I promise I will get to the point of this post but first if you haven't been following the story please read Post 1, Post 2 and Post 3 first. I feel like you will better understand how this came to be and why.
In the movie Momento the main character has to piece together what has occurred through notes and tattoos because his memory restarts every so many minutes. You can experience a lot in 9 days. And if your memory fades or simply never registers that 9 days of your life then you are left to piece together your existence. It's a surreal to know you were somewhere, living, breathing and doing, but have little memory of it.
Putting the puzzle pieces of my hospital stay together took me months. Some memories came back to me slowly, others I had to gather from my husband, from other visitors and those that were inpatient at the same time I was.
So I will write what I remember and what I was told. This is really as accurate as I can get.
Coming out of a Haldol fog is much like waking up after the worst night of drinking ever. I don't mean, I had 3 screw drivers and a long island and passed out. I mean frat party drinking-- beer bongs, mixed with keg stands, mixed with a fifth of Jack Daniels...and then,puking your guts up and washing the puke out of your mouth with a pitcher of beer. THAT kind of drunk. And the worse kind of way to wake up from Haldol hangover is a sedative tolerant, manic, smoker roommate.
As I emerge from my fog and open my eyes to the bright florescent lights, I see someone standing over me. The person says yells, "Do you have a cigarette?!!" " Cause dude, I just need to smoke. Or drink..no smoke." "If you have one I'm going to find it, so just give it up NOW!"
If I could have jumped out of bed, I would've. I can't move and I can't speak well and this girl is going to cavity search me for a Marlboro light. I would've peed the bed if I could've felt my bladder.
I start to mumble something about finding someone to help me and she starts rambling on about how I'm her roommate, and she hopes we can be friends and she doesn't know if we're going to get to go upstairs today or if she's going to end up back at that group home. And how the stupid nicotine patch they gave her wasn't working, but she thinks she knows some people who can sneak some in through the laundry system. Unless of course I have one....
I tried putting my hands up over my ears to drown her out but I couldn't get them to go where I needed them to. She wouldn't stop talking. I didn't know what she was talking about or what was happening, or where the hell I was. Eventually a nurse caught wind of what was happening and moved her away to the other room.
While the nurse rid me of manic mary, she brought with her another dose of Haldol, this time in pill form. I didn't want to take it. I had to answer questions: No, I didn't know where I was, no I don't know what day it is and yeah, we have some president but I can't think of his name right now. She gave me a choice--Haldol the easy way or the hard way. I swallowed the pill.
Haldol makes you tremor pretty severely. When I started shaking I immediately panicked, Holy shit. I'm being poisoned, they extracted the information they needed from me and now they are going to kill me. I started pacing the tiny corridor muttering over and over that I had to get to a phone and warn people, but I didn't know what I needed to warn them about. Eventually, the nurse gave me a shot of Cogentin to stop the shaking and the Haldol kicked in and I fell asleep.
The area of the hospital I was in was sort of "holding area" for the psych ward. Patients stay there until they can get moved upstairs either because the beds are full or they are not in a state to be upstairs. I fell into both categories.
All there was in this holding area was a series of rooms with really thick mattresses on the floor and no doors or curtains on the rooms. Outside the rooms was a nurse station completely enclosed in plexiglass from desktop to ceiling. Behind a locked door was a very small room with a few chairs, some old magazines and a TV.
I remember the nurse asking me questions, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were. I do remember being very scared and telling myself not to listen because if I paid attention to what she was saying they could use it for extraction later. Obviously, I was still not completely in the right frame of mind.
Eventually, they must have determined I was no longer a direct threat to anyone and I was sent upstairs to the psych ward. The first couple days are blurry. I know I sat on the couch quite a bit in front of the TV, but I don't really think I was watching it. If I wasn't doing that I was sleeping because of the Haldol and was lucky to be one of the few without a roommate. I was dragged to my meals which I didn't eat. I tried to get the fork in my hand and my hand to the food and the food to my mouth but it was just too complex.
I know my husband came to visit me and we met with the Psychiatrist that first night. I don't remember what was discussed. My husband told me the Dr.'s initial reaction after speaking with my primary psychiatrist is that I obviously was experiencing psychosis and probably still was. He was unsure however, what was causing it. If I hadn't had postpartum depression he would've diagnosed me Bipolar. He said he was going to take me off Haldol tomorrow and put me on Risperdal, another antipsychotic. I was going to stay on Seroquel and he wanted to use Topomax as a mood stabilizer and taper off the Lexapro. It was going to be rough but they could give me some meds to help with the withdrawal symptoms if I needed.
Once I started the Risperdal I felt a little less sedated and was able to go to the group therapies and other occupational therapies..including my least favorite, Arts and crafts. I hate crafts and even in the best of circumstances. I am rubbish at doing them. Because of these crafty sessions, and the herding of people from one activity to another with free choice being the highlight of the day I started devising ways to get out of the activities; stomach pains, blurry vision, or just plain sleeping with my head on my arms down on the table.
The days were long and tiring. I looked forward to visits from my husband and was ecstatic when Sweet Pea came and brought me Candy. Which of course was confiscated to be save for snack time. And I almost got sporked (as in the utensil) by a schizophrenic over my Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I also looked forward to being able to wear real clothes again. It helped me feel just a tiny bit more normal.
The dynamics of the hospital was interesting. People came and went pretty quickly so it was hard to get to know them very well. But I made a few really good friends who have been my saviors.
One of the after group activities was coloring and TV watching. A big group would sit around and color in these patterns call Mendalas. Apparently it was supposed to be soothing, but I personally found it maddening. I didn't know where to start, I didn't know what color to choose, I didn't know which colors to put where to make it look good. I remember sitting at the table staring at this chaotic piece of paper and the reality of what was happening hit me.
I was coloring with markers and crayons in a psych ward.
I wasn't allowed to have shoes.
I couldn't have my phone.
I couldn't watch TV without fighting with the guy who was watching static.
I didn't belong here, I couldn't. How did I belong with people who talk to chairs, who pace the hallways with talking to dead people and get electro-convulsant therapy. This can't be right. I am educated, I had a job, I have a family, I have a nice home...no, this can't be right. And my baby..what have I done to him because of this. My heart broke and then for him. He deserved so much better, so much more than me. I broke down sobbing and I didn't stop for an hour when the Ativan finally kicked in.
9 days after my psychotic break I was allowed to return home. I was to finish the intensive outpatient program I had started just weeks before I went in to the hospital. They initially didn't want me to go because I would be alone at home for too long while my husband was at work. They allowed this because my husband promised to remain home for a few more weeks so I could go.
I loved my therapist there, I loved the people in my groups ( I am still friends with almost all of them to this day) and I loved my Dr. For me it was too upsetting to go back anywhere else. So they said okay as long as I went to the all day partial hospitalization program for 5-6 weeks when I was done.
I was finally able to unlock my life from the hospital locker. But I knew that I would never be the same person because of this. I carried shame out of that hospital and almost more hopelessness than when I went in.
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Friday, July 30, 2010 at 8:59AM