My Experience with 5150.

When we think of being in a psychiatric facility, we think of the cliche of straight jackets and cells. But at least in my county, it is not the case. Here’s my experience.

I was having issues dealing with suicidal thoughts so I called 911. I wanted to live and I hoped that this would be my answer. The first thing that happened after that phone call was police officers coming and handcuffing me per protocol. It was a strange feeling being handcuffed and if wasn’t for the humor the cops had, I would’ve felt I committed a crime for my mental health. I kept thinking what would happen as I was being driven in the back of a police car. Was the destination to a mental health facility? No.

It was to a hospital. There I was put on a stretcher. I was asked if I was a flight risk. I said no, so I had the handcuffs taken off. I had my blood drawn. And had to wait in a hospital room. I was asked to change into hospital gowns. I waited in this blaring room. Luckily, I was able to have guests. But sometimes this was disrupted by staff coming to do health screenings. Usually, I stayed hours at the hospital until there was space available for a mental health location. My sleep would be disrupted with more tests or to be moved to another room since they had to lock a patient in my room.

Finally, I was able to moved to a proper facility. I was strapped into a gurney and taken into an ambulance. There I would just have to wait. Usually, the paramedics ignored me or talked amongst themselves about problems they were dealing with. In one instance, a paramedic was on a call due to her girlfriend having a quarrel with her.

Once I arrived at the facility, I was brought into a facility in the gurney. I was unstrapped and taken to a room where I was admitted in. Basic questions were asked. What was my name? Do I have insurance? Do I have a DPA?

Then depending on the time of day, I either went to sleep or tried to eat some food. After a while, I was moved into another room to be able to have my own room or share a room with another patient.

The day consisted of breakfast, doing small activities, and commingling among one another. Honestly, I wished more was done. Like a support group. But I understood that we were at our most vulnerable there.

There were times where we could go out into an open area to be able to walk around. We would come back in and do arts and crafts. I particularly enjoyed arts and crafts since I had a passion for art. There would be time to socialize. I actually felt at home. Knowing I wasn’t alone.

After being in a facility in for 72 hours, a representative came in and met with a committee to see if I was fit to leave the facility. I would have to state my case and then the committee would either agree to have someone pick me up and leave the facility or have to stay for addition time. I always left within 72 hours or less.

When leaving, I would be given resources to attend to and then have a follow up check up to ensure I was okay. Honestly, I never once was scared throughout the whole ordeal.

There were moments where if a patient was a danger to others or themselves, they would be stuck with a syringe to be sedated.

But overall, I felt it was a place necessary when I was at my lowest.

What questions do you have about the mental health system?

-J

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