A First-Person Account of Involuntary Commitment

Over at Tonic, a Vice Media website, there’s a story from 2017 that’s worth a read. It’s a bit long, and consider this your trigger warning: it’s a quite detailed retelling of one young person’s experience with involuntary commitment.

The story “What It's Like to be Held in a Psych Ward Against Your Will” focuses mainly on writer, Nick Keppler’s admission to a mental hospital after reaching out to a crisis line for help.

Despite assuring the woman on the other end of the line that he’d be OK, Nick finds himself at the ER only to be admitted to a nearby psychiatric hospital when the doctor who’d otherwise let him return home can’t be reached. From the article:

And while this was all voluntary on paper, I was coerced here. And I couldn’t leave until they told me I could. That loss of control felt intensely threatening. I laid under the covers, listening in for the noise of bureaucratic mechanisms. They were looking for some psychiatrist who had to sign off on psych releases. Dr. Cyanic. Another hour passed.

When the social worker told me I was going to a psychiatric hospital two towns away, I panicked. True, I wasn’t a normal, mentally healthy person but I believe that if you take a normal, mentally healthy person—raised on due process and the usual expectations of Western democracy—and tell him that he’s being detained, arbitrarily, because of some Kafkaesque snag (a doctor wasn’t answering his pager), he would probably get agitated, paranoid, and incensed—all the TV attributes of a mental patient.

Nick’s story, unfortunately, isn’t unique. Share your story and be a part of ending this kind of mistreatment once and for all.

Pat PriceComment