It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and wrote, let alone have the internet access to post it, but – here I am! Popping by with an update before I inevitably disappear again.
I’m coming up on my second week in treatment. As I mentioned before, I’m in a partial hospitalization program, which means I’m on a locked unit seven days a week, from 7 am to 7 pm. All three meals are on the unit and monitored closely, and a variety of group therapies and individual appointments with assigned psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, doctors, etc. fill the rest of the day. It’s intensive – there’s no doubt about that – but it’s something I need right now no matter how difficult or repetitive it may seem at times, or how tired I am. Pushing forward, sometimes stalling, but never backsliding. (At least, trying my hardest not to.)
To give you an idea of what my days look like, here’s a general schedule:
- 7 am – Sign In. Good morning! Before entering the day room, you must sign in, fill out a self assessment sheet, and have your belongings briefly searched. A nurse takes your vital signs before you are sent to another room for processing and weighing. To get as accurate a weight on you as possible, you first must empty your bladder, strip, and put on a paper hospital gown. (The scale is in kilograms, but you learn the conversion quickly.) Another nurse checks your clothing for contraband and then you’re dismissed to get dressed and return to the day room, where you wait for your day to begin.
- 8 am – Breakfast. Before meals, you’re directed to remove any “double layers” – sweatshirts, sweaters, over-shirts.. anything one could potentially hide uneaten food in. In the dining room, you sit at the table and wait until your tray is called. Once you’re called, you prepare your tray in front of a nurse: butter your bread, pour your cereal, dress your salad, etc. After approval, you return to your table and eat your meal – all of it, or else you face repercussions such as a replacement tray or supplement(s). There are nurses watching to make sure you or anybody else refrains from engaging in any behaviors. After the allotted 45 minutes are up, trays are checked - along with your pockets and shoes and sometimes the undersides of your chair and table – and you are brought back to the day room.
- 9 am – Menu Planning. The dietitian meets with us to plan our meals for the next couple days. There’s a strict meal plan to follow, with certain numbers of items (starches, vegetables, proteins, dairy, “extra item,” sweet dessert) that you are required to select from a limited list. It’s hospital food, too, so none of it is especially appealing – usually it comes down to a choice of the lesser evil.
- 9:30 am – Bathroom Break. Monitored bathroom breaks; the toilets are flushed by key after the nurse checks the bowl for “symptomatic behaviors,” such as purging, hiding food, laxative use, etc. You can only use the bathroom during the assigned times, although a nurse may take you if it’s an emergency.
- 9:45 am – Supplement & Water Break. Some people are assigned supplements to drink in addition to their meals to help them gain weight quicker. Right now I am on one supplement a day, although some people are on two or three, or even four, and others don’t have supplements at all. This is also a time to get a cup of water – the only time you can get water aside from the one cup provided at mealtime.
- 10 am – Group. Depending on the day: Body Image Art Therapy, Snack Preparation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Body Image, Relapse Prevention, Mindfulness, Nutrition Education, or Interpersonal Therapy – Journaling
- 11 am – Group. Depending on the day: Family Dynamics, Substance Abuse Psychoeducation, Time Management, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivation to Change, Relapse Prevention, or Occupational Therapy / Expressive Therapy
- 12 pm – Bathroom Break
- 12:15 pm – Lunch
- 1:15 pm – Group. Depending on the day: Recovery Goals, Substance Abuse Art Therapy, Emerging Adult Life Skills, Nutritional Education, or Medical Complications
- 2:15 pm – Bathroom Break
- 2:30 pm – Supplement & Water Break
- 3 pm – Group. Depending on the day: Home/Community Life Skills, Art Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindful Movement, Leisure Development, or Structured Leisure
- 4 pm – Group. Depending on the day: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Self-Esteem, Recovery Goals, or Life Transitions
- 5 pm – Bathroom Break
- 5:15 pm – Dinner
- 7 pm – Sign Out. Homehomehome home! Back to the comfort of your own environment.
- 8:30 pm – Snack. It is required that you have a snack and caloric beverage at home. A nurse as well as your doctor will ask you about it in the morning so it’s best not to skimp on this! (To be truthful, though, I usually skip snack. I’m honest with my treatment team about it but it remains something I consistently struggle with.)
Apologies for this post being a little technical; I spend twelve hours a day processing my feelings and emotions so I get a little spent after it’s all said and done. I’m mentally exhausted and my body is so uncomfortable with the weight gain.. yesterday in particular was incredibly difficult and draining for me and I’m still recovering from that. I can’t bring myself to say very much more now, but I will. Soon.
I have my first day off later this week and I’m really nervous about it, mostly about sticking with my meal plan. However, it will be a good time for me to not only write a proper post but also to catch up with all my blogging friends. I feel awful for not keeping up with you all, and I miss reading about your lives. I hope all is well with everyone, both in the blogosphere and beyond it! Thanks again for your support and understanding.
be back soon