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Thursday, April 07, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 37

Today's blog post sort of suggested itself, in the wake of events during the past three days.  Maybe what I'm about to say will help others who are finding themselves in the grip of depression, or some other mental health situation.

You see, this week my path has crossed those of two people who I care about: one in my personal life and another who I know from my work as a professional peer support specialist.  Each of them is having an emotional crisis.  Much like the ones I have had at various times over the course of the last twenty-some years.

In each case, I have suggested that inpatient care at a behavioral health facility should be considered.  Checking one's self into a specialized hospital for a few days or a week or so.  Letting trained doctors and staff work with a patient toward reigning in their depressive or schizophrenic episode.  Sometimes - as happened with me several months ago - it's because medication needs balancing out and I had to be monitored for any side effects.  The reasons vary.

One thing that it is NOT, is an "insane asylum".  I have never been inside a real asylum (apart from a haunted one I visited when I was younger).  People are not caged like animals in a behavioral health center.  It is not like The Snake Pit or One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.  It is almost like a vacation away from it all.  The food tends to be quite good.  I would recommend bringing along a book to read (my most recent stay in inpatient found me reading Bitter Blood, a book that has sucked me in at least half a dozen times over the years).

If you or someone you know is in a mental crisis situation, there is NO shame whatsoever in asking for help.  Including checking yourself in to a behavioral health center.  Sometimes a little help is needed to get back on even keel, and that’s okay.  That’s more than fine. I’ve been in such places no less than five or six times and I’ve always come back out on top.

It’s NOT like it used to be on TV and movies.  Those days of mental health medicine in the western world are gone.  Apart from one place waking me up at 5 every morning to ask if I’d had a bowel movement (I blame the nurse), the care was always with dignity and compassion.

It can be nervous-inducing to think about checking yourself into inpatient care.  But I’d rather “nip it in the bud” (to quote Barney Fife) than let something run amok and out of control.  I know the darkness of which I speak, and I would rather no one else have to go through anything as I have had to endure.