What do you do in a psychiatric emergency?
We prepare for natural disasters. We prepare for man-made disasters. What about when everything goes sideways and you can no longer cope?
Like any other emergency, you can prepare for a psychiatric emergency for if or when it happens. We cannot know what will happen that will set us on a downward spiral, such as divorce, rapid cycling of emotions, severe depression. But we can be ready for if it happens.
Having a safety plan in place is not only a wise thing to do but it can save your life.
Before you can set a plan in place you need to have resources available. You don’t want to be suicidal and not have a doctor to call. Get those resources ahead of time so if you have a break there is someone there who knows your history and can help immediately.
Sources include having your primary care doctor’s number, a psychiatrist and/or therapist’s number, a crisis hotline, a close and trusted friend or spouse.
These number’s though are useless if you don’t reach out to them. Get in the habit ahead of time of calling in to your doctor or friend when things are running smoothly, so that when things go to hell in a hand basket you will already be in the habit of reaching out.
Have a safety plan in place and let your sources know about it and what it is. This is what you would do and where you would go during a crises. Removing firearms from the home, having a friend hold and dispense your medications that can be mid-used should be part of your plan.
Know where to go during a psychiatric emergency. The nearest ER should be top of your list. Also, knowing the available psychiatric facilities in your area is valuable to have in your safety plan. Know your doctor’s office hours as well so that you know when they would be available to help you. You don’t want to be in the middle of an emergency at 6 pm and your doctor’s office closes at 5:30 pm.
Take preventative measures. Knowing your triggers, what can set off you off, and symptoms are crucial. Triggers are personal to each individual. What may set one person off into depression wouldn’t bother another. Likewise, knowing the signs that you are manic or becoming manic are important.
Watch for changes in sleep patterns, appetite, spending habits, and moods changes. Sleeping more, eating less, spending sprees, depressed or extremely elevated moods are the kinds of signs to look for.
Keeping a mood journal is a helpful tool. Daily or several times a day log what you mood is, how your appetite is, and any negative or obsessive thoughts can help you see a pattern before an emergency emerges. If an emergency happens you can record what the triggers were that led up to it.
Check your medications. Have you been taking them as prescribed? Many times we become depressed, manic, or all the above because we fail to take our medications properly. If you have been skipping doses or misusing your medications it can lead to a psychiatric emergency.
If a crises happens implement your plan. Don’t hesitate and don’t wait to see if things get better. Because if they get worst, you may be in no condition to care for yourself or reach out for help. A plan is useless if you don’t use it.
Too often we feel embarrassed or shameful when we get ill mentally. There is no shame in reaching out when you are hurting or could hurt yourself. What is shameful is not asking for help when you could have.
If all else fails, call 911 or emergency services. Get yourself to the nearest ER. Above all else, make sure that you are safe. Your safety is ultimately your responsibility. It’s not your doctor’s, the police, or a friend’s responsibility. It is yours.
Having a plan in place can save you and your loved ones a lot of heart-ache. Using the plan you have can save your life. Be safe, take your meds, and be mindful of your mental state.