THE MARRIOTT OF MENTAL ILLNESS

Sometime ago, at the urging of my wife and psychiatrist, I admitted myself into a mood disorder clinic. I mention this stay for one simple reason. When my psychiatrist suggested I could benefit from hospitalisation I was devastated. Such clinics were for the seriously ill, not me.

Truth is, I was judging my fellow sufferers just as some ‘normal’ Australians judge me. I felt this experience would be incredibly stigmatizing. Thankfully, I was 100% wrong. You see, like me, too many of us judge from a position of ignorance.

Initially, I had images of a rundown Gothic mansion lit by lightning and with barred windows from which blood-curdling screams could be heard. Truth was it was more like a bit of a rundown Travelodge without a bar. I also remember the showers ran lukewarm so you couldn’t scold yourself and there was nowhere to hang your towel, or anything else.

The staff were brilliant, as were my fellow patients. As I quickly learned – and will never forget – people suffering mental illnesses are not to be pitied or scared of. They can be warm, wonderful and successful people who look remarkably like you or me.

Should you ever find the need to stay in such a place don’t be worried or ashamed. If you had problems with your heart, you’d happily go to hospital so why not when you have troubles with your head?

One note: I voluntarily admitted myself to a low security, private facility. It may not be my first place of choice for a Christmas holiday but, nevertheless, it was my choice. I can only imagine what it would be like to be admitted to a high security institution against your will and suffering from a psychotic episode or an illness completely beyond your control.

There’s not a lot that’s written about mood disorder clinics that’s either sensationalist or straight out advertising, so why not chill out with some mindfulness exercises:

https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-practise-mindfulness

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