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What was the Soviet Union better at?

USSR was better at:1. Certainty, continuity (until it suddenly ended and chaos began)2. Free education at all levels from 3 to 22yo, and longer for those capable of a PhD, or other advanced education. Government paid stipends to the students from 17 to 22 while they were receiving higher education.3. Free sports4. Free child care and early childhood development5. Free health care6. Sciences7. Safety: pedophiles, gun and drug free neighborhoods8. Walking and affordable public transportation9. Recycling, reusing, fixing10. Frugality(See details below.)"Better at" is a relative term and only can be stated in comparison to something else. Because I have had experience living as a middle class person both in the USSR and in post-9/11 USA, I can compare what one was / is better at. I do believe that post- 9/11 USA is different from pre-9/11, but that is a different story.I was born and lived in the Soviet Union for 15 years until it collapsed.We were a typical family with two kids, both parents were engineers. We lived in the capital of one of the Asian Republics. My life experiences in the USSR, described below, are partially skewed because we lived in the capital (4+ million people) of the republic, the standards of living in the capital were much higher than in rural territories.Since the end of the USSR, I have lived in four countries, one of them is Russia, one of them is the USA. Russia and the USSR are not the same thing, never confuse one for the other. Russia was a significant part of the USSR, but only a part. The USSR was much bigger, more diverse, more complex, and more complicated. Two completely different countries, two completely different worlds.I am also now a parent to two children in the USA, and I can only wish they both had the experiences of my childhood.I have lived in the USA for almost as long as I lived in the USSR, if you discount the very first years of my childhood -- the years no one has memories of.Here is what the USSR was better at:1. Certainty, continuity (until it suddenly ended and chaos began)Everyone was an engineer (figuratively speaking). There were also doctors and teachers, good doctors and good teachers; other than that, everyone was some kind of an engineer.There was certainty in everything.Everyone had the same path: you were born, and you stayed with your parent or grandparent until you were ~ 2-3 yo [mothers received paid maternity leaves for 4 months, and then half pay for 18 months], then you went to a public kindergarten 3-7 yo, then - to a public school 7-17 yo, then - to a public technical university or institute 17-22 yo, then, most of the time, you were required to go to some republic to work there (as an engineer in training) for 2-5 years, then you usually settled, started working as an engineer with some certain growth path, and had a family. Your children were born and the circle continued.I am certainly simplifying 'the circle of life' in the Soviet Union, but continuity and certainty were part of the system; they were part of my childhood.Everyone wore the same uniform in schools, this helped us focus on grades, not on what classmates were wearing. Almost the same uniform for 7-10 years, just two kinds -- one for the summer with short sleeves, and one for the winter with long sleeves, only the size changed as you grew up.In the USA, the current propaganda (ah, that word) is "the only constant is change", and "embrace change." This post is not about the USA, so I won't go into why constant change and the possibility/threat of constant change, can be depressing for many, if not most individuals.2. Free education at all levels from 3 to 22yo, and longer for those capable of a PhD, or other advanced education.Public kindergartens, schools, universities did not cost our parents anything out of pocket. Yes, our parents both worked full time (for the country to afford paying for all of that free education) and did not spend much time with us, but so did everyone else's parents. Because we didn't know anything different (such as the possibility of a stay at home parent for 18 years), what we had felt like a fine experience.The students studying for higher education (from 18 to 22 yo) received a monthly stipend from the government for five years. This stipend was sufficient to live a frugal life and to focus on studying.Below are the pictures of the two typical school buildings built during the USSR time (students from 7 to 17yo studied there). They are both in the same neighborhood. I graduated from one of these schools 20 years ago and went there for 10 years. Most of the schools looked exactly the same. These two pictures were taken in 2011 (20 years after the USSR collapsed) and the traffic signs on the walls are additions of the modern times. During the USSR time, walls and colors were flat and not distracting (one can say not prompting creativity either.)I am not claiming authorship for these pictures, I found them online with no author identified.3. Free sportsAs a child, for no out-of-pocket cost to my parents, with no requirement for my parents to be present at practices, for extensive periods of time, I tried gymnastics, tennis, and basketball at world class facilities (I say so because those facilities produced athletes competing around the world), until I settled on basketball and enjoyed playing it for eight years, traveling all over a huge country.Not everyone was lucky enough to find a sport they loved, but (it is my belief) everyone had a chance to try many sports for free at no cost and no parental involvement except for a general awareness of where their child was.Twenty years after the fact, I realize, a team sport was the best thing that happened to me.I am certain if my parents had to pay for sports or had to be present at my practices, we would not have been able to afford it, and I would not have had the experiences and the strength basketball gave me.4. Free child care and early childhood developmentThe USSR needed both parents to work full time, so the whole system was set up to free parents from childcare after their children reached 18 months. At kindergartens, children were taught to read by the age of 5-6 and to count. By the age of 8 (kindergarten + 1 year of school), most kids knew the multiplication table.I believe this is where the USA loses the most. In the USA, childcare is so expensive, so unorganized, and so dysfunctional, for such a rich country, it is almost a crime. Early child education and development are paramount for raising capable adults. If you lose the first 7 years by allowing them to be spent in an unstructured home environment with a mom or a dad cooking, cleaning, watching tv, dragging you to groceries stores, throwing you for care from one teen to another, whichever one is less expensive and available at the time, you can't catch up after 7. The years of the most significant cognitive development are gone. All the best world universities are powerless at that point.5. Free health careFrom my experience, it was free and available. When kids or adults got sick, doctors from the local medical centers came (usually walked) to your home, checked your heart rate, temperature, and helped decide what to do next. For urgent cases, a free ambulance was available within 5-10 minutes.My mother had frequent migraines. For many years, we called an ambulance usually at least once a month, sometimes more often, to help her with painkillers. Had we had to pay each time (like I have to in the USA with a co-pay, IF I have insurance costing $10k/y for a family), we probably would have gone bankrupt or she would have died sooner.Since then, I have heard and read many other opinions -- that health care in the USSR was awful, with long wait times, with bribes defining if you got an operation or not. This I believe became true after the end of the USSR.6. SciencesThere was an emphasis on science and math in school. By age 17, everyone had studied geometry, algebra, organic and non-organic chemistry, physics, anatomy, and biology. These all were mandatory.Twenty years after the fact, I am able to help my freshman niece with her chemistry and math at school. I have not opened a chemistry book for 20 years, but I am still fluent with the Mendeleev periodic table.7. Safety: pedophiles, gun and drug free neighborhoodsI walked from school by myself from the age of seven, so did everyone else in my neighborhood, and, I think, in my entire city of 4 million people, and in most of the country.I had not seen a single drug and did not know about what drugs were until the USSR ceased to exist.We lived in an average neighborhood, I went to an average school. Not a single time did I heard about anyone killing anyone with a gun. I am sure there were cases and they were kept secrets by some government body. The fact is for fifteen years of my life I was not exposed to gun violence or drugs.On my basketball team, at any point in time, we had 30 to 40 girls from 7 to 15yo, we traveled for championships to other cities and other Republics for at least one week out of every month, and for three months every summer (this was not typical for everyone, but this was part of my life), none of the ~ 70 girls (with rotation over time) I believe ever was exposed to an unwanted sexual experience, drugs, or guns. Our summer basketball camps gathered probably 500+ kids. Not a single time did I heard about anything wrong. We did not have bodyguards, police with guns, or any other type of enforcement agency personnel in my 8 years of travel.Alcoholism was a huge problem, but the incidents were isolated to each individual family, and each family struggled on its own, and alcoholic (usually) fathers were usually hurting mostly just their own families.8. Walking and affordable public transportation95% of the population did not have cars. If your family had a car, you were considered rich and "out of norm".The neighborhoods were built for walking. Withing walking distance, in every neighborhood, there was a kindergarten, a school, two to three grocery stores (and/or an open market), sport facilities, and engineering jobs your parents walked to.Our city had a gazillion buses, trolleys, and trams, and a metro. You could get to any part of the city within 20-60 minutes by affordable public transportation. The Metro was a sure way, buses and trams came every 10-15 min. It was not perfect, but it was there, and it worked. My family never had a car. My parents were fit for all their lives because they walked to and from their job.Pictures of the metro stations built under the USSR: The Unusual Metro Systems of the Soviet Union9. Recycling, reusing, fixingOnly after I noticed that my small family in the USA throws a huge plastic bag of garbage every Day and after I heard about global warming so many times, and after remembering that my dad during my childhood used to take out a small bucket of garbage every couple of days, I went back in my memories and realized that in the USSR:- Stores did not offer plastic bags or any other kind of free bags.Because we were fairly poor (living from paycheck to paycheck), paying for a plastic bag was not affordable, so we carried reusable bags with us all the time.As far as I am concerned, whatever the reason stores did not offer plastic bags (such as lack of a customer service concept), the result was that the bags were not piling up in a garbage can after every trip for groceries (or my parents were not faced with the task of keeping plastic bags to later dispose of at a local grocery store).- There were no plastic bottles.All juices, lemonades, seltzer, milk, and kefir were sold in glass bottles. When you brought the glass bottles back to the store for reusing (aka recycling), the stores paid a tangible amount per bottle. Our family always took the glass bottles back, not because we were so responsible, but because bringing them back and getting paid was tangible for our pockets.- Wastepaper was accepted for recycling and paid for by weight.There were sort of kiosks where they accepted wastepaper and paid money for it. One time, my mother managed to take 10 kilograms (20+ pounds) of our childrens books and turn them in as wastepaper for some money. My dad and I (my brother was old by then) could never understand why she did that, but we loved her, so we got over the loss of our books.There were organized competitions to turn in wastepaper. Pioneers and komsomols (scouts) were motivated to turn in wastepaper and were given some (nonsense, but honorable at the time) rewards/titles, like "the best pioneer" or something like that, for the most wastepaper turned in.- Scrap metal was accepted for recycling.There were organized competitions to turn in scrap metal. Again, there were rewards for bringing more than others did.- Fixing things instead of buying new ones.We lived paycheck to paycheck; loans, generally, were not an option (except for rare occasions), buying new stuff was not an option. We fixed all appliances that broke. We had the same iron for years and the same barely working washing machine.Buying a new smartphone every six months (while talking about global warming) would probably have been considered a crime.In retrospect, I realize and recognize all of that free stuff became utopian, but at the time, for as long as it lasted, it was what the USSR was better at.10. FrugalityThe USSR was great at creating a frugal, yet inspired, middle class. My parents supplemented incomes from their engineering jobs with 'low level' jobs (my mom cleaned a local college and my dad loaded heavy boxes in the evenings) and yet we were counting every "kopieka"=penny. We lived within our means because there were no credit cards or loans. One of my most unbelievable memories is that when I was 7, when I had one pair of shoes for all occasions (we lived in a hot climate), we were excited when we could buy another pair for me just for sports. [I won't mention how many pairs of shoes each of my children and I have now. :) ]It was a livable frugality. We had meaningful lives. We were inspired by big things -- by getting to the Moon, by science, by all the ambitious long term plans the government announced and the country as a whole often achieved (often, by inspiring & making people work extra time in fields and at factories for no or little pay.)Continuity gave a feeling of stability and there was never a question "How am I going to pay my bills tomorrow (if I lose my job or just because I amassed bills beyond my means)???" Parents never lost jobs, we never had bills we could not afford. My parents were not the best savers and not the best budgeters, but we had all we needed at the very minimum, so did my friends and my peers.Update 1: On purpose, I did not go in to the police state and the lack of freedoms. The question was not about what USSR was worse at. :)Update 2: One's experiences of what the USSR was better at was different during Stalin's era from the pre Gorbachev era and from Gorbachev's era. In the outside world, people believe KGB was all over the place all the time. This was not the case or at less the case during the last 15-20 years of the USSR's existence. My generation (born in 1974-1980), I believe, grew up with no fear of the KGB, and hardly with any fears at all. Frugal continuity, certainty, safety, and free education were indispensable in developing fearless young educated people.Update 3: All of the above, except for affordable public transportation disappeared within a year after the USSR ceased to exist. Everything got destroyed so fast, it was hard to believe it ever existed. Free got exchanged for bribery, safety was exchanged for an endless flow of drugs from Afganistan and the former USSR republics. Killing became a profession in Russin. But, at that point, it was not the USSR any longer. Every Republic became its own country with its own currency, and started doing its own thing. From that point on, one can write fifteen stories of what each one of them was better at (or worse at).The very first years after the end of the USSR were very educational. It is fascinating to live during hyperinflation. I also learned what a cross-rate (in foreign exchange operations) is not from the books but by experience. We had local money (called Soums), exchanged them for rubles, dollars, tenge (another currency of a neighboring republic) and at 18, in my head, I could calculate with which currency or in which country it was less expensive to buy a certain item (the base was either soums or dollars). But, again, this was after the USSR and a topic for another post.

What is your experience in SSB?

I had attended SSB(AFSB, Mysore) in September 2010. Though I do not remember those 5 days in detail, i can try to put in as much as I remember.Disclaimer: Very long post ahead.I remember the day I got know that I had cleared UPSC written exam for NDA. I had my my 2nd round CET counselling on the same day. I was with my friends when I got know I was going to attend a SSB. I am from Sainik School Bijapur, so obviously it was a insanely happy moment. I was supposed to attend SSB at Mysore board. I had opted for Air Force. To be frank, I was very confident about clearing SSB and joining NDA. But some how it did not happen. I had prepared very well since I had lot of time to prepare. It was after my CET , so there was lot of time before I had to join college. I was supposed to attend SSB just couple of days after I joined college. I had thought that I will join the college, attend and clear SSB, come back to college and have fun until I get the merit list and join Air Force. But things do not happen as we want them to.I was new to Bengaluru. I had planned to leave to Mysore the night before my reporting date. I went to Bangalore main railway station (SBC) and boarded a passenger train to Mysore late night so that I can reach Mysore early in the morning. Truck from SSB was supposed to pick candidates from Mysore Railway station.There is a slight diversion in the story, which you can read here. I reached Mysore well before I was supposed to. I got fresh and was waiting for truck to arrive.Day 1Truck arrived and we were instructed to load our bags and get in the truck. I was hoping that they will take us to rooms, give us time to brush, bathe etc. I was wrong obviously. Truck dropped us near a hall. We were instructed to be seated in the hall. Then I got to know that we have PABT[1](Pilot’s Aptitude Battery Test). I knew that I had to attend PABT, but I had an impression that PABT will be conducted at the end of the interview. But here it was the first test. From the stories that I had heard ‘screening’ was supposed to be first. Anyway, it was not under my control. A gentleman arrived after some time and started lecturing us about horizons, altimeters and many other things that I don’t know or don’t remember now. After the lecture of few hours, we were given a written test on what was explained in that lecture. I did not have a pen, so did most of us. All our our bags were somewhere in the truck. Staff provided us with pens. We attended the written test. After the test we got to have breakfast. We had breakfast and were waiting for the results. Most of us were tired as we had traveled previous night. But somehow I could concentrate in the lecture enough to clear the written test.Okay, written test is done. So the next part is the video games :D. That’s what we used to call it. PABT has two parts, one was the written test containing questions on concepts explained in the lecture and few aptitude and logical ability questions. and the other was some game type of test on a computer. People who did not clear the written test were not allowed to play video games :P. They were sent to dormitory.This computer based test was very intense. It was not for long, but it really squeezed every drop of concentration that I had. I was very exhausted after the test. Following are the rules and how to play the video game:Computer screen has a small rectangle in the center.There is a ball(a circle with about half centimeter radius) on screen which moves randomly and uncontrollably.Objective of the game is to control that crazy moving circle into the small rectangle and make it stay there.To control the there are two peddles(like clutch and brake in a car). If you press the left peddle with left leg, the circle on-screen moves to your right, if you press the right peddle, circle moves towards left on-screen. The intensity with which you push the peddles results in the speed of the circle.there is joystick in one hand. If you move the joystick in forward direction, the circle moves up, if you move backwards, circle moves down on-screen.In another hand there is a gear lever (like the one in cars). Apart from the circle and the small rectangle, screen also contains a Red circle on the left top and yellow circle on the right top. When Yellow circle gets bright, the gear leaver should be moved backwards and when red circle gets bright, the gear lever should be pushed forward.The rules aren’t over yet :D , the joystick that is in one hand, also has a push button on the top of it. While playing the game you are provided with a headphone, which gives you some random beep sounds. So whenever you hear a beep sound while trying to get that crazy circle into the small rectangle, you got to press the button on the joystick.So, technically, my both legs were trying to peddle to move the circle left-right, my hands were busy handling joystick and the gear lever, my eyes were busy tracking the circle and those red and yellow circles on top of the screen, my ears were busy listening to beep sound. My brain was totally busy handling the inputs and performing the right action for each of the inputs. I am surprised that my nose and mouth were spared :D:D.I could clear the second round of PABT too. I feel proud for having cleared the PABT test which is a must if one wants to join Indian Air Force as a fighter pilot.DAY 2We woke up early in the morning, got ready and assembled. We were called in groups of 5–8( don’t remember the exact number). Each group was taken into a discussion room. It was ‘screening’[2] test. In screening test, a vague image of some random people/object/situation is projected on a screen and the team should discuss on the image. Since the image shown is generally very vague, every person has his own imaginary story/thoughts on the image. The group discussion happens and thoughts are discussed. There will be a Board member to assess each group member throughout the discussion and selection/rejection depends on his scores/feedback.I remember the image still. There was a table, in a cave like thing, a person in suit with worried look, and laborer with explaining something to the person in the suit. Laborer looked scared. So I came up with a story about a mining industry where the mine laborer is telling his manager about a disaster that is about to happen or happened.After the screening test, we were made to wait near the dormitory. A Person came to announce the results. Truck was waiting beside to take us back to railway station if we do not clear the screening test. We were given chest numbers. I was cautiously listening for the numbers being announced. I was praying not to hear my number because the numbers which were called out were not cleared and were supposed to pack their bags and get in the truck. I cleared screening too :). Confirmed my stay for the next few days in Mysore SSB board.Rest of the days.I don’t remember the exact day numbers the rest of the tests/activities happened.And I am not sure whether I have done well in these tests or not as I was not recommended by the SSB at the end.TAT(Thematic Appreciation Test)[3]: A image is projected on screen for few seconds and some time is given to write a story on that. I don’t remember the exact amount of time, but it happens very fast. A image is projected , by the time you write a short story on that, the next image is flashed on the screen. This was not tough as I had practiced very well for this. But it was very time intensive. I had to skip one or two images due to lack of time.WAT(Word Association Test):[4] Just like in previous activity, a word is flashed on screen for a second and few seconds are given to write a sentence on that and the next word is flashed on screen immediately. This was also not very tough for me as I had practiced.SRT(Situation Reaction Test): [5] This similar to previous tests, around 60 situations are provided and you are supposed to write down what you would do or how you would react in those kind of situations. This is also time intensive. You got to attempt how much ever you can in 30 minutes.Individual obstacles:[6] This is a physical task. This is not at all tough for most of the Sainik School / military school students as we have done those in school competitions and generally physically fit and strong. This went on well for me too. But it was little misty in the morning in Mysore, the ropes were quite slippery. When I jumped to catch the rope in Tiger leap[7], I slipped and hurt my fingers and legs as I slid down to fall. Luckily that was second last. I could not complete the last one(Burma bridge) as I was injured and there was no time left. I was taken to the small clinic in the campus got my fingers bandaged. The below pic is memory of this incident. That’s me.PGT (Progressive Group Tasks):[8] These are series of group tasks. There will be some small wooden structures with different paints on them(blue, white, red). We will be given a rope, a wooden plank and a load. We , as a group need to come up with a best strategy to cross the wooden structures without anyone of us touching the ground using wooden plank and rope. The colors on the wood have different restrictions. I don’t remember the exact purposes of colors.FGT(Final Group Task):[9] This is exactly similar to PGT. But this is only one. This is final one.Command Task: [10]This is exactly the same as FGT. But this is for individuals instead of groups. The person can choose a partner if needed. I believe I did this well.GPE(Group Planning Excercise):[11] In this test, the group is taken into room and a 3D map of a location is shown. There exist multiple problems in that locality. The group has to solve most if not all of the problems. Resources available to us are explained in advance. The resources have to be used properly. The plan should be close to practical. The 3D map I saw had few mountains with a dam, a train track and a small village.Dam was about to be blown by some terrorists.Railway track had a problem which would lead to a major train accident.There were few more which I do not remember.Lecturette:[12] This is a communication skill test. A random topic is given and few minutes to prepare. We need to speak on the topic infront of the group for about 3 minutes. I don’t remember the topic. But I had done well in this.Personal Interview: As name suggests, this is a personal interview with one of the officers. I don’t remember much of it.Conference: This is not a test actually. This is just a meeting in the conference room where all the people who have assessed you for the 5 days sit and discuss and decide whether you are selected or rejected.Verdict: I was not selected. I am an software engineer now :).Am I sad that I did not clear? I was sad then, I was crushed. I came back to Bengaluru and joined my college. That’s when I accepted the fact that I am going to do engineering. But now that I look back, I don’t feel bad for it. I can’t say I am better off as an engineer than a fighter pilot or my life now is better/worse, but it would have been definitely different.Footnotes[1] Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT)[2] How to Clear Day 1 Screening Test in SSB Interview[3] Thematic apperception test - Wikipedia[4] association test | psychology[5] Situation Reaction Test Original 180 Situations in SSB[6] 10 Individual Obstacles(GTO) in SSB and How to complete more than 10 in 3mins?[7] Image on wordpress.com[8] Back To The Basics: Progressive Group Task (PGT)[9] Final Group Task | FGT | GTO FGT | SSB Interview[10] Command Task and How To Tackle It[11] Group Planning Exercise 1 [GPE][12] What Is Lecturette And How To Perform Well In It

What is the experience of being in a psychiatric hospital like?

I should probably write this while it is all still fresh in my mind from my stay in the hospital. This will be long but detailed.Okay, lets open up and do this while I have the nerve to do it....Recently I went on hiatus for a little over a week. What I did not say is that I spent that time in the hospital. I will explain in detail the entire process from before to leaving as best I can. The links in this answer refer to other answers of mine that provide some details on certain personal topics I will leave out here because this is a long answer already.Firstly I have openly communicated about my depression, PTSD and past suicidal attempts before on Quora. I did this so that I can educate people and provide support to others that might be trying to deal with these issues themselves alone. You are not alone this is all far more common than most people believe. The experience of being hospitalized both this time and in the past was really not that scary nor incredibly unpleasant but it does take a toll. Hopefully I can clear up some misconceptions and give you an insight into what happens. This answer is about a short term crisis facility. In this context short term is under 30 days. A longer stay facility will have more activities and more programs with greater variety, I would hope. I have never been to a long term facility so I don't know for sure.Before HospitalizationI have struggled with these issues all of my life from age 6 onwards and recently things got much worse. I am receiving the bulk of my care from the state of Arizona and Medicare as I am disabled. Recent budget cuts and the states decision to cut services means the quality of care I have been getting has not been adequate to keep me healthy. Adding to that I developed a sensitivity to the medication I had been taking for years that was so bad that I would throw up an hour after taking it every single time I tried. I went off my antidepressants and as could be expected my mood crashed hard. This combined with stress at home and other factors to lead me into a depressive spiral.My biggest problems are clinical depression ruminating on things I do not have the power to fix such as my other physical health issues that I can't get treatment for and hypervigilance. When I am in a really bad place this leads to a spiral where I continually begin to cycle ways to kill myself over and over in my mind and yet am too afraid to actually do them. I can't stop the thoughts and I can't stop the crippling fear. It results in me becoming totally non functional.I have been through it before and knew what was going on so I asked my roommate to drive me to the ER that evening after telling people on Quora I would be gone for a while so they didn't worry.Emergency RoomChecking in at the ER for suicidal ideation and intent (the official terms) is the same as going for any other reason except you generally get better service. I am not kidding. You walk up to the desk and they ask why you are there and you fill out a little card that explains your name address and information. They will then ask why you are there even if you put "suicidal" on the card and like I did you say "I am suicidal... I don't feel safe, I am afraid I will kill myself if I don't get help."Assuming they don't have any pressing emergencies they will take you back to triage just like any other ER patient. They will check your temp, pulse, heart rate and blood pressure in a minute or two and weigh you. You then sit down and explain exactly why you are there and more information on what led to this. They might collect insurance info too at this time or later. Often this will happen while they take your vitals (BP, pulse, etc).If they agree that you are in bad shape and a threat to yourself they will have you sit or lay somewhere in easy view until they can find a place to put you. Many hospitals have separate beds just for behavioral health, some don't. Once they even had me put on a stretcher in the hall in clear view of the nurse's station. One way or the other they will see to you immediately. The reason being is once you are triaged and found to be potentially suicidal they are now responsible for your life if you kill yourself. In this case there were open beds in the hospitals behavioral health ER.It was a separate room adjacent to and inside of but separate from the ER. In this room was 6 beds with a wall between each bed and an open curtained front just like most other ER beds. There was also a single room that had a door and a larger more comfortable bed.First they have you take off all clothing and jewelry and strip down to your underwear in the bathroom. You do this yourself with no one watching and are given one of those hospital gowns to wear. They will ask you to give a urine sample and take you to a bed where you will get your blood drawn. You then sit in the bed and wait for the staff psychologist / psychiatrist to come and evaluate you. After the evaluation if they think you need to be hospitalized they will make the arrangements for you. They may even ask if you prefer a certain hospital. Then you wait. Depending on how full the behavioral health hospitals are you may wait a long time. I have waited up to 18 hours for a bed to open up before. This time it was more like 16. The wait can be a pretty agonizing wait but often you have a TV of your own if the hospital is good.Why go to an ER rather than Directly? Because the behavioral health hospitals are often so full it can take 4-24 hours for them to have an open bed. If you're in bad shape that may be too long. At the hospital you will get medication if needed and have nurses there to help. In this case one nurse and one med tech for up to 6 people. There were only 2 patients in there when I came in.Behavioral Health HospitalIf you are going from the ER to another hospital they will most likely take you by ambulance or some other vehicle prearranged for this purpose. You will be wheeled directly into the hospital and might sign some things in the ambulance and again have your vitals taken. Everything else is prearranged.After they wheel you in you go into the behavioral health unit. There will often be several doors and you will be comfortably sitting on a stretcher upright. They wheel you all the way in past several sets of doors most with electronic locks. This is the only really scary part in my opinion but it takes less than a minute. They walk fast in hospitals.You will be asked to climb down and go to an examination room. You will be introduced to one or more of the nurses and med techs and everything that happens next will be clearly explained before they do anything. Again you have your vitals checked and are weighed and might again need to give blood or urine. They may do some type of full body search but in my experience it is just drop your gown and turn around once. While this is happening you will be asked to explain everything all over again from the beginning and asked to sign paperwork. The paperwork explains your rights as a patient and the hospital policies and procedures as well as giving consent to be treated voluntarily. If you do not agree to go voluntarily they can petition you to stay for evaluation if they think it is warranted. I went voluntarily.They will normally not give back your clothes yet and will give you hospital scrubs to wear instead. Loose fitting pants and shirt with elastic bands, three sizes fit all. You will be given back any clothing that is relatively safe like a shirt, jacket or pants as long as they don't have cords or large metal parts. A Med Tech will show you around and show you to your room.I did the above image from memory. It might not be perfect and the top and bottom halls were a little longer but it is still pretty accurate.Not pictured here is the cafeteria and various activity rooms outside the wing. At my hospital they had a greenhouse, piano, library (tiny) and ping-pong table as well as various big conference rooms for activities such as art. You might get to visit each activity room for an hour or two on a specific day of the week.You will have a room that you will share with one other person. The rooms are big and the beds are spaced farther apart than pictured. My image is not to scale but most things in my picture are proportional to each other. Mostly it gives you an idea of the layout of one hospital. They are ALL different. The room was prolly 20'x30'. Or so it seemed, I didn't measure. You will have your own dresser / nightstand and sometimes the beds have drawers under them too. They give you a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, earplugs and towels. These are yours and yours alone. The furniture is solid and generally too heavy to move or pickup. My bathroom was tiny. I mean really, really tiny. Different hospitals will have different layouts but most give you one roommate.Your entire day is structured. They have a schedule of things that happen at certain times and they expect and encourage you to follow the schedule but almost NOTHING is forced. Most people spend the first day or two in their room just laying down or sleeping that is what I did too. Often you would see a new person brought in but not see them again for a day or two outside of their room. They expect this and will not hassle you much at all in the beginning. The only mandatory things are seeing your doctor, your therapist / social worker and them taking vitals. This will happen even if they have to come to you but don't expect them to be happy about it. They will encourage you to at least leave the room for the doctor and therapist and almost all people do. You can even refuse your medications.The Typical Schedule6-6:30am Day Room Opens, TV, Newspaper and Coffee are available in the Day Room6-8am Vitals, Bloodwork, wake up.8am Breakfast You go to the cafeteria for this normally but your first day you might eat in the day room. Everyone else eats in the cafeteria so it is quiet in the Day Room and good for new people to adjust.8:30-9:30am Medication / Hygiene / Free time. People with morning meds get them now after the meal. They encourage everyone to shower and you can watch TV, read etc.9:30am Morning Group also called Goals Group. They encourage everyone to go but it is not mandatory and people can and will come and go. A Med Tech / Therapist asks each person how they are doing and what their goals are for the day. These groups can be very short or very long. Sometimes very deep or personal discussions go on in what is really a very informal group. You will be asked to rate your depression and anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10 and asked if you are hearing or seeing things. They ask everyone the same questions and some people are seeing things and hearing things everyone else isn't and sometimes they talk about it.9:30-11am Free time. The techs will try to do things to entertain everyone and keep people from getting bored. This could be as simple as sitting in the day room with people and chatting or putting on a movie. Some techs rent movies with their own money for the patients to watch. We watched Wall-E, Mask of Zorro and Oz the Great and Powerful while I was there maybe others I didn't see while I was reading. During this time people will be called to the med window, nurses station, and offices to see their therapist or case worker and occasionally for things like insurance. These kinds of meetings can happen at any time of the day but most happen in the hours just before or just after lunch.11:30am Lunch time. Lunch is in a cafeteria outside the wing. You stand in line and walk through a cafeteria line. There is usually different choices to eat and always a vegetarian option and/or salad.For example one day they had turkey and gravy, beef stroganoff over noodles, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, corn, clam chowder and mixed vegetables. There were also chef salads with ham cheese eggs etc., Jello, Boston cream pie, German chocolate cake, and chocolate cream pie, bowls of pears and peaches and fresh cut melon. Dinner rolls were always available. These were all options available in just one lunch.You can generally get any or all of the options that you can stomach. They may ration it because it has to feed other wings and patients though.12pm Medications if you have a mid day medication.12:30pm Group therapy. This usually changes depending on the day. One day it could be art therapy the next it could be the greenhouse or even pet therapy. Other types of group therapy are just covering specific topics, these include; addiction, grief, medication education with the pharmacist or other topics. If you stay longer than a week you might see the same group happen on the same day. Friday may always be art and Sunday may always be pet therapy. They will work some kind of therapy even into art such as painting what is going on in your head on an actual life sized Styrofoam head.1:30pm Discharge planning / free time again. If you are going home they will be walking you through that at this time. I will address this specifically later.2:30pm and/or 3:30pm another group therapy. Again with one of the subjects above. Usually one of the therapies each day is more fancy and the other is just sitting in a circle and talking.4:30pm Dinner. Similar choices to lunch but not the same thing that was offered for lunch unless they had a lot and it is being offered in addition to other choices as a third entree. It seems too soon for dinner and IMHO it is but they are going by medical mumbo jumbo that says you sleep better when you are not still digesting a big meal. Also if you have labs or bloodwork in the morning they don't want that too close to bedtime.5-6:30pm Free time / medications if you have an after dinner medication.6-7pm Visitation time. You meet with your visitors in the cafeteria along with everyone else and their visitors. This expands to 2 hours on weekends normally.6:30pm Snack time. They have both healthy and unhealthy snacks and usually a few choices. Fresh fruit is always available, other choices include sandwiches, crackers, gelatin, pudding, string cheese, tiny salads, sliced peaches, carrots and celery, pretzels, chips, popcorn etc.7:30pm or 8pm Wrap-up group. They go one by one and ask if you met your goal today (it was a test!) and how your day went. If you did they congratulate you if not they ask how they can help you to meet that goal better and / or why it failed. You are also asked general questions about the day. Again they ask about depression level and anxiety as well as voices and hallucinations. The techs take notes on your responses and these are used to gauge how successful todays treatment has been.8:30pm-9:15pm medications if you have a before bed medication or sleep aid.9pm Movie or TV time11pm Everyone is ushered out of the Day Rooms and they are locked. You can go where you want but you can't stay here. The lights are turned down and they don't allow any talking above a whisper. You don't have to go to bed but it gets pretty boring in your room or sitting in the hall and all the comfy chairs are in the Day Room.Wash-Rinse-Repeat New day, same as the last. Different activities for groups each day but same schedule at the same times.I might be off on the times. I didn't write the schedule down so this is going off memory after having the same schedule for a week so it should be pretty accurate. I can't say every hospital is like this but the three I have been to in the last 7 years were like this almost exactly. Each was run by a different company but in the same city and state. If you are staying at some fancy place it is prolly MUCH different but for the multitudes of people both moderately well off and not this is what you get. This is what your insurance will pay for.Free time and BoredomAdd it up and you still got a lot of free time to yourself. You also can use the phones at any time 9am to 9pm. You just walk up and dial as you wish. No one monitors it nor cares who you call. You can even make long distance calls but the staff have to put in a code on the phone first. Usually they limit the number of long distance calls but it is not a hard and fast rule. Where I was it was 3 long distance calls per shift. Which is 6-9 per day.There is always the TV during free time and usually there is more than one TV so people with different tastes can be accommodated in the different day rooms. The staff will also put in a movie during free time or find other things to keep people active like going outside in the field or some kind of game / discussion. You can read or socialize with the other patients and there's board games, cards, dice, chess, coloring pages and pencils, markers and crayons.It still gets really, unbelievably boring. I can only guess it is on purpose so we are forced to interact with each other and socialize which often leads to talking out your issues with the other patients. Sometimes they can be better therapy than the staff. Other patients might have more experience dealing with depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, addiction or whatever brought you here than you do.Everything is monitored and everything is optional.Quietly and unbeknownst to many patients the staff is always watching you. Okay maybe that seems obvious but most don't realize how far that goes. They don't do this secretly or by cameras (though there are cameras in the halls) but by just walking around and listening and watching. They have clipboards on them all the time.Every 15 mins 24 hours a day EVERY patient is accounted for and they mark down what the patient is doing. This is done in teams with one Med Tech taking half and the other taking the other if they see crossover not on their list they mark that too. The little sheet (I sneaked looks cause as everyone knows I am curious like that) has the list of all patients and a series of checkmark boxes.They will put a check for.... Socializing, sitting, standing, lying down, sleeping, reading /activity like coloring, TV, crying/upset, phone, happy, etc. If you are standing and socializing happily while playing a game they will mark those four boxes.If you are not in a common area like the halls or day room they will walk to your room and peek in. If you fully shut the door they will knock. If the door is open or partly open that is invitation to look in. This also happens all night long. If you leave your door open it happens pretty quietly but if you prefer your door shut you might want to do like I did. I put a towel on the floor stopping the door from closing all the way but still mostly closed. This way it doesn't make noise when they push the door open to look in and then let it close again. Having the door closed also makes things quieter. Even at night there is always some noise. Med techs talking or a patient coughing or etc. The halls act like echo chambers at night and the slightest sound gets magnified. At least they give you good sleep meds so you can still sleep and ear plugs in case your roommate snores.Interesting Facts You Learn.Addiction is rampant in these hospitals. This comes from two sources firstly the same place you go for being suicidal is the same exact place you go for drug rehab. The second cause is patients with psychiatric issues trying to self medicate their problems away with alcohol or hard drugs. I would say in my UNscientific first hand experience that it ranges from 70% to 90% have some kind of addiction that is negatively affecting their life and family.Patients come from all walks of life. At one table you might have a heavily tattooed gay gangbanger, a Meth addict, an accountant, a construction worker, an unemployed kid 19 years old and living with their parents, a moderately wealthy banker, and a homeless man. They all have stuff in common and you might find people make friends at the hospital with people they would normally never associate with. The banker might have moved from a cocaine addiction to a meth addiction and be on the verge of loosing everything and confiding in the gangbanger or the homeless man. People just seem to gel together and find others that can identify with their issues and it can seem paradoxical and yet amazing. We really are all more the same than different.People really do sit around and color. You see it in movies and TV but it is real. Thankfully the staff pick out stuff from online that is not so childish and takes more skill than a 6 year old to color but there are also pictures of Micky Mouse too. I don't know why but there is something very therapeutic about coloring. Maybe it is that it takes us back to our childhood and happy memories or maybe that rythmic back and forth as you fill in the shapes is relaxing. Whatever it is, I did a lot of it and enjoyed it. Someone was always coloring at any given moment and sometimes 3 or 4 would be coloring together sharing a pile of pencils and crayons while talking.There are two or more different wards depending on the severity. People that are very unstable or unresponsive to treatment go to a separate ward. The largest group is the people that can generally maintain but are going through stuff that is somewhat equally as tough. You generally won't be in with people that are significantly crazier than you are. The woman that hears voices might also be a very good paralegal when she has the right medications and be a good person to talk to when you're upset. She knows she hears voices and knows they aren't real but can't stop hearing them. She might not be much different than someone who is always wearing headphones is. A little spaced and looking not fully observant but she won't fly into a rage randomly either.The system is overburdened, under funded and lacks sufficient quality control. Some hospitals are great others not so much. You get to see your doctor every day and your therapist or case worker every day but they are clearly overworked and don't have time to listen to even most of your problems. They have a routine and follow much of their job by rote. They may select different medications and dosages based on each patient's needs and history but mostly they just want to find the right MEDs to stop the immediate crisis and get you out of the hospital. There are lots of people there that care and try to help but they are caring workers on an assembly line and your brain is on the conveyor belt.Insurance determines the treatment more than doctors in many cases. If your insurance doesn't cover that one drug that might help you then you don't get it. If your health plan only covers 10 days you better have a credit card handy the moment you go to day 11. Insurance companies have standards and practices set up under payment schedules and the hospital works around those.It is reminiscent of an adult High School. You have class, you have lunch and you have recess. The teachers are always watching and can be very helpful and caring or scolding depending on the situation. Students can be cliquish or not and are generally bored out of their minds. (Literally) The big difference is it is 24 hours a day 7 days a week high school. It isn't fun but it is not hell either. I would say unpleasant but necessary.They treat you like an adult but expect you to act like one too. Nuff said there.You can do laundry and the guys can shave (while being closely watched). They have a washer and dryer and you do your own laundry. You have to ask them to unlock the door to it though.You can have personal items as long as they are safe. Glasses, maybe a watch (not always), books and toiletries. They have the final say what stays or goes. Things you can't have are locked up.DischargeYou and your doctor have seen an obvious improvement and it is decided that it is time to go home (or your insurance ran out). The hospitals won't push anyone out that is truly in need but they might try to transfer them to a state funded hospital beyond the time allotted or a long term facility if they only handle short term hospitalization. The beginning of your schedule goes like above.You meet with your doctor for the last time and they go over your medications and prescriptions you will need to go home as well as any recommendations or suggestions the doctor might have and many words of encouragement. You will meet with your therapist/caseworker several times on discharge day. They will make sure you have a therapist/psychiatrist appointment lined up before you leave and a home to go to if at all possible. They might have been working on these things in the day or two before you go as well before you even knew you were leaving. If you already had a doctor they will have set up an appointment for you if not you now have a doctor if you want one. They will bring you your stuff and let you go over it all to make sure it is all there.So now I am home with new meds and old problems but my mood is about 300% better than it was. Many on Quora may not have realized but my mood has been slowly slipping for months. I am good at hiding it. I am beginning to feel almost normal again and have plans and appointments setup with my doctors now that I am home to prevent this from happening again anytime soon. I still have other physical medical issues that go unresolved with no means to pay for them to be corrected and still have my depression and PTSD but everything is almost manageable again. I do not regret going to the hospital at all even though it wasn't fun. My roommate says I am like a whole new person compared to when I went in so I must be feeling even better than I realize.Huggles!

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