Let me start by saying I did not think for one second they were going to actually admit me to the Psych Department. I after all was not anxious or depressed–I had something medically wrong with me. I hoped they would only because I would be in the best hospital in the state. Once they saw that I was clearly sick they would transfer me to the correct floor.
Waiting in the lobby was the first indication I may actually need help. They have a med cart in the lobby in case you need meds. A med cart!!! People were actually in line with little cups waiting for their psychiatric drugs! This seemed bizarre to me. The old me would never have needed meds to sit in a lobby…but guess who was in that line within an hour of being there…this girl!
The hardest part about being admitted to the Psych Department was saying goodbye to Todd. He has always been my rock, but, these last four months, I couldn’t function unless he was with me. They put me in a wheelchair and had me say my goodbyes to Todd. He leaned over to kiss goodbye this drugged, wheelchaired, fragile person his wife had become. He said, “Just get better, Honey. Don’t worry about anything else.” Let’s just say I cried hard as they wheeled me away, out of his sight. How was I going to do this without my person?
Luckily it was three in the morning when I was admitted. Everyone was in bed. I was scared to death. I pictured people walking down the hallway drooling on themselves or screaming obscenities. I guess I have watched a few too many movies.
The nurse gave me the tour. It was one giant hallway with a nurses’ station, living room area, and a kitchen. The kitchen was fully stocked with drinks and food, including ice cream. This in and of itself made me happy. That is if I could find the will to eat it. The living room had books, board games, and a TV. She explained that they would give me a flip phone every morning at 8:00 and I would have to turn it back in by 10:00 each night. As they walked me to my room they explained that there were no TVs in our rooms or call lights…that this was not a hospital in that way. Anything that promoted us staying in our rooms was a no-no. She explained I would get my schedule every morning that would explain my daily activities. I thought to myself, “Activities? Are you sure this is not a prison?”
My room was at the very end of the hall. I was thankful to see I didn’t have a roommate. I woke the next morning to the nurse saying I would see the doctors today as she placed my schedule on the table. The list had different group activities with meals scheduled in between. I set it back down, rolled over in bed, and went back to sleep. It wasn’t long before the nurse was in my room to ask if I wanted breakfast. All I could do was cry. She said, “Just this once you can eat in your room.” She brought my food in and set it on the table. I didn’t touch it. Visiting hours started at 6:00 p.m. on the weekdays, and I wanted to just sit and sulk until Todd could get there. This did not fly however, and every time meals were provided I was encouraged to go to the dining room and eat with everyone else. I didn’t leave for one meal.
Then I remembered that we got phones. I walked down to the nurses’ station to get mine. I gazed into each room as I walked by. People walking down the hallway would smile at me. I grabbed my phone and headed straight back to my room so I could call Todd. The doctors ended up not being able to see me until the evening of the next day. So I sat and waited in my room for Todd.
When he arrived I was so happy. For some reason I would always cry and shake uncontrollably when he got there. The relief that washed over me as soon as he arrived was all consuming. I think at that point I was surprised I had not driven him away yet. He went down to the living room and brought back UNO. So we sat there and played for hours. The closer it got to the end of visiting hours, the more anxious I became. I would cry and hold Todd, not wanting him to go.
The hospital is big on pushing meds, and they asked me several times if I had wanted something for sleep. I decided I would. Todd and I developed a ritual that first night. I get scared taking new meds, and I was even more terrified for him to leave. So a half hour before he would go, I would take a sleeping pill and get ready for bed, and he would sit and talk to me while I laid down. He told me to watch from my window and I would see him drive away. It took some time for him to get out of the hospital, to his car, and to the intersection in front of my window. I would stare out, waiting anxiously to see his truck. He would flash his lights and wave as he drove by and I would watch until I could no longer see his taillights. I loved him so much in those moments.
That night I woke from the middle of a dead sleep to a pounding heart, almost like someone had injected adrenaline into my heart, like in the movie “Pulp Fiction.” I had never in my life experienced anything like this. I scoured the room–no call lights and the nurses’ station was down this gigantic hallway. I was crippled by fear…afraid to move. I thought I was having a heart attack. Well, I would be damned if I was going to die in this room alone.
It took everything I had to get to my door. By this time I was sweating something fierce, like I had run a marathon. Once I got there I saw the nurse and I yelled for help. She quickly got me to my bed. All I kept saying was, “Something is wrong. Something is really wrong.” They came in with a monitor for my vitals. My heart was racing 180 beats per minute! I was terrified. I started to think of Todd and Crue.
She said, “Did you have a bad dream?”
I said, “No I was just sleeping, and woke up like this! I’m telling you I’m sick!” I knew something was wrong and these nurses were moving as if I was just panicking. I yelled, “Call my husband! Call my husband right now!”
She said, “Stop, take a breath, and calm down.”
I said, “Just give me something to calm my heart down.”
She said, “I will give you something when you calm down.”
One of the nurses was this young, spunky thing named Alba. She looked at me and said, “You got this! You have been through way worse then this, Honey. I’ve read your chart. Just catch your breath and kick this thing’s ass.”
I thought, “OK, calm down. Breathe. Your heart would beat this fast if you were running. You are not having a heart attack.” As I started to breathe slower, I tried to think positively. I pictured Todd and Crue and Nash. My heart rate lowered to 140, then 100.
Alba was my own personal cheerleader. She said, “You got this girl! You’re doing amazing!”
Once I got it down to 80 on my own, they gave me medication and I cried myself back to sleep. I woke up crying as I relived the night before. I went to the nurses’ station to get my phone so I could call Todd and tell him what happened. I was ready to leave this place.
When I got to the nurses, Alba hadn’t left yet. She smiled at me and said, “You did great last night. It’s not often we see people bring their heart rate down like that. If you work this program, it will help you. You’re one strong woman.”
I wanted to cry. I still felt misunderstood. I still felt as if I was sick. No program was going to make me better. I was so thankful for her though. Regardless of my health issues, she motivated me to stop being such a baby. Yes, this is horrible, but it could be so much worse. It was time to gain some perspective on my situation.