Suddenly, I was back there. That place, both a saving grace and a hell. I was walking down the hall. Bare concrete block walls. Gray, solemn, just like the people that dwelled inside. Doorways on both sides leading to rooms with aging office waiting room furniture that was once comfortable but now forlorn like their occupants. I was one of them again. An empty void, emaciated, internally crying for help. Tempered glass and a counter to my left held those that treated us. Their faces ranged from a gentle smile to a stare as if asking, “What is this person doing? Am I safe?” Slowly, I walked toward the end of the hallway where a window was. Large, a glimpse to the outside world. If only it was not right across the street from a cemetery.
My eyes were welling up with tears.
Why was I back here? There was no reason to be. I have been doing well mentally and emotionally. If this was the case, why was I, without warning, plunged into the short term psychiatric ward once again? I was dreaming and being triggered. Being both on the outside looking in and on the inside dying to get out.
I have a love-hate relationship with the hospital’s psych ward. When I was first there over ten years ago, I wondered why I was there. I never thought I was experiencing the same problems as the other residents at the time. I thought I was normal. Ha, ha, good one Steph! When I went back over two years ago, I begged for it. I know being there would help me.
There are things I would rather forget about the hospital aside from the bare walls and gloomy atmosphere:
The bed checks every 15 minutes… even if I was deep asleep, like clockwork I was awakened to a flashlight shining into the small glass panel in the door.
The psychiatrists… although there to help, none of them appeared like they cared to help you. I spent all of five minutes a week day (they did not work on weekends or holidays) talking with them while their eyes looked elsewhere as if saying “You’re wasting my time.”
The wake-up time and routine… it was a bit rough waking up at 7am with all the medications I was given and then to go through the process of waiting in line to get weighed and our blood pressure taken.
Lack of outdoor time… depending on your mental and physical state that day, you may be allowed to go for a short walk circumnavigating the hospital building viewing the nearby cemetery and emergency room.
But, where there is bad, there is also good. As I mentioned, I knew I needed to be hospitalized again. For some reason, I felt safe there. I was only responsible for myself. I could focus on my much-needed self-care and work on getting better even if it took a psychotic break to get me there. I knew I would get the medications necessary to sedate me, stop my brain from its incessant thinking… you’re worthless, helpless, not worthy of love. These medications would also stop my hysterical, borderline delusional, thoughts… take that screw, just jam it in your head, who cares if it kills you?!
Although the psychiatrists were lacking in care, there were some nurses that were a pleasant gift. They would talk with you about your life focusing in on your face, treating you like a human being. They remembered things you told them and asked you about it days later. They were concerned about your care. Sometimes they even sat and watched TV with us.
Aside from two very special nurses (1 each hospitalization), I made connections with fellow residents. We talked about our experiences, gave each other advice, was there as a person who knew what it felt like. I still, from time to time, communicate with my last roommate.
And yet, this dream triggered me. I awoke with rapid breaths, scared, worried, panicked. What did it all mean and why was it affecting me so badly? I was somber the whole day. Was this a prelude of another hospitalization to come? Because of my Anxiety diagnosis, of course, here I am jumping to the worst conclusion instead of calmly thinking this through. And if it is a premonition, why am I so fearful? The hospital helped me. Ultimately, I think I will have to consult my therapist on this.