7.10.2008

the rest of the story

First off, I want to say that I feel totally lame for even writing all this, as if I am some sort of martyr or something. so please, if you comment, don't tell me how horrible it all sounds because it really wasn't as bad as it sounds.

I don't feel as overwhelmed as I did when I posted last. in fact, I'm kind of indifferent. but I guess for posterity, and because I know some of you might be at least a little interested, I am setting out to give a timeline of my stay at horsham clinic.

I arrived with jarrett around 5pm ish, I think. I think he told them who I was, and I was asked for some info, I think. I remember having to go into this sun porch kind of thing to smoke cigarettes. I cried most of the time. I was allowed one bag and so I stuffed my cdnow messenger bag full of stuff I thought I'd need. time passed, people came and went in the large waiting room (there was a fuzzy tv, thankfully) and eventually I told jarrett to go home because he had been there so long and I felt bad. and I felt worse because he took me up on it. I was scared because as the night wore on, more freaks started to come in. like a dude in a hospital gown with cuts on every visible part of his body except his face. cutter cuts. how did he get there? they had ambulances coming in with people but they had a special door.

shortly after midnight, (7ish hours later), I was seen by an intake doctor. I had my picture taken and my history taken, none of which I remember, but which I now have as part of my documentation I took home with me. I was escorted, I guess, to the ward where I'd be staying. I remember the nurse saying that I was going to be in the dual diagnosis ward because they had no beds available in the psych section. it took me a while to learn what dual diagnosis is - it's part crazies, part rehab. mostly rehab. so alot of detoxing addicts. most there against their will.

I was strip searched and had blood drawn. I was wearing drawstring pants - the drawstring was sewn in the back so that it wouldn't come out. it had to be cut - no strings, shoelaces, belts. I was given these weird velcro strips to hold my pants up. they went through my bag and took out all of my makeup except my mascara (eyeliner was pointy) and confiscated my razor, my wallet, my jewelry, a few items of clothing that weren't allowed (no short shorts - and my shorts aren't too short, but it was nothing even remotely provocative "because of the offenders", and nothing that could easily be used to commit suicide) and my lighter. probably a good idea anyways given what I had done. and they did finally re-dress my burns.

I was taken to my room, which I shared with 3 other women. I had a dorm sized bed, a wardrobe, and a nightstand. the wardrobe had no doors. there also was a non-lockable bathroom. I was told to keep my cigarettes and my coins under my pillow while I sleep because there were many thefts. I was given medicine - later I found out it was klonopin - and told to go to sleep.

I spent about 36 more hours in that unit before I was moved and it was horrible. they have daily blood tests even for the people not there for drugs. you had to check in in the morning and the evening so they could make sure you didn't escape or whatever (the doors are locked so I don't know how they figured you'd leave, but whatever.) their group sessions were scary. everyone goes to group and gets a paper to fill out (with a marker or crayon, no pencils or pens) that's sort of like a survey. on a scale of 1 to 10, how depressed do you feel? how hopeful do you feel? how anxious do you feel? how suicidal do you feel? how homicidal do you feel? then some fill in the blank questions like what is the thing that is making you the most anxious? do you feel better today than yesterday or worse? then you basically go around and each give your stats. the groups there were like 15 people so it took forever and you had group twice a day. and people did have something besides a 1 on the homicidal scale. then you got released to either go hang out in the common room or go outside and smoke (there is a lineup outside to get a light from the nurse who held the lighter) and the people that had the homicidal thoughts were mostly the ones going around and bullying people into giving them cigarettes. I lost about a pack of them while there. luckily, jarrett had brought me a carton as well as $20 in quarters for the payphone. (yes, I slept on rolls of quarters under my pillow and carried them around with me during the day.)

the third day I was there, I got moved to the psych building. it was so much calmer. I was still in the same kind of room with 2 other women. one was a long haired hippie looking woman in her 40s and one was a younger black woman with a Jamaican accent who brought no clothes and slept without a blanket, just in her jeans and red fleece, and barely got out of bed. she did tell me that she had no family here and few friends, that her family were back home wherever she was from, that they would disown her, and that she moved here to work for Merck (a big pharmaceutical firm in our area.) oh and the hippie lady didn't have alot of clothes to wear so she slept naked (which seemed odd because of the modesty rules) and she totally had a big tattoo of a butterfly on her cooter.

wakeup calls in the morning were fairly optional. everything was fairly optional, except meds. they could be forced on you. things worked on a restrictions basis. if you didn't go to group or get up on time, or showed any signs of trying to get better, you were on meal restrictions and outing restrictions and you didn't get to pick your food or go to the cafeteria at the main house (which required going outside). you got whatever food they delivered. you weren't eligible to get off restrictions till your 3rd day. I got off restrictions easily, I totally did whatever they wanted. I wanted to leave so badly. so I got to walk, escorted, up to the main house. I saw lots of other patients including lots and lots of kids. little kids. 6 and 7 year olds all the way up to teenagers. I asked the nurse how the hell 6 year olds were there and she said that they are very disturbed. she said she once had a 6 year old who had tried to commit suicide come in, get released, and eventually jumped out of a window and succeeded where he failed before. I have no answers for you if you ask how that can happen. it was haunting.

our group sessions were much calmer than the ones in the dual diagnosis. and the people were more friendly and I didn't have to sleep with my quarters. (I did find, however, that there was at least one pair of pants and a pair of underwear that were stolen from me but I don't know from which unit.) we still had to rate ourselves but no one was homicidal. and it was smaller and mostly women. I befriended the hippie lady and one other woman, we would hang out together as much as we were allowed. (they discouraged cliques, which I think is smart.) the hippie woman told me she occasionally had seizures but that they had been getting worse and more often. by the time I left, she had them about once every half hour. she'd just start vibrating with her eyes staring at you for like a minute then just keep talking. she often wanted me to hold her hand and I did but it really freaked me out.

I was going to have visitors so I wanted to try to clean up a little. I wanted to shave my armpits and legs to feel more human. I hadn't shaved in like a week at that point, since before any of this had happened. I had to sign up for a chaperone and she had to stand outside the shower while I used a cheap disposable razor in the time I was alloted to shave. I had to have the curtain open so that she could see me doing my legs.

my mom, my sister, my dad, brett, sean, and jarrett visited me. I was never so happy to see people in my whole life.

this whole time, I was totally drugged up. I was on klonopin every night and xanax every day. they took me off the lexapro I was on cold turkey which is probably why I wasn't doing so well, and they started me immediately on zoloft. so I had the withdrawal from one and the initial side effects from the other. plus the anti psychotics. you saw the "doctor" every other day if you could, at least every 3rd day (I wasn't even there that long, it was the 6th day that I went home) and he was the only one who could allow you to go home. the first time I saw him was for about 5 minutes when he asked me if I felt better, and I was so sluggish that I don't remember what I said. by the 5th day, I had asked the nurses over and over and over to see if I could get time with him, and my mom was calling too to get me out. finally I saw him and he said I seemed better and my insurance company was wondering why I was still there and might not pay so I was let out. jarrett and my mom picked me up.

it wasn't the worst thing in the world to happen and people have had much, much, much worse experiences than I had. but this was something so outside of my comfort zone and so outside of my real life that it really had a profound effect on me. my therapist (you couldn't leave until you secured an appointment with an approved therapist) said that she felt I had post traumatic stress syndrome, which I think is bull pucky, but I do think it really, really affected me, and for a long time afterwards. a long time after people wanted to hear about it. (btw, I no longer see that therapist and my therapist today is 10x better.)

there are certain parts that are really vivid - the nurses yelling "smoke break!!" and the weird trays that they used for food - and some I only just remembered now in writing all of this. I'm glad it's over and I never, ever want to be in that position again. luckily I can't, really, because in order to get more approved therapy visits from my insurance company, I had to trade in my covered inpatient days. ha. love it.

8 validations:

lonna said...

Wow. This is so different than my experience was. But I was in an adolescent unit in a hospital. We only had 12 beds, and addicts weren't part of my experience. My experience actually made me feel really strong. These other kids were really sweet, but really damaged. I had no idea what kind of future they were going to have and that really made me believe in myself. It sounds horrible, but it's true. I was 17 and had to be watched showering and going to the bathroom. I was allowed no privacy at all due to suicide watch. I actually got huge praise because the nurses forget to take my glasses one night and I turned them in myself. They were just not used to that. So sad. To me the worst part is that some people spend way too much time in these situations and I don't know how that helps them. It just keeps them disconnected, especially if they are on heavy drugs.

NME said...

Surreal. I try to picture you while reading this and I just can't do it. I can't even imagine how bizarre it felt to go through it and how it must feel to think back on it.
I'm so sorry I wasn't here.

MC said...

During school, I found that there were some great units that really did a lot to help people and some not-so-great that didn't really do much. I am sorry that your experience does not sound like it was with one of the better ones. But you sound like you are doing much better now...and I am glad that you seem to have a therapist you like!

Keep writing...I think about you often!

Kathryn said...

It seems like you have a really big and loving support system through your friends and family. That makes me happy. You can count me in that group as well.

Missuz J said...

All I can come up with is "fuck dude."

So much for an insightful comment from me.

Jen said...

Wow, what an ordeal! I am glad you made it through to the other side okay. Here cheering for you as always...

A said...

Hey there. I stumbled upon your post recounting your experience at the Horsham Clinic. I was searching for other people who had been a patient there. I spent a few days there earlier this month, and I'd be happy to share my experience with you if you're interested. I'm male, married, 37 years old, living in Ambler, not too far from you. Let me know via email if you'd like to compare notes about the Clinic.

A said...

forgot to add my email:
crb1128@gmail.com