Friday, December 2, 2011


So. I'm free. As I said, I checked myself into a psych ward just before Thanksgiving. I...I wasn't doing well.

I have to tell you, the psych hospital I was in a few years ago? Was the fucking PLAZA, by comparison. The previous hospital was like a goddamn vacation. This recent place was hard-core, maximum-security lockdown. No shoelaces, no pens, no plastic knives. No floss! No pencils without supervision! We were allowed so little that I couldn't help but frequently spend my time playing the game: What Could I Use in This Room to Hurt Myself or Others?

I was the only person there of my own volition. Everyone else had been put there by the courts, either brought in by their families or the police. The first act of physical violence happened soon after I got there. I was the only one not schizophrenic. You think there'd be some variety of crazy but nope. Schizophrenic, every last one of them. Do you know how to cause pandemonium? Tell a room full of schizophrenics that their hallucinations and delusions aren't real. One of the therapists led a group explaining/defining schizophrenia and it erupted into complete chaos! Also, oddly, most of the patients were crack addicts/users.

Towards the end of my stay, my roommate – who I thought was simply depressed – had a complete schizophrenic breakdown and proceeded to keep me up all night talking to herself, screaming, throwing things, threatening to kill people, seeing the devil, hearing god speak to her... At that point, I wanted the fuck out. It was bad enough when she was just a racist homophobe who wanted to bring me to Jesus but at least she was quiet when she was in the room!

The time there was It was so loud and so bright that I could barely stand it. It made me panicky as fuck. Once the meds canceled out my desire to self harm/commit suicide, being there just made me anxious, frustrated, and pissed off. And, oh god, bored. Even with three group sessions a day plus some activities, most of my time was spent watching crappy TV. I did read some, though...that was nice.

Therapists mentioned prayer and Christianity. The group “therapy” sessions were pretty pointless the majority of the time. I only had individual therapy twice the entire time I was there. I was told to simply “love myself.” And I just wanted to scream, “OH MY FUCKING GOD! I NEED BETTER DRUGS AND ACTUAL THERAPY, NOT PRAYER AND PLATITUDES!!!” I wanted to leave so badly after the first few days but stayed because I knew I wasn't ready to go – I would just end up back at home, in bed, sobbing and wanting to die. I wasn't willing to risk that so I stayed, as miserable as I was.

I was released today. They said, initially, I'd probably have to stay at least two weeks. Which would have meant being there on my birthday and I just did not want that to happen. So I'm really grateful that they saw my progress and let me go early. I mean, even if I do nothing on my birthday, it's better than doing nothing in a goddamn psych ward!

All the bad shit aside, I actually am glad I went. It was hard and exhausting and stressful but I was in a bad place that probably would have ended horribly. And my new meds are working well. And I cried a lot. And I was safe. And I realized I desperately need to deal with a lot of shit in my past. So I'm going to make a list and bring it to my therapist.

Speaking of lists, I need to make another one. I really need to figure out what I'm going to do now that I'm home. Aside from trying to make sure I never have to go back.


  1. Heidi,

    I don't know you IRL, sweetie, but I'm so proud of how brave you are to check yourself in when you needed help. The awareness you're gaining of your triggers, your needs, the steps you need to take, is so amazing and important. You're doing incredible work.

    Anna (drabheathen on Livejournal)

  2. The psych hospital I went to was similar. First I went to an Emergency Mental Health Center for a couple weeks, which is voluntary, much more freedom, got to go outside to get some fresh air, we were able to use our cell phones during said breaks (after one break I kept mine and just used it sneakily with my bluetooth lol). A month or so after I got dismissed from that hospital, I went to a state-funded psychiatric hospital. Likewise, no shoelaces, I had to take the cord out of my lounge pants, I don't remember if we could use pens or not, but I wasn't allowed to use my hair conditioner because *it had alcohol in it.* My parents had to put it in an empty container of some organic hair product.

    The other people in the hospital were pretty chill though. A couple of people acted out and needed to be tranquilized or whatever, but the majority were just laidback people who needed some help.

    I was in the hospital on my birthday actually, I almost didn't go when I did because I didn't want to be there on that day.

  3. I'm glad you stuck it out...Even though it wasn't the most pleasant place at least you got to think and figure out what you needed to do. Good luck now that you are at home. Making lists can be so helpful especially when you can mark off the ones that you accomplish.

  4. you are so good at taking care of yourself and recognizing when you need more help. you're phenomenal. saying that, i'm also greatly relieved that you're out and doing better.

    so's you know, schizophrenics sometimes self medicate to alleviate the problems stemming from the hallucinations. sometimes people become schizophrenic (it's triggered somehow) because of the drugs they're addicted to. as fun as it is the diagnostic term is even more fun, "comorbid". yeah. leap for joy with that one.

    keep taking care of yourself. you are cared about.

  5. That's interesting and it raises a few questions, I think:
    -Are there differences in schizophrenia care between CA and AL? Does CA have more care-in-the-community kinda support or what?
    -Are crack users with mental health problems in CA maybe more likely to be in the prison system than the hospital system? Given CA's astonishing rate of incarceration this seems likely.

    Best of luck with those lists, and with your continuing recovery. Here's something that helped me out a long while ago; (this is a great community if you ever need a safe place to vent about the past, fyi. These guys are serious about 'safe space' in a way that NOWHERE ELSE I know on the internet is.)

  6. I feel for you, Heidi. My mom died of cancer 3 months before I turned 33. My father was already dead, and I felt like an orphan. I resented friends my age who had parents. I felt lost--like no one could understand me. Your situation is a bit similar to mine, down to the hospitalizations and the abusive childhood.

    I'm 40 now, and I'm here to tell you that you WILL get better, you will feel whole and at peace. Cry when you want to cry--it's not a weakness, it's a release. You are brave for getting help. You are worth it. The world is a better place because you are here.