Each stay was largely the same. We had morning devotionals, group therapy, individual therapy, free time, craft time, and social time. Group therapy involved sitting around talking with a social worker or counselor about issues that had brought us to the hospital. Some were struggling with bipolar symptoms, like me. Others had substance abuse issues. Some were suffering from schizophrenia, borderline personality, or unipolar depression. The group therapy sessions revolved around learning healthy coping skills, dealing with new limitations, or issues of grief and mourning.
Individual therapy was tailored to each patient. I spent a lot of time venting about my issues, ranging from poor self-esteem to obsessive thoughts. I met with the same counselor throughout my stay, and the counselors encouraged me to be more proactive in managing my symptoms so I could break out of the pattern of repeated hospitalizations.
Free time was indoors in the TV rooms or in other areas around the ward. Good behavior brought privileges, such as being able to go to the park area outside on scheduled breaks. Patients did a lot of sitting around and talking in the TV rooms. On one stay, a girl and I discovered we had a mutual love of Lillian Jackson Brown mysteries and spent our time talking about the various novels of hers we had read. Other activities included reading newspapers, magazines, or books that were available.
Craft therapy was intended for us to find new ways to spend our time. We could paint, do bead jewelry, draw, or entertain ourselves and others on a piano situated just outside the crafts room. We were evaluated for staying on task and completing our assignments. I did a lot of bead work—crafts were never an interest for me, but for some reason, stringing beads was very comforting and relaxing for me while I was there. I still have some of the bracelets I made there.
Social time consisted of simple games such as bingo. On one hospitalization, I had such a good run at bingo I was able to bring home a teddy bear for each of my children after winning them.