Monday, September 9, 2013

My Short Stay at Sheppard Pratt

Welcome back!

Let’s fast forward 5 years from my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder to my 2nd psychiatric hospitalization. I was experiencing a very severe depressive episode during this time period. At the time I was in college and living with my parents. I was so severely depressed at this time that I felt suicidal. I locked myself in the bathroom with the intentions of taking an overdose. Dad came to the rescue by literally banging the door down before this could fully occur; I had taken a few pills but not enough to cause any damage.  I then literally slept for a day or two straight which came to an end when my boyfriend at the time (now my ex-husband) called my doctor for me. With some convincing from my doctor at the time I admitted myself to the hospital. He called Sheppard Pratt and reserved a bed for me. Before being admitted to a hospital as a psych patient it is necessary to be medically cleared.  My doctor sent me to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) ER first so I could get medically cleared. 

I sat in the ER of GMBC for almost a 24 hour period waiting to be seen and to be transferred to Sheppard Pratt.  It was the most ridiculous ER visit I have ever experienced.

First, I had absolutely NOTHING but a hospital gown to wear, they presumed I may harm myself with any other article of clothing apparently. 

Second, they basically put me in a room off to the side and forgot about me for many many hours.  After hours upon hours of just sitting there freezing cold and starving, I had to send my ex-husband to find someone to get me some food and even after doing so it was quite a long time until they actually brought me my food.  They made me wait on a psychiatric clinician to evaluate me which is what took the longest.  To this day I do not understand why a psychiatric clinician had to evaluate me, my psychiatrist had already done so and I was only there to get medically cleared for a bed that was already waiting for me at Sheppard Pratt. 

FINALLY!  All is said and done after almost a day (less than an hour of which was actually time that I spent engaging with a hospital worker of any sort) I was transferred by ambulance to Sheppard Pratt. GBMC and Sheppard Pratt’s entrances are literally adjacent to each other on Charles Street; it wasn’t a very far ride in the ambulance. My parents and my ex-husband met me over there.

Had I been manic and not depressed, I would have for sure pitched a fit to the staff at GBMC.  However, since I was dealing with depression, I didn’t say much of anything about it all unless it was to my family who was with me.

Once I arrive at Sheppard Pratt, I was brought up to the unit on the stretcher, still wearing nothing but a hospital gown.  They say to me when I get there, “we’ve been expecting you for a while”- yeah I know, thanks GBMC!  The most humbling part of it all is the wonderful strip search that takes place as part of the admissions process to ensure you are not hiding anything dangerous on your person. I guess lucky for me or unlucky for me whichever way you want to look at it, I had been wearing only a hospital gown for almost 24 hours already so I really didn’t care at this point!  As part of the admission process they go through all of your stuff and take anything that could have any potential of harming you or someone else, things you would never even think of.

So a little about this hospital stay….

  • I was hospitalized for 6 days (and the bill was almost $6,000- I’m so thankful for having had good insurance at the time).
  • I was open to the available help for the most part and participated in all the group therapy sessions.  Although I tend to always want to help others more than myself, it’s just in my nature and this was very evident during this time period.
  • I saw the doctor for no more than 15 minutes each day (no joke) and endured some medication changes.
Upon discharge from the hospital I was voluntarily admitted into the “day program” at SP for a week or so (don’t remember the exact length of time).   This is also referred to as “partial  hospitalization”. It is a program that lasts during the day from 8:30-4. You are free to do whatever at 4 pm and you return to the day hospital at 8:30 am.  The goal is to continue the structure and support of the hospital for those who are ready for discharge but still need some continued support.  The day hospital consists of an entire day jam packed of group therapy sessions.

A psychiatric hospitalization is in no way necessary for everyone who exhibits symptoms of their illness.

Who is a psychiatric hospital stay appropriate for?
  • Someone who is in need of a rapid mediation change. In order to do this they need to be in a place where a member of the medical staff remains on duty 24/7. Outside of the hospital medication changes are done much slower than in the hospital because there is no medical monitoring. (This was the main purpose served for me during my hospitalization; I needed a med change and fast)
  • Someone that is suicidal should be in the hospital under close supervision to regain stability.
  • Someone who is threatening to harm themselves or others as a result of their mental illness should be hospitalized to regain stability.
  • Someone who is having delusions, paranoia, hallucinations etc. to the point that they are unable to function in their day to day life should seek hospitalization to regain functioning.
  • In general, someone who is in a crisis of some sort that affects their day to day function and is related to their mental illness could possibly benefit from a psychiatric hospitalization. Every person and every case is different. My level of normal functioning is not the same as another person with Bipolar Disorder's level of normal functioning. It is definitely not cut and dry from person to person or situation to situation.
After my hospitalization

Prior to this hospitalization I was a little ways into my first semester as a transfer student at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Throughout my hospital stay I was worrying a lot about catching up on my school work and getting back to school. After my discharge, I determined it best to drop all of my courses for the semester.  Shortly thereafter, I made the decision not to return to UMBC. I was not a fan of the school during the short time I was there and I thought it was best to apply to Towson where I knew I would feel more comfortable.  So I took the spring semester of 2005 off and returned to school in fall of 2005 when I began my studies at Towson University. 

During the semester I took off I worked full time hours and focused on getting better so that when I returned to school I could give it my all. This turned out to be a good decision for me. I finished up the remainder of my bachelor’s degree in 2 years at Towson University.

After my hospitalization I was not magically healed. I continued to put a lot of time and effort into feeling like my normal healthy self again.

“My recovery from manic depression has been an evolution, not a sudden miracle.” – Patty Duke

Thank you for reading! Until next time…
Sara Breidenstein
Kissing Stigma Goodbye


Anonymous said...

Hi! I have a question, and I know this might not be the right place to ask this, but I was wondering if you would know. What are the visiting hours there? I'm under eighteen years old. Can I still get in? Thanks!

Sara Breidenstein said...

I apologize but I do not know the answer to your question. It may even vary from unit to unit. You can call the main number to the hospital and they should be able to answer that for you. I went to their website to get the number for you, it is 410-938-3000.

Andy B said...

I would like to know more about the Day Hospital program at Sheppard Pratt, including if there is one at the Ellicott City. My daughter, who has been diagnosed bipolar, will be going to a Day Hospital soon and I want to find a good one.

MichelleInSanDiego said...

My son is scheduled to start, but I have left two messages to confirm and not heard back.

MichelleInSanDiego said...

(443) 364-5500 picks up the phone; there is a door-to-door bus: the location is by 40E.