Name of Hospital: Fairfax Behavioral Health
City, State/Province, Country: Kirkland, WA, USA
Number of Stars: 1.5
Comment: I was put in Fairfax hospital immediately after my first suicide attempt. I gave full consent to be placed in the inpatient program, thinking it would help me fight my depression. There were many sections of the hospital, and I was placed in the one for those under the age of eighteen. The only reason I give it a 1.5 instead of a 1 is because I know now there are worse experiences people have had, and at least I was capable of being completely submissive and hide my symptoms of PTSD (which I had not yet been diagnosed with.)
My parents brought a suitcase filled with my clothes and things to keep me entertained, but it was hours before I was allowed to change out of the embarrassingly tiny hospital gown I was given. (I’ve been given bigger hospital gowns in my life—the one I was given must have been for children far younger than me, it barely went down below my underwear, which thank god I was allowed to keep wearing.) They took all the strings out of my clothes, wouldn’t let me have my bras that had wires, and didn’t allow me to keep my book OR my sketchbook to keep me entertained during downtime.
When I was first admitted, I saw them forcibly sedate another patient and thrown into the “quiet room,” which taught me to keep quiet and be completely compliant. I later found the quiet room consists only of the frame of a bed, not even a mattress or pillows or anything, in the middle of an otherwise completely empty room. There were multiple staff members that refused to do lessons on coping mechanisms just because they didn’t “feel like it”, so we just sat in silence most of the time I was there. They forced you to be public and open about traumatic experiences in front of all the staff and other patients, which I had to suppress a panic attack over so I wouldn’t get sedated.
Staff members would come in in the middle of the night and pull blankets off of you and shake you awake to see if you were still alive, MULTIPLE times a night. Being touched against my will by strange men triggered my PTSD, so every night I was there, I had to fight back intense panic attacks so they wouldn’t hold me down to sedate me and drag me into that empty room. Fortunately for me, I was successful in hiding my PTSD the whole time I was there, so I never got sedated, but it was at LEAST three times a day I watched people I had become close to get dragged away.
When I voiced my concern as gently as possible about being randomly touched in the middle of the night, the staff member I spoke to actually MOCKED me. He made fun of me for being terrified of the men who refused to keep their hands off of me. On top of that, the boredom I experienced is a lot worse than it may sound. It felt like actual torture. For hours each day, we sat and did nothing.
The most I had to look forward to was a pudding cup for a snack—and that was all I felt compelled to eat considering the food wasn’t even up to food service guidelines. The ham was slimy, the bread was hard and I’m pretty sure I saw spots of mold, the food that was supposed to be hot felt like they just took it out of the freezer. I THOUGHT I was magically better after I left, but honestly, the extreme excitement and joy I felt was just a result of feeling like I was freed from being tortured, and I didn’t realize that until months later considering I tend to repress memories left and right.
Please, if you’re on this site looking for somewhere to send someone you care about, DO NOT SEND THEM TO FAIRFAX. The only way to survive is to pretend you’re not mentally ill, and even though I was successful in doing so, even after being sent to a better hospital for another suicide attempt later in my life, I’m still terrified of hospitals. Things will only get far, far worse if you’re put in Fairfax.
Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Inpatient
Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Thankfully, I did not present as a trans man at the time. I have no idea what could have happened if I DID present as trans at the time, but it really couldn’t have been anything good.