Part of how I deal with my mental illness is humor.  I came up with the name “Nut Hut” for Mayo’s Mood Disorder Clinic because it made me giggle whenever I thought about it.  Now you know the “Why?” behind the name of this blog entry.

Six months after my time at Marion Center, I found myself seriously depressed and suicidal.  My psychiatrist thought it was time to step things up a notch.  She wanted me to go to the Mood Disorder Clinic at Mayo Hospital in Minnesota.  Between the two of us, I got in (they normally don’t accept patients from as far away as I am).

My husband and I drove the nine hours to get there and spent the night in a hotel.  My appointment was the first thing the next morning.  They would be assessing me to determine if I should be placed in the Clinic.  After talking with a couple of doctors I was admitted.

Like the Marion center, I had to strip down to my underwear to be checked for contraband.  The nurses were so kind and so concerned about my well-being.  I was then taken to my room where a staff member when through everything in my suitcase.  I had the choice of keeping my pants with drawstrings and having the drawstrings removed or having the pants locked up until I left.  I chose remove the string.

Then we went to the Nurse’s station and they placed a bracelet on my wrist that they could scan any time they gave me medication.

There were two computers with internet access in the Common Area and I typed a message to my husband to let him know how everything was going.  His mom was at our house taking care of my son.  She stayed for the entire week I was in the hospital.

Then, some other patients came into the Common Area and introduced themselves.

Each morning, my clinical team visited me. The team was made up of the psychiatrist assigned to me, a nurse, my social worker and various other staff. I would sit on my bed while they stood and asked me questions. How was I feeling compared to when I came in? Was I having any side effects from my medications? Did I still feel like hurting myself?

I had told the nurses that my tongue was moving of its own accord, seriously hoping this was a med side effect and not psychosis.  It turned out that my blood work showed a toxic level of Lithium, one of the pillar meds for Bipolar Disorder treatment.  Over the next few days my Lithium dose was lowered and the weird tongue aerobics went away.

After my visit with the doctor and his/her team in the morning I would call my husband and let him know what they said.  We would talk about his upcoming day and my plans for the day.  (Mayo provided six cordless phones to the patients to make phone calls because they understand how vital it is that you stay connected to your support system.)  I usually called my husband 2-3 times per day.  He could hear the confidence building in my voice every day.

While the doctor’s made rounds, we had an opportunity to study/read before our classes started for the day.  The nurses and social workers taught the classes on everything from self-esteem to resilience.  We were usually given a bit of homework to complete for discussion at the next class. We were also to put to use the techniques we were learning for stress management and cognitive restructuring. Classes lasted all day.

We also got to take part in occupational and art therapy. Occupational therapy involved making a schedule for myself each day to keep me busy.

My favorite activity was art therapy and visiting the art room where there were endless tubes of paint, brushes and other art supplies.  The occupational therapist played the radio during our time and I loved listening to music and painting away. I found this so helpful that I practice my own form of art therapy at home. I always have markers/colored pencils around to serve as a distraction when needed.

The week was over and, again, I didn’t feel like I had gotten on top of my problems.  But I did feel better so it was time to go home.  Jesse made the frosty trip to Minnesota to pick me up.  We both felt hopeful, but I knew that my problems still weren’t solved.

Read the next installment of Staying at the Nut Hut at

Have you spent time in mental health facility?  I want to hear about it! Please tell me about your experience in the comments below:

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