Electric chairs, straitjackets and zombies is what people have in mind when they think about a psych ward or as people like to call them the “Madhouse”.
Thanks to crappy horror movies and Hollywood's portrayal of patients these are the misconception people have of institutions for treating mental illness.
So why would people consider opening up about mental illness? Never mind considering admission to a mental health facility.
I was one of those people.
After suffering a major depressive episode which leads to me taking a handful of pills with the desperate hope of ending my life, I was diagnosed with depression. At that point, a psychiatrist suggested I be admitted to a government mental health hospital.
My initial response was “HELL NO!”. Having those movie images in my head I refuse to end up like that.
Am I a crazy person that they want to lock up in a madhouse? Are they going to strap me onto my bed at night? Are the other patients going to try and cut my hair in my sleep?
These were the thoughts that ran through my mind the night before admission. I had no idea what to expect.
Nervously sitting at reception waiting for paperwork to be done, I looked around the ward and didn’t see any weird people, big male nurses in white uniforms or straitjackets.
I was greeted by a friendly nursing staff, shown to my room and taken on a tour of the ward. To my great relief, it was the complete opposite of what I saw on the movies!
The other patients didn’t even look like they belonged in a mental ward.
The daily programme included life skills, learning relaxation techniques and some time to tap into my creative side. Of course, there was one-on-one sessions with my therapists.
I met some incredible people who just needed help, in the same way I did, to deal with their specific mental illness.
Four weeks later, I left there with a proper diagnosis and a better understanding of my condition.
That was 7 years ago. Since then I’ve learned that to maintain a healthy state of mind and wellbeing I have to constantly monitor my condition.
Would you ignore heart disease or diabetes? No.
Mental illness is like any other chronic disease. I hope that society will eventually see it as that.