My First Inpatient Experience

My First Inpatient Experience

Hello, and welcome or welcome back, whichever it may be.

It’s the same day, or evening, as my last post, but tonight I find that I have a lot to say and the motivation to get it out.

This evening I find myself thinking about my hospitalizations and I want to share these things with you.

What Started It

The first time I was hospitalized for my depression was October 4, 2017. It was a Wednesday and I had asked my ARNP to work me in on that day. I was an absolute mess.

The day before, the owner of the store that I worked for had gotten on to me about some issues and, though he wasn’t mean about it, it was as if it were the last weight I could carry on my back. I went to my office and I cried. The tears just wouldn’t stop. Then, on my desk, I saw my box cutter and it was as though I couldn’t control myself. I took the blade out, quietly inspected it for rust, then ran it across the back of my hand.

Little beads of blood welled up and I was transfixed. I cut again. And again. And again. The cuts were barely there. My cats do more damage to me by accident than I did to myself that first time. Somehow, I got through the rest of my shift that day and I went over to my doctor’s office, asking if my ARNP was there. She wasn’t, but another nurse was. I spoke to her, crying, frightened at what I had done, and so, so tired.

She wanted to send me to the hospital right then, but I was frightened, and I begged her not to send me. Miss G* agreed, but had me stay and talk to the therapist that was there. I did, but I remember just being too tired to really focus on what he had to say. If asked, I couldn’t tell you much of anything of what we talked about that day.

The Next Day

The next day I was still a mess, exhausted both mentally and physically, but I went to work. I told my boss that I had a doctor’s appointment and he told me I had too much to do, to go, but come back. I went, but I didn’t go back.

My ARNP looked at me and I could see that she was worried, but I didn’t have it me to put on a mask. After I explained how I was feeling, that I had cut the day before and cut again that day, she looked at me so sadly and so seriously and said, “I think you need some inpatient care.”

I don’t remember a lot of the details surrounding the rest of that conversation, but she got me to agree, though I think that was just for my own peace of mind, I was going whether I wanted to or not.

She was, she explained to me, going to call the police, and they were going to take me to a place called the Apalachee Center. (I call this place by name because I don’t live in the same town as the Apalachee Center.) She told me they’d take good care of me. I remember asking about my car, and she said it was fine where it was.


A young Sherriff’s Deputy came out and he spoke to me for a few minutes before taking my things and leading me out the front door.

I can’t remember ever being so humiliated as I was led out the door of my doctor’s office by a cop. I wanted to hide my face.

He took me to the station and I sat in the car while he wrote up my transfer to another vehicle. I don’t know why he couldn’t take me.

The trip to Tallahassee was long and uncomfortable. I hope that you’ve never been in the back seat of a police cruiser, but for your own sake, I hope it’s never something you have to experience.

We got to the Center and I had to give up everything the police officer had let me hold; my hoodie and a little gray tabby cat beanie baby that I grabbed from my car as a comfort. I went through an X-Ray machine and then I was in the Intake Waiting Room.


I sat stiffly and frightened in the chair for probably two hours before anybody spoke to me, and then it was to ask me to move for a moment. It took that long for me to get the courage to look up at anybody.

I just wanted to go home.

Intake took a while due to an excess influx of patients. They said that they typically had maybe had four people come in per day. I guess there had been a full moon or something, but they had gotten 18 new patients that day.

Sometime during Intake, they brought in that one psycho that you see in all the mental hospital horror movies and thrillers. He was in a hospital gown, two of them, thankfully. His hair and eyes were wild, and he was frightening. He was yelling and cursing, and I was more frightened than ever. I begged the doctor doing my intake not to make me go out there while he was still there.

All in all, between waiting and Intake, I didn’t go upstairs for nearly six hours. I hadn’t eaten, I was exhausted, I was still afraid, and I wanted to go home.

First Impressions Aren’t Always Good

When I finally got upstairs I can recall being unnerved by the appearance of things. The place was old, a little dingy, and a little dark. It felt so institutional. Then, when I was assigned a room, fortunately, the last empty room, I couldn’t even look at the beds. I curled up as tight as I could in a corner of the room, hidden as much as I could be from the door, turned my head away and just sobbed.

That night, when, exhausted by tears, I finally went to the bed, I took my blanket over my head and slept with the light on until they woke me the next morning.

I was still deeply uncomfortable that morning. I sat stiffly, once again, on the couches, hands clutched in my dirty, sleep worn jeans. They locked us out of the bedrooms until that afternoon. I just wanted to hide.


We formed lines to go to breakfast, we formed lines to come back. There was a group after breakfast. It wasn’t much. Just meal ‘options’ and a small orientation.

To be honest, most of my five days there was a lot of nothing.

I spent maybe ten minutes with the psychiatrist per day. During my first visit I was diagnosed with PTSD, which my current therapist and doctor agree with, and Borderline Personality, which is disagreed with, so I don’t claim it as part of my issues.

There was a lot of time to think. I was scared to call family, but I finally called my aunt, and then my cousin, who became my strength during that stay. I don’t think she’ll ever really know just how much her time and love meant to me.

This first stay in the hospital was a very difficult one for me. I cried a lot. I lost weight due to lack of appetite. Except for when Cousin was there, I felt so very, very alone.

An Overview

If I were to grade The Apalachee Center, I’d have to go with this:

Safety A
Food D –
Supervision C
Comfort C –
Psychiatric Care B
Privacy C
Overall Grade C


Overall, and just based on my stay there and at other places, I wasn’t super impressed. I’d consider it as probably being better than Tallahassee Behavioral Center, which is partnered with the Apalachee Center, but nowhere near as nice as Capital Regional’s 7th floor. I can’t remember enough of when Mama was in Bay Behavioral to offer any decent comparison.

I consider my first afternoon there to be a traumatic experience. It’s not something I’ll never get over. I’m over it now, but that doesn’t change the memory of the fear, the humiliation, the lack of control, and desire to just curl up and beg for somebody to just send me home.

I’m Not Trying to Discourage Anybody From Seeking Inpatient Care

Inpatient care can be an important and strangely comforting experience. Knowing that I would probably be sent to the hospital again didn’t stop me from going to the ER the next time things went downhill. I’ve never been admitted for more than six days at a time. It’s not a forever experience, but when you need to be safe from you; when you’re exhausted; when everything seems too much, these are good people who will help.

If you or somebody you know is in crisis, seek help. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long. They don’t close on holidays, they don’t close on the weekends. These are wonderful people whose only focus is you.

And if you and your doctor decide you need inpatient care, don’t be too afraid. I promise you won’t be there forever and that it’ll be okay.

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