Tales From the Psych Ward

#VolumeOne #ISwearALittle #JustABitThough

My week in the Psych Ward was an experience I’ll never truly forget. Jokes about repression aside, (Four months!) being locked away with people in all states of mental distress — from a lady who intentionally pissed her pants in the hallway because she didn’t get her way, to a deaf lady who would scream and cry and flip off the Nurses and slam her door at all hours of the day and night (Well, maybe night, I was kinda doped up by then. #KlonopinIsAwesome #WellNotReally #JustSayNo #Seriously #OkayImDoneNow) — makes you wonder if you’re really that bad off.

I was, though.

Despite my obvious need for help, I was terrified at the prospect of being admitted. I mean, who wouldn’t be? The stigma of mental health issues is nothing compared to the stigma of your mental health issues being so terrible that you require inpatient care. It needed to happen, though. I was trembling at the precipice of mental collapse and needed infinitely more help than anyone on the outside could offer me.

So you know those billboards you see in most big cites that boast about their particular hospital’s short ER wait times?

THEY. LIE.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am. As you know, patients are triaged on the severity of their condition, and as you have no intent to harm yourself or others, you’re unfortunately a lower priority.”

It took so long to get me admitted that my husband finally went and got us something to eat from the cafeteria. NOW I know where all those delicious veggies went — to people who weren’t even sick! #Bastards

After about four hours I was about to deck the nearest wannabe patient so I would be someone with the desire to harm others. I just wanted to get this interminable process over with. (Being hangry does that to a person. Veggies — even delicious ones — only last for so long.)

About nine (yes, nine) hours later, between our time in the waiting room and our time in the ER, they were finally ready to take me upstairs. I imagine that our wait was kind of like camping out for tickets to the latest installment of Star Wars, but not nearly as cool.

I. WAS. SCARED. AS. FUCK. (Yup, there’s the swearing.)

But now I need to be serious.

The ER Tech prepped me for my descent into the labyrinth, from where I would hopefully emerge in a few days’ time, healed and whole, with my personal Hero’s Journey complete. Wearing nothing but paper scrubs — cloaked in a patina of fear — I was wheeled away from my husband, my lifeline, who held in his hand a little plastic bag bearing the last vestiges of my previous life.

Unfortunately, it is not a seemly procession into the world of mental healing. No matter what brought you to this point — no matter how pacifistic you may be — protocol dictates that to and from the Psych Wards you must be accompanied by a stone-faced, be-pistoled Security Guard who would bark at you for the slightest movement outside of his arbitrary whims. It wasn’t so terrible at 10 o’ clock at night; however, the next morning when they moved me from one ward to another through the very heart of the Hospital — peoples’ stares of inquisitiveness, pity and fear nearly split my already-fragile brain in two.

To be made to feel as if you are a criminal simply because you are in need of help, was one of the most-humiliating things I’ve ever experienced — including that one time in High School where I walked out of the bathroom with a length of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe.

And that was only day one.