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Welcome to the Psych Ward

Posted Nov 11 2009 10:03pm

If you’ve never walked into a Psychiatric Hospital in a full blown Bipolar Mixed Mood, it is very hard to understand what it feels or looks like.  So to promote understanding,  I’m sharing with you the day I went to the psych ward in April 2009.

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”

- Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms

“No matter what happens, don’t let them keep me here.”  I waited until the counselor left the room and with the heavy thud of the door I turned to look at my husband, “seriously, I’ve seen The Snake Pit, don’t let them lock me up.”

“Relax, I won’t let them keep you,” he said, opening the book he brought to pass the time.

Anticipating the need for an escape, my eyes darted around the tiny box of a room…wall, wall, door, wall…trapped.  “Big mouth,” I muttered to myself, “had to tell them you were trying to crash your car…Everyday…FOR THE LAST THREE WEEKS.  No wonder they think you’re crazy.”

“Not crazy, just…” James, my husband of thirteen years, searched for a word less frightening than the truth.

“Suicidal.  Yes, I know and that’s so much better than crazy.”  I sank back into the chair, eyeing the door while my legs began the dance of the impatient; up and down, side to side, crossed to the left, crossed to the right, bounce, bounce, bounce. Not looking up from his book, James gently placed his hand on my left knee attempting to stop the inferno being stoked inside me.   When the counselor returned my entire body went still.

“Ok,” she began talking to my husband, in a too happy sing songy voice, “I’ve spoken with the Doctor and we’d really like to admit her.” Why isn’t she looking at me or for that matter talking to me?  She thinks I’m too out of it, too lost, too…broken to understand.

“Hey, I’m not…” I started as James casually pressed his palm firmly into my thigh.

“Is there any other option?” he asked.

“Well, I can see if we can get her into see a Psychiatrist as quickly as possible but it would be better if we could start her on the medication tonight.”

“I’m not staying,” I blurted, “so find me a Shrink and I’m outta here.”  James gave me a look that clearly said – “Way to sound in control, crazy girl.”

“It’s not quite that easy.  I’ll have to locate someone who takes your insurance and has an opening within a day or so.”  Obviously this plan of action required too much work on her part but since I wasn’t staying she needed to get moving on those calls.  I stared her down with my best ‘I am perfectly sane and in charge’ glare.  She surrendered.

“Wait here.”

“Wait here?” I bolted up, “really? Where else would we go?” I shouted at the closed door, arms waiving in the air.  “I’m sure we’re locked in.” I went for the door knob, not locked, hmmm.  “Well, did you see the guard at the front door?” I was becoming hysterical, “I’m sure he’s not letting anyone out of here without a fight. Does North Carolina have a 5150?”  I continued rambling off questions at an incomprehensible speed.  Fortunately, James has known me long enough to decipher my rantings from actual questions and only answered the important one.

“I think if they had a 5150 the Counselor would have told us you were staying, no options.”

“Yeah, but….”

“Hey, breathe.  It’ll be fine.  They’ll find a Psychiatrist, you’ll get an appointment, we’ll go home and you’ll get a good night’s sleep.”


“Sorry, no buts just breathe.”

So we sat and I took long, deep, three part breaths, thank God for Yoga.  As the air in the room began to decompress so did I.  When the counselor finally returned, forty-five minutes later, I did in fact have an appointment with a Psychiatrist within the required forty-eight hours.  I was released into my husband’s care with his signed promise that if I got worse he would return me to the hospital.  I stated that I would not kill myself before I saw the doctor.  Fair enough…just let me go.

Once I was safe at home, curled in my bed, my twisted brain began to roam…how the hell did I get to this point?  My thoughts went back to the end of February, the morning of the lay-offs and the day that eventually brought me to this fresh new hell.  Ugh, there’s nothing like rehashing the past and trying to make sense of things that never made sense in the first place.


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