Tales from the Psych Ward (Part 3): “Therapy”

I Don’t Know MUCH BUT…

I do know that therapy should be a bit more tailored to the person that is receiving it. The last time I was at Southern Maryland, I wasn’t as knowledgeable regarding psychology. I was obtaining my Associate’s at the time but I just think that there is so much more that can be done. I don’t know if COVID is playing a part in the “treatment” we received but I can say that it did change after I was there for a while because it seems as though some people were on vacation and in training. I don’t know but I’ll talk about the “therapy” I received while in the psych ward.

One on One Therapy….Where?

The only 1:1 therapy I received and gave was with my fellow patients. That’s it, really. I felt that I had a LITTLE bit of an advantage because I DO have a degree but I am not a social worker. I am not licensed. But the same thing happened last time. I was the therapist to a lot of the people that were there and I didn’t mind because it gave me purpose and something to do while I was there. Twelve years ago, I was that person as well but, when they kept me longer because I was still “angry”, I had no one to really talk to about it. It was interesting.

This time was a bit different as my roommate wasn’t a woman with dementia that I actually took care of while I was there. My roommate was the person that I talked to. We both put it all out there for one another. I can actually say that I am broken hearted right now because I have not heard from her since we were released and am on the verge of doing research to find her. I don’t think she wants that but I will because THAT’S how strong the bond was that we formed. I will NOT put her business on blast because her story is not mine to tell but I know what she is capable of and I hope that she knows as well.

I did my best to uplift her and let her know not to feel as though she was going to fail before she even tried. I also talked to her about how we can’t burn bridges and expect people to continue to have faith in us. We have to keep trying our best until we get it right. I accompanied her to some groups that had nothing to do with me just so that we could discuss what was learned AFTER group. I truly have been calling her phone often. I had to dial a number for her a few times but I cannot remember the first three digits. If I remembered them, I would have called that person. I have found her on Facebook so I guess I’m going to have to get into someone’s inbox. They might think I’m nuts but… I mean yeah…. I was in the psych ward so big whoop.

Besides my roommate, I talked to a few other patients for a while. One was “White Girl” (see Tales from the Psych Ward (Part 2): Getting to Know Other Patients) and I don’t have her number but I gave her mine. I learned her story and it’s extremely heartbreaking as well. Do I know for sure if what she told me was true? I don’t BUT what reason would she have to lie to me. There was a lot that I personally believe. Either way, I talked to her. We cried together. That’s what WE did. Being a minority there, I know it was hard for her and she told me that she had been to a bunch of mental health facilities and actually gave reviews that were in line with what I had SEEN when I was thinking about checking myself into a mental health facility. The best ones are INOVA but in the rich part. Can’t go where there are a lot of POC because, well….. yeah…… But I found myself looking out for her because I didn’t want her to be the victim of anything because of her color especially because she was in the minority. Again, I don’t like bullies.

Social/Case Workers or Whatever They Were

You want to know something funny? I think I talked to a social worker maybe three times while I was there. I talked to the one social worker before being admitted (she made the decision to admit me), I think someone talked to me on intake that Friday, and then someone talked to me when it was time for me to leave just to give me other resources because….get out, we need the bed.

There is a great group that talks to you after discharge called MinDoula (check out Mindoula Health, Inc. | Hi, we’re Mindoulas. We’re here for you 24/7.). They talked to me when I was being discharged and have been in contact with me since then. They have an app (the app is annoying because it signs you out often), they text you, or they can call you. I also like the name. They have a desktop version too that I used just a few minutes ago. They talk to you for about 30 days after your discharge I believe. I have to get up and get the paper.

Group Therapy or Fight Club… Whatever….

So I went to group therapy and recreational therapy. Unfortunately, they didn’t start coming around to the rooms to tell us about the therapy until Monday. So that means I was there from Friday to Sunday guessing when they had group therapy. And they use your attendance as proof that you are actually compliant with the “therapy” so I probably wasn’t necessarily “compliant” for a while because I didn’t KNOW there was therapy. One way that we learned about group was that they turned the one phone in the hallway off when there was a group session.

Recreational Therapy

I liked recreational therapy because I got to color. Sad part is (with good reason) that they took the markers and color pencils back at the end of the session. And the sessions were shorter than I would have liked but, I mean, I guess. One way that I knew there was recreational therapy because I heard the music. I have to say that I didn’t think that the music was appropriate personally but I was happy that I was able to request some Kpop because y’all know how I feel about my groups. They make me happy and coloring and listening to them makes me extremely happy. So I sat there and colored my pictures. I gave most of my pictures to my roommate.

But, since a lot of the patients were a little younger (although I do not look my age), we had to listen to some questionable music. I mean, I love DMX all day but…. I don’t think that it’s appropriate to play in a psych ward. I mean, if they had played Party Up, I would have probably been fighting everyone. Oh, you don’t know the song? Well, lemme put it here for you because…. RIP DMX (also, see my blog about him: Think Before You Speak on DMX, Mental Illness, and Addiction)

Once I found out about the group time, I was there even if it had nothing to do with me. You sit there and you nod in the talk therapy. But, again, there were a number of fights in the group. I wasn’t there for a lot of it but the people that were there before I was told me about some of the group fights. They said that they would rather not attend because of said fights.

Fun fact: The chairs are EXTRA heavy so you can’t pick them up and throw them at someone. I mean, if I were actually that mad, I could. That’s why I lift weights. They should have let me have one in my room to bench press. The chairs IN our rooms are bolted to the wall and floor. Again, I get it!

We got a young girl that came in and she kind of hyperventilated when an argument broke out in the group I was in where the old man that looked like my dad told that lady I almost fought “Shut up, you ole gray haired BITCH!” I still hear it. But that little girl must have had some serious trauma in the household because she put her feet in the chair, covered her ears, and started breathing quickly. I was like “Oh goodness!” So the big ole bouncer looking med techs had to break it up (I will talk about the med techs later as they were the MVPs of my stay).

But yeah, I requested some Rainbow (NCT Dream), Amnesia (Kai), Advice (Taemin), and The Eve (EXO DUH!) because it’s Kpop and Kpop is the best. I almost turned the table over though when she played some dang on overrated BTS’ Butter. Yeah, I said it. They are overrated. There are too many other great groups out there but this post isn’t about Kpop so let me not but yeah…..She turned it off real quick.

Personally, I think they should have been playing music from Pure Moods like Enya or just some piano or studying music. She had Spotify so I’m not sure why she didn’t just pick those playlists. It’s more conducive to just focusing and thinking about positive things. But, I mean, if they were taking requests, I was gonna get all the Kpop in that I could and I didn’t care. The songs were calm and all that. They just didn’t know what they were saying.

The Med Techs

I actually went to Southern Maryland’s website to look for the job description of the med techs. I will say that I really don’t have an unkind word to say regarding their med techs. Not ONE! They were all VERY helpful. What I checked the job description for was whether they were to be used as counselors. They were the main ones we saw all the time.

Any time we needed anything from the closet to washing our clothes (they waste a lot of water there because they don’t wash one patient’s clothes with another’s and I get it but yeah). They give you those lil crappy see through panties and paper clothes that rip in the crotch but they’re there to help.

I was on the phone talking to my sister and crying because I was happy about something that they had done for me while I was gone (I will be talking about this too) and a male tech came to me with tissues. He said “I hate to see a woman cry.” I assured him that they were happy tears.

The med techs and even some of the nurses actually CARE. They will actually explain things to you. They will acknowledge you when you knock on the window for something. Some of the nurses won’t. Some are probably burned out or something. I don’t know. But I can say that they were training med techs while I was there and they were very nice. I don’t think I’ve MET a mean med tech while there. They don’t seem like people we can’t talk to.

The med tech that checked me in was NICE. The one that stopped me from beating Mary was NICE! The med techs there are really the stars of the show. Here is the job description for the techs from Southern Maryland’s website. And this is FOR the behavioral health unit.

Here is the job description:

Mental Health Technician

Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Inpatient Psychiatry


In Summary….

There is no real therapy in the psych ward. They want to stabilize you and send you on your way. I can’t say that they actually CARE about the patients. I get it but some patients don’t already have an outpatient provider that they can follow up with. It’s nice that they partnered with a lot of other places including some of the substance abuse centers and the like but I just think that it would have been nicer to have a bit more time for the professionals or social workers to talk to the patients. They literally had a person sitting outside of the place where the social workers were which I felt to be a bit weird. Like they needed bodyguards or something.

The last time I was there, one of the counselors was actually attacked. But they didn’t wear scrubs so I can’t really say what her role was on the fourth floor. I just know that my little girl didn’t like her and was talking to me, took off down the hallway, and proceeded to beat the mess out of her. I really wonder where she is right now. I have changed my number since I was there and she didn’t have a steady number but she would call me randomly to tell me how she was doing. I hope she is okay. She had a heartbreaking story too.

There is a lot more that I can say but there are other parts coming up so stay tuned. I will highlight the two snitches. Don’t think I forgot about them.

I will also talk about how my family, and someone I know but don’t know that well, truly stepped up to the plate. I will also talk about some of the things we did and talked about while chillin in the ward. I mean, I was on the verge of reciting the whole The Little Mermaid movie to my roommate. Yup, because I still know all the words. I will also talk about the aftermath. So there might be two more parts of this series coming and then I will get back to my everyday ranting about people and things.

Well, maybe I will talk about how my dog was impacted by this incident as he wasn’t around 12 years ago. I will also talk about the changes I have made as a mother and how my daughter was while I was gone as well as now (she’s trying to do better as am I).

Again, thank you for reading and thank you for caring enough to go on this trip with me.

Part 4 of this series can be found here.


Published by tallgirl79

Blogging about life. Well, my life. As a black, bipolar, mom to a teenager with special needs, well, there is always a story to tell. From my aversion to having a man to my weird experiences while trying to avoid people, it's all there. Being me is.... different but it always makes for good blogs.

6 thoughts on “Tales from the Psych Ward (Part 3): “Therapy”

    1. It really wasn’t scary. More annoying than anything. Someone like me is ready for a fight because I have a lot of rage just sitting there waiting to come out. I was daring people to touch me. I really wanted to kill that Mary broad though, no lie.

  1. It was good to hear more about your time in the psych ward and I love that you’ve written about both positive and negative experiences. My husband is a Nurse for our city’s hospital and he and his colleagues care very deeply for their patients. I think someone who truly cares makes such a difference so I was glad to hear your reviews on the “Med Techs” xx

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