Tuesday 20 June 2023

How I healed after being in hospital for mental health

Madeleine describes how she recovered from being in the hospital for mental health and what helped her do this. 

- Madeleine Chamberlain

I have been in the hospital twice for mental health during manic episodes. Both times it has taken time to heal afterwards to get back to feeling fully myself. Time to heal from being in an episode, and time to heal from being in a hospital under section. I thought I would share what helped me get back to feeling properly in touch with myself and able to talk about what happened when I was unwell.  

Checking in with myself:
I think one of the most important steps I needed to make sure I was doing was listening to myself and how I was feeling. No matter how hard it was to face those emotions, it was essential to move forward. Using meditation apps really helped this. Using visualisation techniques enabled me to properly realise how I was feeling day to day. Using these check-ins to be able to chat with friends about how I was doing helped enormously. Journaling and writing poetry became frequently used tools to explore my thoughts. Being in a hospital can be frightening and confusing, and so unpacking that takes time and patience.  

Talking about my experiences:
Talking about what happened as I became more comfortable massively reduced my feelings of embarrassment and shame. I found that responses from people I shared with were generally positive and understanding. It helped me feel more ‘normal’ and accepted. When I was fresh out of the hospital, I didn’t feel like I could share what being in the hospital was like with anyone. I was too fragile to talk about what happened. Time was a great healer, 3 years on from my last episode I am now very happy to talk about it freely with people I trust.  

Coping with the absence of euphoria:
Despite how detrimental a manic episode can be for everyone involved, coming out of an episode can be hard. Feeling that high can leave me missing that kind of euphoria afterwards. Even though I knew that euphoria came with paranoia and uncontrollable racing thoughts, to name a few, it still left me craving that extremely high emotion. I learnt I needed to become comfortable with a normal range of emotions and to be satisfied with them. Reminding myself of the dark side of mania kept me focused on staying away from that euphoria I craved.  

Learning to let go: 
Part of learning that you have a mental health condition can involve grieving who you used to be pre-diagnosis or symptoms. I found it hard to come to terms with having to make changes to reduce stress. When I was younger I put a lot of pressure on myself academically, and so I had to try to rewire my thinking to put my wellbeing first to avoid burnout and episodes fuelled by stress. It was easy to try to dive back into academics after coming out of the hospital to have something to focus on to distract myself. However, I learnt that it is important to ease back into normalcy rather than rushing to be completely better. Hospital is a very different environment and it can be quite overwhelming going back into the world.  

The biggest healer has really just been time. Putting that distance from me and my episodes helps me be able to look at them with fresh, non-judgemental eyes. It detaches the fading memory of the extreme emotions from the events that happened. I hope I won’t experience an episode again, but if I do, I hope the resilience I have built up will help me heal.

Whether you are looking for support for your own mental health at university or supporting a friend, help is available.

I'm Madeleine (one of the Sub Editors of the blog). I love combining my interest in writing with my passion for reducing the stigma around mental health, and the blog is the perfect place to do this. 


  1. Hi! I know what happened to you is not easy and you're really brave for having the strength to keep going! I'm proud of you. Stay strong & always remember how many people care about you. (I'm one of them!)

  2. Hi! I know what happened to you is not easy and you're really brave for having the strength to keep going! I'm proud of you. Stay strong & always remember how many people care about you. (I'm one of them!)