Mental health hospitals can be scary for those on the outside, especially for those who have never stepped foot into one. There are several thoughts that a normal person might have about what goes on in a psych ward. I imagine, laughing over spilled crayons is not an activity that people picture when they think about the types of people inside the hospital. I know because I used to think that there was no way someone normal like myself could land herself locked in a hospital under a psych hold. I guess I should have known better than to jinx myself by saying it would never happen. It was half past ten, and I was being ushered into a police vehicle.
Grandpa was crying, trying to pull me away the entire time. The whole ordeal was pretty dramatic but also happened super fast. Grandma ended up holding him back, and I didn't see the rest because the door to the car closed once I was in. The ride itself from my house to the hospital was awkward. In between tears, I would sniffle and the cop looked like he wanted to talk to me but wasn't sure if he would make it worst.
"What's going to happen to me?" I had managed to say. My nose was stuffed with boogers and my eyes were blotched red. "I want to go home." I would be good, I wanted to say. I'm sorry I told someone I was hurting.
"We're taking you to the hospital so they can evaluate you to make sure you're not a danger to yourself. Some of your friends expressed concern for your safety," hearing this hurt. I felt betrayed in the moment. In my eyes, I was not hurting anyone so I couldn't understand how much my friends truly cared if I lived. I didn't talk more in the car ride so it was silent and long until many silences later, my door opened. I stumbled out. Sirens were blaring, which of course made sense, this was a hospital. There were ambulances and real emergencies. My mental health, at the time, I didn't think counted as an emergency. I was an inconvenience to these workers.
With a sigh, I followed the cop into the hospital. I was suddenly self-conscious of the fact I was clad in simply my pajamas and tacky sandals, and it was cold. I shivered, taking it all in. It was a normal hospital hallway, with doors to rooms and nurses in every direction that I looked. The cop stopped and so I sat down near him, my head to my knees. I tried my best to hold back my tears; operate word, tried. By this point, it was almost eleven and I was alone, hungry, and scared. I had never been on this side of things. I peeked up and saw the cop exchanging words with someone in scrubs, and then I was being told weird things like I was being baker acted and had to surrender my things.
It felt weird taking the string out of my shorts and pulling the buttons out of my bag. I never did get those buttons back. It was humiliating to have to shed my clothes for their supplemental clothes and the worst thing was surrendering my phone. My phone had been my last connection to my life and to the outside. Without my phone, I felt truly isolated and alone. All I had was the hospital bed, a hospital television, and a lot of empty time. A nurse sat outside my door constantly, keeping watch. I was never truly alone but it felt weird and I was waiting for some doctor. It must have been hours before I finally saw a doctor for the first time.
I just wanted the doctor to see that I was fine. I wasn't going to do anything. Despite my tears and my being here, I wanted the doctor to understand that there was nothing wrong with me and that I was perfectly sane. Sure, I felt depressed and things were bad at home, sometimes, but I could deal with it. I didn't want them to waste their time on me. They should let me go, that's what I wanted then. Despite speaking with me and hearing me say what I wanted him to hear, he did not let me. It must have been four in the morning when I was moved somewhere else with beds in the hallway. This was worst than my previous location. At least in the hospital bedroom, there had been a television. There was nothing here to keep my mind off of my reality. I was in a hospital and I did not belong. I was inconsolable and I couldn't stop making noises as I cried. Well, actually, I did eventually stop. I had no choice. Stop crying or get a shot. I'm not crazy, and I don't need shots to stop crying. I just wanted to know that I was okay and I wanted to talk to my loved ones. Somehow, I fell asleep despite my discomforts. It was around seven in the morning when I was awoken for transfer.
I was led to a stranger place, which required multiple codes to access and a special badge. I was still very upset because I had no answers, and I had been there since the night prior. I wiped at my eyes as I tried to take in what I saw. There were all sorts of individuals in different areas. There was a dayroom with a television and a couple of patients were sitting there, watching some old western show. I can't remember what exactly what the show was but they were deeply engrossed in the material. Near the door that I entered, there was a ledge for sitting, and there was a couple of people sitting there. Some people had socks on while others had shoes. There was a lot of activity happening in this little area, it was a bit overwhelming.
A nurse approached me. When she spoke to me, I couldn't bring myself to speak. I was afraid that if I opened my mouth, it would all spill. There was so much pain inside me. I didn't feel like this was where I belonged. I had just been triggered about some family situations with my sexuality. At the time, had I known where I would have ended up, I would have kept everything to myself and sank deeper into what I was feeling. In retrospect, with hindsight 20/20, it was most likely for the best that my friend reported me but if someone had told me that then, I wouldn't have had it.
"Oh honey," I remember her voice. It was sweet like honey, angelic really. I also remember how pretty the nurse was. She had curly hair and her skin was painted with tattoos. She had these bright friendly eyes and a smile like a rainbow in a monsoon. Despite the fact I couldn't open up and just teared up when she had asked me how I was, she was compassionate and handed me a tissue box. If I am honest, this meant a lot to me. It was an act of kindness in my eyes and really painted my experience. I kept the box. I held it tightly against my chest, and nodded her in thanks, before I was led to my room.
Sharing rooms, the closest I had gotten to that in the past had been with my siblings. Now sharing with a stranger, that concept was foreign to me. Seeing someone that's not my family member… naked? That was unthinkable. So imagine my shock when I walk into my room and see my roommate sans clothes. She was trying to comfort me as much as the nurse had been. I had walked into the room, crying, and I just looked anywhere but up. Modest and conservation has always been two qualities that defined who I was. It was so weird to experience kindness. It was something that I needed to explore deeper.