After a long nap on the second night of being in lockdown in the psych ward, I needed to get up and move around. I became like the rest of the zombies there and wandered the hallways wearing my hospital gown and a blank face. I did meet a tall drag queen who was reading people’s auras. I chose not to bother and sat near a young woman named Debbie instead. Debbie was also on 72 hour lockdown and she was angry. Very angry. Unlike me, she did not check herself in. She had been drunk the night before and tried to kill herself. She was telling me she was not there of her own free will and “they had no right to keep her.” She kept going to the nurse’s window and demanded to be let go or she was going to sue. I was able to calm her down and we ate dinner together on the couch. It was nice to have someone to talk with.
After dinner, as Debbie and I were chatting, an unscheduled show began. The drag queen and another patient named Scott were playing a game when the accusation of cheating came up. It got ugly and some of the other patients jumped in the middle to stop the fight. The nurses were running towards us all. Scott started shouting a lot of profanity at the drag queen and said, “Look at you. You’re disgusting. I bet you have a bigger dick than I do.” The drag queens response was priceless. She said “I’m sure I got a bigger one than you, Honey, but you see, I’m more of a man than you’ll ever be and more woman than you’ll ever get.” At this point Scott leaped towards her, but was stopped and dragged away never to be seen again. Debbie and I had a good laugh over the entire event and we were glad that Scott was gone. He was pretty scary. When I woke the next morning Debbie was gone. She was too volatile to be sent home so I was sure she was in the hospital somewhere, but I never found out where.
With nothing else to do, I did the zombie walk around the halls for a large portion of the morning. I was far too depressed to walk fast so I just slowly shuffled my feet up and down the halls. I had become one of them. I did not stand apart. I had become as emotionless as the other patients in the low functioning psych ward. As I was heading towards my room I saw my admitting doctor standing at the nurse’s window. He saw me and asked what I was still doing there. I explained that I’d asked about moving and kept being told there was nowhere else to go. He excused himself and went into the nurse’s office and began making calls. I was relieved. I wasn’t supposed to be on that floor after all. The problem wasn’t that I had been duped. The problem was I had been forgotten. I left the ward worse than I arrived.
Being moved from the seventh floor to the third floor was like being in a different world. It was bright and cheery. Beautiful blue carpeting in the halls, hardwood flooring in the rooms, and two fully stocked kitchens open 24 hours a day, and a laundry room. I had a beautiful room large enough for six people, but had only two beds. There were no zombies roaming the halls and the nurses were relaxed and friendly. Just like the seventh floor I was given a list of optional activities. These included group counseling sessions, art activities and outdoor time. OUTDOOR TIME!?!? Woo Hoo! We only got 45 minutes a day to go outside, but it was greatly appreciated. I learned that the third floor was the dual diagnosis floor for those who had some type of mental illness and a substance abuse problem. Though I’d been sober for six months, my doctor thought it was the best place for me.
It wasn’t long before I was relaxing in the living room getting to know some of the other patients when a doctor asked to speak with me privately. He was the first psychiatrist to see me since I was checked in to the hospital. He was a bit grouchy and very old, but I was relieved to finally get some help. We didn’t talk long, but before he left the room he asked me a silly question. He asked me if there are times I cry uncontrollably for no reason whatsoever and I, of course, said yes. He looked at me for what seemed like hours and then nodded his head and said, “Yes, that comes from feeling hopeless.” He then left the room before I had the chance to yell. “No shit, Doc!”
Before heading to bed I hung out awhile longer with the other patients and realized from conversation that there was snobbery in the room. It became obvious that those who were addicted to prescription drugs felt superior to those of us who were addicted to street drugs. I was put off by it, but I shrugged it off because my 72 hours would be over the next day and I’d be out of there. My roommate, Mitch, and I decided to call it a night and went to our room. Mitch did not get up in the middle of the night to find the voices and I had the best night sleep in days.
Tomorrow’s article begins with my third day in the psych ward. The day I was scheduled to leave.