Thanksgiving in the Psych Ward

I went to visit my mom at the state psychiatric hospital today.

I pulled up to the guard shack, ID in hand and they ask who I’m here to see and then which building she’s in.

How in the hell am I supposed to know which building?

When I reply that I don’t know, the guard said, “Do you even know she’s here?”

Yes… [bitch]. “I’m well aware she’s here.”

“How do you know?”

[Because the doctor, nurse, social worker or my moms calls me every fucking day from here!!!] I scream internally.

The guard asks me to pull out of line and call the nurse line to find out the building number. Which infuriates me almost as much as asking if I know my mom is actually on campus because they have computers/software for that kind of thing now. And thank god for cell phones because I can actually look at the call record for the nurse’s number.

I dial the nurse line. The same African woman I’ve had several unproductive conversations with previously picks up. “Can you tell me which building you are in?”

“Who’s this?”

I remind her who I am, she coughs up the building number and I pull back up to the guard shack.

I’m already crying and I haven’t even seen my mom yet.

She’s been at the hospital three weeks and she’s still very much psychotic. She’s cognizant enough to know how much time has passed and that she is there against her will but not to acknowledge that she’s still talking to herself, extremely agitated and telling everyone to fuck off.

Her hair is greasy, she’s disheveled and wearing dirty clothes. Although the clothes seem to fit which is surprising considering how thin she is.

The nurse who brings her out sits with us in the reception area. My mom asks the nurse if she has to stay. The nurse says she has to make sure my mom doesn’t fall. I’m wondering if it’s in case my mom gets violent or tries to bolt.

The kind motherly nurse painted my moms nails pink yesterday despite my mom telling her to “Fuck off.” I’m thankful for this woman who is working on a holiday looking after belligerent, ungrateful mentally unstable people who desperately need the care. I doubt they pay any of the nurses enough. I pray she gets overtime and a fat holiday bonus. It takes a very special person to do that job.

When I leave, I’m ready to tell the guard to “Fuck off!” but maybe my frustration or tear stained face reminded her I’m there to visit a loved one in the psych ward on Thanksgiving.

The guard said, “Hope you had a good visit darling.”

Yeah right…

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