Archive for » October, 2011 «

Glimpse 2: In the Beginning

Every so often, I’m going to start posting a “glimpse” at what life is like in a psychiatric hospital.  These are true stories that I have lived through.  Some of the dialogue may not be word for word but will capture the events as accurately as I can remember.  These glimpses will also be in no particular order…just whatever I feel like posting.  Names of other patients and nurses are also changed for privacy.

In late February 2009, my first psychotic episode occurred.  I had seen a psychiatrist a couple weeks previously and she had told me that she wasn’t sure of a diagnosis yet but she decided to try me on Risperidone, an atypical anti-psychotic.  On the last weekend of February, I saw my therapist.  Looking back I suppose that was the day that the psychosis first started to get me.  The session was rough and when I left, I had strong suicidal urges.  I got home and emailed my therapist, telling her that I wanted to kill myself.  She immediately tried to call me but I refused to answer the phone.  I was too scared to hear what she might say.  She emailed me back promptly and asked me to come back to the counseling center but I refused.  I told her I had to go to work.

As I drove to work, an ambulance went speeding by me.  I was afraid that ambulance was for me and that it was going to my apartment to try and save me.  When I got to the entrance to the shopping center that Petco was in, a police officer also drove his car into the parking lot.  I was positive that officer was looking for me and was going to arrest me so that I couldn’t harm myself.  I believed that all over town, police officers and paramedics were searching for me, trying to stop me form killing myself.  I was psychotic.  I was paranoid.  I was terrified.

I got through my six hour shift.  I tried to avoid the customers in the store because I was afraid that they were all undercover and would take me away if they figured out who I was and what was going on.  The next day, a Saturday, I went to work in the same condition.  Unfortunately, it was impossible to completely stay away from all customers on such a busy day.  I don’t really remember what went through my head that day.  Sunday morning, March 1st, I had to be at work at 7 in the morning to open the store.  I woke up at six and knew that I couldn’t do it anymore.  I wanted to kill myself.  I couldn’t bear the idea of another paranoid day at work.  I was exhausted from constantly fearing that people were out to get me.  I was not thinking clearly at all.  I woke my fiance up, Adam, and told him that I wanted to kill myself…I needed help, badly.  He called the crisis line at the local psychiatric hospital and they told him to bring me in to get evaluated.  I got dressed and away we went to the hospital.

I was evaluated by a very kind lady, she has evaluated me many times sense.  I don’t remember how this particular evaluation went.  I was too disconnected from reality.  I was shutting down.  The evaluator called the on-call doctor (who happened to be my psychiatrist).  My psychiatrist remembered me and stated that she wanted me to be hospitalized.  They allowed me to give my cell phone, wallet, and jewelry to my fiance before they took me back on the ward. more…

Looking Through The Mirror

First off, I want to apologize to anyone who noticed that my blog went down for a few days last week.  Second, I had an idea for a different topic to write about but the experience I am going to describe is much more prominent for me right now than the other topic was. more…

Glimpse 1: Safety

Every so often, I’m going to start posting a “glimpse” at what life is like in a psychiatric hospital.  These are true stories that I have lived through.  Some of the dialogue may not be word for word but will capture the events as accurately as I can remember.  These glimpses will also be in no particular order…just whatever I feel like posting.  Names of other patients are also changed for privacy.

For two days I did not leave my hospital room.  Psychosis had hit rather hard and I was convinced that if I left my room, one of the other patients would attempt to kill me.  Only two patients were exempt from this thought: my roommate, Liz, and a particularly kind woman, Sarah.

I stayed curled up in bed, not even leaving at meal times.  At first the nurses brought me trays of food but eventually they just left me alone in my room.  In order for me to see my psychiatrist, one of the techs would wait until all the other patients were in group.  He would then come tell me that no one was in the open area and it was safe to come out.  Repeatedly, the nurses, techs, and doctors told me that I was safe…no one would try to harm me.

On the evening of the third day, Liz came in and told me that only her and Sarah were in the day room if I wanted to join them.  My increased dose of medicine was kicking in and the psychosis was losing its grip.  I decided to try my luck at leaving the room.  Before this paranoia had hit me, I’d been working on a 500 piece puzzle in the day room.  When Liz and I walked in, it was still there just like I had left it.  Eagerly, I sat at the table and began working on it again.  I was making good process.  The puzzle was of a garden full of pink flowers and ropes of climbing ivy.

There was a commotion in the hall.  Another patient, Rachel, had been in bad shape the entire length of my stay.  She frequently became confused, sometimes stripping off her clothes or wandering into the nurses’ area.  She babbled words that did not make sense and was never in a good mood.  She was out in the hall, making some sort of ruckus.  Suddenly, she came into the day room and headed right towards my table.  I stood quickly and backed away from the table.  She picked up the edge of it and attempted to throw it at me.  Puzzle pieces went flying.  A carton of milk spilled all over the floor.  I disappeared…crammed into a tiny nook between the wall and a row of lockers.

Nurses rushed in, restraining Rachel and removing her from the room.  I had immediately gone into a panic attack.  The nurses, Liz, and Sarah could not calm me down.  I’d been repeatedly told that no one would harm me, yet another patient had just thrown a table at me!  Physically, I was unharmed but not for a lack of trying.

One of the nurses came in again to check on us.  By then I had calmed down some but had not left my nook of safety.  The nurse offered to put in a movie for us to watch then told us that she was going to lock the door so that we could leave the room, but no one else could come in without a key.  After the movie, Sarah went to bed by Liz stayed with me.  I didn’t feel safe enough to leave the room.  Who knew when Rachel would attack again?  She could simply walk into our room and strangle me if she wanted!  The nurses never came to tell us to go to bed.  Liz and I ended up turning out the lights and sleeping in chairs pushed together into tiny beds.  Not until 6am did we finally return to our room.  Even without the tendrils of psychosis, my paranoia was fed by the incident.