I spent 36 days in Chicago Illinois at a residential treatment center, where I went through hell, the center was definitely not the best. I spent 36 days working on trauma, alcoholism and eating disorder. I went through a lot while there and definitely would not recommend this place to anyone!
The treatment center I went to was definitely not the best, I expected more out of it than what I gained. The treatment center itself was not what saved me…I saved myself. They were understaffed, overworked and dysfunctional. Mid panic attack I had a staff look at me and say, “Could you please stop? Like get a grip.” They didn’t really address the problems we had they just kind of treated it like it was a sorority. I had multiple staff tell me that they didn’t get “paid enough for this”. My eating disorder was their main focal point, I was on a meal plan and required to eat a certain percentage of every meal or I had to drink a supplement. One good thing about that treatment center is their push for treating disordered eating. I managed to gain 20 pounds while there, I am at a very healthy weight now.
There was a lot of ridiculous rules such as no pacing which was very difficult for me since it was my go to coping skill. ( I literally got in trouble for pacing and was forced to change bedrooms to an isolated room where I was locked out from 7am-9pm every day) They didn’t really teach us new coping skills to replace our bad ones, they just kind of ripped away all of the ones we knew and told us to try radical acceptance. DBT was the biggest thing they pushed on us, and honestly I did not gain any successful DBT skills while there.
I saw a therapist 3 times a week, she was not the greatest therapist by far and we didn’t really click too well. We talked about the rape and domestic violence. The more we discussed Cameron the angrier I became. They had me on multiple medications for bipolar disorder, anxiety, sleep, depression, pills to make me gain weight etc. (The psychiatrist just pushed pills on people for literally everything) I was on 13 different pills at once. One particular medication they put me on for bipolar disorder did not do well with me. It made me “aggressive”, so with the combination of this medication and the pure rage I had for Cameron this resulted in me being hospitalized twice while there.
The first time I was hospitalized while at residential was because of an out burst two weeks before I was suppose to be discharged. I was on the phone with a potential PHP program trying to set it up when the staff told me phone time was over. I had to finish giving this lady my insurance number was literally on the phone for a minute after our “designated phone time” and got reprimanded.
It was a very unfair center where certain people were allowed to do things others were not. Example a lady who was self paid ($2000 a day) was allowed to be on the phone any time. I was trying to set up after care because the treatment center had yet to. (At the time of this incident I was suppose to be leaving in a week) I became outraged because what the hell? I went to my room where I began pacing to calm down, I of course got in trouble for pacing and was told to stop. I didn’t which resulted in the staff yelling at me and telling me I needed to stop pacing or I would be given an injection of Thorazine. I did not consent and told them I would not take it. They called the ambulance because I was being defiant and I was taken to the hospital. I was then sent to the worst mental institution I have ever been to on the west side of Chicago. This place was horrible and they treated the patients like shit. After 4 days of pure hell I called my residential center and asked to come back (any place was better than this place)
I returned only to endure more bull shit. There was a new resident who was severely autistic and the other women (grown women) were making fun of her. She couldn’t even comprehend that they weren’t her friends. I said something to the staff who said “worry about yourself”. I then made an announcement to the other residents during community and apparently annoyed everyone by doing so. I had one day left at the time before I was suppose to be discharged. On this particular day I was done with the bullshit obviously, I couldn’t deal with grown women making fun of an autistic woman. I couldn’t deal with the staff not giving a fuck and I certainly couldn’t deal with any more of this petty drama. I spent the majority of that day in my room and then the women who were in charge of our lodge came in and told me I was being moved to another lodge. I thought this was ridiculous because what the hell? I was suppose to be leaving the next day I wasn’t about to pack all my things, unpack and then pack again. They got mad cause I told them how ridiculous this was which resulted in the staff grabbing me by the arm and dragging me out the door. This infuriated me because I signed a form with them when I signed myself in that they were not allowed to lay hands on me. I was very upset about this and they once again got mad because I was being “defiant.” They put me in a hold where a man twice my size grabbed my neck and nearly choked me, they then injected me with Thorazine against my will.
I was sent back to the hospital where the doctor told me he couldn’t do anything with me no body wanted me, the residential told me they gave up on me, and I was left in the ER room by myself for 5 hours with just my thoughts. I felt so defeated like everyone had given up on me. Like there wasn’t any point any more. Suicidal ideations got the best of me and so I attempted to strangle myself with a cord. I passed out and was found shortly after. I was sent to another mental ward across town. This particular one was 100x better.
While at this hospital I met some incredible people who shared their stories with me. I saw a therapist every day while there and a dietician who continued to help with my eating disorder. We had these really informative groups that went over trauma, assault, stress, disorders, life…everything! I spent 7 days at this hospital and learned more there than I did in 30 days of residential. After being released from that hospital I was finally discharged from the terrible treatment center and was on the first flight out back to NC.
It has been one hell of a ride this past month, but I survived. I thought residential was going to be my saving grace, I thought that was going to be what saved me… but I realized I saved myself. I gave it my all, I pushed myself, I talked about what was going on, I did the program, I saved myself. It was definitely not the best experience and I didn’t gain what I thought I should’ve while being there, but I did what I thought I couldn’t do. I survived.