Ten Days in Lockdown – Throwback


This week I’m doing things a little differently. I’m doing a throwback every day this week. This is the first 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.

I had six months of sobriety and was frustrated. I was struggling. I was a disaster mentally, physically and spiritually. Old time alcoholics told me that what I was going through was normal. My life was a shambles and since I was sober, I was looking at the disaster I created through clear eyes for the first time. That made sense to me except that my friends from rehab seemed to be doing much better. I can’t say their lives were all that great, but at least they had jobs and were in apartments while I was jobless and living in a sober living home. Because I was jobless I attended a lot of AA meetings…and I mean a lot. Typically about three times a day. I filled out job applications in between meetings.

One evening in the summer of 2003 I was attending an AA meeting and made some comments to a friend. I have no idea what I said, but it deeply concerned him. He left me for a few minutes, came back, took my arm and informed me he was taking me to the hospital. Apparently, when he left me, he went to speak with a psychiatrist who also was attending the meeting. I was being taken to a hospital because of the concern that I was suicidal. I made no effort to stop him. I was scared to be alone and wanted to go.

Once in the car I called my therapist who told me to have them take me to the Thalians Center at Cedars Sinai Hospital. My second call was to my AA sponsor who said he would meet me there. We left from the San Fernando Valley and the hospital is near Beverly Hills so it was a pretty long trip. Most of the drive was silent as I grew more morose by the minute. When I arrived at the Thalians Center, my sponsor was there as promised.
As it turns out, I’d come to the wrong door. Apparently I was supposed to go to the hospital emergency room first, rather than directly to the center. The receptionist had us wait while she could get a doctor to come out of emergency to interview me. It took a while, but finally he showed up. He was strikingly handsome so my sponsor joked that he thought I was going to be very happy there. It was the first time I laughed all day.

The interview was extensive, but I don’t recall hardly any of it except random questions about my mood. Then came the biggie…those of you out there who have spoken with a doctor while seriously depressed know what I’m talking about…He asked, “Do you have a plan?” I told him that I indeed had a plan (to kill myself) and I gave him the full details. That clinched it. It was a done deal, I was being admitted. When a well-armed security officer arrived to escort me to the psych ward my sponsor burst into laughter again. I joined him. It was the absurdity of it all that helped us both release some tension.

Before I was escorted away, the doctor informed me that there were no beds on the third floor where I should be admitted, so they were going to place me on the seventh floor and move me as soon as possible. I had no idea what that meant, but I thanked him. At the entrance to the psych ward I was required to turn nearly everything over. No wallet, no phone, no belt, no shoes. I think we were given the option to either wear the shoes with no laces or wear hospital booties. I chose the booties. Then they opened the double doors and it felt like a Spielberg movie – the whoosh and wisps of smoke as the doors cracked apart and huge rays of light ominously shooting out from within. Of course, that’s not what it was really like, but it felt that way. When I walked in and the doors shut it was like I could hear a dozen deadbolts lock behind me. I was officially on 72 hour lockdown.

In tomorrow’s article I will share what life was like in the psych ward behind those double doors.

5 comments on Ten Days in Lockdown – Throwback

  1. Hello there my friend!

    I’m curious about what inspired you to revisit this time in your life & post it this week. (And of course feel free to take a pass on that question!) As someone who has been hospitalized a whopping seven times, it’s hard for me to read about psych units and revising the sections in my book about the hospitalizations has been incredibly harrowing as you can imagine. I didn’t even write about it very much compared to many other bipolar-themed memoirs!

    Anyway, inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

    p.s. You’re awesome!
    p.p.s. drink some H20 today! I’ll drink my next glass in your honor.

  2. Good question, Dyane. I’m not sure I have one answer. I was going through previous posts for this Throwback Thursday and when I saw this I thought it was a great idea to run it for the week. I think I have multiple answers.
    1. It allows me more time for creative writing this week
    2. In a later post this week I refer to one of my fellow patients who died and I had him on my mind for some reason.
    3. I refer to an actress I befriended in a later post and I found out the other day she’s in her 90’s and in a nursing home and I’ve been thinking about visiting her.
    4. When all is said and done I think I need to remind myself how far I’ve come and to have gratitude.

    I think you’re pretty awesome too.

  3. Just read this reply; thanks for taking the time to answer (& they were very interesting, compelling answers at that!) – that’s very sad about your fellow patient who died. 🙁
    I think that #4 is such a good reason, by the way…..
    I followed you on twitter & tweeted the Bucket List although I was tempted to tweet the Brady Bunch, LOL! I stil might do it.
    Keep up the fab work – I won’t nag you about the walk today, but maybe tomorrow!!!! :0 Plus I’m a total hypocrite because I’m not walking or using my elliptical yet (I can only use the “I’m recovering from walking pneumonia” excuse for so long) but I sense the day I return to that is coming soon. 🙂 And hope you don’t mind I am going 1000% off-topic!
    Forgive me, my fellow Wondrous Writer.
    p.s.Wishing you powerful writing juju this week for productive writing! Off to do some of my own, I hope!

    1. Writing juju is back with a vengeance. I’m so happy. Nag me all you want about the beach – I was out there walking the surf at 6:30 this morning, So peaceful that time a day.

      Thank you for sharing the tweets. I’m bad about letting my posts go there, but I don’t interact anymore. Need to get back at it. Retweet whatever you want.

      You crack me up.

  4. I once called a friend of mine who was suffering from a rare form of cancer, courageous. She told me she wasn’t courageous, she was just doing what she had to do. I’m looking forward to reading more and I can see that it may be very cathartic to see how far you’ve come.

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