Part of living with Borderline Personality Disorder has involved several hospitalizations over the years in order to “stabilize” and deal with the recurrent suicidal ideation that comes with this illness for me. Today, I’d like to share what it’s like to be an inpatient at a psychiatric facility in hopes that it may remove the curtain of shame and secrecy about this topic.
In 2010, I was in the midst of a severe depression and having difficulty managing the intensity of my emotions. Knowing that I was at risk of harming myself, I had my husband take me to the emergency department of the closest hospital. Based on their assessment of me and after consulting with another hospital that offered more in-depth psychiatric services, I was admitted to the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton, AB.
I found the process to be easy and comforting. My husband was by my side the entire time and the nursing staff were gentle and kind. I was in an almost catatonic state by this point. The first couple of days I spent sleeping and talking to my psychiatrist. He switched my medications and advised that I would be participating in group therapy with other patients. While this caused a bit of anxiety for me, I’ve always been a compliant patient and I knew that I needed to follow his direction if I wanted to get better.
There were approximately fifteen patients in the “pod” I was in with varying degrees of mental illness and initially, I kept to myself. I tend to be an observer until I can assess a situation, but soon the social butterfly in me took over and I began to get to know some of the other patients. We shared meals together and talked openly about our illnesses. For the first time, I felt like I belonged. I was among people who could understand the pain that was happening inside.
I spent three weeks as an inpatient. In this time, I stabilized on my medications and attended group therapy throughout the day. We also participated in activities such as creating ceramics and painting. Being able to focus completely on myself and healing was what I needed to move forward in my recovery. I felt safe and secure at a time when I would otherwise feel lost and unsure.
Not everyone will require hospitalization in their fight with mental illness, but if they do, it’s not as scary as the movies or books make it out to be. It can be a source of comfort and security while they get their condition to a manageable state.
Living with a mental illness is like living with any other illness. It can be managed and you can live a productive and successful life! Take advantage of the services and supports that are offered and be proactive in advocating for the care you need and deserve.
About Wendy Enberg
My name is Wendy Enberg and I live openly with mental illness. I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I reside near Edmonton, AB. I began sharing my story with others as a way to remove stigma and raise awareness and compassion for people living with mental illness. I started with a Facebook page where I posted inspirational messages. This grew into a blog about living with BPD at where I openly share my struggles and my successes. This wasn't enough. In July of 2014, I co-founded a peer support group in my community for people living with mental illness that provides online and weekly support meetings. Our membership continues to grow each day and we are gaining a presence in the mental health community.