The next day I called my midwife and got in that morning. I joked with my sister that the kids and I looked way too good for someone who is loosing her mind. I was on the phone with Heidi for hours while she helped me manage my anxiety related to the appointment. She made me promise that I’d tell the truth, the whole truth. I cried and told her I didn’t know if I could, I was afraid if I told the whole truth I’d be involuntarily hospitalized. I was sobbing, I couldn’t abandon my kids. I promised.
My ob office wouldn’t touch this. I was left in the room with the boys for about 30 minutes while she made some calls and came back and told me where to go. Go to the er, a social worker will talk with you and get your meds worked out but I should be prepared to stay. She wanted me to call Mike, have him drive me, she wasnt sure I would go. I promised.
It was a long and exhausting process. Taking the kids with me to the hospital was a bad idea but I didn’t have a choice and in hindsight it really helped keep me distracted. I was literally across the street from Mike’s office and I could not get ahold of him. I’d been trying since 2 in the afternoon, he finally made it at 6pm. I was barely started, I hadn’t met with anyone who could help me yet. We decided he would take the kids home and I’d come home when I was done.
My dad found me. I was in limbo, in this in-between place where they give you a gown and you wait on all of the Dr’s and residents to tell you what was next. I was pissed. I knew that I’d put it all out there by sharing it here but how did he know I was at the hospital. I talked to him, told him that I was fine just waiting to go through all of the required hoops to get some new meds. He was a little upset but I promised him I was okay.
Around 11 I finally got to talk with the last person and she very strongly recommend that I stay. It would be voluntary and I could leave if I wanted but the average stay was 4-7 days. I freaked out. That was a long time, she assured me I would be out sooner. And that I could leave if I wanted to, all I had to do was write a letter. She told me it would be great for me, I could get help right away and it would be good to be there when my meds changed. I signed the papers and cried. Ben had never had a bottle before. I had no milk in the freezer. I was scared and ashamed and about to get sleep for the first time in nearly a year. Or so I thought.
Around midnight I was still waiting to be transferred upstairs to my room. I didn’t get transferred until 3 am. When I arrived the floor was vacant and mostly dark. I had to go through another intake, the paperwork was terrifying. safety, rules, blood work, etc. I was exhausted. Exhausted.
I had a roommate, she was strapped to her bed screaming in her sleep. About an hour passed and I thought this was the biggest joke of my life. I’m in this hospital and part of my problem is exhaustion and I’m sharing a room with this poor haunted woman. I got up and asked to be moved. There weren’t any other beds. I sat on the couch for a while and then a nurse came and brought me into the isolation room. I didn’t really get what it was until morning but it was quiet so I didn’t care.
Friday when I woke up I felt as sick as I ever have, the anxiety was off the charts. Waking up in an all white room with video cameras looking at you in hospital issue pajamas it all hit me. I was in a mental institution. Me.
They don’t let you stay in your room much. You have to go out to the common area so I go. It’s then around 8am I realize that I am in the wrong place. These people, with all due respect, were crazy. All level of illness were in the same place. It was terrifying. I went back to my room and fell asleep. When I woke up one of the male patients had put his shirt on my chair. I knew who’s it was, he had been wearing it on his head like a turban. A sick man had been IN my room while I was asleep. Get me the FUCK out of here.
I had a meeting with my team of doctors. I had to tell the story again, the whole emptying the bottle of pills and calculating how long it would take for them to work, what to do with each of the boys so they would be safe until Mike got home. Well, this is where the truth gets me in to trouble. I was stuck. You cannot get out after you tell them this. I had a serious meltdown. Screaming, swearing, sobbing and making a huge disrespectful scene. I have lawyers in my family, they will get me out of here.
No, no they cannot.
Turns out once you sign that damn intake paper they have the right to hold you against your will for 72 BUSINESS hours, it was Friday morning. There was nothing I could do.
I called Mike and with a list of stuff to bring me if I was lucky I’d get to come home on Monday.
I skipped the groups I was supposed to go to and took a really long nap after my massive freak out and then I forced myself to go out into the big room. I lasted about 15 minutes before I couldn’t take it another second. It was all too much. The yelling and people running around talking to themself, people too sick to realize that certain body parts were visible. I just couldn’t take it.
Late that afternoon I got a new room. This time my roommate was a 20-year-old, pregnant, meth addict. The other people in my new pod were a cutter with bi-polar, an alcoholic who drove himself into a house, a man who beat his wife and kids and then tried to kill himself and one other guy who was in this constant character state. Save for the character and the man who beat his kids I got to know the other three really well.
It’s an interesting thing, you get yourself into these types of situations and you’ve got nothing to lose. Everyone just tells the truth. The stories of how you get to be 20, pregnant with your 3rd baby whom you’re giving up for adoption. How a man with a wife and kid blows his sobriety and tries to kill himself and the cutter, oh, man. He broke my heart, young and married with a 4-year-old, this was one of a long line of hospitals for him. He and the alcoholic became my friends. We were each others therapy. (since there wasnt any on the ward, none) Moving me into a new room helped.
Mike came that evening with a bag of things for my stay. They took most of it away, cut all the cords off my pj pants and my hoodie. And told me they would keep my pump locked up and that I couldn’t use it alone. If I wanted privacy I had to use the hand pump they gave me when I got there but there were cords and you can’t have cords. Of course you can’t. It dawned on me again, of course I can’t have a drawstring, I’m on suicide watch.
No one else really got it either. My mom suggested I take a bath while there to relax. Sure mom, I’ll just stay in the shallow end. Dad told Mike to bring my ipod, right, that cord around my neck is a great idea. You couldn’t lock your door, ever. No locks on the bathroom door. I was afraid to shower. If the dude with the shirt got into my room while I was sleeping he could get in while I was in the shower. I really didn’t feel safe. The only thing that sort of helped is the 15 minute face check. Every 15 every patient was accounted for.
I wanted to go home every minute I was awake. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t figure out how being in this hospital was going to help me a bit. There was no help. Coloring and playing ping-pong was not going to help me.I came in because they sold me on getting help right away. There would be people to talk to. Groups to go to. The groups were not helpful for me. OT and RT, I’m sure that it was good for some but I could color at home with my kids.
When I wasnt awake I was asleep. I slept a ton. Partially because I was so tired but also because when I was asleep I didn’t know I was there.
Over the next few days I just went with the flow. I knew I had to behave myself or I’d be stuck longer. I followed the rules and played nice. When the dude with the shirt colored me a picture with his hand and a heart I said thank you. When he drew a picture OF MY FACE on a ping-pong paddle I laughed and went back to my room. When he commented on all of my teeth all lined up and straight I smiled.
On Saturday we got a new girl. She was deaf, that’s all I knew. There was another deaf woman who seemed really sweet, she was clearly happy to have someone to talk with. About an hour later the new one threw a chair at her, then she smashed another on the floor next to her. A few orderlies came and tackled her, gave her a shot in the ass and tossed her in the green room. (padded) A few hours later they let her out. Within minutes she broke a chair over a nurse and broke her arm. More tackling, more padded room. This time she tried to get out by swallowing her bracelet, they took it away. She tried to strangle herself with her gown strings, they stripped her naked. She did other things, one of which got here a shower but they put her back in the green room for two days. It was so scary. To be so close to someone who would just snap and you couldn’t see it coming. She just snapped. I needed to move, to work out the anxiety. I was feeling so claustrophobic. You couldn’t go outside and the window in my room looked at a brick wall. I was pacing, walking around the common room and could feel I was being followed so I just went to my room. It took me hours to go to sleep. I could not calm down.
Somehow the time passed pretty quickly. It was Monday before I knew it. I was saying goodbye to the amazing nurses, the horrible food and the people I met. People who opened my eyes and gave me some perspective that physically hurt. I left with a lot of doctor appointments, a therapist, a nurse to manage my meds and a new family doctor.
Somehow I got everything I needed. I slept. I got the new meds. I got two new doctors. Ben started sleeping thorough the night while I was gone. Mike had to talk care of the kids alone for 5 days, giving him a better idea of just what I am dealing with. I had to come clean with my parents. I had to ask for help, I had to say out loud what was going on.I had to promise to put myself first again. If I don’t take care of myself then I cannot take care of anything else in life. It was a hard few days but I made it. I made it and I made the promise. One I intend to keep.
I am taking care of myself.