Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day One

This place smells funny. Like industrial-strength cleaner, which is funny because it doesn't look like it's been cleaned any time recently. It's vaguely dingy, and the fluorescent lighting isn't doing anyone any favors.

Checking yourself into a mental hospital is an odd experience. You keep eyeing everyone around you, wondering who is crazy and who is sane. I look like one of the sane ones. The real crazies are easily distinguishable, but it's the sleepers that you never know about. They could swing at any second. Some of them look totally normal, until they open their mouths. The shit these people say...

There's a little woman who looks like my husband's abuelita. I listened to her talk for twenty minutes about how she can't come when she masturbates, and how sexual incompatibility was the only problem she had with her husband. And that even though she was bathing regularly, he still didn't want to do her. Her mumbling was so bad, I almost couldn't understand her.

The smell of stale coffee permeates the air here. It's like the bottom dregs of a diner coffeepot, the kind that no one ever drinks, and no one ever cleans. For some reason, though, the nurses' station smells like urine. Not terribly strong, just strong enough to be recognizable.

Putting twenty women in a locked ward is never a good idea. The bitchfights, the tension, the general cattiness of it all is unreal. There have been two fights since I got here. One about a radio, one about a noise someone made with her nose. Both had to be broken up by staff in scrubs. I don't fit in with these women. Sure, I have anger issues, but I would never assault another woman over something so trivial. There's a whole other world down here. It's scary.

A bipolar woman shuffles down the hallway, scuffing her feet into the commercial carpeting. Three minutes later, she scuffs back the way she came. The other ladies call this the "Seroquel shuffle." This chick is so stoned she said hello to me four times before she remembered she'd already met me. She writes random Bible quotes on our dry erase board, and I caught her singing hymns into the phone earlier. She's here because she pulled a knife on her (also bipolar) husband.

I don't really know how I got here. Last Monday at work I hit the wall. I went to the office after school and took a personal day for Tuesday. Tuesday night I had a breakdown - something trivial with the kids set me off, kicking things across the room, throwing anything I could get my hands on, screaming at the girls. I called my husband at work - no answer. I called him 17 times - no answer. Frantic, I called my mother in tears. I was barely coherent as I told her what was going on. She promised to come the next morning - the next day I called the hospital. I kept thinking how much simpler it would be if I wasn't here anymore, if I didn't have to do this anymore. I finally realized that I don't want to live like this anymore. It's not that I don't want to live, it's that I don't want to live *like this*. But somehow, in conversations with my husband and the doctors, the fact came out that I had *contemplated* suicide. Not planned. Not attempted. Just thought about it. And apparently, that's a federal offense, because here I am under lock and key, on "15 mintue watch," whatever that means, and unable to get out. If I try to check myself out before I see the doctor, they put me on a 96-hour hold - standard liability practice for people with "suicidal ideation." I want to go home. These bitches are *crazy*. I'm not like that. Am I?

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