Hospital Gratitude

| By Paul | | Comments (3)
I've been in a psychiatric hospital, Proctor 2 at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, many times over the years. Every single admission is so completely different, in part because each admission has a different cause. I have taken lately to writing appreciation letters to the staff because it always amazes me what happens there. I reprint here the majority of my letter from a couple months ago.

I know I have written several letters over the years, for Christmas cards and sometimes when I leave the unit. In an effort to reduce the chances of being repetitive, I'm not looking at the past letters and I promise to be as succinct as possible. I'm writing a letter for everyone, as opposed to singling out individuals. Those who really helped me know who you are, as I've already expressed my gratitude for what you have done for me while I was there. What I feel in my heart is enormous gratitude for the entire unit and everyone who makes the unit the special healing place that it is.

I had a difficult hospital course of 11 days. I was only ready to leave not because I felt "fine", but because I did enough work. My usual tendency is to just "regroup" within a couple days and get out of there as fast as possible. This was different. What I grappled with in the hospital was the result of many years of struggle. I discovered things about myself that I had simply not known before. Some have been monumental. Given the distance I allowed from my normal "life", it became easier to come to these realizations. I know I have had similar productive stays before, but probably this one stands out as one of the most important. Put simply, I gave myself the chance to do work that I could only do in the hospital. The result is that a great weight has been lifted from me. This gives me the strength to move on and to do the work I need to do to heal.

While all of you have different degrees of knowledge of what I grappled with there and had different roles to play, all of you contributed to helping me achieve what I achieved. I am indebted to all of you.

I want you to know that I realize how difficult a job you all have. But I also want you to know that what you do can make a difference. What you do can change people's lives. I know that most who come to to the unit do not get the benefit of what the unit has to offer. That's okay because thatʼs the way the world works.

I got to experience the weight of the hospital. Many of you know that I made a special effort to get to know and open up to some of the patients. It shocks me what people have gone through, how they struggle, and how they move on. I cannot imagine doing what you do.

I know that for many of you the changes you see in people over the years is what allows you to do your job so well. I used to be sad about the fact that I would always recognize patients from prior stays. But I now think this is, in some way, good. While it makes me feel bad, it allows you to see the changes that occur in individuals who come there. The hospital really isn't like a hospital emergency room where you almost never see the same person twice. It's also not like a therapy relationship. It's somewhere in between.

I reprint this letter here because I think it's important for people to realize that psychiatric hospitals do have a real role to play in helping those in crisis. I understand that many are petrified of hospitals, as we've all heard some horror stories. But there are many good hospitals and many good therapists ready to assist. One important requirement is that you have to meet them halfway and be open to receiving help.


Wow! What hospital were you in? I've had many hospital experience myself and I've never experienced the productive, helpful, compassionate stay you seem to be describing here. Boy, I want to go to the place where you went!

Paul Author Profile Page replied to MarjakaThriver:

I should become an ambassador for the hospital. It is McLean Hospital outside of Boston. It's a very well respected hospital. The unit I am familiar with is the Trauma and Dissociative Disorders Unit. Since it's a specialty unit, there are lots of people there with lots of knowledge. I have been in general hospital wards before and have had very mixed experiences. I feel very thankful to have this place available to me when I need it. I would be remiss if I didn't add that my perspective has changed over the years. I didn't always view it as such a healing place.

Shen said:

I have always fought against being in the hospital. I have had to go in for physical things, many times, some of which are ailments that were brought on by stress, but I have refused to go for mental or mood issues. I am so afraid of the hospital and have heard so many negative things.

I have seriously thought about killing myself rather than being admitted, or about attempting and seeing what happened - maybe I would die and not have to go and maybe I would be forced to go. I never had the nerve to actually go myself.
I have been lucky. My attempts have been weak - and usually not seen for what they were.

Thank you for sharing this perspective. It does help to think that it could be a safe alternative it things get that bad again.

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This page contains a single entry published on April 19, 2009 6:15 PM.

Safety was the previous entry in this blog.

Is Dissociation a Disorder or a Miracle? is the next entry in this blog.

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