Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Mental Hospital

“Good morning,” the nurse flipped the light on, the ugly glare of the Fluorescents, “How are you?”
“Good,” I moved my mouth the way I thought would sound like the word “good” but it sounded more like “screw you” in my head.
I sat up in my hospital bed and self-consciously smoothed my hair down, mainly in the back. My hair was short and notorious for having some really wacky bedhead, but just because I was in a mental hospital didn’t mean I had to look the part. The nurse took my blood pressure and temperature, recorded it and left my room without turning the light off.
“Asshole...” I scoffed and flipped the light off and laid back in bed. I pulled the blanket around my arms to cocoon myself. I had barely slept the night before; not only was I in a new ‘exciting’ place, but nurses constantly shined flashlights in my face to make sure I hadn’t escaped and kept me up with the sounds of a radio and their constant chatter. Moreover, the bed was somehow more uncomfortable than the one at my dorm! It sucked! And I hoped that I could just sleep a little bit longer…
Only then two other nurses burst through the door, flipped my light on and said “You have to get out of your room now. We’re locking doors.”
Sigh.
I pouted inwardly and shuffled into the lobby with my fellow crazies. An ex-marine shuffled around the room sipping coffee from a styrofoam cup. A couple others sat around the table in the kitchen with their hot drinks. I was offered something to drink from one of the nurses but rejected it. Even if I was about to die from dehydration, my pride would not allow me to accept a drink from them. They kept everything- spoons, sodas, cookies, and other snacks locked up from the patients. You had to ask for everything from the snooty nurses, it was like being in kindergarten again! I had to ask them for permission to do everything: Will you unlock the bathroom? May I take a shower? Can you unlock my cabinet so I can change my clothes?
I often felt degraded because of that and when I had an option not to rely on them granting me something, I always denied their help.
I sat in a chair next to an elder woman with short, black hair and a large bruise above her left eye. She looked confused and said to me, “Can you help me find my trailer? I looked everywhere and… this isn’t my furniture. I wouldn’t have bought any of this!” She stood up from her seat and started trying door knobs, all of which were locked.
“Where’s the way out of here?” She asked jiggling the bathroom door. One of the nurses in their blue scrubs told her not to worry, that she would be staying there for a while and led her to the kitchen table.
I looked at the clock and was annoyed. Five in the morning. Everyone else in the geriatric unit certainly weren't there because they wanted to be. It was mind-numbingly boring. I sat. And sat. And sat some more. Waiting for the next five days to be over.

I was nervous going to the Marshall clinic- I mean, I really, REALLY anxious. I hated everything about it. I wanted nothing to do with it. I was desperate, though... I went in and waited to talk to a counselor and tell her that I didn’t feel safe in my own company. I NEEDED to be under surveillance so I wouldn’t take my own life.
Then and the few days while being in the hospital, I kept telling myself that I didn’t belong there. That I was totally fine, I wasn’t suicidal. I don’t need help. I’m just here to excuse myself from the stress of life for a few days.
Once I was admitted they put the plastic armband with my name on it, and taken to the geriatric ward. I would be taken to the adult unit later, but when I came there was not enough room. They took me through security and to a large room with a television and couches, kitchen area, and a nurse’s desk. My heart was pounding and I was suddenly remembering every horrific scene from movies like “The Changeling” and “Shutter Island.”
 
I fell in love with one of the elderly patients in the geriatric unit. Her name was Mary. Mary, Mary quite contrary. And she was a riot!
When they first brought her, she was asleep on a stretcher and snored loudly through most of the day. The next day, whatever drug they had had her on was wearing off and she kept getting off the stretcher against the advisory of the nurses. Soon after, they discovered just how contrary Mary really was.
Mary had seen the bruise on the confused woman’s brow and became very pissed off. She had been reading a Bible when she noticed the bruise and she shouted, “Hey! This woman’s wounded! Get off your fat asses and help her or you’re fired!”
The nurses laughed, none of them were particularly fond of Mary since she hated all of them. Mary asked the woman, whose name was Sylvia, how she’d gotten the bruise.
“I…,” Sylvia felt her head and the poor thing looked very, very distraught, “I don’t remember.”
“Did the nurses do that to you?!” Mary asked and then looked at the nurses, “Did those fat asses hit you over the head?”
“I know someone hit me in the head,” Sylvia paused in deep thought, “I don’t remember who it was, but I’m sure it was someone dressed in blue.”
I laughed inwardly; it was sad that Sylvia was so confused, but I found it funny that Mary was inadvertently convincing her that the nurses had hurt her. She had been admitted with the bruise on her head.
Mary kept complaining and telling them all that they were going to be fired for hurting Sylvia. Then she started quoting the Bible. One of the nurses said snidely, “You know Jesus said ‘Peace, be still and know that I am God.”
Mary stared at her for a moment, scowling, “Shut the fuck up or I’m going to ram my cane up your ass.”

The adult unit was very crowded and very small. It consisted of a hallway with a classroom on one end and a room with a bunch of seats facing a television. And that was it. I didn't have a room to retreat into on this floor, so I was forced to either mope in the classroom, walk the hallway, or stare at the television. I sat in the classroom and talked to a few others who were closer to my age. Maybe in their thirties. Two girls and a guy talked about weed. Another woman told me she used to be a meth dealer. A forty-some-year-old asked me if I liked to smoke pot. They were all pretty cool, but I realized something was off about them. The guy who was talking about weed abruptly left the room. A few moments later some loud THUD! THUD! came from where he had gone. He came back in the room and said "I've got a problem... my roommate busted holes in the walls and now I'm going to get blamed for it. I can't pay for that shit!"
We just looked at him and one of the recreational therapists told him that they would take care of it. He stared at the floor and went to tell a couple nurses at the nurse station. They ignored him and continued doing whatever it was they were working on. Well, that pissed him off and he started yelling at them and kicking their counter. They kept ignoring him nonetheless. That pissed him off even more and he lifted a giant water cooler above his head and slammed it against the ground. After that, a group of nurses sprang into action and held him down to sedate him. After the injection, he was basically a zombie. I shuttered and a thick, slimy feeling dwelled in my stomach. I wanted to go home. I don't belong here, I thought.

"Do you find it hard to make eye contact with me?" My therapist mused, and I awkwardly forced myself to look her in the eye.
"No... it's just...emotional." laughed nervously and squirmed in the little chair.
She leaned back in her chair, with a pen in her hand, looking at me, sizing me up. And said, almost to herself, "You're going to amount to great things..." I moved uncomfortably. I can't take a compliment, and I am definitely not used to someone consoling me. I'd always been told to get over it. Life's a bitch. That sort of thing... and I didn't know how to take what she was saying, so I just said thank you.
The small woman sat up in her chair and perched on the edge of the seat, "You look like you are full up to here," she raised a hand up to her neck, "with all of the shit you've had to put up with." I listened. "You've got to let it out! And it's okay to! It's okay to cry; it's okay to vent!"
I smiled and laughed again, adjusting myself again.
"Listen, do you know the definition of insanity?" She asked and answered for me, "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
That's when the lightbulb went on: my ah-ha! moment. I'd heard that quote dozens of times, but I never realized that it could apply so deeply in my life. I realized something needed to change, and things wouldn't get better until I changed them.

I still battle with depression; I was more accurately diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder a few years later. I never knew I was until my boyfriend at the time told me he was concerned about me. I had been crying every night and had no motivation to do anything.
Every day I learn something more about PTSD and BPD. They are both disorders that are crippling and can be fatal. It is very much a real thing.
I was becoming more and more careless. I had went days without feeling any emotion. I was losing my ability to feel affection. And I didn’t care. I wanted to die.
I got a pistol from the gun cabinet and loaded one bullet.
Then I heard my boyfriend call for me to hurry up, that I was going to be late to my first class.
I went to the Marshall clinic that day.

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