I've been admitted to the psychiatric ward of the hospital three times. You could call me crazy. You could say that I was in the "mad house" or "crazy ward". Maybe it's true, maybe I am crazy. Maybe there are some parts of the hospital that are for "crazy" people. But my experiences have been perfectly normal, and have taught me a lot about others.
The places that I went weren't for people who were insane - a lot of the beds were taken up by people who were sad. That's part of the reason I went in too, because I was sad. I also had some other things I needed to get sorted out, but what I saw in the hospital was that depression and anxiety are common themes here.
People go to the hospital because they don't feel safe, and these people deserve more credit than they're given. When you're sad and want to hurt yourself, it takes a lot of courage to bring yourself to the hospital and admit to others that you can't take care of yourself right now. I would know, because I've done that twice. And the first thing you're thinking when you walk in there is, "what if they don't believe me?"
We avoid the things that make us uncomfortable. We shy away from topics such as mental health and illnesses because we don't know how to talk about them, or even what to think about them. When you get the chicken pox, you can see it. You can scratch it. It's easy to know that it's there, and others can see that too. When you get depression, it's harder to explain. Others may not be able to see it. The people who work at the hospital only want to give beds to the people that really need them, which leaves a lot of us being scared that they aren't going to believe us when we ask for help.
The hospital is a last resort, but I think some people still don't realize that mental illness comes in many different forms. The girl who swallowed 36 pills and I could be at the same level of despair, but maybe I don't look depressed, so why should I be taken seriously? We need to teach others that everyone deserves to have their story heard. Please don't look at me and tell me that my sadness isn't serious enough because I managed to get out of bed and get dressed and take a shower. Please don't tell me that my sadness isn't serious enough because you saw me smiling in the waiting room.
People with mental illnesses are very misunderstood. I met a schizophrenic who was a super nice guy and fun to be around, he just heard voices. That was the only real difference between the two of us. Sometimes the nicest people are the ones with depression, because they know what it feels like to have the world treat them badly, so they treat others with nothing but kindness. And then there's me, bipolar but still able to get through the day without freaking out or doing something drastic.
The most important thing that I can say about visiting the psychiatric ward is that you're not going to get attacked. That's just unrealistic. Most of us don't really care about who's walking up and down the hallways, you're here for your own reasons and so am I. It's not like the movies. So if you have a friend who needs some time away from it all and ends up in the hospital, don't be afraid to go see them. Give them support and love, because I'm sure that they could use it.