My time recovering in the Acute Day Treatment Unit

(my art therapy)

As I have previously written, in 2014, I suffered from a very acute period of mental illness- a manic bipolar episode. I had to stay in hospital for 3 months before I began my recovery process at home. Part of that recovery process was being referred to an Acute Day Treatment Unit (ADTU).

ADTU is effectively a hospital day therapy ward- where groups are run on things like anxiety management, recovery techniques, anger management, assertiveness, relaxation/ meditation to music, arts and crafts and groups such as playing games eg table tennis or quizzes. It is there as a short stay intervention. Some like me had been in hospital already very unwell and some had been referred to ADTU to stop them having to go into hospital and to get them better through therapies.

People are referred there with all kinds of illnesses- depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, eating disorders, drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, psychosis, acute anxiety disorders eg PTSD/ OCD and more.

As well as the therapy groups with occupational therapists, the ADTU has psychiatric nurses, psychiatrist and therapists who support you during your stay. I was there largely because I had been through a very traumatic period of bipolar illness and also because I had decided to change medication to a new mood stabiliser- Lithium.

This meant that as well as the therapy sessions, I had to get used to a new medicine regime and weekly blood tests to determine my Lithium level. When you start Lithium, the level in your blood fluctuates- if it goes too high your body can have a toxic reaction. Luckily this never happened to me but there were times when I was quite low and depressed as the Lithium level was too low. So for about 8 weeks, I had regular blood tests.

In ADTU, you get given a key worker- an occupational therapist or nurse who works with you through your stay and acts a bit like a therapist- they are your support team for when you are there. At ADTU, I lived at home and went in every day 5 days a week. It was challenging as there were constantly new people coming in and out- some very poorly. However I made some incredible friends.

My first important friend I met on my first day! We both began at ADTU at the same time and started our induction. She also has bipolar disorder and we were quite similar- both loving all things girly, glittery and of course- unicorns! We got on well from the beginning, sat with each other in therapy groups, where we both regularly fell asleep in the relaxation to music sessions. She is an amazing and brave woman- who I am honoured to call a friend and we are still in touch today!

I made other friends as well, from sitting in the lounge and chatting in the mornings. One of these was my friend who loves sport and we would chat about what she was doing on her degree. She is also another amazing one who I am still in touch with!

ADTU is meant as a short stay intervention but due to my acute illness and change of medication I was there longer than almost anyone else. This became frustrating as I kept seeing people being discharged and I was still there. In the end after 12 weeks where I became used to all the staff and therapy groups and felt a bit like a veteran (some people are only there for 2 weeks) I emerged still fragile but stronger than I had been.

I owe so much to the wonderful staff- especially my occupational therapist key worker and the therapist running the arts and crafts and recovery groups. The staff were so supportive and kind.

In the UK, there are now only two ADTUs in the whole country as funding has been cut. However, I can honestly say that without the staff there and my new friends- I would have found life so much harder. I owe them so much.

Here are  some of my photos from the therapy folder I kept.

This blog is dedicated to my friends from ADTU who are making amazing strides- my 2 closest friends are now studying for Masters Degrees!



9 thoughts on “My time recovering in the Acute Day Treatment Unit

  1. I have been on lithium and this is week two. The end of week one, he increased my med because I had not reached the level he wanted. This week, I have stopped rapid cycling and cry a lot less but still some crying. Although, I feel a depression unless I can get engaged in something. I see my doctor in two days where my therapist said he will up my meds again. I really hope to feel normal, meaning feeling ok but not depressed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In the U.S. they usually call day treatment programs “Intensive Outpatient programs (IOPs)” or “Partial hospital programs”. I’ve been to these several times, but it’s been years since my last stint in one.

    The first time I was in an IOP I stayed for 6 months. I was certainly a veteran. Most people in the U.S. stay for 4 weeks. I eventually went back to work after several stints, but then went on disability after failing to stay in work too many times. I’ve been home alone for years now. I’ve made progress, but mostly progress from further deterioration, but not in ways that sent me back to the hospital.

    I’m at a stage where I should think about working again, but I’m scared and too used to my safe nook at home. I almost yearn to go back to an IOP, just to feel like the “graduation” from one would make me ready to work again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I remember feeling frightened to start work- take it easy and one at a time and speak to your mental health team so see if they can support you in applying for jobs. Good luck I know you can do it, slowly and be kind to yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Therse kinds of treatment centres can provide amazing, focused support for those recovering from acute episode. Hope you are continuing to do well ! thank you so much for the follow, I appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. HELLO 😀
    I am currently in an ADTU AND LIKE YOU I have been here for a number of weeks, only because I am new to MH and am currently waiting for a care coordinator.
    I stayed in hospital to begin with and ADTU was my next step. Hopefully I will be discharged in 2 weeks or so.
    I love it and hate it at the same time.. mornings ergh! Who enjoys waking up and being ready for 08:30 pick up!, but also the friends I have made there 🙂 I’m dreading leaving, scared more than anything of being alone.
    Thanks for sharing your story maybe in a few years I may do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Leaving ADTU is an adjustment, but you won’t be alone… you’ll still be able to chat and meet up with your new friends if they are able too.
      I know you will be ok and rebuild your life again. Your care coordinator should help with that too.. mine was wonderful and very kind. Its really important you get on with them and if not, ask for a different CC.
      Wishing you all the best for the future. You are always welcome to share your story here on the blog when you are ready.
      Thanks so much for getting in touch.


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