Thursday, February 12, 2015

Best Dressed Girl in the Psych Ward

Fashion is important in a psychiatric hospital,  if not to other's at least it was to me. Because I went voluntarily, I was under the illusion that I would need ten to fifteen outfits for my stay.
The website made the hospital look almost idyllic, as if I would be going outside and attending group and therapy sessions by the lake.
        I was under the misguided impression that I was going somewhere pleasant and therapeutic, somewhere where I might need outfits. After my third day, I glanced in my suitcase, with a male mental health worker looming over me, and noticed the sunglasses that I had packed for my time in nature. I wanted to be prepared, hiking might be involved.  At that point in my stay, I found the sight of my sunglasses hilarious and sadly gratuitous.
            Patients commented that I always looked nice. I wore cute shirts and dresses and had a multitude of colorful, fun socks. My dresses were actually nightgowns. I added leggings and a sweater and found that I could create an interesting if not tasteful outfit.
Hair products were contraband in the hospital. My short bleached blonde hair, sans product, with my dark eyebrows made me look even kookier than I felt. 
I decided while I was packing for the hospital that there was no point in packing make-up. Although I did pack some very nice foundation that I never wore, because it felt pointless and I wasn’t even sure that I was allowed to have it. There were so many things that we couldn’t have I assumed make-up was included in the list.
It’s hard to maintain your pride when you’re locked up because you went crazy. There isn’t a lot in the hospital that contributes to feeling any sense of pride. I felt as though the goal was to strip us of all pride and wear us down. Wearing clothes that I had picked out was important to me. My clothes were something that I felt that I had a bit of control over. 
When I was released from the hospital, I decided that I would never again wear the clothes I had worn there. I couldn't face the nightgowns that a few days prior had substituted for fun dresses.

The second day home, I was planning to go for a walk and I needed comfortable shoes. The shoes that I wore every day in the hospital were the most comfortable that I own. So, I chose a new tactic: I chose to immerse myself in my fear and face my clothes. I put on my comfy shoes, my feet feeling nurtured, and I went for a walk.


  1. Don't really know what to say, but wanted to let you know I stopped by. Your bipolar life is new territory for me. Yvonne

  2. Yvonne, thanks for stopping by and being open to reading the blog. It's important for me to write it, even if not everyone understands, because the stigma needs to if not go away completely to lessen and understanding to stand its place.