Impressions at the Psych Hospital - Part II
September 19, 2022 Writings from the Nuthouse, Redux (From 9/6/2022 notes)
It's amazing what is most important in a psych hospital. First and foremost, mealtime. Second, coffee in the morning. With cream. Next, playing cards. Right up there with cards, coloring with markers that aren’t dried out. I’m not sure where this one goes, but it’s pretty high on my list: persuading the group to watch Channel 9 instead of cartoons. (I suffered through at least an hour of the Smurfs this morning.)
When I saw the psychiatrist today, I told him some of the things Patty, the “counselor”, has done to demean patients. She plays mind games with the mentally ill. Who does that? She’s really horrible awful I can’t think of enough bad words to describe that woman. She’ll get her own blog post, but it will be a while. She scarred me up pretty bad. Hard to revisit that stuff. The pain is absolutely visceral, like being mauled by a wild animal.
“You’re not the only one that feels as you do about Patty," he said smiling kindly. "But you’ve met these people all your life."
“Yes, but I didn’t think I’d meet them all in one person!” I interjected. He laughed.
“Think of it like this. You can’t get out of the dog park, but you don’t have to step in the shit.”
“That’s good. I’ll have a think on that.”
“Do you think Patty has power over you?”
“Yes, I do. And I’m afraid.”
“Are you paranoid?”
“Is being fearful of what Patty might do to prevent me from being discharged, is that being paranoid?”
“I don’t know. You tell me.”
“No, I don’t think so. I think it’s a legitimate concern. But I also know you’re the one that makes the decision.”
“Correct. The decision rests with me.”
I’ll be out today or tomorrow at the latest. I’ll be back with mom soon. I feel a tide of anxiety roll in and I’m frightened. Maybe it will be different going forward. Maybe my reactions will be appropriate, even. Maybe I’ll be more resilient. I know I will at first. Will the verbal abuse wear me down again? If it does, will I even see how worn down I’ve become?
I cannot deny I’m afraid this will happen again. I never expected it to happen again this time. Is there any guarantee moving forward I will be even? No. However, the solution is not an extended stay in a psych hospital. I’m well able to live on my own and manage my own life. I say that so confidently. It is true. But that doesn’t mean I’ll successfully keep the anxiety and depression at bay.
I also, apparently, cannot accurately assess the degree of depression and thus the level of danger my state of mind holds. I had no clear understanding of how close I was to self-harming. I just didn’t know I’d fallen so far. I was mired in it. I had lost all objectivity. And I didn’t have enough self-awareness left to recognize I wasn’t thinking straight. I lost my grounding and I simply didn’t realize.
Apparently, I downplay how sick I am. I don’t do it purposely. But no one wants to hear how bad it all is. They may ask, but I don’t want to go there. I’m afraid I’ll wear out my friends. I feel I have worn them out. But they stay by me. I’m not sure why. Is it because I work so hard to hide my sickness, and I’m so effective they don’t always see it? Maybe. I know I’m so good at hiding it I hide it from myself. I’m very accomplished at self-deceit. I feel nauseous just saying that. It’s quite terrifying.
I know, now, when I don’t give the dark enough recognition, it creeps up behind me and takes me down hard. This time, it wasn’t a slow steady obvious decent. But it probably never is with me. There is nothing slow and steady about my sickness. With the rapid cycling, I simply cannot accurately assess where I’m at. I can go from even to low in just a days’ time, even an hours’ time. There are warning signs. I see them sometimes, heed them, attempt to address them. But I don’t always see them.
I fear this illness will always be much bigger than my understanding of it and my ability to contain and manage it. The sick in me is far more powerful than I want to acknowledge.
Photo by Brandon Holmes on Unsplash