Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 3

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Post Suicide Attempt: Prologue – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/post-suicide-attempt-prologue/

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 1 – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/post-suicide-attempt-chapter-1/

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 2 – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/post-suicide-attempt-chapter-2/

When I was transferred to the unit in the psych hospital that had lower security, I was given a tour by one of the nurses.  I was a little afraid because I had no idea what to expect.  But the fear and hesitation I felt was nothing compared to where I was before.  This unit was much nicer.  There were sofas, the patients were allowed to open the windows and change the tv channels themselves, there was art on the walls, and I got my first glimpse of sunlight in days.

I was taken to what would be my room, where I was introduced to my roommate.  She was my age, and very friendly.  I was also introduced to another patient who showed me all of the ropes and made sure I had someone to sit with at dinner.  I was also quickly introduced to some other patients, but I didn’t really get to know them until later.

My nurse also explained “privileges” to me.  There were different levels of privileges.  The lowest was on-unit privileges, which meant that you were not allowed to leave the unit except to go to classes.  Next up were in-house privileges, which meant that you could go anywhere you wanted inside the hospital as long as you signed out and were back every hour to confirm that you hadn’t run away.  After that you got grounds privileges, which meant that you could go anywhere on the hospital grounds (you could go outside and breathe fresh air!) as long as you signed out and came back every hour.  I was immediately given in-house privileges since I had behaved so well in the previous unit.  Your doctor could also grant you evening and weekend passes so that you could spend some time at home as long as you were with a family member at all times.  And if you misbehaved, you could have your privileges taken away.

Finally, I was given a schedule.  The schedule listed all kinds of classes that were available.  These classes included horticulture, yoga, art therapy, wellness (which was super boring, but it was the only class we absolutely had to go to), and some other activities.  Our doctors also referred us to groups that were more specific to our particular issues.  I was assigned to Women’s Group (a bunch of women who sit in a circle to share their issues and support one another), Managing Emotions (learning how to identify what you are feeling and express it in a healthy way), and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Skills for Anxiety (learning tips and tricks to help understand your triggers and how to cope with anxiety).  I can’t really share too much about these classes because we had to sign some confidentiality forms; all I can tell you in that they existed and I learned things.

I started to get used to the routine, and I got used to eating eggs every single day because that’s what they always served the vegetarians.  Don’t get me wrong, eggs are delicious.  I just got a little tired of eating them every single day.  My original roommate was released after one night, and I was assigned a new roommate.  She was mostly bedridden, and she asked me who I was every time I entered the room.  But I made friends elsewhere.  I am even still in contact with a couple of them.

I was also finally allowed to go outside when I had a panic attack and freaked out because I felt like I was being confined in too small a space, so that was good.  It was freezing outside.  I got soaked by all of the falling snow, but I GOT TO GO OUTSIDE!  Seriously, don’t ever take the fact that you are allowed to go outside for granted.  And really, how good can it be for someone’s mental health to never let them breathe fresh air?  Even prison inmates get to go outside for an hour every day.  I’m not going to get into that right now because it’s not really relevant to my story, but I was thrilled to finally be allowed to go outside!  It was the best I had felt in months!  I even called my parents to tell them the exciting news!

There were also many challenges that I came across in this unit, and there were several things that went on outside the hospital that I felt like I was helpless to do anything about.  My school, for example, was a source of many issues.  But I’ll talk about that next week.  See you guys then!

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 2

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Post Suicide Attempt: Prologue – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/post-suicide-attempt-prologue/

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 1 – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/post-suicide-attempt-chapter-1/

Valentine’s Day came a few days after I was admitted to the ICU, and I had quite a few visitors that day.  It was nice.  I was brought flowers, candies, chocolates, and stuffed animals.

I also learned that I would be moving to the psychiatric hospital as soon as they had a bed available, which ended up being the following day at 10pm.  I had to quickly pack up all of my stuff, throw out my flowers and head over there.  My personal support worker took me to the psych hospital across the street in a taxi, as per protocol, and she brought me inside.  I was greeted by a nurse, and my personal support worker left.

The nurse who greeted me showed me my locker, where I would have to keep all of my stuff.  I was allowed one book at a time in my room, and nothing with a hardcover.  All of my clothes, toiletries, and the rest of my books were locked up by the nurse.  If I wanted to get something, I had to ask at the nursing station.  She then showed me to my room.

The room had a greenish hue, and the paint was chipping in several places.  There were two chairs and a table, all attached together, and a bed.  There was also a light on, which I would later learn never turned off.  I put the book I had chosen to keep with me on the windowsill.  The window was protected by bulletproof glass and the blinds were stuck shut, so I never got to see outside.

A few minutes later, a different nurse came in and started asking me a bunch of questions.  This took a very long time, and I don’t remember all of the questions.  I do remember the nurse calling me promiscuous because I had had some no-strings-attached sex that I had to tell her about to be admitted, and I remember being asked if I had ever been arrested for a bunch of different crimes.

She also asked if I had AIDS, and I said no.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“How can you really be sure if you’ve had sexual intercourse outside of a monogamous relationship?”

“I’ve been tested, and I don’t have it.”  I really did not like this nurse.  I didn’t like most of the night-time nurses, but the day-time nurses were all excellent.  I wondered if they scheduled the grumpier nurses for nights so that they would have less interaction with patients while they slept, or if the nurses were grumpy because they had been scheduled to work nights.

Eventually she left, and I went to sleep.  The real adventure began in the morning when I was woken up to a breakfast tray.  At this point, I wasn’t eating much; I still felt pretty queasy from the overdose, and I don’t think I ate anything on my first morning.  I did have tea, though.  The only tea this unit had was orange pekoe tea, and I still can’t drink or smell that kind of tea without being reminded of this unit is the psych hospital.  It also took me several months to be able to eat eggs again since most of the vegetarian meals were egg-based.

The unit was shaped like a donut.  The nursing station was in the middle with windows all around it so that they could see what was going on.  There was a hallway around the nursing station with doors to all the patient rooms, the lounge, the isolation room, and the bathrooms.  There was also a door in the far corner from my room that led to the unit with lower security.

Since there wasn’t much you could do in the unit, a bunch of the patients walked in a circle around the nursing station.  There was one woman in overalls who told me that the government had murdered her children and were now trying to silence her by keeping her locked up.  There was the girl who would eventually become one of my best friends.  There was the guy from Newfoundland who was very friendly.  Most of the patients were nice and welcoming, even though I hardly ever left my room.  But there was one patient who terrified me.

When this guy walked around the nursing station in circles, he would shout, “I didn’t mean to hurt her.  They said I meant to hurt her, but I didn’t mean to hurt her.  It was an accident!  I DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT HER!”  All the rooms had windows into them (except for the isolation room) so that the nurses could look in on us, and this guy would stop at mine and stare at me.  He looked in once while my family was visiting and my sister jumped up and screamed.  On one of the few occasions where I did leave my room to ask one of the nurses for juice, he stood behind me at the door and told me, “Your body is just like hers.”

Another terrifying situation was when I was in my room, about to go to bed with the stupid light that didn’t turn off shining above me, when the guy from the room beside me tried to get into my room.  My door handle stuck all the time, which usually annoyed me, but this time I was grateful for it.  The night-time nurses didn’t do anything about it while it was happening.  I don’t think they were paying attention because when I went to tell them what had happened, they were playing cards with their backs faced to the rest of the unit.

I knocked on the door.

“Yeah?” the one nurse asked when he opened the door.  I found him pretty intimidating.  He had once refused to give one girl her PRNs, the medications that you are supposed to be able to get whenever you asked for them as long as your doctor said it was okay.  She didn’t get her anti-anxiety meds and she had an anxiety attack.  He got mad at her, as well as the patient and I who were trying to help her breathe through it.

“That guy just tried to get into my room.”

“Oh, what?  Did he scare you?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said.  “Kind of.”

“Go back to bed.”

And that was that.

I was admitted on the Friday before a long weekend, so I didn’t get to see my doctor for a few days.  As soon as I did, he told me that I would be moving over to the other unit, T2, as soon as a bed became available.  At this point, I was considering begging to be allowed to go home.  I promised myself that I would never hurt myself again because I never wanted to end up back in that place.  I kept telling my mom that I wanted to go home, but she kept telling me that I needed to stay where I was.  She told me that this was the place where I was going to get the treatment I needed.  I knew she was right, but I wanted nothing more than to get out of there.

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 3 – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/post-suicide-attempt-chapter-3/