Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mental

I admit, my last post was quite apocalyptic - that happens to be how I was feeling. Much has happened since, including hospitalization.

I went in for my psychiatric assessment last Tuesday, and half-way through the meeting, the licensed social worker thought it might be advisable to admit myself into the adult behavioral health ward at the hospital next door. I've since learned the acronym S.I., or "suicidal ideation," which just explains my frequent thoughts of driving my car off of the road into a river or a tree or a ravine, or how I'd wonder how many pills I have in the house, what kind they are, and whether taking them all would allow me some respite of the permanent variety.

I've never moved from the "ideation" stage to the "action" stage, so I can't say I was sure at the time that I might harm myself, but I did realize that I needed to do something in order to get well.

The social worker walked me into the ER, told them why I was admitting myself, and I was in a surveilled, locked room with my belongings removed and total supervision in less than 5 minutes. I'm a clumsy gal, and I've had my share of ER visits, but I've never seen anything move that quickly before. The poor ER administrator ladies were all but fumbling their words in an attempt to whisk me away to safety.

Veronica was with me - she'd wanted to accompany me for support and a delicious lunch afterwards - so at least I was entertained during my stay. She helped me work out how to notify my boss of my sudden leave of absence in a way that would not divulge the personal weakness behind it, and she also fed me Bugles, which was awesome because I'd opted not to eat prior to my appointment in anticipation of the delicious meal I was expecting.

Soon, I was rolled up into the mental health ward, where I quickly realized exactly what I'd gotten myself into: locked in.

Locked in with no belongings. Locked into a hallway where guests were stripped of almost all belongings, especially anything sharp, of a length to tie a knot, or of the electronic (electrocution?) persuasion.

Inside of the locked ward was a second, more securely locked ward. That's where I went.

I gave my life story to a nurse (for the third time of the day) including my primary physician's name and location, the details of my S.I., my alcohol use, my history of depression and anxiety, the reason for my admission, how I heard about the mental ward at this particular hospital, whether I felt I was in danger of self-harm at that moment, my medical history, how my brain injury occurred, whether I was currently in any pain, what my goals were for my stay, on and on and on.

I was in far too much awe of my decision to really grasp what was happening until after a few hours, after Veronica and Daylow both had left for the evening and I was left alone in a room with no light switches, no telephone cords...where the thermostat was hidden behind a metal plate in the wall and the only luxury allowed were magazines (after the nurse had flipped through each page, searching for god knows what).

Because my anxiety had been at an all-time high for several days (thanks, Wellbutrin!!!!), they immediately prescribed something to alleviate the roller coaster dropping feeling in my stomach, and unsure of the rules for sleeping, I spent several hours reading and re-reading a magazine about gardening which Veronica had left.

The nurses frequently looked into my room, door safely left wide open, all night long. Once with a flashlight. Despite the medication, which made me feel like I was swimming in Benadryl, I didn't sleep very much or very well.

The next day only got more disturbing and/or therapeutic.