My Hospital Experience

Ash Cahn

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about what goes on in a psychological hospital. But as someone who spent the last month in  inpatient and partial programs at South Oaks Hospital in Amityville, I can say with certainty that most of those assertions aren’t true. I had a lot of great experiences, made many new friends, and learned a lot of new things that have been vital to my growth and happiness. Here are a few of those things:

The Hospital Doesn’t Have To Be A Horrible Place

Valentine Hall, the primary inpatient building at South Oaks

I had been sent to the emergency room a few times before this. I wound up not being admitted to the hospital in all those times though, as I was less of a danger to myself, and didn’t have a serious intention to do myself harm. I dreaded the hospital a lot. It seemed like this horrible place where I would be dropped into a pit filled with other dangerous people and be absolutely miserable the whole time. As it turns out, it’s almost the exact opposite. South Oaks was full of amazing kids with whom I made great friends, outstanding counselors and therapists, and the space, in general, is very nice and clean.

Group Therapy Helps

The programs at the hospital are primarily built around group therapy sessions, another thing  I had avoided due to my poor social skills and feeling I really couldn’t talk in those types of settings. However, contrary to these beliefs, group therapy was probably the most helpful part of the program. I was able to talk about my past experiences and relate to other people when they talked about theirs. It helped me grow as a person, building upon the new DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skills I learned in the group sessions, as well as helping my social skills so I feel more comfortable talking to other people, which will help me make new friends outside of the group setting.


Personal Barriers Can Be Broken

When I first came in, my parents and outside therapists weren’t expecting any results therapeutically; Rather, the hospital was just a safe place for me to stay in until I was no longer a danger to myself, and to stabilize medications in the quickest way possible. I shattered every expectation that everyone had for me in both programs. I participated in group therapy, I talked to new people, I made new friends, I learned DBT skills, I learned to stop hating myself, and I put myself out there for everyone to see. I went into the program as an extremely depressed, self-loathing, closed-minded, introverted person. I came out the exact opposite.


You Can Begin to See Yourself For Who You Really Are

As time went by in the programs, everyone began to love me. Eventually I became the most looked-up to patient in the program. This was very unexpected to me. I had never been seen as a role model before. For once, I felt like a really good and worthy person since others were looking up to me. They told me I was brave; they told me I was strong; they told me I was kind and sweet. Hearing all of this meant the world to me. I was finally able to truly hear what people who haven’t known me long thought about me, and it was really important in building my self-esteem.


After this experience, I can definitely say that I came out as a new person. I learned tons of new things and made a whole lot of new friends along the way. But I’m also happy to be back in school and to see my friends here. All in all, it was probably the most important month of my life.