What I learnt from my latest stint in a mental health facility
June 30, 2020
About two months ago, I spent a week in a sub acute mental health facility. This is what I learned.
1. I learnt that I can trust my husband caring solo for our child.
The thought of one person looking after a six month old for one week straight, day in day out, would usually scare me. I know if that one person was me, I would probably have some anxiety attached to this. But my husband handled the situation like a pro. Our baby was fed and watered, which in baby terms means fed, watered, formula(d), showered, nappy changed, entertained…and loved for the week that I was away and didn’t get to see them (due to being in a facility during COVID-19). I’m glad I didn’t cling on to any idea that only I can look after our daughter.
2. I learnt that I have grown since my first stint in a mental health facility.
Prior to voluntarily going to the facility, I knew that I needed sleep (and medications) and I wasn’t getting enough at home with my thyroid playing up. I felt God directing me to go to this mental health facility as a way of ensuring that my basic need for sleep was met. So I went listening to this and my early warning signs and being aware of the trigger of lack of sleep. I knew what I needed, knew what would help and went for it. This is much better than not knowing what the problem was or how a resolution might be possible or voluntarily going.
3. I learnt again that we need others.
From the competence of good mental health workers and staff, to my friend who brought me a phone charger and KFC while I was waiting to be admitted, to my friend who smuggled in some chocolate and other goodies to me, to my friend who transported me when I needed, to my friend who…and so on and so on, I remembered how lucky it is to have good support. It’s easier for medication to do it’s work when you have the foundation of good support from friends/family.
4. I learnt that having a laugh is good.
Sometimes an older lady than you, sitting in a mental health facility in the same chair each day, saying the same jokes can be really annoying. Other times when you have capacity to embrace the humour of each joke (that even you could start retelling by now) and the fact that there is a warm heart behind it, there is something that allows you to have a giggle. Sometimes when you stop in the lowness of your own life, there can be a little bud of beauty entertaining you along the way. It can be a choice to scald or behold.
5. I learnt how lucky we are with our healthcare in Australia, even Dubbo.
I’m just really thankful that in Dubbo we can have a sub-acute mental health facility. I’m glad there are options prior to needing acute mental health hospitalisation and that there is more support out there when the options in the community system are exhausted. I was really glad for our healthcare system in Australia that allows me to stay in pretty much luxury, being looked after professionally without paying a cent.
So there you have it. I’ve heard it said before that experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. That may be the case. But I’m thankful for what I have learned along the way and those around me holding me well.