Dysthymia’s ‘Going In’ Packing List

So, you’re going into a psychiatric hospital. Perhaps it’s your first time. Most of these excellent institutions have websites with a packing list which you should follow (find here examples from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney). However, it’s likely you’re in a bit of a muzzle (you are, after all, going into a psych unit); or perhaps your admission is unplanned – an emergency may have arisen, or you’re being admitted via the emergency department of a public or private hospital. In that case, don’t worry: Auntie Dythymia is here with her easy-to-follow packing tips.

Do Take:

  • All the usual things you’d take if you were going away (minus those mentioned in the “Don’t Take” list which will follow in a separate post)
  • Make sure your pyjamas are ‘decent’ – the sort you won’t mind being seen in by many different people. (I don’t want to freak you out, but nurses will be checking on you during the night, and if they’re not sure you’re breathing, it’s part of their job to be certain.)
  • As well as shampoo, conditioner, soap (yes, soap!), take washing powder for the washing machines. Yep, you’ll most likely be doing your own washing. Suck it up, princesses! 
  • Don’t bother taking in your laptop, unless you can use it for fun things, like playing Minesweeper or watching DVDs. You may be tempted to think something like: “Oh, yay, I’m going into hospital for a few weeks. My first novel will finally be written! My thesis will be completed!” It ain’t gonna happen. I once achieved the amazing feat of NOT completing not one but two BAS statements during an admission. 
  • DVDs are great, especially if they don’t require too much concentration to enjoy them. I once had a room mate whose go-to survival technique was sketching while listening to (note: not even watching!) her favourite TV show. 
  • Knitting, crochet, and any more masculine equivalents are all good pastimes. Whittling, on the other hand, is not, as it involves a knife. (Definite no-no.)
  • Take all your medicines in with you. There are lots of reasons for this, which I won’t bore you with now, but believe me, it’s for the best. (Remind me if I forget to post about this later.)
  • Pens and a notebook are useful, especially during the first few days when people often report memory loss. You can write down all the important things like “My favourite trakkies are in the washing machine” and then not cause a ward scandal by reporting them stolen half an hour later.
  • Short, light novels or magazines. 
  • Lately, I’ve become a great fan of bringing in things to make your room (or your part of the room, if you’re sharing) your own. Scent is a great way to do this (diffusers, people, not candles! I’m stating the obvious because I’m assuming you’re in a bit of a tizzy). Also posters, photos, and even your own bedding, if your hospital allows this.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but contains most of the things I’ve found people often get in and find they would have liked to bring along.

Are there any other things you’d add to the “must bring” list? Please let me know in a comment below … 


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2 responses to “Dysthymia’s ‘Going In’ Packing List

  1. Dammit, I forgot to add – if you’re a smoker, bring HEAPS to get you through the mandatory minimum 24 hour ‘no leave’ period. I’m not a smoker, so I’d suggest you take the opportunity of an admission to quit (you’ll likely be going through hell anyway, so why not add to the misery? – sorry, black psych ward humour there!). Most clinics are very supportive of quitting these days and have positive strategies to promote it.


  2. Pingback: Going In | In & Out, Up & Down: The Lighter Side of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Wards

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