I was released from the inpatient unit 2 weeks ago. I was released from the inpatient unit 2 days ago. Wait, what? Yes, as a matter of fact, I did get myself locked up twice within a 2 week time period. Both instances were the result of my inability to STFU and stop saying things that will cause overreactions in people who have the power to detain me.
See, when I went to see my therapist last Thursday, I confessed to the fact that I had lied in order to get out of inpatient the previous week. I felt honesty was necessary if I wanted therapy to work. Well, upon hearing that I told the psych APRN in inpatient that I was perfectly fine when I happened to be considering the possibility of overdosing when I got home, my therapist promptly decided I was going back for a longer stay. Maybe a week or two. She even offered to find me a different facility if I did not like the inpatient unit affiliated with her organization.
I kept saying no, that I could not do this. She wasn’t taking no for an answer. When I finally resigned myself to the fact that I was going whether I liked it or not, I asked to go home first and have mom drive me back. I’ve done this in the past. The deal has always been that if I don’t report back within a certain time period then the police will be called to do a wellness check. This time I didn’t even get that time period – she said that if I left her office to go home, she’d call the police immediately. She wanted to drive me over to inpatient herself.
So I spent another 5 nights without any freedom. I chose to practice my radical acceptance and be calm about the fact that I was there and just let things happen instead of fighting it. I had a lot of time to think, and while there I saw what would happen if I didn’t get better – one client already had a court order committing her to a state hospital as soon as a bed became available, and another one was waiting to see a judge for the same reason. Watching these events unfold frightened me into a deeper determination that I will work hard to overcome my problems and especially to stay out of inpatient in the future.
There are a lot of hours in a 5-night stay. My time was filled somewhat with meals and meds and psychiatrist’s visits and group activities, all of which I fully engaged in. That still left a lot of hours for socializing with other clients, visiting with mom for 2 hours each evening, kicking butt at games of rummy, writing in my journal, and (possibly most importantly) doing exercises in my DBT workbook.
My stay was somewhat lengthened by the fact that they weren’t going to let me out so easily on a return visit – they even considered petitioning for emergency detention – and by the unfortunate timing over the holiday weekend. However, there were indications that they might keep me several more days beyond that point, and I feel that the reason they chose to let me out sooner was because they were impressed with how hard I was working on the DBT skills. It even came up in my final visit with the psychiatrist on the morning of my release. He wanted to know which coping skills I would use if I got home and started wanting to hurt myself. I told him the ones that were most effective at this point were putting ice on my wrists and reciting the Fibonacci sequence (not necessarily simultaneously).
I learned many more coping skills though. I created a distraction plan of 10 ways to distract myself from painful thoughts. I created two relaxation plans of 10 ways (each) to self-soothe using the 5 senses. One plan can be done away from home and the other can be done at home. I learned to relax by using a cue word and by visualizing a safe place. I even worked on identifying my values and setting goals to spend time on those areas of life that I value most.
So I got to come home, and today I go see my therapist for the first time since she dropped me off at inpatient. She made a comment at the time that ended with “if you’re not furious with me” and I said that I wasn’t. After all that thinking time, I decided that I was. Well, maybe furious is too strong of a word, but I am definitely upset with her about the fact that I came into her office prepared for a very productive session, with a thought diary and several of the DBT exercises to discuss, and instead we accomplished nothing because she latched onto my confession which was never intended as more than a passing comment.
I have a poem that I wrote for one of our group activities, which addresses that situation using a theatre metaphor. My plan for the past few days has been to give her that poem as part of a little speech I prepared that has some negative criticism about how she handled things in our last appointment. The speech ends with “As a result of this experience, I will never be able to fully trust you. The next time I go to inpatient it will be kicking and screaming in handcuffs.” I am no longer sure about giving the speech, but I do still intend to share the poem. It may be more powerful than the speech was anyway.