Finding Community in a Psychiatric Ward
5 mins read

Finding Community in a Psychiatric Ward

About Sanat:

Man in suit

Sanat is an Analytics Consultant and mental health writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. He’s been dealing with bipolar II disorder since he was a teenager, and it has had a significant impact on him. He finds purpose in writing and talking about mental illness at and on Instagram @_theworstofme_, where he writes very openly about his struggles with bipolar disorder.


I entered the psychiatric ward at a local hospital in Toronto due to suicidal ideation last year. I expected the ward to be the scariest place I had been, with patients yelling and healthcare workers (nurses, admin staff) who didn’t care. Instead, I found a community that helped me deal with my bipolar II disorder.

I had daily conversations with my psychiatric team, including the psychiatrist I see to this day. The best part of my time in the ward was how wonderful the people were who surrounded me. We watched World Cup matches, played games and puzzles, and laughed at the ridiculous things we would do. There was no one turning point for my depression – depression isn’t that simple. However, in the psychiatric ward, I learned the struggles of others like me, and I am better for it. Instead of being a place that brought me down, the psychiatric ward was a place that lifted me up. I found a community where I felt seen and heard. When I’m feeling low, I often think back to the psych ward to remember those positive feelings.


Prioritizing medication: Medication is the most fundamental aspect of getting better in my opinion, and it’s non-negotiable for me. I have a wonderful psychiatrist who meets with me every month and makes sure I’m on the path I want to be on. It’s not easy or affordable for everyone, but if you’ve consulted with a professional who’s deemed medication can help you, prioritize taking it consistently. I didn’t for a long time, and it made my journey that much more difficult.

Writing: I became a journal-er during my time in the psych ward. Journaling allows me to write in a way that helps me understand myself, and take an emotional pulse every single day. I’ve also written to share my story with others on my blog, and it’s been so cathartic (and helpful to others). Writing is a good way to keep yourself aware of how you’re doing. You don’t need to share your writing – it can be your own personal emotional thermometer.

No zero days: The idea is that you’re not allowed to have a day where you do absolutely nothing – that’s a zero day. For your own benefit, your aim is to do at least 1 thing a day. For those of us with depression, anxiety and/or bipolar disorder, some days can feel impossible. On that day, all we need to do is get out of bed, wash our face, write 1 sentence in our journal or anything that makes you feel like you moved forward. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, we’re not looking to walk a thousand miles – we’re looking to take that first step.


Be open and vulnerable, because nothing is more manly than vulnerability: Expecting men to be “strong” and not show any weakness seems to be universal to just about every culture. That approach could not be more wrong. Strong men open up about their thoughts and emotions. There is no badge of courage for being closed off – you will be surprised how open others are to your struggles.

Become a mental health scientist: What I mean is, engage in little experiments to help yourself get better. For example, you probably know that getting active is good for your mental health. Instead of committing to a workout routine, experiment with a walk around your block and see how it makes you feel. Try writing about your emotions and thoughts (as I highlighted above). Reach out to 1 friend every week. Instead of trying to change your life overnight, choose 1 thing that you are ready to commit to that will make just a bit of difference. You’ll find that little bit adds up to a whole lot over time.

Celebrate your wins: It’s easy to focus on the negative, especially with difficult conditions like depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. Sometimes, it feels like you’re taking one figurative gut punch after another. That’s why it’s important to celebrate the things you’re doing well. Did you get out of bed today? Give yourself a pat on the back. Have you taken your medication 10 days in a row? Get yourself a sweet or savory treat. Recognize that recovery happens in baby steps and build yourself up as much as you can by acknowledging and celebrating the seemingly insignificant wins because each and every one of them matters.

-Sanat Sethi,, Toronto, Ontario, Canada @jalapenovision

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *