The psychiatric ward had about 6 spacious and bare rooms housing 2 patients each, 2 padded cells for overly violent or suicidal patients , a nurses’ station, and a common area. It was accessed through two doors with space between them. The door behind you would have to be locked before they opened the door in front of you.
My mom told me it was just a therapy session. Instead they drugged me and brought me underground and locked me in.
At the time I had classes I was doing well in. I had a kitten I was bottle-feeding. (She died, by the way.) I couldn’t clarify or apologize for the things I had said and done in the last 24 hours of my most public manic episode (I have had lots of worse ones in private.) had no phone. I was stripped of my clothes and put in their weird pajamas. I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone. I had no idea why I was there. Across the room, my roommate was hooked to an IV and bleeding through her bandages. So many doctors and nurses came to talk to me, but no one would tell me why I was there. (Later on my roommate told me she was groggy and cranky from the meds but she was startled mildly when she heard the nurse say my weight out loud because I apparently did not look it.)
Fast forward, for now.
A couple of weeks later, J. was finally allowed to visit me..The first thing she / we did was laugh for a very long time. The scene was like a farce. Me in inmate pajamas. The weird black man tapping on the little glass panel on my door every few minutes. Other inmates shuffling around like zombies. J. said it was terrifying and we agreed that if you weren’t crazy when you went in, you sure would be by the time you came out.
Nothing about that place was made to help people get well and get back into the world. It was made to beat explosive people into submission, to drug sad people into a numb stupor, to minimize liability, and to make piles of money.
My parents haven’t told me what they spent, but my roommate told me she had been charged P70,000 for five days.
“My family and I went over your posts,” J. told me. “And they didn’t understand why your parents had to do this to you.”
I’ve often wished I had different parents, but never more than at that moment.
My girlfriend tells me I’m lucky to have them. What I would have given to grow up in benign neglect, like she has.
Anyone who got well there did so because of the people who came to visit them. Sometimes every day, and for as long as they could possibly stay. I got a single visit from.my mom, and that ended with her ignoring the fact that I was covered in bruises and was having nosebleeds from being beaten up and suffocated the previous day after trying to get through tbe doors, when no one would tell me where I was, why I was there and (most urgently at the time) what was happening to my kitten. My mother fled for the doors while the nurses held me.
What would you do in that situation?
I drew a lot. Badly. Sang karaoke and watched TV with the other inmates. Ate the junk they gave out like pacifiers. Hid from the pervs. Shared visits with the other inmates’ families.
I was never told what was happening. What, exactly, was so bad about what I had done that this was necessary. When I could go home. The phrase I heard most often was “That I cannot say.” All this while my psychiatrist was vacationing somewhere, and some strangers were cooing baby talk at me for P2K a 30 minite chat.
Everything was wrong, and I know my rights were violated in a lot of ways. But I can’t do anything about it anymore. Because now I’m just a mental case and nothing I say is credible. In court, anyway. I guess. On the flipside, I should be able to do whatever i want and plead insanity.
I don’t know how to end this. When i think about the ward, I usually think about J. laughing. Because that’s how I’d love for the world to see it. As a joke, a hilarious mistake. That I didn’t deserve to be locked up in there with the girls with cut arms, the guys who would peer through my door and go for the underwear in my bed, the babbling 40 yesr old woman, the 60 year old man who had been there for 30 years and wouldn’t leave, the tattooed guy and and the dark guy who almost picked a fight over karaoke –