This week I’m doing things a little differently. I’m doing a throwback every day this week. This is the second post of a five part series originally posted in March 2014 regarding the ten days I was in lockdown. I felt the need to post again. If you missed earlier posts, you can go back to tomorrow for the first post.
In yesterday’s article I shared a day in which I was suicidal and the process before being admitted in lockdown in the psychiatric ward.
When I was admitted to the psych ward I was given the room closest to the exit doors, directly across from the nurse’s station. I presumed that was because I would be moved soon since my doctor said they’d be moving me to a different floor where I belonged once a room became available. When the nurse showed me my room, she provided a list of classes to attend and told me they were optional, but highly recommended. I moped for a bit, but, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to walk around the ward. It was just like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The walls were painted a very drab green and people (mostly men) were wearing hospital gowns and were either walking up and down the hallways or in circles. All of them had sad looking faces and dark lifeless eyes. The nurses were all wearing frowns.
There was a common area that offered a television, books and board games and it was busy, but seemed volatile. Those playing games were arguing and there were several allegations of cheating. The feeling I got was that most didn’t want to be alone, yet, they wanted to be left alone.
Then I stopped in my tracks. There was someone I knew. I didn’t know him that well. We were acquaintances more than friends, but socialized in the same circles. I always thought he was adorable looking and fun. I backed down from asking him out a couple of times. He was laying in his bed looking out his door and spotted me. He looked like all his life was sucked out of him and I became overwhelmed with sadness. We locked eyes to acknowledge each other’s existence and I turned to go back to my tiny room to get some sleep. I never saw him ever again.
When I got back to my room my roommate, Chuck, was there. He was very friendly and seemed “normal” so we chatted briefly, then I curled up and went to sleep. I was sleeping deeply, but was awakened in the middle of the night. Chuck had the light on and was tearing the room apart. He apologized for waking me and began pulling out the dresser drawers and stacking them on the floor. All I could think was, “Oh my God, he’s crazy.” I was angry that they put me in the room with some psycho.
Chuck continued to ransack the room for a couple more minutes and then sat on his bed and apologized and told me he was looking for the voices. I became scared, but then he opened himself up and explained his situation. He said he was on meds that worked most of the time, but the voices were getting too loud. “I know the voices aren’t real.” He said, “They are not there. However, they are there because they are too loud for me to ignore. I can’t do anything about them, but I must do something about them.” It was the first time, I know of, that I had spoken with someone who was schizophrenic and he put it in a way that I understood. We talked a little bit more before both of us went back to sleep.
The next morning I immediately went to the nurse’s window and asked when I was going to be moved. I was advised that they’d let me know but I felt I was being brushed off. Having only one set of clothing, I switched into a hospital gown and decided to join one of their recommended group sessions. When I first arrived to join the circle it was a bit chaotic, but the counselor eventually got everyone to quiet down to begin the session. It wound up not being much of a group session because one patient, who was also schizophrenic, monopolized the entire time. He was complaining about the people across the street sending signals into his head and would not listen to the counselor who tried to explain it was his schizophrenia talking. He shot her down by telling her that they obviously were sending signals to her head to make her think that way. When group ended I finally connected the dots and realized that I was in the low functioning psych ward. I decided I had been duped and they had no intention of moving me. I knew this is where they felt I belonged. I went to my room, noticed that Chuck was packed up and gone and cried myself to sleep.
Tomorrow I will share more of my experience of my stay on the seventh floor.