alecto - your little bluejay (pollytrance) wrote,
alecto - your little bluejay
pollytrance

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The Looney Bin-- Part One

WARNING: This is one of a few extremely long posts chronicling my stay in the looney bin...

It was Wednesday night, and, as usual, I was on my way to my weekly girls group therapy in Pleasant Hill. I was a bit late and I was feeling like shit because of yet another argument with my parents about school and my future. They were screaming "go", I was screaming "no" and it was causing a lot of conflict. It eventually got so bad that I figured I'd do as I'd done sophomore year, and down a bunch of aspirin, but this time not tell anybody about it. This time it would be private, and I would fall asleep and never wake up. After all, dead people don't have to deal with school, they don't have to deal with not graduating, they don't have to deal with leading a meaningless life, making barely enough money to get by, college, etc. So that was it. I told my parents that if they didn't leave me alone, I was going to kill myself, and I meant it when I said it to them. My mom didn't seem at all worried. "Thats what you always say, Katie," she said. It was as if she was daring me, expecting me to deliver. Wasn't it enough that she had to sit outside the ER in March 2000 listening to me retch up my aspirin?

My dad was a different story. He was an alcoholic. He spent a whole year in a looney bin because of it. I don't know how he got in there, but he kept telling me thats where I needed to be. He told me I was sitting in a pile of shit and starting to like the smell. He told me all I did all day was sit around and feel sorry for myself.

Neither of them even tried to recognise the steps I was taking, or the fact that I was trying. They didn't notice that I had made an appointment with my counselor, or the fact that I was trying to get to sleep at night. They didn't notice that when we fought, I got out of the house in order to be safe, and to allow a cooling off period. None of this was in their line of vision for some reason. And it was breaking my heart.

So there I was in group, being far too honest about what I was feeling at that particular moment. Dr. Olowin excused herself, and at the time, I didn't think anything of this, because shes always excusing herself to her office for pens or other such things that she forgets. When she came back into the room, my tears had dried, I had stopped rattling off about how bad I felt and I was now talking about how I thought it was funny that Rebecca and I lied to each other. She looked at me, most perplexed. Did she not realise my rate of recovery?

About fifteen minutes later, after a few other girls had done their check-ins, she excused herself again, saying there was something up at the front desk that she had to "deal with". We all started laughing and joking about it, but the laughing stopped when she singled me out and pulled me out of group. She led me to her office where a squat policeman with a five o clock shadow sat clutching a clipboard and a pen with his fat bacon fingers.

"What is this?" I demanded.

"Don't look at me like that," The officer said. "I'm not an authority figure in this situation, I'm your friend." He must have caught the disgusted, horrified look on my face when I realised what was going on. My friend? Thats the funniest shit I have ever heard from the mouth of a pig.

He then proceeded to fire off a bunch of idiotic questions for his report, which he claimed was necessary.
"Because if we let you go, Katie, we lose our jobs."

That is SO not something you say to someone who may or may not be suicidal. You tell them its because you want them to live, whether you care or not. Fucking Christ.

The fat bastard confiscated my backpack and searched it. I wasn't placed under arrest or anything, so I'm still not sure whether him searching my bag was a violation of my rights or not. He then marched me out to the waiting room, where he traded me off to the EMT bastards, who further humiliated me by marching me down the stairs and past a group of adults who were in no way at all ashamed to be rubbernecking at the girl with the pink and blue hair who was flanked by two paramedics and then locked away in the back of a fucking ambulance. They wouldn't even let me carry my backpack. The fuckers. It had straps on it. I might have tried to hang myself or something. Pshaw. Fuckers.

I got to the Crisis Center at around eight, at which time I would usually be consuming my favourite Martinez Chinese food. This alone made me hate Dr. Olowin. I only get to have Martinez Chinese every few Wednesdays, and because of her, I had lost my opportunity. If ever there was a human embodiment of the devil, she was it. They took my backpack into the back room and made me empty my pockets. They took my blood pressure and asked me if I was hungry. I was disgusted and offended. Of course I was hungry, these assholes were keeping me from dinner.

"No, I'm not hungry at all."

They took my blood pressure and made me sit outside and wait for a nurse to come so that I could go to a waiting room and wait more. There was some man stumbling around drooling all over himself and bumping into things, and the people behind the desk didn't seem to care. After about ten minutes, one of the nurses that was in some secluded lounge came out and yelled at him, telling him to go back to bed, and that the medicine was making him stumble. He vomited on the floor. No one cleaned it up. A woman named Barbara sat on the opposite side of the room from me and sat fingering through magazines and cursing at the male nurses.

"You like to stare at womens bodies?" She demanded. "You like to pretend you don't know their names? You like to, pardon the expression, fuck them up? Stop looking at me!" No one was looking at her. For some reason she thought that the receptionist was my mother.

"You're her mother!!" She screeched. "You're her mother and you're admitting her? Thats so sick. Shes in bad shape? See how bad she looks? Shes hurting, she doesn't want to be here, and you're admitting her." This woman didn't even know me and she was fiercely defending me. This was both touching and frightening.

"Sit down, Barbara." The receptionist said. "This is confidential."

The nurse finally came out to take me to the waiting room, and as I walked by her, Barbara offered me a magazine.

"I have to go." I told her. She looked sad.

I went into the waiting room and it was cold and the seats were uncomfortable. The nurse asked me if I had any batteries, because his CD Player wasn't working. He kept banging it on the arm of his chair and flipping channels, as though I wasn't even there.

Then, without warning, one of the other patients came in and sat across from me.

"Whatcha guys watching?" He asked.

"How old are you?" The nurse asked.

"Old enough to know better," the patient said.

"You're over 18, you need to leave. This is the waiting room for minors."

"What are you? A molester?" The patient asked.

"You need to leave," the nurse said.

"Don't let him touch you!" the patient said as he was walking out the door. "Hes a fucking molester!"

"Bite me!" The nurse yelled as he closed the door.

After about a half hour more and half of an episode of "Married With Children" [the only show the nurse would sit still for] the other EMT people showed up to take me to an actual hospital where I would stay.

I walked outside so that the EMT guys could get together the paperwork and the same guy who had called the nurse a molester was complaining that he was hungry, but that he didn't want to eat the hospital food because he knew that they injected the meat with "limp dick medication." The nurse rolled her eyes and tried to get him to calm down by telling him that it was illegal to give the patients medication without telling them.

"Get me a sandwich," he said. After the receptionist went into the back room, he noticed that I had emerged from the minors only waiting room, and he said, "How'd you like being in that room with that molester? Did you have fun? Did he touch you?"

Everyone, including the EMT guys rolled their eyes at this. The patient was just about to get in my face when the EMT guys whisked me away into yet another ambulance, and we proceeded to the California Specialty Hospital which is a dirty, unprofessional hospital in Vallejo, which is the town I live in.

I arrived at California Specialty at around 11.30pm and once again my vital signs were taken, and my shit was confiscated. They made me give them my clothes and they gave me some hideous gowns and cheap slippers to wear. They catalogued all my possessions and gave me Benadryl, thinking it would make me sleep. Then they led me to a room in which four other girls were sleeping, and told me to go to sleep. The other girls were heavily medicated [though I didn't find this out til the next day], so they didn't wake up. I laid there and stared at the ceiling and tried to make out the various shapes in the dark room. Two of the girls in there looked very moved in, one with posters all over her wall and the other with a rose-patterned comforter, a teddy bear, and some flowers on the nightstand. I couldn't make out their faces in the dark.

I awoke the next morning to the sound of a loud voice saying, "Wake up ladies, get in the shower, make your beds!!" accompanied by loud pounding on the wall. This was the pleasant day nurse, Carrie. The other girls all noticed that they had a new roommate, and Ivey, the girl diagonal from me, and the one who was the most moved in [she had been there two weeks], broke the ice by telling me she liked me hair. The girl across from me, Lori, seconded that, saying that she liked the combination. We then exchanged ages, stories of how we'd gotten there, what the days were like, and how long we'd been there. The girl to my right was named Jessica A., and she seemed very meek. This was only because it was her first night having been on sleeping meds, and she was having trouble even waking up. Ivey was 15, Lori was 15, and Jessica was 16. For the first time in my life, I was asking younger people to show me the ropes. I felt naked [with good reason, the only thing I had on were the damn gowns] and uneasy. This was going to take a lot of getting used to.

They made us take showers every day, and I'm sure everyone who has dyed or curly hair knows my pain when I say I have to wash it every other day or else it gets too horrible to deal with. So my first day there, I was wearing the frumpy clothes I had come in, which had been washed and dried, but without fabric softener [it was polyester, terrible static cling] and first thing when I woke up, since Ivey was taking the first shower, they took a nasty ass Polaroid of me looking groggy and having tweaked and as yet unwashed hair.

They told me to get a breakfast, and everything was plastic and individually packaged. Breakfast came on these trays with these plastic domes on top, and they looked old and dirty, but there was nothing one could do. If I didn't eat, they would assume I had an eating disorder. Thats what they did to Lori. I picked up a tray and went shakily into the day room. Everyone stared at me curiously, and one girl raised her hand, smiled, and told me to come sit by her at the only table in the room. Her name was Ashley, and she was thirteen. She had been there for two weeks and claimed she was pregnant and that the first thing she was going to do after being discharged was "go to Frisco and get it on with her man."

It was quite the disturbing morning. I didn't have any sort of soap or anything, so I had to get a paper cup full of "full body shampoo" which was this evil smelling goop they gave you with which to wash your hair AND your body. It was quite disgusting. I came out of the shower, and my skin was peeling because it was a harsh cleanser and my hair felt disgusting, as if the goop hadn't completely washed out of it. I then had to go to the "community meeting". I changed out of the disgusting slippers into my brand clean but not at all soft socks, and made my bed [which was far too cold, I nearly froze to death the first night I spent in there].

We heard Carrie yell, "Double doors!" which, Ivey told me, meant line up by the double doors, so a nurse could come and unlock them and then lead us to the Creative Therapy room, which was just a big white room with harsh overhead fluorescent lighting, [which is another thing I absolutely fucking abhor about hospitals], a long table, and a bunch of chairs. All of the patients had to sit around this table and tell their names and ages and why they were in there. I sat by my roomies so that I could get an idea of what to do, and the people that had been there the longest actually had a squabble about who would direct the morning meeting. (They had a book that they were reading out of, telling the order in which every fucking overdone procedure went, and what to say, and the rules)

After "introductions" they did this crap that they referred to as "goals". Basically, they went around the table and asked everyone to state a goal, and to state 1) whether or not they remembered their goal from last meeting [there were two of these dreadful meetings per day] and 2) if they did it. If they said they had completed their previous goal, everyone in the room was expected to say "Good job." They had mistaken this forced phrase for actual genuine support. It was hideously robotic. I was furious and miserable. Then they were asked to make a good goal, after which, we were all required to say, "Good goal." If they couldn't think of a goal by themselves, they asked the other patients to offer suggestions, and then they would choose a suggestion. In this case, it was required of us to say, "Good goal, good suggestions." Sheep of the highest motherfucking degree.

After the vomit-inducing "goal" shit was over, there was the "support" shit. This is where they went around the table saying, "[name of patient], do you need support?"

If the patient said yes, the person in possession of the stupid black binder would say, "Why do you need support?"

The patient would state a reason, sometimes bitter, sometimes bogus, sometimes tearful and totally legitimate. That would be followed by, "And how can we support you?"

The patient would name several ways in which everyone on the adolescent ward could better their situation, but nobody ever really tried to support anyone else.

And after they stated just how to support them, the person in control of the black binder would say, "Who can do this for [name-of-patient]?" And we were all expected to raise our hands. It was utterly sickening.

Then there were instances where someone would say they didn't need support, which would be followed by the black binder person saying, "Will you accept it anyways?"

If they said yes, they were asked what we could do to support them. They would tell us, and then we'd all have to raise our hands.

If they said they wouldn't accept it anyways, we would all have to say, "Thanks for being honest." Hideous robotic action. DISGUSTING!!

After all the support bullshit, there was a time-space set aside for patient complaints. They were pretty legit.

"Could the guys please stop pissing all over the toilet seats?"

"Could the girls stop making huge messes in the shower?"

"Whoever is on the rag, can you stop leaving your dirty pads all over the bathroom?"

Then there were some complaints from the staff to the patients:

"We're not here to pick up your Band-Aids!!"

"Can the girls please not wait until the morning to tell me they have no clean panties!"

"Y'all need to wash your clothes, cos some of y'all smell pretty bad, and y'all are young adults, you need to stop acting like little kids. Ain't gon be no one followin you around like we do when you get out of here, and its disgusting."

After that, there were goodbyes for the patients who were being discharged. Ivey left the day I got there. I told her goodbye as best I could, seeing as how I had just met her, and when we got back to the room after quiet time, her bed had been stripped, her shit was gone, even the posters were off the walls.

Then we had "gym". Gym consisted of ping-pong, air hockey, and table football. Sometimes if we were lucky, they'd unlock the "movement room" where there was a stair-climber and a couple of exercise bikes.

My first day there was also the day I saw my doctor. He was a smug, middle-aged man with a five-o-clock shadow and spoke as though he had peanut butter stuck on the top of his mouth, slapping his tongue around while spittle gathered in the corners of his mouth. His name was Dr. Bartos and he looked at me the way all the adults look at me. Look at the young, angry girl with coloured hair who is confident to wear polyester. She MUST be a trouble-maker. He kept having to look at my chart to call me by my name. He called my father, and my father showed up about 15 minutes later and sealed my fate. He told the doctor he had stayed in a mental hospital to deal with his alcoholism and that it had greatly benefited him, so I should stay in the hospital. I started to scream protests, but he smiled at me smugly and said, "Well, Katie, its in your best interest. Your father wants you here and you're on a 51/50, which allows me to keep you here legally for 72 hours."

I screamed even louder, and he made me leave. One of the staff noticed me crumple crying in front of the Day Room [where we ate breakfast, watched movies and had process group] and took me into the Quiet Room. The quiet room is this hideous pink room with a camera looking down upon it in a fiberglass cage. There is a bed in the middle of it, with buckles along the bottom in case anyone gets too crazy. They strap you down to it and let you scream. There were skid marks on the walls where people in tennis shoes had kicked the shit out of it. There was dirt in the corners and a couple of smears of blood along the walls that no one had bothered to clean up. The nurse who had taken me in there tried to get me to calm down by talking to me, but she didn't understand that I wouldn't calm down because I was in a fucking cage. She asked me if I wanted a time out. She explained to me that I should probably take one and calm down, because if I didn't calm down and they had to put me on one, and then it would take even longer for me to leave. I stayed in there and bawled for about fifteen minutes, and then came out. The head nurse saw me emerge and said, "You can't come out of there!" The only window was one that was double-paned and had chicken-wire inside, so that if we did something to the camera, the nurses could watch us that way.

"I can too, I put myself in here." I was pretty much breathing defiance by this point, and hating everyone on unit because they were sheep and actually cooperated with the fucking system. The nurse that took me in there told the head nurse it was ok. The nurses all talked about the patients like they weren't there. It was infuriating.

Later on, everyone had to go into the rooms to have "quiet time" and our quiet time was never really quiet time because no one was ever alone in our big room. I got to know my roomies and it passed the time. Then came phone time. I called my mom and told her she needed to come to the hospital and bring some of my stuff. I needed my Powerpuff comforter, so that I wouldn't freeze to death, some new clothes and pretty underwear, shampoo, conditioner [she brought eyeliner and stuff though I didn't even think of that] and a pillow so that I wouldn't have to sleep on a paper goddamn pillowcase.

She brought it and she visited with me for a while. This got me out of the stupid activities, so I was happy, because I wanted nothing to do with the robot children. She then told me that she thought it was good that I was in there and we got in another fight. She left. I went into the TV room to watch Cats and Dogs with the robot children.

The next day I called Stefan. He asked me where I was, because he said he'd called like 12 times. I told him where I was.

"Thats bullshit." He responded. "That fucking sucks. Why'd they put you in there?" I explained it to him. He said he would come and visit me. I had a hard time explaining to him where the hospital was. I told him to tell Lindsay where I was, because I had to use my remaining phone time to call my mom and tell her to bring me better underwear and more changed.

The next day I also saw my doctor again. This time he crushed my hopes of getting out early and going to the Babyland show I had been waiting since August for. I got really upset at this, because he claimed a concert wouldn't help my "recovery" or "stabilisation". I got furious, and told him that doctors were a curse and that Dr. Olowin was the devil. He laughed at me and made the nurse come in and take me to my room. I started screaming at him and calling him a bastard and everyone on unit heard me screaming and crying, even though the nurses put me in my room. Later, they approached me with wide eyes, asking what exactly it was that my doctor had done to make me scream like that...

--to be continued--

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