It wasn’t my first go of it. Truthfully I have been inpatient several times when I was younger. Between when I was 16-18, I want to say 5 or 6.
But that was an adolescent unit. Each individual stay was a real life nightmare that I cried straight through. Overall though, together, they gave me a solid diagnosis that helped keep me stable-ish for the next ten years. I guess I believe in the system.
To be clear, I’m talking about a behavioral health hospital, aka psych hospital, aka mental hospital.
Last week I returned to the watery decaf only coffee, the sandpaper sheets and towels and the long lines at the med counter. For the first time in ten years, I admitted myself to an adult unit at what we’ll call sin behavioral health, sbh for short, for a mandatory 72 hour hold that turned into 6 days without most human rights.
The intake process was long and ridiculous. I walked in at 3 pm on a Thursday. I watched some holiday bake off show that they were playing in the ice cold lobby with a man named DirtyD, who yelled some pretty funny things. Before I new it, it was 5pm and I was finally being called back to talk to someone. There were two small empty rooms off the lobby. Dirty was already in the first room so I was taken to the second. I sat down across from a mean looking woman and tried to scooch my chair back, but found it way too heavy. I looked up at the woman and she seemed to know what I was thinking.
“It’s so you can’t throw it at me” she said. Then she asked me why I was there.
“I self harmed” I answered.
“What insurance do you have?”
“If you tell me you’re suicidal I can apply for a grant for you and you will not have to pay.”
“I guess I’m suicidal?”
“Great, now sign these forms.”
“This one says self pay?”
“Just incase we can’t get you a grant.”
“Oh I can’t even afford this conversation, I’ll just go.”
“You signed the first page already, you admitted yourself. You can’t leave.”
:: Lots of crying ::
I was finally moved upstairs at 8 pm. First they made me remove all my clothes for a body check. It was awkward. They wanted my shoe laces out of my shoes and the string from in my hoodie. I said no so they confiscated both and gave me slippers and a robe from out of the bag I packed. I wasnt allowed my toiletries or most of the things in my bag. Three stringless pants, three tops and I was allowed to keep my robe and slippers. One book, 4 panties, 4 bras without underwires and my journal because it was string bound, no Staples or spirals.
I quickly put my stuff in my room. It was clean, but I noticed immediately that I had a roommate, Charlie. I planned to go right to bed but was called out for “group”. I couldn’t participate because I was new so I started back to my room when I heard a nurse yell my name. Over at the med room the nurse informed me from the window I’d be getting 150 mg of buproprion (Wellbutrin) before bed. First of all I take 300 and only in the morning because it’s a stimulant so no thanks and I’m going to sleep please leave me alone. I shut the lights and cuddled up on my plastic mattress just before my roommate came in and turned on all the lights.
“I hope you don’t mind, I sleep with the bathroom light on and if I don’t flush the toilet it’s because I forgot I mean no offense.”
After she turned out some of the lights, I cried as silently as I could all night. Not a wink of sleep.