[Here begins the promised post series about my recent misadventures. There will be seven posts in total, and I encourage any and all feedback, thoughts, suggestions, or general comments you have.]
I was trying to think of an easy way to introduce the topic of where I had disappeared to since Iggy's obituary, and found myself thwarted at every turn. But then I read this Mocha post, and it gave me the perfect opening:
You wouldn't know by just looking at me, but I just spent a week in the hospital psych ward.
Big news, I know. Surprising news? Probably not so much. For one thing, many of you out there reading this already knew, and, in fact, even came to see me. But even those of you finding out for the first time had a lot of warning. For all that I've lived through some serious stuff, I just was not handling recent events well at all. I was cutting again - something I've struggled with for years - and it was getting really out of hand. And for the last few days leading up to my hospitalization, things had gotten drastically worse
When things first started almost a month ago, my emotions were all over the place. I was crazy upset, but I still had moments where I could laugh and feel mostly normal. And in the midst of the up-and-down roller coaster of emotions, I was relying on my friends for support.
But then the roller coaster stopped. The good moments went away, and even the bad moments became infrequent. Mostly there was just... nothing. I just felt numb. Unless I was in a sobbing fit of absolute despair and hopelessness, I pretty much didn't care about anything at all. And worst of all, I stopped talking to just about all my friends and family.
It's strange for me to remember now, that complete and utter lack of emotion. It's just so unlike me, to genuinely feel nothing - to genuinely not care about anything. I was in that state for most of that weekend and the early part of the week. And that was the state I was in Wednesday night.
Not too long after mourning Iggy's death (no, that's not what pushed me over the edge, sad though I was), I found myself curled in a ball, sobbing. J. came in to ask if there was anything he could do, but I pretty much told him to go away and leave me alone. He did, and I eventually stopped crying and found myself back in the numb, fog-like state in which I often found myself in those days. And in that state, I began to consider suicide.
It's hard to explain the confused jumble of thoughts I experienced in those two hours - yes, I pretty much just thought about life, death, and the options each presented for close to two hours. First in my room, lying in bed staring at the wall. Then standing in the bathroom staring at myself in the mirror holding the bottle of pills (left over from my last ER visit). Then finally sitting back in my bed, this time looking back and forth between the pile of pills I'd poured into my right hand and the glass of water in my left.
When the doctors asked me later if I'd been trying to kill myself when I took the pills, I told them, "Not as such," or, "It wasn't as explicit as that." And those answers are true. I really didn't take the pills so that I would die. I knew it was possible, but I deemed it a low risk. I mostly just didn't care either way anymore, so with sort of a morbid (and completely irrational) curiosity, I took the pills just to see what would happen.
It didn't take long for fear to kick in and me to decide I didn't *actually* want to wait it out and "see what would happen." I went to J., who was watching TV in the office. He could tell by my sort of stricken and scared face that something was up.
J: What's wrong?
J: Tell me - what is it?
Me: Um... Hypothetically speaking, how many of my anti-nausea pills do you think I could take and still be okay?
I have no idea. How many did you take?
So I told him, and he called Poison Control to ask for advice. They said there could be some "serious side effects," and he should get me to an ER. So, almost exactly a month later, we headed back to the ER.
Initial burst of fear aside, I actually still didn't care much about what was happening. I sort of stared blankly out the window in silence the whole car ride there, then responded with one- or two-word answers to almost everything I was asked in the ER. The first thing that got a real reaction from me was the liquid charcoal they made me drink. That stuff is NASTY. I was convinced all their talk of its "binding to the medication" was a lie, and it was really just to make me throw up. I couldn't even finish it, though the threat of having it fed to me through a tube in my nose was scary enough to get me to choke down a lot more than I would have otherwise.
Eventually they put me in a room and started taking blood and monitoring my vitals and all that fun stuff. They also apparently flagged me as a major risk of some sort (okay, with good reason, since I'd been brought in on a purposeful overdose with huge gashes up and down my wrists and forearms) - when I opened the door to go use the bathroom, a security guard watching my room stood up and gruffly asked, "Where are you going?" "The bathroom?" I responded quite timidly. He sort of nodded his permission and I walked past him warily. But then I apparently took too long in the bathroom, because I heard my nurse ask where I was and if anyone had checked on me, and suddenly the guard was knocking loudly on the bathroom door. "What are you doing? Are you okay?" "I'm fine," I squeaked. "I'm just going to the bathroom..." From then on, when I went, I made an effort to be much quicker.
After some number of hours, one of the psychiatrists came to talk to me. He asked me lots of questions, listened carefully to both my answers and my silences (as all good listeners do), and eventually said, "Well, I think it might be good for you to come up and check in for a few days so we can work on finding some solutions. Would you be okay with that?" I nodded and sort of mumbled an assent. "Okay," he said. "Well, we'll get you registered and everything. You'll be in the voluntary wing, which is good, 'cause if you'd said no I just would have put you in the involuntary wing anyway."
Wha- ? Huh? Interesting illusion of choice you gave me there, Doc. Apparently I was coming to the looney bin whether I wanted to or not (although being here voluntarily changes my privileges, which I'll address in a later post). But either way, I was looking at multiple days in the hospital - my first time ever staying overnight in the hospital as a patient...
In the next post: Moving up to the psych unit and the road to recovery.