They admitted me to the psych ward around 3:00p.m. I went in under the pretense that they were going to give me something to make me sleep. That’s all I wanted to do. I’d been awake for eight days. I didn’t really make the leap that they’d keep me locked in for two weeks.
Surprisingly, they didn’t give me anything right away. I so wanted sleeping pills. It took me about an hour to realize that they weren’t going to give me sleep medication until night time, so my sleep patterns wouldn’t be off kilter. If they would have put me to sleep at 3:30 in the afternoon, there was a chance I’d be awake very early in the morning. At 9:00 pm, I received a shot of meds, including lithium and Mellaril. The lithium was a major mood stabilizer, and the Mellaril was an anti-psychotic. I fell right to sleep.
I was awakened about 8:00a.m. the next day. Time to get up, get showered and dressed and go to breakfast. Another surprise - I couldn’t take a shower by myself. A nurse had to accompany me as I cleaned myself. She sat in the steamy bathroom, while I soaped up and rinsed off. (Everyone there, including me, was on a “suicide watch.”)
After I dressed in some clothes my mother had packed for me, I went into the breakfast room. But first, they had to engage in what would become a daily ritual - the weigh-in, the pulse-taking experience and the blood pressure check.
A male nurse performed this task, but the nurse was about 400 pounds. It should have been I who took his weight, pulse and blood pressure.
Breakfast was eggs and soggy bacon and cold toast.
At the table with me was a teenager who cut herself with razors. She had scars all over her arms. There was also an older woman who was about 65. She was complaining that she needed a smoke. I kept to myself and ate quietly.
After breakfast came a meeting with my psychiatrist. It was then that he told me that I had bipolar illness. This surprised me. I knew I had to have something, but bipolar illness seemed very alien. Other people got that, not me.
Then, came group therapy. It was led by a psychiatric nurse who spoke very loudly, as if our malady was deafness, not insanity.