red hammock tied between two trees
My Take

Crisis Centres for Mental Illness Support

Trigger Warning: Self-harm

Do you want to guess where I am right now? I’ll tell you where I’m grateful to NOT be; a hospital. I’ll rewind though. I cut myself in a drastic swing downwards where it felt like I had two voices in my head…both mine, but wanting very different things. It was like a tennis match over my next move. I was filled with anxiety and inner conflict and knew it wouldn’t stop until I cut. I didn’t want to give in; I wanted to stop and tell someone. One of those voices said that doing so would be worse. I’d be stuck in that feeling of turmoil if I didn’t do it…so I did. One of them was particularly nasty and would’ve needed stitches but I didn’t get any. This means I’ll have another big ugly scar. Yay.

After that I spoke with the worker who follows me from the West Island Crisis Centre. Then I told my parents and Aaron. I felt so hopeless and things were going downhill. I didn’t feel like I would be safe at home with my parents or at the apartment with Aaron. Going to the hospital again was starting to look like a possibility but after what happened last time…I mean…

I didn’t know what to do and I was super lost. I called my worker at the Crisis Centre again. He said he could give me a spot as an inpatient and Mia would be allowed to come. I’m very grateful to be here because I already feel safer and calmer. I’m removed from the triggers and stressors that were seemingly everywhere and making my head explode.

I was naturally anxious about coming here but the staff and patients are very kind and welcoming. Better than anywhere else I’ve been. 2 patients were particularly warm and friendly; a man and a woman and we related very well. So I arrived last night and we went through my things. I get to keep my stuff though! I was given my own room to share with Muffin and got a tour. We slept well at least and it seems like we got up before anyone else so I’ve been writing to you. I tried to read the novel for school but didn’t get very far. I can’t focus on it. I’m worried about work and school…I shouldn’t be thinking about that though. It’s easier to ignore here. On Tuesday I’ll drive to class from here and that will be a lot closer than usual because the Centre is also in the West Island. I don’t want to but hope I can handle it because I really do have to go. I can’t miss 3 classes in a row!

I’m back. I ate a muffin and a banana for breakfast. It seems like 3 new people arrived after me last night. I did some drawing too and took Mia outside about 3 times. That reminds me…there are some things that really make a difference when you’re away from home and trying to work on yourself to become – at minimum – more stable.

  • Being able to go outside! This is huge…the fresh air, seeing the sky, getting to walk around…it’s incredibly important.
  • Along the same lines, windows are important. Without them it can feel claustrophobic, dark, and gloomy. You feel shut out of the world, confined and depressed. That’s how I feel anyway. Even if you want to curl up in the dark it’s important not to unless you desperately need a nap.
  • Wearing your own clothes instead of a hospital gown. There’s a lot of dignity in wearing your own clothes. You feel less exposed, it’s closer to life outside and it’s easier to feel more equal with caretakers. It’s less humiliating and less of a reminder of why you’re there.
  • It doesn’t smell like a hospital. That says it all.
  • There are decorations and comfortable furniture that again add to the normality. A living room, an art room with supplies, a kitchen where you make your own breakfast and lunch…books, a TV, board games, etc.
  • Your independence isn’t entirely revoked! You have support and safety but you still make choices, manage your time, etc.

1 Days Later: The Takeaway

It’s really important to find the kind of services/help that will work for YOU. If you remember my last post, I was pretty exasperated about how I was treated at the hospital. Practically pushed out and then look what happened. Incompetent, insensitive idiots. This on the other hand is homey and the people make it feel that way. You’re not a number or a problem. You’re not bumped down in priority because it’s a mental issue. You’re not kicked out and your pain isn’t invalidated.

You might need a therapist, a psychologist or a psychiatrist…you may need a mobile or telephone crisis worker. You may need a hospital for something medical or you may need a crisis centre or psych ward. Maybe you need a combination. The point is, please don’t be shy. Please don’t keep it hidden. Please don’t be ashamed for seeking help. Having gone to a psych ward or crisis centre doesn’t make you ‘crazy’, ‘weak’ or anything of the sort. Seeking help is responsible, brave and quite the opposite of weakness. It’s a sign of tremendous strength to recognize when you need outside help.

To give you a good example, one of the patients I’m closest to is leaving today. She doesn’t want her friends to know where she is. This is a common by-product of stigma; she’s afraid to be looked down upon or treated differently. She really shouldn’t have to feel that way.

It’s also really important to not give up after having been failed in a time of urgent need. I felt that way but now look what happened. I feel exactly where I should be. There are solutions, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Trust me…on Friday I felt like I was sinking into a pit and there was no good option whereas today I feel hopeful and more calm.

2 Days Later: Tips

In any type of inpatient setting the key is to have things you enjoy doing. (Or at least that keep you adequately occupied.) This can involve engaging with other patients, reading, writing, drawing, colouring, painting, listening to music, watching TV, going for walks, knitting, etc. Depending on the unit some of these might not be possible but those are some ideas. Which reminds me…before I came here I discovered the fun of knitting with bulky chenille yarn. I made a pretty good large blanket for my first time and this morning I knit two scarves. I’m wearing one right now and the other I’m giving to a friend here who is leaving.

My new scarf!
The blanket (that Mia loves too)

I’m not gonna say that you’ll instantly feel great because you’re in a place like this, but it does really help! It’s a way to put life on pause and do what you need to do to get back on your feet. It can be rough, but the important thing is to talk with the workers…share how you feel…work through some helpful ideas and potential solutions. The best advice I can give is probably this: Go with it. DOn’t judge yourself for being there, don’t worry about what’s going on outside, just take the time you need. It’s intensive self-care time that you DO deserve!

Mia

Remember how Mia was so great in the hospital? Not just with her behaviour but how she helped others? She’s doing that again here and it’s really priceless to see and experience. Everyone loves her and they pet her and/or hold her. She has an exceptionally unique, loving and healing spirit. I want to share that with the world and this Centre is a fantastic place to start.

Here are some pictures of Mia and the Centre if you’re curious.

Muffin on squirrel duty!
The living room
My room

Here’s a link to the West Island Crisis Centre

Take care!

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