So it turns out my friend went into the hospital last night. She was doing semi ok yesterday. We got to hang out basically all day. She had one meeting with her caseworker and they covered a lot. She was going to another meeting last night to discuss room arrangements if she’d have to be in observation or our room.
So observation is totally stupid. Basically every 26 numbered room is one that faces the nurse’s station on each floor. The door needs to be kept open. Depending on the nurse on the floor it can sometimes be closed or cracked. Some insist it needs to be wide open. When I first went to one of the rooms a staff tried to tell me there was no door on the room and they had no idea why! Anyway the people in the room aren’t all there for the same issues which makes it hard. The room has four beds like most rooms. Not all of them are full at the same time and you never know when you’ll get someone. My friend and I were in there for months and the unknown of that was such a huge anxiety.
So criteria for getting in that room could be a bunch of things. Obveously someone who has self-harmed. They could though just be worried you’ll do it and will put you there “just in case.” Especially after an episode. So you could be stuck in that room even if you’re feeling fine. Other things that will put you in a 26 room are: if you smoke in your room/ bathroom and get caught enough times, if you’re constantly aggressive/ getting in fights, if you have some sort of medical problem where they want you close to the nurse’s station. Like someone with a balance problem or otherwise.
So someone who’s suicidal and self-harming could be in the same room with someone who’s very aggressive. Which isn’t a good situation!
The other part of the whole thing that’s beyond frustrating is that there isn’t much observing going on. Despite the thing about the door open it’s not like any staff is actually ever hanging out in the room. Yes they can visually see in there. And yes if someone were to harm themselves or have some other issue there’s all of five steps away. But pretty much all the time besides poking their head in for rounds the nurse and CNAS are just kinda doing their thing. Meanwhile you have to hear all the noise from them talking there. Of course the nurse’s station is a very high traffic area so residents are always coming and going and in their various moods which often isn’t great. This used to be worse when they had the smoking dayrooms because the smoking dayroom is right there as well. So you had the TV blasting. That’s a little better now.
All that to say having to be in that room isn’t exactly comforting or healing. Or even really doing what it’s supposed to be doing.
So she was in there Tuesday night of course. And they were deciding about last night. Which another thing that kills me is she can be hanging out in our actual room all day. But at nighttime she has to be up in that other room. It’s like huh?
So she was genuinely like well if it’s between that room and the hospital I choose the hospital. The hospital has its downsides of course. But it’s a break from here they have stuff to actually help when you’re in crisis, more individualized focused support. Which is the other thing. There are no special measures for someone in crisis here on a day to day throughout the day basis other than that stupid room. If it were me and I was working here, I’d want a whole area for the people in crisis and separated out too. So that aggressive people weren’t sleeping next to people wanting to self injure. And I’d have actual staff coming in and talking to these people at various times and really focusing on the issues.
But it’s hard too because she wasn’t sure if she really *needed* that level of care. And I absolutely hate when she’s hospitalized. It’s hard enough being her best friend and older sister when she’s hurting. And this week is especially tough for her as it’s the one year anniversary of a family member’s death. So not only is that hard but for me and her actually, we’re basically the only friends we have in the facility. Many of the residents are so overwhelmed by their own illness that they can’t or don’t know how to relate to each other positively. Many don’t have good social skills. Then there’s the added issue of my disability which is hard for some normally functioning people to handle never mind anyone else. So it’s rare to find someone I can genuinely connect with. It seems when I do they move.
Currently the only other friend I have here is completely deaf. Which is another story but basically we need a third person to interpret and there aren’t really many people who can do that either.
So if she’s not there I’m totally by myself. Not only that but she helps with day to day stuff like going to meals laundry making sure I stick to a routine ETC. And so you know it’s not one sided I help with making sure she opens up about her life, remembers to bring her recorder for staff meetings, give her constant cuddles and annoy her constantly so she can’t get isolated.
So when she’s not there the CNAS, (who’s job it is to do this by the way) have to step in. Which would be great except they aren’t so consistent or even clued in. One or two are. But many others just do their own thing. Then there are the caseworkers. I only trust mine with really opening up to. Others are nice but again inconsistent. And to be honest if you’re not doing anything to get attention you don’t get attention. I don’t know how else to say it. There are so many people here that demand to be noticed with their behavior. And the behaviors are just constant. That someone who’s quietly struggling really won’t get noticed very much. They’re there if you need them and you’re sort of responsible for tracking them down yourself if you really need them. And it’s not to criticize them as lonely as it feels. For anyone who has an undergraduate human services degree. Imagine having that degree and coming in here to a residential facility with about three hundred residents with various moderate to severe issues. All sorts of diagnosis/ behaviors that all present differently. You have thirty to keep track of, write paperwork on ETC. Plus you have to come to any crisis situation that comes up, and deal with anything in the moment that comes up. It’s a job I would not want to even ask someone to have to do. And I think about that all the time with them. It’s beyond sad and frustrating to me the level of responsibility these people are given.
So anyway. She’s in the hospital. I know she’s in good hands. The unit is really good. Her psychiatrist, who is also mine, is also very good. She’s been there a million times. We both know she’ll get solid care. Which is something you honestly can’t say about I don’t think any of the other units the other psychiatrists admit to. At least the two different ones I was at.
So I’m hanging in there. Trying to stick to my routine. Trying to keep positive. Last night I’m surprised people didn’t hear me howling from wherever they live. When I don’t think I have any tears off I get set off again. But I know this is what she needs. And I don’t want her having to leave quickly and worrying about me.
So that’s my long update. Which I hope also gives you insight into the workings of the system here. Which is not bad, it’s what it is. It’s what they do with what they have. Next month we’re transitioning to a mental health license and I think that will change some things for the better. I hope anyway!