Stuck In An Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

Depressed woman holding finger against mouth shut with tape

So Depressed That Light Can’t Get In

Think coronavirus is bad? Wait till you get your first glimpse of depression, which I hope you never do by the way! Everyone in this world has experienced sadness but not everyone has experienced depression; they’re completely different entities. Sadness is a normal emotion that you experience when bad things happen in your life. Depression is abnormal and is considered a mental illness; depression can get you stuck in an inpatient psychiatric unit with no end in sight.

When you feel sad, you eventually get over it; whether that’s in a few hours, a week or even 6 months such as when you’re grieving the loss of a person, you eventually recover. With depression, it’s like you become paralyzed by a force who is constantly sucking the life out of you. There are different types of depression, some more severe than others, but all forms of depression can be debilitating.

Imagine receiving antidepressants your whole life with no effect and you’re not even 25. Whatever the doctors have tried has not brought you any happiness; you continue to feel as if suicide is the only way out of this world. You start to entertain suicide because you have so much pain that you carry on a daily basis and you don’t know how to get rid of it. This pain is what is inflicted onto you by the force that is causing depression.

What is this force? Who knows. Is there something biologically altered in your brain? You bet. But the point of this article is to understand the pain and psychology behind people who experience treatment-resistant depression. Even with conventional treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), many times they barely seem to budge one’s depression; they view their life as empty of light and full of darkness from morning to night; someone or something has permanently shut off the lights in their world.

We as psychiatrists talk to them on a daily basis and attempt to understand their suffering; we empathize with them as much as we can. When these patients inform us that their mood is “neutral”, we become very excited because we start to see a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel. But whether that light will last or whether we will ever come out of this tunnel, we never truly know.

The end of this tunnel must be reached by both the patient and the provider. If the patient fails to ever come out of the tunnel, then we have failed as psychiatrists. Some doctors don’t care as much, but I do! I want to step out of that tunnel with my patient and see him or her smile for the first time in 7 years. Then I’ll know that I did my best to set him or her on the right path to happiness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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