Hospitalization: Is is worth the stigma?

Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to portray the inner struggle someone may go through when considering hospitalization. It is to get the conversation started. If you having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please seek help. If you feel like hospitalization is your best option please go.

I will be honest, I am pretty good about being able to put on a front. There are days where I would love nothing more than to fall to pieces. Therapy and medication, as much as I would like to be, are just not in the cards. The problem with being a highly functional is that I am functional. Therefore, I do not qualify for medical assistance. A prime example about how the system is broken. But that is another post for another day. I often feel like I can’t do it anymore. Sometimes I consider checking myself into the local ‘green roof inn” as it is referred to by the locals. Taking a break and getting myself into a good place. Then I remembered the last time I was hospitalized and I chose to trudge on.

The day I was discharged from the local psychiatric facility. October  2002

The day I was discharged from the local psychiatric facility. October 2002

I was hospitalized once when I was 16. Honestly, some days I miss that week in my life. I was around people who understood what I was going through for the first time. It also puts into perspective while my life had some baggage it wasn’t as deep as others. I could freely talk about my down periods without judgment. The biggest bonus of it all: No Stress! It was amazing. My problems of the real world do not exist in institutional life. No toxic friendships you didn’t know how to avoid. No parents fighting. No pressures of grades. Not having to deal with bullies. It was amazing. It wasn’t real, but amazing. I mean as crappy as things can be without them you can’t measure the good things. It is a balance of living. When you are in an institution you can’t really live.

Sure, there are semi-relationships. You have a sort of camaraderie. A common ground, but it isn’t real. Now before someone starts freaking out by that give me a minute to explain. There is a lot of control in a place like that. So bonds easily form because you don’t have outside stressors coming into play. Plus relationships are the smallest ounce of normalcy you can hold onto. I mean at home there isn’t bed checks, med passes or strict routines. It doesn’t take long for you to fall into the routine and lose yourself. Relationships are like the anchor to reality. Plus at least in my case, I was so desperate for a real friendship, I would have made friendships with lamp post if I knew we would be bff’s forever. But in the end, it’s all not real. Life is not simple and neat. There are no routine med passes with nurses making sure you swallowed your pills. There isn’t an orderly checking on you every so often to make sure that you haven’t attempted to kill yourself. There is no one to tell you how to manage your day.

The stigma of your disorder is real. Your problems are real. And in most cases your outside relationships are real. They don’t disappear while you are hospitalized. It is almost like your life is on pause until you to step out those front doors. Then the universe hits play. It is horribly jarring. I think it is why most people fail at their post-discharge treatment. When you are in the hospital you can work on getting well enough so you can be sent back out. Back into the world that put you in there in the first place. I think that we need a transitioning program in place for those leaving hospitalization. A halfway house of sorts. A place where they can adjust to the stresses of the real world at a slower pace. Really learn how to adjust and properly take care of themselves before flying on their own. I mean this is asking for a lot. Hell, I can’t get help just to see a therapist. Once cannot properly describe the feeling you have when you feel like you finally have it together and you are then greeted with shame. I think honestly with being hospitalized for any mental illness is the mother of all stigmas.

Hospitalization it just a mar on your record that most people can’t get past. If I went into the hospital now, it wouldn’t be, “Oh, she got herself the help she needed.” It would be,”Oh, how could she be so selfish and abandon her children and husband.” People can see past you having a mental illness. People can brush off something like depression. But to put yourself into a hospital or worse be put there by a doctor. Well, you may as well just tell people you are a hooker. It is sad. All you hear about is how “us” people need to get help. It is available to us. But why even take it, if we are only going to be ostracized further. It is like borrowing money from a loan shark. Sure, it will help but at a price. And in this world that bitch is steep. I remember that my mom would only tell those who were not close family that I was sick and in the hospital. Never specific to what illness I had or where I was in the hospital. I had that I was a minor to my advantage. If my parent’s didn’t give the hospital permission to give whoever called an update they ccouldn’t. If I wanted to tell my friends, I had the choice.

I am still grateful for her making that decision. I was picked on as it was in school, I didn’t need any further fuel. Besides my own ‘friends” decided that I only did it for the attention. I was emotional as it was from the whole experience, only to have it completely dismissed by my peers. Sure, I could blame it on the fact that they were seniors in high school but I know better. I know that I would have been treated the same whether I was a teen or an adult. I was bitter for a very long time about it. I fought with my mother to take my meds because of what people thought. I was tired of being judged and talked about. I was tired of my feelings being negated as a mood swing. I was sick of being introduced as being the “crazy’ friend. And the public can’t imagine why we avoid hospitalization like Ebola. (Too soon?)

I would sooner slowly implode on myself than go back to the hospital. Maybe if I become seriously desperate. However, as long as I have my blog to use at least as an outlet, I am staying put. I will wake up every morning going into battle. It is better than people thinking less of me. I am sure there are people who say it should matter what the outside world think. But that is a load of BS. We aren’t designed that way. Approval from our peers is just in our nature. It is a part of who we are. Maybe the next time you come across someone who is on their last leg, let them know that you will stand by them after they get out. You will help them until they are steady on their feet. Show them it doesn’t matter as long as they are doing what is best for them.

Have you ever avoided hospitalization because of the fear of stigma? Or have you felt the stigma after being hospitalized?

3 thoughts on “Hospitalization: Is is worth the stigma?

  1. I’ve been hospitalized a lot; each time it was the absolute right thing to do, & at my request.
    I’m sure that other moms in my community have been hospitalized but no one admits it around here.

    Over the past 8 or 9 years I’ve belonged to two large, local parent Yahoo internet groups, and no one has ever brought this topic up except for me. There are roughly 1300 members (mostly mothers) in these community groups, and it’s ridiculous that mental health is never discussed. 😦 Stigma strikes again and again!

    Thank you for writing about this subject, Lauren!!!! XOXOXO


  2. Thank you for writing about this! I have been hospitalized three times but refused to be hospitalized many more times because I have been scared ofvthe stigma.

    My last hospitalization was five months and very complicated and as I had physical illness. But it is a big block of absence to try and explain to people. I almost always find myself blaming it on the physical rather than mental illness as I feel it has less stigma.


    • I am sorry you had to deal with this. Yes it is difficult trying to explain where you have been. I think it is something we need to talk about more. You shouldn’t have to blame it on your psychical illness. I don’t think people should be scared to get the treatment they need because of the reason why.

      Liked by 1 person

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