Piney Ridge Center

Name of Hospital: Piney Ridge Center

City, State/Province, Country: Waynesville, MO, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Comment: Truly horrific place. I was sent there against my will 4 years ago for a suicide attempt, only now am I able to talk about it. I had been staying at a local temporary inpatient clinic before then, which had been helping tremendously. However, being sent here reversed that.

This is a prison, there is little to no therapy, and they treat you like a criminal for having depression. I walked in and there was no flooring. They were doing major renovations WHILE people were living in the space. The subfloor was exposed, glue sticking to your feet with every step. My only pair of shoes was destroyed after a few days, my only pair of socks caked in glue.

You are forced to walk with the other patients in a prison style fashion, walking in a straight line along the wall, eyes forward, hands behind your back. When you are first admitted, you are stripped down to nothing, everything removed from your body, and then they look you over, violating your privacy and taking everything from you within your first 20 minutes. You are not a human being here.

60% of the staff are sadistic, while the others may genuinely mean well, but still have to follow uncaring rules. I have severe asthma and yet they would try to force me to run around in a mildew/mould covered gym without my inhaler. I also was celiac and allergic to tree nuts, yet they somehow didn’t care to obtain my medical records, despite my repeated attempts to inform them of this. So there I am after 16 days, physically ill, down 40 or so lbs.

The staff repeatedly tried to force me into this thing called “sudsies” or something similar, where you have to show your fully naked body to them before you take a shower to prove you have soap on you. Yeah, like that’s therapeutic. Amongst my being ill, one of the nurses would still ignore me and absolutely did not care that I wasn’t retaining any nutrition whatsoever from the food they offered. The other younger nurse however cared but could only offer pepto for me expelling the contents of my stomach every time I went to the bathroom. I saw one patient beat the crap out of another and the staff reacted by yelling at the victim to not get up or move afterward while trying to figure out what to do with the other.

So after insurance stopped paying for me to stay there, I opted to go back with my abusive parents/situation than stay here a week longer, to go back to the people who caused me to not want to live anymore. If you actually love someone, you will avoid submitting them to this place. They are only nice when you leave.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Residential

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Gender, sexuality

Year(s): 2013

Austen Riggs Center

Name of Hospital: Austen Riggs Center

City, State/Province, Country: Stockbridge, MA, USA

Number of Stars: 5

Comment: The Austen Riggs Center helped me save my own life many times over. I was a patient at Riggs 16 years ago for 4½ months. My pre-admission interview was on my 31st birthday. I was offered an opening in their residential treatment program three weeks later. The wait seemed like an eternity at the time and caused me great anxiety but it was also an important part of my preparation for the treatment experience. Riggs often has a wait for admission that can be a few weeks long. For patients in immediate crisis, waiting for admission can be problematic. Shortly before going to Riggs, I voluntarily admitted myself to a locked psych unit for 72 hours, an experience I hope to never repeat. After the unpleasant but vitally necessary experience of being “trapped” in a locked unit, I was ready and eager to begin work as a Riggs patient learning to appropriately exercise my own authority.

I went to the Austen Riggs Center struggling to get an upper hand on bipolar disorder with suicidality for over 12 years. While I managed to graduate from college with great achievement, success later eluded me in graduate school, and I had dropped out of two different master level programs prior to going to Riggs. I had been in regular outpatient therapy and was seeing a separate psychiatrist for medications for well over 5 years prior to my admission to Riggs. My therapist described Austen Riggs as a place for “high functioning individuals” where patients learn to manage the significant problems that impede them from living a fuller life. Had I not chosen to go to Riggs, I question whether I would be alive today, or be grateful to be alive and healthy today. For me, the Riggs experience marked the start of a new beginning in my life. I am forever grateful for that opportunity.

Austen Riggs definitely did not cure me of my problems and I didn’t leave Riggs “fixed”. However I left Riggs functioning much more within acceptable parameters, with a better sense of how to confront the challenges of both my illness and life in general so that I could function out in the world more independently. It took many, many years of additional outpatient therapy and medication management to reach the healthier, more resilient state that I now feel I have earned with a lot of personally insightful work. I still see a therapist (now going on 20 years) and a psychiatrist. Riggs provided me with a safe, nurturing, dignified place to begin that process of learning how to manage my own personal authority within a therapeutic community setting where I felt held and valued as a individual.

Every member of the staff I interacted with—from the nurses to the food services personnel to the doctors to the business office staff–had a level of commitment, respect and caring for me during my treatment. Staff maintained this atmosphere of respectful caring without squelching my individual authority. This is one part of what make the Riggs open setting unique. The other aspect of the open setting is being part of a therapeutic community where respect for others (both fellow patients and staff members) is paramount to the community’s wellness. This respect for others occurs without stifling one’s ability to speak one’s mind or personal concerns. Examined living is a powerful process to experience and to engage within a relatively self-contained environment. The power of examined living readily becomes salient after discharge from Riggs upon returning to the outside world. As a patient at Riggs, one is constantly challenging and being challenged by others in this environment in a way that respects differences, healing and the primacy of individual authority. Community meetings are a big deal at Riggs. I don’t know of any other treatment programs that fully recreate the sense of environment and community like Riggs does in combination with all the services that it provides. And the Riggs program is even better today than it was 16 years ago!

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Residential treatment (open setting) and day-treatment

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?:

Year(s) : 2000-2001

Cayuga Medical Center

Name of Hospital: Cayuga Medical Center

City, State/Province, Country: Ithaca, New York, United States of America

Number of Stars: 3

Comment: My stay at Cayuga Medical was not long at all, in fact it was only a week, but that week has definitely left a scar. That’s not saying it was all bad considering, just a good majority of it.

First of all, the first thing they let me know was if I was compliant I would be let go much faster. This was during intake where I still had an option to leave since I had admitted myself. Before even getting into the ward the hospital was treating me as if I was already admitted even though I hadn’t even seen or talked to a therapist/psychologist/etc. who would be able to assess me.

Once admitted they told me I had to be put down as a forced intake due to insurance purposes. I understood, but then they had an officer come with us and berated me when I started shaking due to fear.

While in the ward I had to routinely explain my gender and pronouns to the same staff day after day. They refused to listen to my requests for they/them pronouns and berated me for refusing to talk about gender and sexuality as it pertains to my mental illness (seeing as it was a whole different facet of myself that didn’t correlate to my needing to be there now I had no desire to keep teaching them).

During my stay I had a roommate who would scream and cuss at night. I couldn’t handle that, partially due to past abuse as well as general anxiety. Their solution was to put me in a small room behind the nurses station on a gym mat for the night.

If I didn’t interact much during groups they would say I would be here for longer.
They forced me into monitoring my blood sugar levels more so than I usually was (5 times a day versus my twice daily) , since I am terrified of needles this was not okay to force onto me. When they started some of the nurses poked in the wrong spot of the finger leaving me with sore spots.

A nurse almost gave me lithium when I had not even gotten to see a doctor about medication. They questioned me when I said I wasn’t taking any lithium. I was and am usually conscience and aware enough to know what medications I should be taking.
Overall, most of the staff was uninviting and treated us like children who misbehaved enough to get sent to detention. The only redeeming one was a man who was very big and tall, seemed very imposing, but worked with us on feeling safe and secure and even told my mother that it was okay for me to cry when she told me to stop crying. He was willing to be a physically strong presence when I felt scared. He was nice.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Residential Treatment

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Genderqueer, bisexual, autistic, and diabetic

Arabella House

Name of Hospital: Arabella House

City, State/Province, Country: Naperville, Illinois, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Comment: The groups at Arabella House are absolutely horrifying. On my first day there, the therapist immediately pressured me to share intimate details about my trauma. when I didn’t, they told me that I would need to toughen up & that the next day in group I better talk about it. Every single day I tried so hard to find the courage to talk about my trauma in the kind of detail the other patients did. Everyday, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t trust anyone there, it didn’t feel safe.

The therapists got more and more angry with me every day. They started to yell at me. They would tell me, “you’re not trying.” And “if you’re not going to care about your recovery, you will have to leave.” I constantly told them and showed them how hard I was trying. They based my progress off of how much I shared in group. Nothing, in their eyes. Everyday I would cry and no one cared.

I felt very left out, and one day I decided to voice that. All the patients became personally offended, and yelled at me. The therapist yelled at me, told me I was being immature. I cried alone in the bathroom for hours. They didn’t care.

They made me see a trauma therapist. He was a man and we had therapy in the basement. When I told him I was scared of him bc basements are triggering and men are too, he yelled at me and said I was being a baby. Literally. He said, “stop being such a baby.” I swore to myself every time I met with him that I would open up bc every time I didn’t he would yell at me and tell me I was never going to get better. But I would get scared and go mute. One day he told me I was a hopeless lost cause and I was gonna die traumatized and never heal. I freaked out, slammed the door to my room & sobbed. No one cared. Then they yelled at me for being upset. Said it was my fault and that I wasn’t trying.

What else? They made me have family sessions with my abusive family. The therapist constantly took my mom’s side. She told me I was being irrational. That my horribly abusive mother does so much for me and that I’m ungrateful. Etc.

Eventually, they decided that there was something wrong with me and they made me get some psych eval. Tests came back & said I was psychotic. I was livid. after they diagnosed me with psychosis, it was my label. Everything I said was met with, “that’s the psychosis talking.” It made no sense & was extremely inaccurate.

after this hell, I was left an extremely suicidal mess. I told them I was suicidal and afraid. They said, “you can leave whenever you want to.” I said ???? They said “you aren’t trying. You can leave. We don’t want you here if you’re not trying.” They almost discharged me to my death. I decided to stay. Worst choice ever.

The night staff member sprayed holy water on us while we slept.

I could go on. Those things are only the tiniest parts of the hell that was Arabella house. It was an extremely traumatizing environment. I was there for my eating disorder and I left with a whole new set of problems.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Residential

Year(s) : 2014

Brookside at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital

Name of Hospital: Brookside (at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital)

City, State/Province, Country: Portland, OR, USA

Number of Stars: 5

Comment: Residential mental health treatment program. Most rooms are private, the staff spends time with the clients, nurses are kind and responsive, most staff are friendly and kind, there are groups and activities in addition to therapy, medication management, and other forms of treatment.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Residential

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: LGBT

Cedar Ridge

Name of Hospital: Cedar Ridge

City, State/Province, Country: Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

Number of Stars: 1

Comment: I live about 3 hours from this hospital but due to the severity (suicide attempt) of my situation, my mom & I made an executive decision to drive me there. I was only supposed to be in a 48 hour crisis hold but, without my mother’s consent, they put my in a residential area instead & planned to keep me for over a month even though all the doctors there said I wasn’t their ‘typical patient’ & that i wasn’t ‘as bad’ as most of the patients they get.

All of the nurses, doctors, etc. were EXTREMELY rude & absolutely jaded. I passed out due to stress my first day & the main nurse I saw the most of told me I was stupid & that I was faking it. During my stay I got called multiple names from the nurses, got pulled into lots of unnecessary drama BECAUSE of the nurses. I was there to GET BETTER, & honestly I believe if it were just me & all the other kids, no nurses, I might’ve left feeling better but I didn’t.

We had to exercise every day because it was apart of our ‘treatment plan’ which is all fine & good, but about a week in, I screwed up my ankle & it was VISIBLY hurt (bruising & swelling) & I was told by the main nurse that if I didn’t run the almost 2 miles every day despite my injury, I would get my pass (it’s like furlough) taken from me. I physically COULD NOT run so I got a privilege taken from me when it was confirmed by other nurses & even the doctor that there was definitely something wrong with my ankle. (I was in a brace for A MONTH after leaving).

There was a mentally disabled girl on my hall that the nurses called r*tarded & made fun of for the way she talked/dressed. She was basically made into a HUGE joke.

We had this thing called 10-foot which was basically if you acted up or did anything the nurses didn’t like, you would be completely isolated (which is obviously an issue amongst mentally ill people so ?? why would they think that was okay is beyond me) from everyone & put in a chair feet away from every else. you couldn’t talk to anyone or eat next to anyone (we also had to be completely silent during meals like prisoners) & if you disobeyed the rules, you were punished even harsher.

They changed my medicine without consulting my mom & due to our location, my mom couldn’t come get me for quite awhile (they called my mom after my 48 hours & said I wanted to be there a few more days which basically lost me my ride. I never said that.) They shamed her for taking me out AMA & wouldn’t give me my medicine /because/ of being taken out AMA so I had to make an expensive shrink appointment just to get my medicine THEY prescribed to me. This is honestly one of the worst 4 weeks I ever had to experience & I STILL have nightmares about it.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Residential Inpatient

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: I am a transgender male & I was told by the nurses that I had to wear a bra instead of my binder (despite it being medical approved; i wore it anyways) & they refused to use my preferred named (which is my actual middle name that my mom put down on my ‘preferred name’ on the application thing) & they even used disgusting slurs (tr*nny mostly) towards me & made a lot of jokes about me.