially for DAYS based on some of the wait times I was given. Is it really the best idea to tie up our EMERGENCY ROOM nurses with mentally ill people they can’t help?
I’m not sharing this as a salty ex-patient trying to make something out of nothing.
I’m sharing this because this could happen to anyone.
Depression doesn’t discriminate.
This is the system your children, your grandchildren, THEIR grandchildren may need to use some day…
I’m sure that there are options, for extremely wealthy people, to fly somewhere and have an actual therapeutic experience.
But what about the rest of us?
What about the suspects in these shootings that we keep saying need mental health treatment?
This is OUR mental health system and if people are leaving crazier than they came in, IT’S NOT WORKING
If you are appalled by this article SHARE IT!
Not enough people are aware of this sad reality.
Let’s expose the system for what it is.
Make your voice heard.
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