Sketches From a Psychiatric Ward

They’re strangely aesthetically pleasing.

In 2017, I was admitted to three separate psych wards, for a total of six weeks. It might not seem like a lot, and sure I had 46 weeks of non-psych ward living, but these were my first three trips to the ER, and first three admissions to hospital for any reason. In Western Australia, it is much more difficult to seek help for depression. If I had gone to my local ER before leaving Geraldton, it is likely I would have been turned away, told to stop attention-seeking, or sent five hours away by ambulance to the nearest psychiatric facility in Perth.

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Which is sad, because the psych ward is not what I had expected. And not what most people would expect, I imagine.

Let’s talk about that third and final admission for the year. I was discharged exactly one month prior to writing this. I was suicidal, and this time I was going to do it. Fortunately, I was already at the hospital for an eating disorder assessment, and was admitted from there, which made things simpler, and far less anxiety provoking.

Being admitted involved a lot of tears, emotional exhaustion, silence, withdrawal, scratching (a form of self harm), anxiety, screaming (not from me), locked bathrooms (because of the bulimia), quiet conversations in side rooms, and meetings with various doctors, nurses, psychologists and occupational therapists. It’s not fun, and it’s certainly not a place I ever want to be, but it kept me safe. And I gained a lot of insight into how my depression, borderline personality, self-harm, and eating disorder function and protect me.

The psych ward also involves a lot of dissociation, board games, card games, drinking tea, sharing with other patients, making good friends with other patients, watching television, doing Sudoku, and drawing.

Drawing is my lifesaver. I hadn’t picked up a pencil or a canvas since year 10 of high school, because I channelled all my energy into the singlest most greatest distraction in my life – study. But now that I’ve picked one up again, I can’t put it down.

These drawings are raw, they are real, and they illustrate my mind in it’s most distressed state. Behold, sketches from a psychiatric ward. They’re strangely aesthetically pleasing.

13 thoughts on “Sketches From a Psychiatric Ward”

  1. hi rosie! my name is Carol anne. I am an alter in a dissociative did system and I am 19 but our body is 37, we are totally blind, living in Ireland. I also have ptsd, and one of the other insiders in our system has bulimia, we also have anxiety and depression. its so nice to meet you. following you now…<3

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  2. I don’t often appreciate art, but wow- those are fantastic! Glad you found a creative outlet 🙂

    As far as Hospital admissions go; I felt really similar to you when I was hospitalized. I felt safe. And I felt relief! Relief from having to fight alone. Relief from death and dying. Relief from a place of desperation.
    My time in Hospital involved a lot of hard work, but honestly I loved my time there.

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    1. Yeah i suppose mine was a different sort of experience (it was for suicidality not ED), but i guess that relief is something i wholeheartedly relate to. I’m strangely proud of these drawings actually? i’m not even sure why! i just think they still managed to look kinda beautiful even though i was in a really shitty place. so thanks. ❤

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  3. i can relate to this old darkness too. i see it in every pen stroke. it makes my soul ache. i remember it so vividly too. my gosh, i spent months upon months in hospitals too, in beds with sterile walls and dark artwork. i am so grateful to know now that the world is so much larger. so much more vibrant. i am so grateful to know that there is so much more hope. i hope you know this, or will see this soon too. sending endless love and courage. 💙💙

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    1. wow thanks faye, sending my love. i like “it makes my soul ache” – that’s nice. might become a new poem ❤ i was fortunate to be in quite a modern facility the most recent time with lovely nurses etc but i guess just so isolating, as i am quite young (only just made it on to the adult ward aaaah) and most other patients are quite old. I guess drawing is my favourite (and least hurtful) coping mechanism. hope that you're able to find courage when you need it too :*

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