I journaled the whole time I was "inside" but I am having a seriously difficult time sharing my experiences there. Pulling straight from the journal would be so chaotic. My thoughts were racing, still are at most times. I just remember thinking, as I was dropped off and the hours passed as I was
The rest of us just sat there in the freezing air conditioning, this blank look on our faces. For most of us, it was as though we just couldn't fathom how we had landed ourselves in that place on a Tuesday night in late August. I had my arms wrapped around me tight, battling tears.
I was finally taken to my unit after intake interviews galore, my personals (what little I had with me) being searched, and a couple hours of annoyance and fear. And what do they put you through when you get to the unit? A "body map". Nice way of saying a strip search without the cavity search. They mark on a diagram all your scars, tats, piercings. Whilst you stand there in nothing but your chonies. Welcome to the unit.
I had nothing but my wallet and the clothes on my back that were at this point 2 days old. It was smoke break shortly after I arrived, but I had none, so one of the techs put a plea out on my behalf, and that's how I met J. He became my first lifeline, and continued to be one. We were glued at the hip. We talk 2-3 times a day, still. My roomie was leaving the next day and was super sweet, showing me the ropes, making sure I was okay. It was loud, it was scary, and I had no idea how things worked. For all I know they told me rules and such, but if they did none of it stuck.
I cried and whimpered and panicked my way through my first night in that place. Day 2 wasn't much better. They gave me my usual meds - at 9 am. I usually take them at night for a reason. I ended up sleeping much of the day. J was still giving me smokes, and Hubby was on his way back from Ohio. He managed to drop off some clothes (no sweaters :-() that night, along with smokes, so I finally felt better not bumming from J. But Wednesday is a blur.
Meals for those still on precautions (the suicidal folk) are served on the unit. Getting to go up to the Manor House for meals is a mini-graduation, and it took until the end of my 3rd day. My meds got completely changed and my mood swings were wild. I felt so out of control. But J, T, and R were there every step of the way. They had all been there before. There is something wonderful about being surrounded by a group of people who all speak your language. Much like the IF community, we have our own terms, most of which wouldn't be understood outside the psych ward or medical community.
I was lucky. Hubby came to see me every day, and with the help of the social worker we got permission for P to come see me a couple times.
We took meds on command, ate on command, spoke on the phone only at specific times, attended group on command. I felt a little Shawshenk. I couldn't seem to pee the first couple days unless I pretended someone had told me to do it. For 10 days I peed with either a door open or simply a curtain for a door.
I don't even know how many doctors, nurses, social workers I had to tell "No it WASN'T a suicide attempt." I felt like saying, listen, I'm a smart cookie. If I had really been trying I would have taken a lot more than benadryl. Having said that, however, I really did like my Psychiatrist. And groups. Many were music related. Or sort of ice breaker related, but with heavier questions.
The annoyances: can't touch anyone, one smoke at smoke break only (so easy to get around), no going in one another's rooms...my god I swear I felt like a child. But the routine? We counted on it. And when things ran late, boy did we get pissed. It was the one thing we could count on to get us through our days.
I picked up a coffee addiction there. They only gave us decaf and let me tell you, decaf lipton tea just wasn't doing it for me, so I actually taught myself to drink coffee. And I am HOOKED. It's like I can't stop. It's part of this process for me.
As the days went by I gradually stabilized and I knew my time was ending. Which it did. What I didn't count on was how difficult it would be to maintain that stability once home, despite having a plan and everything, but that's a post for another day.
I wish I could better portray what it felt like in there. I'm trying. There are more posts to come. Thanks for listening if you made it this far.