I Spent Two Weeks in a Mental Institution..and it was the best thing I've ever done.

My name is Aurelia, and a few years ago, I spent two weeks in a mental facility on the Sunshine Coast.

I have four beautiful children. When my youngest was just 18 months old – I was at the worst place of my life. I was an alcoholic – drinking two to three bottles of wine every night. I popped pills like no tomorrow. I had OCD. I never left my house and I was totally 100% co-dependant on my husband.

I spent two weeks in a mental institution | Stay at Home Mum

So dependant, I couldn’t make any decisions for myself. I had 20 years of misery including being sexually abused by a family member leading up to the birth of my children which was a blessing – but if I wanted to be around for them whilst they grow up and be a good mother to them – I had to do something – and suicide was a certain option if I didn’t get the help I needed.

I needed help. I packed my bags and turned up at the local hospital and generally demanded to be admitted. They must have seriously thought I was a crazy lady – and in reality – I was. The first thing they did was get me right in to see a GP – then seeing the condition I was in and because I was considering self-harm, they appointed me a psychiatrist right away. He was a lovely man who happened to work at the Buderim facility – he admitted me right away.

I nearly lost my nerve actually walking in (after all that) – and saying goodbye to my husband and children – whom I’d never been away from for a single night. My co-dependence was crippling. So I transferred that need for my husband to a tatty old jumper that I’d put in my bag. From then on, they called me the ‘jumper lady’.

Mental Illness | Stay at Home Mum

Being admitted, they went through my belongings and checked my current medications. There were two beds to a room, but I was lucky enough to be in there alone for the first few days.

I was pretty much heavily sedated for the first 48 hours. They did this as I went into alcohol withdrawal. I don’t really remember much about that time. When I came out of the fog, I got used to the routine of the hospital which included going to two-group therapy sessions per day, and an activity which was usually something arty like pottery or painting.

I went to absolutely everything – I wanted to be well. I wanted to get better and wanted to be a good wife and mother. This had to work – my life literally depended on it.

The variety of patients was incredible. There were every age, men and women. There were eating disorders, post-traumatic stress sufferers, anxiety issues, drug addicts (like me!) and people on suicide watch. We weren’t ‘locked in our rooms’ and we could all talk – or not talk as we pleased. Every day, I saw my psychiatrist who would assess how I was doing and would look at my medications and tweak accordingly.

The two weeks went by both fast and slow. It was great to get lots of rest (couldn’t get much rest at home with four children), and just concentrate on getting well and getting clean. The staff at the hospital were amazing, so supportive and non-judgemental.

On checking out – I had a detailed scheduled of weekly updates and appointments I had to attend. I had to make sure I took my new medications religiously. I had to see my psychiatrist weekly too to keep me on track.

Mental Illness | Stay at Home Mum

Six years later, I’m pleased to say that now I am training to be a Counsellor. My kids are happy and healthy, attend a good private school and I go up most days to do reading with them.

Going to the ‘looney bin’ as I affectionately call it – was the best thing I could do for me and my family. Yes, I still struggle at times, but I am in good hands.

My advice to anyone in a similar position is – go straight to a psychiatrist – they are trained to deal with people like me. They can prescribe you the right medications for the right problems. If you are considering self-harm – do something about it. And don’t be scared to talk to your family and friends about mental illness.

If you become concerned about your or anyone else’s health please seek immediate medical attention or go to our health hotlines and website post for further resources –  http://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/ 

SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information.  All information provided is correct at time of publication.

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