Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rock Bottom: Psych Ward Part 2

To read Part One first, click here.

"Misty Monroe?"

I look up and see two women in scrubs.  They are holding plastic bags and metal wands and are beckoning me to come.  I stand up, hug my friends good-bye, and walk in a trance-like state toward them.  Nurse One swipes her badge across a sensor, and the wooden doors begin to open.  I consider turning around and running as fast as I can.  I want no part of this.  Instead, I follow them.  I am exhausted and I no longer possess the energy to resist.  I am spent...both physically and emotionally. 

They each scan me with a metal detector then lead me to a room and shut the door behind them.  I am extremely nervous.  I feel awkward, and I can't wait until they leave the room and I am all alone.  I like being alone. Nurse One steps closer to me and calmly says, "We will need you to remove all of your clothing."  Umm...what?  They didn't tell me this was part of the deal.  Nurse Two expounds on the command, informing me that they need to perform a full body search.  They watch me undress and take my clothing.  Nurse One says, "Now, turn away from us and put your hands against the wall."  I am overcome with utter humiliation, but I politely obey.  Nurse Two says, "Now turn around and face us."  Once they complete the body search, they begin searching the bag of clothing I brought with me.  They inform me that I can't keep my tennis shoes because they have strings, but I can have my flip-flops.  I can't keep my hoodie or sweatpants either because they have strings.  By the time they are finished searching, I am only allowed to keep some undergarments and socks.  Nurse One hands me a bright green pair of ugly scrubs and tells me I will be required to wear these scrubs at all times.  I can get clean ones when I need them, and they have a washing machine down the hall that I am free to use.  They both turn to leave, and I stop them.  "Uhhh...can I have my bra back?"  Nurse Two replies, "No, honey.  Sorry.  It has a wire and you can't have that."  I immediately break into tears.  I want my bra.  She tells me that I can call someone and ask them to bring me one with no wire.  There is a phone at the nurses' station that they will let me use.  Yes, that's what I will do.  I want a bra. 

I put the scrubs on and I start to look around the room.  There are two wooden platform beds with black plastic mattresses that resemble pool rafts.  My bed is closest to the door.  I don't think it's going to be very comfortable.  It doesn't appear that I have a roommate.  Huge sigh of relief.  I like to be alone.  There are no bags in the trash cans, nothing hanging on the walls, no curtains on the windows.  The room is very sterile.  Flourescent lights and drab, concrete walls.  I go check out the bathroom.  The door handles have a strange shape, and the bathroom only has half a door.  At least there is a shower in my room.  I sit down on my bed and look around.  It suddenly dawns on me that this room is a "safety" room.  It has been designed for my protection.  I am at a loss for words or thoughts. 

There is a wooden desk that sits between the two beds.  I open the top drawer and see a Gideon Bible.  I pick it up and sit back down on the bed.  I stare at the hard cover of the Bible, then finally open it up.  I NEED something right now.  Something from the Lord because I feel like I'm going to crack.  I turn to my favorite chapter (Isaiah 43) and read it.  It goes in one ear and out the other.  I thumb through the New Testament and stop on the book of Philippians.  I really don't know where to start, and then I get a thought.  Today is April the 7th, so I will see what Philippians 4:7 has to say (yes, a game of chance is about how deep my spiritual connection is right now).  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  A brief smile escapes my lips, but it quickly vanishes. Yes, my heart and mind definitely need some peace.  Maybe I will one day find it, though I seriously doubt it.

Nurse One knocks on my door and peeks her head in.  She tells me that it is dinner time, and that I should come out to the dining room.  I haven't eaten all day and I am hungry, but I don't want to leave my room.  I tell her 'no thank you', that I will just stay in my room.  She returns just a few minutes later with a tray and tells me I can eat in my room...just this once.  I sit at the wooden desk and eat in silence.  It is dark outside, so I assume it's getting close to late evening.  I sit my tray on the floor outside my door, turn out the lights, and lie down in my bed.  I stare at the ceiling and cannot believe I am actually here.  This can't be me.  This can't be my life.  I suddenly hear a cry.  It starts out quietly, then escalates into a loud howl.  It is the most sorrowful sound I have ever heard.  It echoes throughout the room and penetrates my ears.  I put my hand to my mouth and suddenly realize...the cry is mine. 

I hear a knock on the door, the light flips on, and I open my eyes.  A male nurse stands peering down at me.  He wants to know if he can ask me some questions.  I don't really want to talk right now, but I don't think I have a choice.  He takes the wooden chair from the desk, turns it around to face my bed, then takes a seat.  He smells like aftershave and cigarettes.  He tells me his name and starts to ask me questions.  I answer them all with as much honesty as I can muster. I am tired of answering questions today.  He leans in a little and looks me straight in the eyes and says, "Misty.  I need you to be honest with me.  When you swallowed all of those pills, were your intentions to end your life?"  I tell him no...well, I don't think so.  He says, "Well, did you realize that taking that many of those pills could kill you?"  I think about it for a minute, then I begin to explain to him that I googled how many I could take without overdosing.  His eyes get big and he gapes at me.  He says, " mean to tell me that you trusted your life to Google?"  He gets a smirk on his face.  I tell him that when he says it like that, it does sound a little crazy.  I try to rationalize everything with him and justify explain it.  The look in his eyes tells me he is not buying all.  He continues listening to me, then interrupts me with this question:  "Do you want to know what I think?"  I really have zero desire to know what he thinks, but what else can I say?  I tell him 'I guess'.  He says, "I think that you don't believe you have a problem.  You don't think you are that bad off.  But do you know what I see? I see a full-blown addict.  I see a girl who nearly killed herself a couple nights ago.  And if you don't open your eyes and see the same thing, there's not a doubt in my mind that you will land yourself in the grave."  With that, he stands up, pushes the chair in, and walks out of the room.  He leaves more in the air than the scent of aftershave and cigarettes.

Nurse Two comes back to my room and tells me that I have a phone call at the nurses' station.  I am hoping it is someone calling about my bra.  A nurse hands me the phone through a window and I say hello.  It is my friend Jade.  She tells me that she loves me and that she is so proud of me for getting help.  She says that she will do anything she can to help me.  I give her the number of the pay phone in the hallway because that is what the lady standing there in the nurses' station tells me to do.  I tell Jade she can call me again, and she assures me that she will.  She keeps her word.  As I am out in the hallway, a male patient approaches me and invites me to come to the TV room to watch the UK basketball game.  I simply say, 'I'm from Ohio', and walk back to my room.     

I decide I'm ready for this day to be over, so I fall on the bed, close my eyes and try to force myself to go to sleep.  A bright light from the outside keeps shining directly into my eyes.  I ignore it for as long as I can, but it starts to really frustrate me.  I walk to the window to see where the light is coming from.  There appears to be a parking garage right behind this building, and a light from one of the upper levels is what is invading my room.  There are blinds on the window, but they are rolled up, and I don't see any type of cord to pull them down.  I move the desk chair over to the window, climb up on it, stretch my arms as far as they will go, and grab ahold of the very edge of the blinds.  I pull them down, maneuver them to get them to stay, move the chair back over to the desk, and lie back down.  I am in bed for a mere three seconds when I hear the blinds swiftly roll back up to the top of the window.  Forget it, I think.  I close my eyes and try not to think about anything.  I pretend I am not in a padded room.  I roll over to try to get comfortable, and the sheet slides off my mattress.  I put it back on, but every move that I make causes it to come undone.  My skin is sticking to the nasty, black, plastic pool float of a mattress.  Forget it, I think.  I toss and turn all night long.  As much as I try to push the images of my husband and kids out of my head, they will not go away.  I want to be home lying in my own bed, listening to the sounds of my loved ones breathing and snoring.  The tossing and turning continues, as does the wailing.  Just as I feel like I'm drifting off to sleep, I see a face looking down at me and I scream.  It is just male nurse.  He says he needs to take my vitals and apologizes for freaking me out.  He says that my blood pressure and pulse are still low, but that everything else looks good and I should try to get some sleep.  I'm pretty sure that's what I was trying to do before he interrupted me.  He leaves the room and I remain awake until daylight.  

I start to hear lots of hustle and bustle in the hallways and something smells good, so I open my door and follow the scent.  In the hall outside of the dining room, there are two carts with trays labeled by room and bed number.  I find my tray and pick it up.  I start to exit the dining room, and I see a sign that prohibits patients from taking food into our rooms as there has been an ant epidemic.  I ignore this warning, as well as the warning from my nurse the previous evening, and walk back to my room to eat in solitude.  After I eat, I take my tray back and put it on the cart.  I walk to the nurses' station and ask if I can have some things to take a shower with.  They give me a towel and washcloth, a cup with a little bit of shampoo/body wash, and a toothbrush.  I am instructed to immediately bring the toothbrush back to them when I am finished with it.  I shower, put on clean scrubs, take the contraband toothbrush back to the nurses' station, and go back to sit on my bed.  I try to read the Gideon Bible a little more, and then I attempt to take a nap.  I hear someone come into my room.  She is dressed in slacks and a button-up, and she asks if I would like to come play the Wii.  Umm...I am having the worst day of my life.  I think I will pass on the Wii.  She tries to persuade me to go with her by telling me that they are playing the fun game...the bowling one (as if that made all of the difference in the world).  I continue to lie in the bed. 

I have a new nurse now.  She smiles at me often and she smells like flowers.  She encourages me to get out of bed.  She says that she will put clean sheets and covers on my bed while I am up.  She is so sweet that I cannot possibly tell her no, so I leave the room and walk down the hall.  I notice that the majority of people are gathered in the dining room, so I head over to the nearly empty TV room.  I see a puzzle box, so I pick it up and start working it.  As I'm doing this, I have to keep killing ants that are crawling all over the table and onto my puzzle pieces.  It becomes evident that this puzzle is missing lots of pieces, but I continue working on it.  The people in the dining room are laughing and appearing to enjoy themselves.  It doesn't take too long for them to get up and migrate to the TV room.  I am not happy about this.  I don't look up or make eye contact hoping that they don't speak to me.  After a couple of minutes, the UK guy from the night before asks me my name.  I look up and see him and the shaking boy from the waiting room yesterday sitting in front of me.  I tell them my name then feel obligated to ask theirs.  They make small talk and tell me they have each tried unsuccessfully to work my puzzle.  The room continues to fill up until every seat is full.  It seems as though people are coming out of the woodwork.  They must be waiting for their turn at the puzzle.  I hear a cart rolling down the hall, and a nurse walks into the room yelling "Med Call".  Now I know why they are all here.  Everyone is excited to take their meds, and when the nurse leaves, they spend the next ten minutes comparing what they each take.  UK guy asks me if I "got anything good", but I prefer to keep that information private.  Everyone else finally gets up and leaves the room, while I continue working my puzzle.  I think back to what I have just witnessed and try to fool myself by saying, "Well at least I've got a little bit of dignity left."

The payphone rings and everyone instantly gets quiet and waits to hear who the lucky recipient is.  It's always the same lady getting the call.  She sits in the metal chair directly in front of the payphone and argues with anyone in her house who will argue back.  I listen intently.  I am bored out of my mind and her conversations are intriguing.   I wish the payphone would ring for me.

A worker yells out that a game of Bingo is getting ready to start in the dining room.  UK guy leans into the TV room where I am still working my puzzle and asks if I would like to come play Bingo.  He says it's really fun.  I politely decline.  However, the longer I work the puzzle with the missing pieces, the more frustrated and bored I get.  The Bingo game is already underway, but I decide to join in.  I get a cardboard Bingo sheet and some opaque red circles to cover up the spaces.  This is a legit Bingo know, the old metal kind with the cool handle you crank.  The man who is calling out the numbers looks familiar.  Way too familiar.  I look around and it seems that none of the other players are having much luck.  "B7", he says.  He has to repeat it several times, because, for some reason, no one can quite grasp what he is saying.  He calls out several more numbers, and before I know it, I have gotten a Bingo.  I am both nervous and embarrassed to yell it out.  I finally meekly say it.  He tells me 'good job', that I have won a candy bar and asks me what kind I want.  I explain to him that I have given up sweets for Lent.  I notice a pleasant yet pitiful heavy-set older lady looking at me.  I ask Bingo Man if she can have my candy bar.  He says 'sure', and gives it to her.  She looks at me with the biggest smile on her face and thanks me.  I'm pretty sure she could have played Bingo all day and never won a candy bar.  It now becomes my goal to win her as much chocolate as possible.  

When I get to treatment, I will tell this story to my counselor.  She will stare at me for a full thirty seconds before we both explode with laughter.  I will realize how crazy it is to be sitting in the psych ward due to a relapse with a nearly fatal ending, turning down a chocolate candy bar for religious reasons, while inwardly applauding myself for showing such restraint and self-control. 

Oh, the irony. Oh, the insanity.

As I heard someone say just yesterday, "Being crazy is not the same thing as being insane. Insanity is when we are crazy, and we don't even know it."  

This insanity is to be continued...   

To read Part 3, click here.

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