Saturday, January 14, 2012

Involuntary Commitment: Would you do it Again?

Ah, we're back to an old topic, involuntary hospitalization.  Some people say they'd rather die than live through a week in a hospital again.  I actually have not ever heard anyone say that about jail.  I thought I'd ask if everyone feels that way.  If you are very much against the idea, but have not been involuntarily hospitalized yourself, please-please-please, don't take my poll.  

Thank you and Go Ravens!

Recent posts on forced treatment:
Jan 9: Forced Treatment: Does it Help? ("make psychiatric care something patients want to get")
Jan 13: I'm Sorry ("I'm sorry that... the mental health system has failed [those who have died due to hiding from 'treatment']")
Jan 14: What We Need (list of 12 things readers are saying they need from the MH system)
Jan 14: Poll: Involuntary Commitment: Would you do it again? (a survey for those who have been committed in the past)


Liz said...

i said no.

if i was a danger to others, i'd seek admission myself.

if i was a danger to myself, it should STILL be my choice. and if there was a safe, comfortable place to go, it is far more likely that this would happen.

if i truly wanted to hurt myself, involuntarily committing me wouldn't do any good. i was involuntarily admitted this past summer. i did not feel better. i did not find it helpful. i was released and immediately took all the medications i was released with and slit my wrists. thankfully, i survived, with no permanent damage. still, fat lot of good that "involuntary commitment" did.

for help to "HELP" it has to be by choice. with my PERSONAL INVESTMENT.

however, the second time around, i did increase my level of investment, and it led to my participation OUTPATIENT in dbt, and i have found that tremendously helpful.

Liz said...

however-- if i became psychotic and was truly a danger to others and lacked the insight to realize it-- that would be a different story. but NO PSYCH DRUGS. no matter what, NO ONE should be able to force THOSE on anyone.

Anonymous said...

No. I would not go in to where they put me before. If the goal is to save my life then lock me in a cellar for a week, hooked up to an IV for nutrition and meds. I would go to a community based place that would provide an emergency ear, that would allow me to come and go as I saw fit and that would listen to me as a human being, provide a place of physical and emotional safety and did not judge me. I have a few positive memories of my many hospital stays. Most were from before I was actually admitted to the ward and was waiting for a bed and they involve staff who treated me with sensitivity and the way that they would want a loved one or themselves treated. These memories are few but of more of these kinds of people ran the joint maybe I would agree to go. At this point, I cannot be hospitalized again. When one is treated with total disrespect in hospital it becomes easy for family to buy into the notion that one is less than human and not worthy of respect. Anything good you have done in your life is discounted. Our families need to see us treated as people who need help, not shackles and sneeers.. I don't expect you to understand . You are the other and to you, we are the other. Even one of your own becomes the untouchable other the moment their illness becomes apparent. I would not do it again, not the way the system is currently set up. if you would rather go to jail, well I would rather die. i am far less frightened of death than of the ward and of being let out into the world not because I was well but because on that day they decided i would not kill myself. i do not get the sense that anyone gives a damn. A lot of hollow words.

J said...

I was committed twice with only a few weeks between my two stays.... The second one I was okay with and realized that I needed it.... But the first one, at least at the time I was upset. My mind set then was that I needed to fake it until they let me out.... Which is probably why I need the second one.

One thing that really got to me was that there was no compromising on treatment or anything while there, if I refused to do something, then I was punished in different ways (not bring allowed to wear my own clothing or pjs and having to wear a hospital gown) feeling so helpless and powerless in my treatment was really frustrating.... However, had I not been committed I probably wouldn't be here today. which is why I voted yes.

Anonymous said...

I am one who would rather die than be forced into the psych hospital again. Forced treatment was a re-creation of sexual assault for me, which was not life saving, it was destroying. To be forced to take my clothes off in front of people, to try and hide my body with my arms, to be put in a room with a metal door, to be reduced to pleading and begging, to know my voice meant nothing. It was the same story only with different perpetrators. I would not ever, for a second, turn to a mental health professional who would do that to me again. I didn't commit a crime and I didn't deserve to be terrorized like that. I already had those memories. I didn't need any more.

What was helpful was having a therapist who I could be completely honest with without having to fear being dragged off in handcuffs. The psych hospital left me so terrified that in the beginning with this therapist, even though she promised me she would never force treatment on me, I would often drive around for hours after a session because I was so afraid that when I got home the police would be there and take me away. It is seriously messed up if treatment ends up terrorizing people like that. That's not life saving. It teaches people they can't be honest, that they are alone in their darkness.

Instead of taking away my power, she gave me my power back. When she was concerned she said, Can I call and check on you? You don't sound good, can we meet again tomorrow? She walked through it with me. She sat and listened. She didn't threaten me. She didn't force anything on me. She cared about me.

I wonder how many people leave the hospital as I did, so despondent and feeling so alone. That's when depression gets really dangerous, when people feel they can't be honest about how dark it is.

Anonymous said...

We share the same perespective, 100 percent. A person should be allowed to do with themselves as they will, regardless of possible positive treatments or the ramifications of their removal from society. No treatment works completely, all of the time.
My interest in this issue is that I'm still reeling from a really terrible, abeit old, medical experience and there are few people in my life that know the full extent of it and I doubt anyone considering doing this to me is going to consider my resistance to be far more situational. Putting me in a hospital to save me from making a "permenant decision for a temporary problem" is assuredly going to agitate this angry, violent fear and likely extend my stay, maybe indefinitely. If I'm already at the end of my rope, it's just inhumane to force me to live in my biggest fear.
From my perspective, the only person who can truly understand all the faucets of this situation is me. It would be arrogant to assume similar situations don't exist amidst others in the general populace and cruel to ignore them.

Ilovecats said...

The problem is that you go to the hospital for help, and then it is sometimes abusive, which is a betrayal. Nobody goes to jail for help.

THE STRIP SEARCHES MUST STOP!! If a person tests negative for drugs, and isn't cutting, why are these necessary? For CYA and no other reason! Mental hospitals did not strip search in the 90's that I ever experienced. It all started in the past 10 years. Damn it, don't mental health professionals realize that a huge number of their sickest patients are sexual assault victims? Of course they do, so then they repeat the assault?!!

When I was in a state hospital for a few days, one of the staff delighted in tormenting me that I would have to shower naked in front of her. When I did a sponge bath instead (kind staff members gave me a washrag and patients were allowed to use the half bathroom in private and have a washrag)this woman was furious and tormented me even more. I complained after the fact, and she got demoted and a pay cut, but the harm was done. The whole environment was hostile - stainless steel prison tables? The water fountain was broken, and if you asked for water, you got a 3 oz bathroom dixie cup of water, and the staff would criticize you for having the chutzpah to ask for it. They would yell in your face in the 3 oz. wasn't enough water.

My psychiatrist said she could do nothing to get me out of that place, and just fake myself out of that hell hole. She used to work there, so she knew how it was.

The nurses never came out of their glass cage, so they had no idea how this woman and another woman were tormenting patients. I saw the two of them tormenting an Iraq war vet with PTSD, also, with other kinds of nasty button pushing. The second staff member only got a note in her file.

Thank God that place is going to be torn down soon.

J said...

As I said before, I said yes... but if my experience had been like some of the ones mentioned here my answer probably would have been different.

Sure, it was difficult and the place I was at wasn't perfect but apparently it was better than a lot of other places.

I was never strip searched, left naked or watched in the shower. Once I arrived they searched through my belongings with me and then locked everything in a closet in the room, and I had to wear a hospital gown until I was taken off of suicide precautions. When you did what they wanted you to do and were getting better you got to wear your own clothes and your closet was unlocked. My room was a double and I was always free to come and go from it around the unit as I pleased. The unit included a rec room, a kitchen, a living room/dining area and an occupational therapy room (although that room was kept locked and only used for therapy). Showering I was allowed to do on my own with no one watching me (but I never showered until I had some priviliges and was off watch so it may have been different if I was on suicide watch). If you wanted to shave your legs someone had to be in there to watch you, and I was not comfortable with this so I simply didn't shave my legs when I was there.

There are obviously some very differently run places out there.

Sunny CA said...

I said no. I would rather die than go in again. I am not depressed and my psychiatrist considers me normal, but I can't live through that again.
I still am so traumatized by the experience I don't feel like I can relive the experience by writing about it in detail, but experience much of the bad that has been written. The staff was abusive, demeaning, and dismissive. I felt in fear for my life. Any lack of cooperation was met with physical and chemical punishment. Several of the staff gave me the impression that I would never be released and would spend my lifetime forceably retained and chemically blasted into oblivion. I still can't tolerate being in a car with windows closed because of time spent shut into the confinement room with lights out and hence no air circulating into the room After several hours, the tiny room runs short of oxygen so I needed to lie on the floor with my lips next to the tiny space by the door trying to suck in some air through the single crack. I was afraid I would die in there of suffocation. That ought to be illegal. Some of what was done to us should be illegal and others probably already is illegal.

Sunny CA said...

This interesting article reports research in "humanizing a psychiatric ward"

and describes a resulting psych ward that I would be willing to go to. I wonder if there are any wards that are like this?

I have given thought a lot about your post asking for suggestions on how to improve hospital psych care, and nothing I thought of is as good as what was written in the article above. My ideas were along the lines of (1) stop trying to intentionally inflict physical pain on the patients (2) don't make the patients stand "at attention" on a painted line with their hands at their sides looking straight ahead for more than an hour before being allowed to speak to a staff member at the nurses station etc.

Anonymous said...

If you are talking involuntary commitment, by definition, we do not get choice about whether we would do it again. The cops have and will keep shooting non criminal psych patients who do not co-operate in getting to the hospital. The psychiatrist's office will still have the very helpful message about going to the ER if you are having an emergency. I would get on a plane to japan and get some detergent rather than go back in to one of those places. Love how the nurses are so frightened that they need their glass cages but wonder why, if we are so dangerous and unpredictable, they store us 3 and 4 to a room, with total strangers whose charts we cannot see in order to assess level of threat.The only people I was not afraid of were my fellow inmates. I just love how concerned people bring you to a psych ward and run like hell the second you get admitted, never to be see again for the duration of your stay. Love how you have our why docs don't like xanax post but in the H they will ramp up your dose of anything that keeps you quiet and out of their hair. You leave with addictions you never had before. Psych wards are dangerous to your health. Love how the cops go chase you down if you go awol and bring you right back and 5 minutes later they discharge you anyway. I have watched that happen to people. Love how if you have a sinus infection while there, they will take 3 days to get a doctor to prescribe even though the place is crawling with doctors. Love those nurses who shortchange you on your benzo dose so they can pocket the rest. yeah, that happened. Love how they think we all live under a bridge in our every day lives. Newspapers on the ward. What an idea. No wait, paper cuts. You might slash your wrist on Time magazine.

Jane said...

Due to my psychosis I was the most terrified I'd ever been in my life. The hospital was a sort of neutral area where you could be crazy safely. I suppose the medical treatment there helped too eventually. So, I put yes.

Anonymous said...

I typed this on my phone...please forgive typing mistakes.
I really really think that individuals should get a choice in unit they are sent too.

I know this is different than alot of emergancy commitials work. But my story worked a bit differently. I was threatened involuntary over anorexia. Which is semi slow moving.... And the pdoc was just going to put me in the local ward. I knew and im sure she knew too that the local ward wasnt going to do anything especially if I played the tricks and games I had been playing up to that point. The compromise was that I contracted on specific behaviors, meet with my nutitionist, her and my therapist weekly and find a unit in two weeks time.

I did have decent insurance...finding a place that treats eating disorders is difficult and requires upfront payment. I found a unit though.

It was definately an eating disordered residential unit... Which means there is little freedom with pretty much everything. But they did a lot to make it comfortable and respectful. We had to be watched during bathroom times, but they opened the door just slightly and would not look if you talked and or sang while you did your buisness. This was to curb purging behavior . They worked eith us. We had weekly mettings with supervisiors and other high up staff. Mind you, my insurance cut out after 5 days.... But I recieved charity care out of sheer luck and need. My choice led me to get a type treatment that led to recovery (i've been at a healthy wieght for over 3 years now).I know if my doc had just chosen some place... I may still be struggling, and it would have resultef in multiple stays eithout the proper therapy and groups needed to foster behavioral change.
So, overall, I think that every involuntary commitment needs to take in mind what would be best for the patient.
if the same senario happened to me again, I would do the same thing. If some doctor who didn't know me wanted to send me to just wherever...I would be devestated and it would probobly have an adeverse effect on my wellbeing.

Anonymous said...

I was involuntarily committed two months due to a suicide attempt. I voted "no" since the whole experience did not help me at all. In fact, It made me it made me more suicidal since I decided if I attempt suicide that I am going to choose a more lethal method.

I attempted suicide two months ago by taking an alcohol and drug overdose. Due to the overdose, I was blacked out for three to four days after the OD. So, I have no memory of the process of being brought to the ER by my sister or the process of being Involuntary committed.

My experience in the hospital mirrors a lot of the people who made comments to this post and other recent posts dealing with this topic. It's bad enough that the hospitalization made me worse but my bill, with health insurance, is over $1,000. This does not include my ER Bill. If I did not have insurance, It would have cost me over $11,000. This bill was for four nights being inpatient. It's unfair for treatment that I did not consent to and which did not help me, I should have to pay over $1,000 which I really can't afford what now.

I have suffered from depression for many years. My experience with the mental health care system has been horrible and I did not have more faith in it! This whole experience has made it harder for me to keep trying to find someone who seems to care and is not in it just for the money or is burned out.

Anonymous said...

I have been committed twice. My answer is no. It left me traumatized, more suicidal, and has been a continuing roadblock in treatment, particularly when I need if the most. It was/is damaging to my mental health.

Anonymous said...

The voluntary admissions quickly turn into involuntary ones when you try to sign something seeking release. The two psych hospitals I've been hospitalized at were so poorly run (thorazine RX'ed over holiday weekends to avoid some attending having to haul his/her butt over to the ward; low sodium diets ordered after 1 erroneouldy high blood pressure despite being on lithium) that I would never want to go back. The patients have so very little power over anything, including being able to open a window to breath fresh air after the cleaning person delouses your roommates bed with TOXIC chemicals. At these places, only the smokers get to go outside. Non-smokers just rot inside. There is probably no greater reminder that you have no freedom than this--execept some Nurse Ratched ordering you to take the 600 mg tablets when you know they should be the beige 300 mg ones. No thanks, I prefer outpatient care in almost all circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I know Dinah likes to tell people to complain. Here is why patients don't get too far. The person making the complaint was not a patient in this example. Check out what happened to her:

From my own experience, the one person I ever saw complain got sent back from a semi open unit to a totally locked one, meant for "intensive care". he got put in restraints and was made to wait weeks for a hearing at which point he was discharged. You could tell how much his doc hated him.

CatLover said...

As for complaining about care, I posted this a few months ago, but here it is again: When I complained, I did so after I got out of the hospital, the state mental health ombudsman was helping me with advice, and I got a copy of ALL my medical records, including the hand written ones, BEFORE I filed the complaint, so nobody could alter the record after the fact.

Now the state hospital wasn't accredited, but another hospital where I filed a compliant was accredited, and I sent info on to that accreditation agency (JAACO or something like that?) but all they cared about was if the electric razors were sterilized between patients. Nevertheless, changes were made in the private hospital's unit, also.

In my case, I took careful notes while I was in the hospital, which is really difficult in a crisis, I know! (and more !!!!) then I waited a few weeks until I recovered enough to file a complaint, when I was able to actually write these letters and talk to these administrators, which was terrifying, coming from a "powerless patient" perspective.

It was so difficult, but years later, I'm really glad I did it, and it did make a difference for many people who cannot advocate for themselves. And my social worker who went on to work in a regional facility said that because she knew me, it would change the way care would be delivered there. And I believe her.

You can make a difference! So what if you fail sometimes? Other people who cannot speak up, they depend on those of us who can.I am willing to take great personal risk to keep those others safe. Now that I avoid the hospital like the plague, ok, I won't see anymore if there is abuse there. But I tell people about hospitalization alternatives. Some people actually like the hospital, I have learned (????)

Anonymous said...

I found the experience helpful at the time and it very well might have saved my life. However I said no because the bills destroyed my bank account and credit rating, I can't get health insurance anymore so if I get sick I will be out of luck as I don't have insurance. And I can no longer own a gun, be a police officer, doctor, lawyer, do work requiring a secret level security clearance, etc.

Dinah said...

I would like to clarify that I am not a booger.

Catlover, You Rock!

SunnyCA: good point about the stats...

Anonymous said...

I was IC because I was acting crazy as hell for so many good reasons... Only the people on this page would really understand!!! Screaming cussing throwing things driving fast and aggressive!! Yes I was hurt betrayed lied on lied to robbed of a few small fortunes manipulated humiliated confused ambivalent and PISSED OFF and tired of being used abused taken for granted and treated like I was tulip or slow. Now.. I just did a IC ON my Son. He is 22 with a 2 yr old son.. Girlfriend n girlfriend Dramma daily police broken windows n punched walls. My son has a pain in his solar plexes that is driving him crazy!! He will not rest walks far distances for a total of 8 hrs a day.. Yelling pounding and now he has become violent!! He beat my dog.. And said he wanted to kill a human being. He tried to jump in a trucks path!! He has been to every hospital and they found a UTI. But can't do test in emergency room. He has no insurance and left the hospital before they could do a test where you drink that fluid first. He is delusional and it started to get worse after he smoked Salvia and drank everyday for a year. He lost his job, car, apartment And then got In a gang and robbed and got jail then probation and he is angry and gets rough with his child he lives with. He could hurt the baby or someone else Or Himself or rob again on an impulse.WHAT CHOICE DID I HAVE?! I got I'll as I am disabled ( with a job!!!!!) and when he is in pain he wants me to nurse him and moves back in after showing his ass being confrontational with everyone ... Then he gets in my face! He snatched my cell phone out of my hand once.. I am not that Mother!! He had a good up ringing but was always needy, hard headed and controlling.. Now it is where he thinks he can bulky me!!! Beating my dog in The woods was premeditated. The dog is my baby!! The only reason I didn't take a pipe to his head was "INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT" so YES!! if I let my grown ass kids fuck with me to the point I want to hurt them then they call the police and get me beat up by people I considered my friends in blue!! Then yes!! I hated it!! Still I had every reason to act crazy ... But I could have ran my car into someone if I was left in my home where too much was going on. I learned I can't lock people outside!! Can't slap a lying cheating boyfriend In the face in Walmart!!! Calmed my ass down!! My son.. Put on his Facebook help me... You will rest you can eat n u will sleep..


Anonymous said...

I was involuntarily committed about a week and a half ago for a suicide attempt. I would not ever go back if given the option. The hospital I was at sounds better than many the other comments have described, but the experience that I had was very frightening. I get upset just thinking about the women who constantly screamed until she was tranquilized again. And the women who would come into my room at night and recite bible verses.

I wasn't able to speak to a doctor, other than the doctor in the psychiatric emergency room, until the last day I was there. I wanted to be out of there so badly I lied about all of my feelings. I have had a couple follow-up visits since then and when I started to hint at how I am actually feeling their first reaction was to talk about going back again. I am still feeling suicidal and now I have to deal with the constant fear of going back there. I know I will never be able to get help for these feelings. I have vowed to myself to never tell any type of professional that I am feeling suicidal ever again. And the next time I try to kill myself, I will not fail and end up back there.

Anonymous said...

I couldnt sleep and I was getting angry at my family. Whenever they verbally abuse me its ok but if I get upset at them its out of line. To involuntary commit you they basically trick you, and lock the door behind your back. The report said I was incoherent... No one really helped me while I was in there. all they do is scare the shit out you. imagine sleeping with the door open in a building full of strangers. alot of the patients looked like they wanted to be there because of the nicotine perscriptions they were getting. The constipation the hospital food gave me should be classified as cruel and unusual punishment.

Oh and the $30,000.00 bill they left me with makes me wanna commit suicide.

Anonymous said...

I did not represent any danger to others; only to myself. This country is hilarious and hypocritical. People should have the right to die, if they wish to. These healthcare "professionals" only care about talking nonsense and gossiping during working hours, receiving a pay check, and about their licenses and liabilities. They are cold, disorganized, uninvolved, and lack the necessary empathy to treat mentally ill/depressed patients. Once you get locked up, you can forget about having any dignity left, whatsoever. I cannot possibly understand how locking up an already very depressed person and depriving him of his most valued belongings, or diminishing interactions/communications w/ his family members can help? Hypocrisy. They probably need to justify their salaries and their obvious professional incompetence. And the groups and activities are LITERALLY ridiculous. These men and women who cannot even spell in their own native language, let alone right a decent, truthful nursing/physician note, advising people on how to go on. The thought makes me laugh. Please, just spare me of your limited, small, insignificant culture, and of your absurd laws. I will never make the same mistakes again.

Anonymous said...

I would tell them that I don't do drugs. If they persisted I would just say no.

Anonymous said...

I would tell them that I don't do drugs. If they persisted, I would just say "NO".

Anonymous said...

...most miserable experience of my life.

i was hospitalized because of depression and suicidal thoughts.

after talking to my mother over the phone, she called the police. even though i told hospital staff that they were just thoughts they kept me against my will for observation for two nights. the first night they kept me in this giant ward with no privacy, no one to talk to, and a chair to sleep on.

it was seriously traumatic and i didnt need to be there.

i almost lost my job.

it was not a help at all and i was worse off after i got out. there was no follow up help, no one showed any interest in helping me at the time or even talking to me. it was awful.

not all psych units are like that but i know that i would rather die than go back to the hospital again.

Anonymous said...

No way!! By far the most traumatizing experience in my life and has only hindered my life more. I wake up from horrific nightmares about my deceiving family and police dehumanizing me only to be more dehumanized at the hospital. And to think this is going to actually help someone? I can never trust my family again. I live in fear daily knowing that someone could lie or exaggerate something I said and just like that you could end up in the most horrific place imaginable. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. I don't know how such torture is even legal. I have lost all hope.

Eyes Open said...

I would rather go to jail than back to a psych ward. I still experience fear and anxiety when going to the hospital for any reason. Worse yet,i was always a little bit claustrophobic and now after being locked on a hospital floor with the windows seeled shut for 3 1/2 days, I get claustrophobic simply sitting in any room where the door is closed. I was stripped naked twice after being dragged into the hospital in handcuffs. My anxiety had never been higher in my life than during that whole experience. Now every time I see a movie or show that has someone in a psych ward, mental hospital, or even someone in a claustriphasic situation, I have an anxiety attack. It has been two years since they did this to me. They left me broken in ways I never knew existed, because before they did this to me I never experienced anything so traumatic. I believe the people who do this deserve thier own personal space in a psych ward in hell, because you have to be evil to do what they do to people. I was told that I should not have been there, but psychiatrists will and can get away with anything, even murder, because what they practice is the mastery of Bullshit and making people believe it, and sometimes believing it themselfs. I committed no crime but was humiliated, dehumanized and stripped of my rights because of a psychiatrist. I would rather go to jail because in psych wards you have less rights than a criminal, you are forcibly drugged with psych meds (the new lobotomy), and locked in a small hospital floor with sealed windows, and all this without a trial. Trials for criminals, but when it comes to mental health, all it takes is a psychiatrist to say lock em up, traumatized them, drug them, get thier insurance money, than release them broken. There needs to be change and psychiatrist need to be held accountable for the trauma they have caused so many people. Real doctors are held accountable for any their wrongs, but the mental health community is practically untouchable. Before it was forced electro shock therapy, before that lobotomy, now forced drugging and still forced commitment. The trauma caused by these mental health quacks has gone on long enough. 50% of anxiety disorders are caused by physical ailments like thyroidism. Vitamin D deficiecy causes depressed mood, but go to a psychiatrist and they will put you on a medication like paxil that doesnt fix the problem and leaves you with an array of side affects and your psychiatrist will blame these side effects on your mental health and raise your dose, and whoola, they got a life long patient to keep drugging and collecting insurance money, not to mention incentives from drug companies to prescibe thier new wonder drug. Now there is a big book of psychiatric disorders that have no diagnostic tests, except a list of symptoms. They have listed just about every feeling a human being can have as a mental disorder and each disorder gives the psychiatrist another reason they can prescibe psych meds. Without the disorder the insurance would not pay for the drugs. Back off psycho quacks, and let real doctors diagnose. One day you will be seen for what you really are and will be held accountable legally.

Anonymous said...

My family had me committed. I was forced to live with criminals, my life savings is now gone because I don't have insurance, I can no longer own a firearm, and can no longer join the military. I worked very hard my entire life and now have nothing to show for it. My employer cut my hours after being released. Psychiatry is a lie. The medications do not address the underlying causes of mental health and are extremely toxic. Inflammation of the brain and poor gut health are the real causes. Never involve anyone you know in the system like this. This was the worst experience of my life