I talked a little about how surreal it was to be in the hospital, but not confined to a bed, or hooked to a heart monitor or IV, to be fully ambulatory (well, mostly. Psych meds can make you drag your feet a little.) The best way I can describe it was that it was a kind of limbo. I wasn't really anywhere. From the windows, I could see where my house would be, hidden among trees, yet sometimes I was confused about whether I was in Wisconsin or Arkansas. The weather outside looked beautiful, but the hospital had no safe outside areas for psych patients, so we stayed inside all day. We may as well have been on a space ship. And I would be drifting along, when I would be reminded that I was there because I had become a danger to myself.
Like the fact that the toiletries that Trevor brought for me had to be kept at the nurses' station, and that I couldn't take the plastic bag they were in with me to the shower. Like the fact that I had to be let into the shower, because it was locked, and if I was longer than 15 minutes, I was checked on. My whereabouts were recorded every 15 minutes the entire time I was there. This was mostly apparent when I was in my room reading, or on the nights when I couldn't sleep. There was no clock in my room, because there were no electrical outlets in my room, but the nurse came by with the clip board every fifteen minutes, like the Westminster quarters, so I knew approximately what time it was.
Shaving, of course, was out. You could opt for a supervised shave with an electric razor, but I just didn't care enough. I had to have a doctor's order for ibuprofen. The bathroom in our room had a door, but it was a swinging door that couldn't be locked. We used metal flatware at meals, but it was counted when we turned in our trays. No tights. No belts. No drawstrings. Supervision required when using scissors or tape with a metal cutting edge or the wire cutters during craft time. Like being a child again, with a swarm of people constantly concerned with your safety and whereabouts.
It makes me cry to think about it, having that level of care, when you feel like you're not worth any level of care at all. I just want to reiterate how absolutely wonderful and kind every single member of the staff was on the unit. I think that just as much as the mentally ill are stigmatized, those who work with the mentally ill still have the Nurse Ratched stigma looming over them. And yes, some of the patients had horror stories from other hospitals, but those stories are thankfully becoming more rare.
I want to end by thanking everyone for their well wishes on my blog, and Facebook, and via text and phone. I feel loved and blessed in a way that I haven't in a long time. Thank you for sharing the stories of your own struggles as well. I've always thought that the worst part of mental illness is feeling like you're all alone.
If you have problems with depression and anxiety, please put this number in your phone. 1-800-273-TALK. Call it if you feel like hurting yourself. Or call 911, or jut go to the ER. One of my friends told me the other day "Depression lies. You are awesome."