Chapter 3: Living in a Mental Hospital | Kelly’s Story

此采访为中文采访,中英文参访字幕在文末。

In March 2021, CandleX director Xiaojie interviewed Kelly Yang on her experience with bipolar disorder. A year later, CandleX decided to present this interview in five chapters to commemorate World Bipolar Day. This is Chapter 3 of the interview. Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 if you haven’t already!


In Chapter 3, Kelly shares her experience living in the psychiatry department of a hospital in Beijing. Before hospitalization, it was difficult for her and her family to accept that Kelly really had a mental illness, so it was a plan that dragged on for a while. Once she was hospitalized, she started taking medicines and receiving electroconvulsive therapy (mECT). This treatment resulted in short-term memory loss, so she couldn’t exactly recall some things that happened during the time, but she explained how it proved to be effective for her. In Chapter 4, they will give more insight on suggestions for people who are well-achieved yet mentally unstable.

Interviewer: Xiaojie | Director of CandleX

Interviewee: Kelly

Time of interview: 2021


TRANSCRIPT

Xiaojie: Did you receive treatment in a fixed-point mental hospital in Beijing? What was the process like?

Kelly: To be honest, seeking medical treatment was quite a rocky journey for me. My parents had no experience with this, and neither did I.So, in the beginning, they brought me to the sleep department in a traditional Chinese medicine hospital because I wasn't sleeping at first. While I was there, I tried acupuncture and eating Chinese medicine, but it wasn't really working for me. Then, I went to Peking Union Medial College Hospital's psychology department, where I started using Western medicine.

Xiaojie: You already started using psychotropic drugs. Were you diagnosed there?

Kelly: I completed assessment forms for each hospital I went to, and the results all pointed to a major depressive disorder state. So I started taking medicine, but since I-

Xiaojie: Sorry to interrupt, but I forgot to ask this: is it correct that ou went to see the doctor after your last bipolar episode?

Kelly: Correct. The episodes before the last one were more like points, where I overcame the emotions after I validated myself. The previous two episodes' symptoms were also not as severe as the last. In this last episode, I couldn't even function normally. As I was saying, I first tried treatment using Chinese medicine, then I went to public hospitals where I used psychotropic drugs. But, at the time, my parents couldn't accept that I may actually have a mental illness. That's why they weren't really strict on me to take the medicines. People who have taken psychotropic drugs probably know that the side effects are very obvious in the beginning. So the strong side effects of the drugs added to my already low state worsened my condition. I felt that I was already bad enough, and I would be even worse after taking the medicines. So, at first, there were quite a few twists and turns.

Xiaojie: You were only seeing the doctor and not hospitalized yet, right?

Kelly: Right, but I also stopped working and seeing other people. I would stay home with my parents every day.

Xiaojie: From the doctor making suggestions to you being hospitalized, was there perhaps a process in the middle?

Kelly: Yes, I dragged on the plan to go to a specialized hospital for two months.

Xiaojie: It seems you were avoiding and avoiding the hospital until many people couldn't hold you back and you really needed to go. This is commonly seen in China because it's very hard for us to admit that we have psychological and mental problems that need other to help us with. So what was this entire journey like for you? How did you view your own mental problems and seeing the doctor? What were you feeling? Personally, during periods of illness and before I was hospitalized, I was extremely against seeing the doctor. A signature feature of bipolar disorder is patients would think they're completely fine and there's no need to see the doctor.

Xiaojie: Especially during manic phases?

Kelly: Yes. "Why are you taking me to this place? Why are you controlling me? Why do I need to eat medicine?" I had this sense of resistance. So, taking drugs and seeing the doctor in these two months were pretty tough. I was resisting up until I was hospitalized and received some treatment. Only when my emotions and my senses slowly returned, I could truly accept being in the hospital, taking medicines, and the possibility of long-term drug use.

Xiaojie: Alright. Let's talk a bit about when you entered the inpatient room. Many people may have lots of imagination, fear, and curiosity about living in a mental hospital. So, when you entered the inpatient department, what did the doctor do and what did you do? Can you briefly share that?

Kelly: I need to first clarify something. No matter my treatment or the drugs I took, they actually all damaged my memory a bit. So, some things that happened during this time are blurry and missing in my memory. I would feel blankness for certain things. For some things, I can only remember bits and pieces. Well, living in the mental department of a hospital was not that scary. It was lights out at 9PM, and we would wake up at 5AM to line up to get our blood drawn. A doctor would visit me every day to adjust my drug dosage. I did a treatment that, for me in my stage of illness, was quite useful. It was electroconvulsive therapy (mECT). This treatment method is considered pretty common in China.

Xiaojie: Can you briefly introduce this treatment method to us?

Kelly: I actually didn't do any research on what this method really is, so I'll just share my personal experience with it. I would just lay on the hospital bed, and they would make my whole body numb. I've seen fully-numb patients being sent in, then connected to electricity, and constantly twitching on the bed. It was basically electric shock.

Xiaojie: What you just described was you looking at others. Did you have memory or any feelings during the treatment on yourself?

Kelly: All I remember is the doctor calling for a group of patients and taking us to another treatment room. We would wear an armband, connect to a tube, and when they called your name, you would go lie on the bed. We had all kinds of pads for electric shock stuck onto us, and the tube would connect to a needle that injects anesthetic, which makes me lose consciousness. When I awake, I would be in another room. They would observe my heart rate, blood pressure, and these basic values. After I go back, my head would throb and I would just sleep. I did this every day for four days. It was the same process every day. After these four days, I could feel an obvious erase of previous memories. I didn't know why I was there, why everyone cared about me so much, because I thought I was fine. It suddenly pulled me back to the state I was in before, and it was like the memories in between were gone.

Xiaojie: How much of your memory was erased?

Kelly: Just the memories from the previous two months of being bipolar.

Xiaojie: Memories from two months ago were already blurry?

Kelly: It's just like, "Wait, what did I do that day? And the other day?" Later, when I talked to my father, he would ask me if I remembered what happened or what I did, and I would say no. Now it's getting better, though. I can slowly start remembering things again. But back then, even my doctor told my father that this treatment will result in short-term memory loss, but it will get better later on. After those four days, I experienced a strong feeling. Before, my logic was messy, which is a symptom of bipolar disorder and depression. Basically, it's this confused, messy thinking with no logic. That time, I was in chaos. I didn't have any logic, which was very different from how I normally act. A saying I really like is: I pressed "Restart" after the treatment. It's as if I didn't experience the entire episode, and I could restart. This was the feeling I had during the time. I recovered my clear thinking. My manic emotions before and after the electric shocks were different. Before the electric shocks, my mind was in a state of chaos, so I had some crazy behaviors during that manic phase. But during the manic phase after starting treatment, I thought life was beautiful and I couldn't be happier. I felt like I could do anything.

Xiaojie: You felt confident, capable, and hopeful for the future.

Kelly: So I personally think my manic phase before treatment was a more intense mania, while the manic phase after treatment was less mania in general. I've told people around me who feel depressed or have depressed family members that from personal experience, even if you haven't experienced severe physiological symptoms, like just sinking in depressed emotions and not being able to come out, still go see a reliable psychologist to receive some psychological guidance. But if you already have physical symptoms like depressive facial numbness or long-period insomnia, I think it's best for them to accept professional treatment from specialized hospitals and use medicine to adjust their state. This is usually the advice I give them.

Xiaojie: Right. This is similar to WHO's basic advocacy for depression, which is what we call mild depression. Counseling is most effective during mild depression because patients still have the ability to think logically. Plus, after taking drugs, everyone reacts differently; there may also be side effects. During this period, they can try to get medicine from a psychiatrist, but counseling also plays a very important role. During severe illness stages, it's necessary to use both.

文字稿

小杰:你是在北京的一个精神医院专门的这种定点医院去做的这种治疗吗,大概是什么样的一个过程呢?

诗诗:其实我这一次求医的过程算是比较波折吧,因为其实最最一开始的时候,我父母也没有经历过这样的情况,我也没有经历过这样的情况,所以一开始其实他们是送我去了一个中医医院的睡眠科,因为开始我不睡觉吗,所以送我去中医医院的睡眠科,做一些针灸,吃一些中药什么的,但是对我来说反正就是没有什么太大的用处,后来又去了北京协和医院,去了协和医院的一个也是心理科大概是,那个时候就开始用西药了。

小杰:已经用精神科的药物了,在那边有做诊断吗?

诗诗:去到每个医院其实都有做表格,就是去做那个评估,每次评估回来之后大家都是一个重度抑郁的状态,所以就开始吃药了,但是因为我那个时候。

小杰:不好意思,我打断一下,我刚刚忘了问到说,就诊的时候给我的感觉你应该是从双相这一次的发作,最后一次再就诊的?

诗诗:是的,就是最后一次才就诊,之前的都是相当于节点,有一个节点肯定自己了然后就扛过去那个情绪了,并且上面两次其实发病的程度都没有最近的这一次严重,这一次就真的是整个人没有办法正常的生活。就像我刚才说的先去通过一些中医的治疗,后来去到一些公立医院,进行了一些精神科的用药,但其实那个时候呢,我父母这边也不是很接受,我真的是得了,可能是这方面的疾病,他们就是对我吃药这方面也是属于那种想吃就吃,不想吃就不吃,并且其实可能很多用过精神类药物的人都知道,它的副作用其实一开始是非常明显的,我那个时候本身情绪就非常的不好,然后我用药的副作用又非常的强烈,就会更加的加重我的病情,会让我觉得本身就不好,我吃上药是不是我就更完了,其实那个时候有这样很波折的一个前面的序。

小杰:那个阶段一直都是在作为,不是在住院是吧,就是门诊?

诗诗:对,但是我已经不上班,然后也不见人,就是每天我父母陪着我待在家里。

小杰:可能当时医生给了建议到你真正的到医院,这中间还有一个过程是不是?

诗诗:其实是这样的,一直拖着,拖着,拖到大概两个月以后才去专科医院看的。

小杰:真的是就已经感觉前头的一直是在回避回避回避,回避到这个人都已经几个人拉不住了,必须得去了,才就的医。

诗诗:对。

小杰:咱们中国常见的一个,就是说很难去认可说我们心理上以及精神上面有一些问题是需要别人去帮助的,身边的人有这样的一个旅程对于你当时自己来说是什么样,怎么样来看待你当时就医,心理问题就就诊这一系列的事情,你的心理路程是什么样的?

诗诗:其实要说我的心理路程的话,就是我在发病期间,在我住院之前,其实我都是非常抗拒就医的,双相情感障碍还有一个很明显的特点,他就会觉得自己没有病,我什么事儿都没有,为什么要带我去看病。

小杰:特别是在躁狂期的时候?

诗诗:对。你为什么要带我去到这个地方,你为什么要看着我,还有我为什么要吃药,那个时候就一直有着这样抗拒的情绪,所以包括服药包括就医,其实在这两个月的时间里都是挺坎坷的,其实我的态度一直是很抗拒的,直到我后来住了院经过治疗,我的情绪慢慢的回来,我的理智慢慢回来之后,我才真正去接受就医、吃药,并且有可能会长期吃药的这个事实。

小杰:好的,那我们来分享一下,从进到住院室的那一刻,因为很多人可能对精神科的住院都是有着无穷的幻想以及恐惧心、好奇心,所以对于你来说,当时进到了住院部,你是什么样的,医生做了哪些事情,你做了哪些事情?简单的介绍一下可以吗?

诗诗:其实有一点我要先说明,因为包括我的治疗也好,我的用药也好,其实是对记忆力有一些损伤,其实我对于这中间的一些记忆是有一点点模糊和缺失的,我感觉到有一块突然就空了,有一些事情我只能记得碎片,其实我感觉在精神科住院也没有那么恐怖了,就是每天9点熄灯,5点半起床,然后排着队去抽血,会有医生每天过来看你,然后来调整你的这个用药,其实我当时做过的一个治疗,是我认为在我的这个病情当中对我来说是比较有效果的,就是那个无抽电休克,这个治疗应该算是国内比较多常用的一个治疗方法。

小杰:先简单的介绍一下这个治疗方式吗?

诗诗:其实我也没有真的去做过一些了解,它具体是什么,只是说我自己的亲身感受,它其实就是说你躺在那个病床上,然后给你进行全麻,我眼睛看到过比如说被全麻的病人推到里面去,然后身上都连着电,他就在那个床上抽搐,大概就是这样一直抽搐的过程,其实就是所谓的电击。

小杰:你刚刚说的这个是你看到别人,但是你当时在这个治疗过程中,你是没有记忆的也是没有感受的?

诗诗:我唯一记得的感受就是我们当时一群病人被医生,然后拉着去到另外一个治疗室里,然后我们戴上一个箍,连上一根管子,叫到你名字的时候你去过去躺到病床上,然后身上贴了各种电击就是各种贴,然后管子上连上一个针管,就是把那个麻药打下去之后我就没有意识了,等到我再醒来的时候,就已经是在另外一个屋子里,就开始观测你的心跳,你的血压这些基本的数值,回去之后头会非常的疼,回去之后我就睡觉了,大概每一天都是这样的一个过程,大概是有四天的时间,其实每一天都是这样的过程,我当时就明显感觉到,我做了四天,前面的那一些记忆就好像被橡皮擦给擦掉了,我不知道为什么要来到这里,为什么大家都这么关心我,我什么事情都没有啊,突然一下子就给你拉回到自己原来的那个状态当中,中间这段记忆好面就没有了一样。

小杰:中间这一段是多长时间的一段记忆?

诗诗:就是发病的这一段记忆,就是这两个月。

小杰:从两个月前就已经有的记忆就已经很模糊了?

诗诗:一下子就觉得我干嘛了,我那天干嘛了,我那天干嘛了,就后来包括我父亲跟我聊天的时候,他都会问我你记不记得你怎么怎么样,我说我不记得,其实现在还好,有慢慢慢慢一点点的想起来,但是那个时候真的就是,这也是当时医生跟我父亲说的,说这个治疗会让你的短时记忆缺失,但是后来会慢慢好的,对,就是那四天之后我有一个非常大的感受,就是因为我原来的时候,其实逻辑线是混乱的,这个其实是双相的,包括抑郁它都会有的一个病症,就是逻辑线混乱,思维混乱没有逻辑,那个时候就是感觉指东打西的,完全没有任何逻辑,与自己平常的这个行为有很大的差异,我很喜欢一种说法,就是我觉得那之后就突然好像按下重启键了,就是突然重启,整个这一段时间就好像没有过过一样,让我重新再过一遍,大概是这样的一种感觉,那段时间真的就是一下子思维又清晰了。我在电击之后和电击之前感受到的那种躁狂期的情绪是不一样的,就是在电击之前,因为我那个时候整体是处于一个思维混乱的时期,那个时候的躁狂期就是体现为一些疯狂的举动。

诗诗:在开始治疗之后的那个所谓的躁狂期,是我觉得人生怎么这么美好,我怎么这么开心,我什么都可以做,大概是这样的一种感觉。

小杰:自信心,觉得自己也很有能力,对未来充满了希望?

诗诗:所以我自己感觉,我自己认为,可能我在治疗之前的那个所谓的躁狂期是有一种急性发病期的一种病症,但是在治疗之后的那个躁狂期反而是比较少的躁狂期的感觉,我也有跟我身边的,不论是自己有抑郁情绪,还是家人有抑郁情绪的人,我都跟他说自己的亲身感觉是,如果当你还没有很严重生理病症的时候,比如说你只是沉浸在抑郁情绪里面,你不知道该怎么拔出来,那么我都建议他们先去找一个比较可靠的心理医生,去接受一些心理上的疏导,但是如果比如说已经有一些生理上的病症了,比如说像是抑郁性目僵,或者长时间睡不着觉,大概是这样一些生理反映的时候,还是希望他们能够接受真正的专科医院专业的治疗,用一些药来去调整自己的状态,这一般都是我给他们的建议。

小杰:对的,这也和我们世卫组织对抑郁症的一个基本的倡导很像,我们叫mild depression,就是轻微的抑郁。轻微抑郁的时候,其实心理咨询就是最好的,因为我们还有逻辑思维的能力,因为毕竟用药的话每个人的反映不一样,包括还有很多的副作用,在中的时候可能去尝试看看精神科能不能开点药,但是心理咨询也是其中很重要的一部分,但是在严重的这种精神疾病的病发期的话,那就是两种都得用。