Imprisoned By Your Mind
To be institutionalized means that a patient has been in a psychiatric institution for such a long period of time that they have become used to it. They no longer have any interest in leaving the hospital because they have become too comfortable; their family has become the staff working on the unit.
Even if a psychiatric patient is qualified for discharge, they still may not want to leave; it just doesn’t matter anymore. Too much time has passed; they have lost the sense of what it feels like to live in society. The thought of leaving their comfort zone sounds terrifying; they prefer to remain locked up.
Imagine the government banging on your door and saying, “we are knocking down this house, you need to pack your bags and go. You have one week!” This is how some psychiatric patients feel when discharge becomes an option. Even though they may be asymptomatic and functional, they view the idea of discharge as “packing up my bags and starting from scratch.”
Most if not all psychiatric patients enter an institution with displeasure and discomfort. Their daily goal is to get one step closer to discharge; every day brings new hope. But there is a threshold upon which a patient has either lost hope or has become too comfortable with their new environment; this is the point of no return.
Once a patient crosses this invisible line, it becomes very difficult to get them to accept the idea of discharge. Some patients will actually regress and become symptomatic again in order to avoid being released. Some even start to improve and then will say things such as, “I don’t want this treatment anymore because I want to remain psychotic.”
Some patients have been mentally ill for so long, that if they start seeing their symptoms go away, they become uncomfortable. Their mind has become so used to their illness that they view sanity as a threat; an unfamiliar territory. So they start to become noncompliant with medications, forcing psychiatrists to obtain court orders.
The reality is that for many chronic psychiatric patients, they want to remain psychotic and institutionalized. This is their reality; their way of viewing the world. They have established their routines and their way of living. And if you step inside their world and start making plans for them, they start to see you as an intruder who is interfering with their life.
The dim reality as viewed by one person is paradise as viewed by another.
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)