Thursday, August 25th, 6 p.m.

I had been duped. At 3:45 p.m., still in the psychiatric emergency room, I believed I had mustered enough energy to put on a mask and pull it off. The psychiatric resident had sat across from me and indicated that I would not be put in the psych ward. I would receive a regular hospital room. I would be placed close to a nurse’s station so they could keep an eye on me, but in my mind I had once again avoided revealing the greatest indicators that I had totally lost my fucking mind.

It is right in the hospital notes. I did not merit “CVO” (constant visual observation). Then the damn attending psychiatrist had to go and meet with the resident to review my case. Had to go and show him the realities of my case. Had to review the intense suicidal ideation I had been experiencing. The thought out plan I had to kill myself and possibly harm others along the way. The lifelong history of depression and manic behavior. The phone conversation with my wife indicating her level of concern over the rapid flip of my mental and emotional switch…yet again.

So here I sat. Sitting at a small round table across from a diminutive woman talking to me very softly and gently as she took out a packet of forms and a pen. I had entered yet another state of shock when they placed me in a wheelchair downstairs and informed me that I would be taken to the 13th floor and placed in the care of the psychiatric unit where I would get the care and help I needed. This was NOT what we had discussed!

The shock had deepened into a very dark depression as I was escorted to this table in this “living area” across from a large nurse’s station. Into disbelief as individuals in hospital gowns walked by checking out the newest member of their community. Some of them offering gentle smiles. Others talking out loud to demons located somewhere in the deepest recesses of their minds.

This was not yet rock bottom, but I could see it from the point of my current downward float. I was provided a “Patient and Visitor Information” brochure to look over as the small administrator ordered her items to begin checking me into the Norman and Ida Stone Institute of Psychiatry.

Meal schedules. Medication schedules. Telephone schedules. Television schedules! It had been at least 35 years…if ever…since I had been told when I could or could not watch television. I know, strange thing to stick out in my mind and pop up at that moment. It gave procedures for laundry which I remember finding significantly startling. How could I possibly be here long enough to need to do laundry! Details regarding group and individual sessions. I don’t know these people. I can’t share with them my thoughts. My places of brokenness. My pains!

She could see me looking over the brochure and it seems was attempting to verbalize key points related to the sections my eyes seemed to be passing over, but she sounded like the teacher from a Charlie Brown episode as my mind raced out of control with dark frightening images of straight jackets, syringes and injections of unknown fluids to attempt and control my thoughts and behaviors, and fears that I had finally been locked up…and would never be fit to get out.

 

Friday, August 26th, Early Evening

We have all heard them. Though assumptions are dangerous things, so let me just lay them out for us one more time. There are perceived to be Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

As I completed my first ever day of inpatient hospitalization for my Bipolar II mental illness, I became a full-fledged believer in the Five Stages. While I think the process had begun earlier in the day, it fully settled in during a phone call with my wife. I’ll use quotes, though I cannot guarantee these were her exact words, the gist of it was, “They did tell me the average treatment and stay is five to seven days.”

Fun fact about me: I have always bounced back very quickly. Probably to my own detriment and lack of proper treatment. My Type A personality tends to force my mind to “snap out of it”, suck it up, and get back on track. Granted, no healing, therapy, processing, or actually dealing with any shit has taken place. But I’m right back at it!

Needless to say, if spending my day walking around a psych ward in a hospital gown and those little socks with the rubber anti-slide strips on them wasn’t enough to convince me this was for real this time…hearing my wife share that little tidbit of information came down on my shoulders like a load of bricks. Granted, I had been told the same thing. But that was last night when I came in with the police and really needed help. Or that was again this morning after a psychiatric evaluation by an actual psychiatrist (the second one to evaluate me) informed me of the same.

Here’s the thing: they did not really know me. The real me. They did not know what a difference 8 hours could make. They did not understand that I would be just fine. I was no longer a threat to myself or others. I could be released, lovingly pushed out the front door, and I would go back where I came from.

Though I had no intention of doing that if they actually bought my little con-job.

And so it had begun with Denial. There were about 18 people in this ward. And bless their hearts (no…seriously) some of them were much worse off than I was. Or so it seemed. Maybe external signs of damage does not mean the internal damage is any worse. (I should probably write that down somewhere and read it every day.) The psychotic symptoms and outbursts were all around me. About half of us suffered from psychosis, the other half not. Some had been here for weeks. Some had been in treatment before. It sounded like some were actually living most of their lives inpatient!

Not me. Had a little meltdown. Blew a fuse. Went off my rocker. Got a little crazy. Lost track of reality. Whatever you want to call it…just don’t call it a mental illness in need of extensive inpatient treatment. Because I don’t have that! Give me some pills. Write an action plan. Send me on my God Damn way!!!

It seemed like the Denial and Anger stages were merging pretty quickly…