From Residential to Hospitalization

It has been quite a long time since I’ve been on here. As most of you know, I went into residential treatment at the beginning of December (I will make another post for that update). Recently, I got referred to the hospital because of meds.

One week and 6 days until my 22nd birthday. I wonder how I got here, questioning everything at this point.

To myt left sits an ex heroin addict who overdosed on Benadryl; on my right is an 80 year old suicide attempt. Across from me is a lady who reminds me of Red from Orange is the New Black, minus the intimidating Russian accent and next to her is, what seems to be, the leader, loud, intimidating and she meant business.

Only a few hours ago I was still at Residential, taking for granted my friends and freedom. Being told, “You are being transferred.” is one of those gut wrenching moments. The clinical director helped me pack up while I cried. She wasn’t even aware, they had gone behind her back and made this decision. I couldn’t be mad at her, I loved her all throughout my stay there, quite an amazing lady.

She held me close and hugged me as she explained that the nurse was planning on taking me, but she wanted to take me instead. We reached the hospital, she held my hand and stood beside me through intake and was determined to come with me as far as they would allow her to.

After she left, my bags were taken, I was stripped down, searched and examined. I sat on my bed, crying, an RN came around and told me about group. That, was how I ended up stuck at the table in a looney-bin sandwich.

I was deemed “special” and put under their specific eating disorder protocol. At the time I didn’t know, nor was I prepared, for all that entailed. We had group where I was introduced to the other women in the unit.

Scared out of my wits, the leader, Kari, began to talk to me. Jan, the 80 year old began to crack a joke about a whore, Debbie laughed, Trish and Sharon began to compliment and talk about me as if I weren’t even in the room. We were offered an evening snack, which I politely declined.

That evening I cried myself to sleep, unable to get remotely comfortable on the hospital bed. I was woken up to the sound of my door being opened. I quickly learned that I’d be checked on every 15 minutes throughout the night.

Next morning I was bombarded at 5:30 by two nurses, an EKG, 4 viles of blood, a cup needing to be filled with urine, and a hospital gown.

I wasn’t given any other option besides to eat breakfast, and was greeted with an Ensure when I only picked at the food on my tray. Afterwards, I had to stay in eye sight, or more specifically, confined to the hallway, for an hour after I ate anything. Along with isolation in the hall, I had to be accompanied and watched when using the bathroom or showering.

My days consisted of eating unappealing hospital food and sitting in the hall. Kari, Sharon and Trish didn’t understand why I was sitting in the hall on the floor. I explained it to them, they turned and walked away…. and shortly returned holding crayons, a coloring book, pillow and blanket.

These women took me under their wing, they became my support system. Jan would pace the hallway and invited me to join her. She would compliment me and I would get sassed for “exercising” in the hall. I taught the women square breathing, yoga and tapping.

This group made the unit not as terrifying or completely horrible. Kari became the mother duck of the group and we were her ducklings. Then came Jennifer, she was a zombie of a person with the disposition of the female Hulk. Mentally unstable, she would mutter, groan or grunt, and stomp through the hall. Crying uncontrollably, then laughing hysterically, throwing tantrums in the hall, and chairs down the hall. I was terrified, scared that at any moment I’d be in her way and be trampled. All through the night she would have hysteric fits of laughing, sobbing and hallway pacing with feet of lead. On edge, fearful that at any moment the person to come in my room would be Jennifer, and not an RN.

In the morning I walked my runway of white institutionalized walls, and cold barren tiles in this seasons’ newest hospital gown attire. My wardrobe was a reflection of the immediate emotion that filled me; my ass exposed to the world.

Jennifer slept through breakfast, thank God. I ate the food placed in front of me, granola and yogurt with grapes and took my usual place in the hall. Kari and Jan both expressed concern about Jennifer’s behavior and all of our safety.

I didn’t want to eat, I wanted nothing to do with food. Filled with anger, hurt, a sense of rejection, abandonment and disappointment; I did what I do best, and I shut down. Closing out others and cutting out myself.

The hospital was freezing, I would wear two pair of socks, boots, leggings, yoga pants, sweat pants, a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and sweat shirt at the same time to keep me from shivering. At meals, I relied on my coffee cup to keep my hands relatively warm. In my room I would secretly exercise to burn calories, but to mainly get warm. Running in place, push ups, jumping jacks, burpees and crunches were just another way for me to try and stay warm.

Even with the sub-zero arctic temperatures of the hospital, it was no match for the rapidly spreading germs among the unit. Purell hand sanitizing wipes practically became a commodity and precious resource to smuggle across the lunch room border.

Talks of weight gained, weight needing to be lost, diets tried and failed, constantly filled the room as I watched the consumption of cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches.

While I’ve never been to jail, I can only imagine the similarities. Isolated to a hallway, one phone, constantly being watched, no clothes or shoes with any type of lace or draw string.

I shut myself out from almost everyone on the unit with few exceptions. Taking a nap in my room became ritualistic. One day while taking a nap I was woken up to Jan putting a blanket on me and tucking me in.

These ladies didn’t just have a name, they had a story. One by one, just as I had gotten to know them, they were discharged. Debbie, who became depressed after one of her pharmacies began to fail, and her husband hadn’t been emotionally supportive. She decided to close that pharmacy and put her time into the other one that was still doing well.

Next to go was Sharon and Jan. Sharon had a very successful career working in the medical field for almost 20 years. She got into pills and heroin, spending about $50,000 over the years to sustain her fix. She was struggling and took Benadryl one evening to help her get to sleep. By complete and total accident she had taken too much and was rushed to the hospital.

Jan, an amazing woman, threatened to kick my ass on more than one occasion if I didn’t take care of myself. She moved to the area many years ago and loved it up until recently. Her son left her to move to Florida which left her by herself at about 80 years old. She became very depressed and lonely and ended up here. Jan is a spit fire of a woman who took no cray from anyone and has a heart of gold. She plans on selling her place and moving to Florida. The last thing she told me before she was discharged was, “You better take good care of yourself, or I’m gonna beat your ass.”

Kari and I were the last ones to go. She would comfort me, stick up for me, cheered me on during meal times. She would sit by me in groups, talk with me in the hall and we shared our stories. Her coping mechanism had been alcohol. It had destroyed her marriage and relationships. Her mom showed no empathy or compassion in anyway.

The entire dynamic of the group had changed with discharges and new admits. Know-it-alls, grumpy women who took it out on us and attention seekers who never stopped talking. The irony of going crazy in the psych unit.

The director would periodically call and check on me, which I appreciated so much. She is such an amazing woman who has done an enormous amount for me that I will never be able to express enough gratitude for ever.

It’s funny, in a not so funny way, maybe more eye opening, that it took a hospital unit, full of addicts and depress ridden women and the amazing director, to make me feel like I had any worth.

I got picked up and headed back to residential…. then left in the middle of a blizzard. Tears streaming down my face at the same pace of the snow flakes hitting the ground. I had given the director an enormous hug, left her a letter I had written, cried even harder, and headed out the door.

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