Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Hospital Stay from Hell [Part Two]

[TRIGGER WARNING: This post talks about suicide, mental illness, and sexual harassment]

[This is a continuation from my previous post. Read it here.]

They had to wheel me up to the 6th floor of the hospital for insurance reasons, although I was fully able to carry my own weight. They parked the wheelchair next to a blood pressure machine and told me to wait there while they left to get the paperwork. I was waiting nearly 45 minutes before anyone bothered to talk to me. My time sitting next to that blood pressure machine was spent watching other patients on the floor.

One woman kept going up to the front desk saying "I'm lonely, I'm lonely. Will you come sit with me?" over and over. The woman at the front desk reminded her that there were people eating dinner in the next room and she could talk to people there. The woman replied "But I'm too lonely. I'm lonely". I watched this woman's movements, listened to the way she spoke. She was obviously mentally ill, but I couldn't figure out what was plaguing her mind.

Shortly after, another woman came up to the front desk and asked the nurse at the front desk if she could feed her. This woman was probably in her late 40's and she was acting like a small child.

I wriggled in my seat uncomfortably. All I had on me was a hospital gown and socks. My mom and dad had my purse, my medications, and all my electronics. I had no idea where I was. I thought I would be put in a room so they could try new medications on me, but instead it appeared like I had been thrown into the loony bin. I started to lose it.

"Where am I?" I asked the nurse at the front desk.

"You're in the Acute Mental Ward, ma'am"

This is about the time where I started freaking out. I asked her why I was sent up there, why I didn't have a room yet, and why I was still sitting there if no one was going to take my blood pressure.

"This has to be a mistake" I said.

The nurse was a young woman who we will call Jackie. She was very pretty and she seemed to have her head screwed on just right. She joked and laughed with me as I was waiting for some dude to give me my paperwork and send me to my room. She asked me why I was sent there and I replied hastily, "I don't know" and shrugged my shoulders.

I know what you're thinking. "You're there because you tried to kill yourself, right?" And you would be correct. According to the records, I tried to commit suicide. But that wasn't the case at all. Yes, I was depressed, but I didn't want to die! I was having a rough two weeks! I shouldn't have been put in the mental ward!

Nurse Jackie agreed that I probably should have been placed elsewhere, but there was nothing she could do to get me out of there.

After another 45 minutes of talking with Nurse Jackie, a male nurse came up to me with some papers to sign. Of these was a Patients Bill of Rights, which will become very important later. I tried to refuse to sign these, stating that I was mentally competent and just having a rough time, but he warned me that it could extend my stay if I tried to refuse treatment. That sounded slightly illegal to me, but I signed anyway, not wanting to experience this place more than I had to. He told me I'd probably just spend the weekend there and go home on Monday. Afterwards, he took my vitals and left. No room assignments, nothing. He just left me in a wheelchair. I sat there for another hour before Nurse Jackie just took  me to my room myself. "You were assigned to this room before you even got out of the elevator, I don't know why they made you wait out there," she whispered to me.

The first thing I noticed was the two beds. I asked her if I had a roommate and she nodded her head and told me that everyone had at least one roommate. When I got to my bed, I looked around. The first thing I noticed was the half-door leading to the one-person bathroom. The door didn't even close all the way. There was black mold covering the bathroom floor, and the mirror has a mysterious residue all over it. It looked like it hadn't been cleaned in over a century. The main room was alright, but still in a clear state of untidiness. There were plenty of drawers for people to keep their things, which prompted my worries further. My parents had all my stuff, and they had probably gone home by now. I didn't even have a book to read. The staff didn't give you any tooth brushes, tooth paste, soap, or any hygiene products unless you asked for them and gave them 30 minutes to find one for you (and there was no guarantee they would get you one). I wasn't allowed to have any electronics at all, because I guess it's possible to kill yourself with a cell phone? We also weren't allowed to have gum, any snacks, hair accessories (unless they were soft scrunchies), combs, jeans, razors (obviously), or any form of entertainment except a book. Nothing. I understood some of these restrictions, considering some of the patient's suicidal histories, but I wasn't allowed to have a jigsaw puzzle? Or my Kindle? What was I supposed to do? It's not like these guys had much for entertainment, save an old TV from 1989 in a room with popcorn plastered on the floor.

I was allowed to make a phone call. They had these prison-like phones that you could use at certain times of the day. That was the first thing, of many, that I equated to prison. You had to ask permission and someone had to sit near you while you made your call. I called my parents with a list of things they needed to bring me. The list was long, and every once in a while, the woman sitting next to me would shake her head and say "You can't have that in here" or "You won't need that. We can give you that". She took me back to my room where I sat on my bed and stared at the wall.

I remember thinking that the room was in such a state of disrepair, that I could still easily kill myself or somebody else with anything in the room, if I wanted to.

I still hadn't met my roommate, and I was so worried it was the "lonely" woman from earlier. She scared me, like she would try to kill me if I told her she had an eyelash on her cheek. I decided to go to the "food room", as the inmates patients called it, and see if there was anything to do or eat. There, I saw a woman coloring a mandala with non-toxic crayola markers. There were no seats available except for a few at her table, so I sat across from her with a popcorn snack.

"Hello, would you like to help me color?" She asked me.

I accepted. I figured I was stuck there, so I might as well color. There was no harm in coloring, right?

She told me her name was Maria and she had been there for a couple of months. She was a very sweet, heavy set woman in her mid 40's. She told me all about the sun goddess depicted in the mandala and what it meant to her. We had a surprisingly pleasant conversation while we colored in the intricate patterns that made up a woman's fiery face. Eventually, the clock struck a time I didn't know because there were no clocks anywhere, and Nurse Jackie stepped in and told us to go to our rooms. Coincidentally, Maria was my roommate, so we carried on our conversation in our room.

Maria showed me the ropes around the Acute Mental Ward. She mentioned that there were certain things you had to do, certain people you shouldn't talk to, and the schedule we all must follow (again, like a prison).

While we were talking, a young male nurse poked his head in, counted us, then told us to get our medication.

Now, at this point, I was taking Clonazepam and my pain meds once with every meal, then right before bed. I couldn't take my pain meds until AFTER I had eaten, though. Everything else, I took before bed. It's really not hard to remember, but the idiots that worked at Methodist Hospital couldn't even get that right. They nearly overdosed me on Vicodin, because I can totally take 4x my regular dose, right? The nurse giving me my meds asked me which room I was staying in and said, "Oh, your roommate is Maria? You might want to take a Trazodone. She snores very loudly and you won't get any sleep, otherwise". I accepted the Trazodone, at which point he put TWO pills into my hands. Two Trazodone could have killed me with the other meds I was on. But whatever. Let's give little, 100 pound Mouse an extremely high dose of this stuff. No one will notice.

I noticed they didn't try to give me any anti-depressants, like they told me they were going to do in the first place- that's why I was there, after all. But I figured they would just wait to do that tomorrow. They didn't. The four days I spent there were wasted and I got no treatment at all.

For the sake of time, I'm going to list off all the other weird crap that happened the next day:

-My parents dropped off my stuff
-I took a shower in the nastiest shower ever
-While I took a shower, a male nurse came in to count the inmates patients in the room and ended up watching me undress for a good minute. WHY DON'T YOU JUST TAKE A PICTURE, ASSHOLE?
-I ate barely-edible meals

During my second day, I met with Rosalinda, the Physicians Assistant. She advised I go to group therapy, so I did.

This is what happened at Group Therapy:

-Rosalinda spoke to all of us.
-A middle-aged woman I had never spoken to asked why all of this was happening to her.
-Rosalinda said that when a woman feels emotions during pregnancy, the baby feels them later in life (which is not true). She also said that stress during pregnancy always means that the woman unconsciously doesn't want the baby, and leads to depression in the fetus because the fetus knows it's unwanted (also not true).
-I stood up, explained why Rosalinda was wrong and stormed out of the room, half of the other patients following behind me.

After that nightmare of a "group therapy" session, Rosalinda called me into her office. She explained that I needed  "extra treatment" and extended my stay for another two days simply because she was mad that I saw through her lies.

Fuck this bitch and her lack of basic knowledge of biology. 

At this point, I just stayed in my bed, except for meal times, and read my book. I didn't even consider going back to that lie-fest. In fact, a bunch of patients decided against it too after I filled their heads with scientific facts. I felt like a super hero of knowledge. Saving one person from bullshit one day at a time.

I could go one about all the other bullshit that I experienced there, but that would take weeks.

By my last day, I had experienced sexual harassment from the staff, watched normal, slightly depressed adults turn into mindless zombies, listened to lies about mental illness being spoon fed to mentally ill patients, and felt like a prisoner. I even checked the patient bill of rights and about 75% of my rights were not met by the staff. I never even got any anti-depressants! I never saw a doctor, I never had a clean bathroom, I didn't got my medications at the right time, which made me sick and in a lot of pain. The staff just zombified the patients, instead of treating them. THE LIST GOES ON!

I could not get out of there fast enough.

This is what's wrong with mental health. There's no funding, nobody cares about these people enough to listen to them and treat them. They just put them in the mental ward and call it a day. Feed them just enough to keep them alive, then pretend they don't exist. This is not okay! I should not have my breasts on display for every male nurse to gawk at just because I was a young girl trying to take a shower. At least give us doors to the bathroom so we can have a little privacy to poop! None of the people I talked to while I was there said they felt better since being there. Many of them had been there for months. My roommate tried to kill herself while I was right there. If this program was working, she would have felt like there was hope, not suicidal. Nobody there was happy. Everyone was a zombie.

I wasn't even supposed to be there! Apparently there was some mix-up and my case got filed under "going to kill herself right now unless we send her to hell the Acute Mental Ward". Everyone I spoke to said I shouldn't have been there. They said I was too "normal". Everyone there had been cutting their wrists, spewing nonsense from their mouths, and had been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. I was just having a hard two weeks.

This was the worst, and most enlightening, experience of my life.

<3 Mouse

EDIT: Apparently people are calling my post into question, and are asking for "proof" that I was really at this hospital. Here is one picture of some food receipts and the Patient Bill of Rights. It shows the date I was there, the name of the hospital, and a few other things. I have more proof, but this should suffice for now.

NOTE: The names may have been changed.

If you, or someone you love is feeling suicidal, you can visit the American Foundation for Suicide PreventionTeen Help, or The Trevor Project.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

And remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

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