My PHP Experience

After trying a dozen meds and still being unsuccessful, at one point this past summer I decided to try a PHP program.

For those who don’t know, it’s a step below impatient hospitalization. You check in every morning and leave every afternoon. But it is intensive, and most times at least five days a week.

I had turned 18 a few months earlier, so I had no other option than an adult program. Which, ended up being very unfortunate for me. I know many people who have gone through PHP programs and found them to be life changing, and extremely helpful. That wasn’t the case for me.

I arrived around 8am, and began all of the intake paper work. They asked the typical questions: are you suicidal?, do you self harm?, drugs and alcohol?. I answered honestly and then the other patients (that had already completed intake) began to arrive.

In my first group I realized I was the only teen. There was one other women in her late twenties, but everyone else was past 40. The discussion revolved around one women who was being discharged that day. And then somehow drifted towards a debate about celebrities that marry young and if the spouses are solely in it for the money. I was at a loss. We were supposed to be helping each other with our stories and coping mechanisms. However it felt more like a gossip session.

When the first group got out I was hopeful that the next one would be better. However, when we all walked out a man was sitting in the waiting room furious. He said he had finished his intake paper work an hour ago and wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing. The counselor simply looked up, took the papers, and said sorry we must have forgot about you.

I fully acknowledge that I’m a control freak. So being in this situation, with no control and such a complete and total lack of organization I lost it. Everyone went outside for lunch, and I made it to the hallway before I had to stop. I couldn’t breathe. My anxiety was horrible and I started crying.

I went in and talked to the women in charge saying that I didn’t think this was the best program for me. She said that it is the best that I’m going to get being 18, and that I should really try to stick it out for at least a day. But I refused. I was more anxious than I had been in weeks and had no intention of experiencing anymore of that program. So the women reluctantly discharged me, and sent me on my way. It’s been a month now and the hospital hasn’t called to follow up at all. Which, to me just speaks even further to the disorganization and faults the program was full of.

I know that it was the right thing for me to try, but also definitely the right thing for me to leave when I did. I have the experience, and unfortunately it wasn’t great. I will definitely be more hesitant towards group therapy in the future. But I know that everyone’s experiences are different, and I’m grateful that programs designed to help people with mental health are in place.

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