It [kind of] feels good to be home.
Sunday afternoon (May 1) I was still sitting on week-old mail that I wasn’t sure what to do with. I wasn’t eating much and didn’t leave the apartment. Monday (May 2) afternoon I called the mental health for an intake interview. I wanted to see a therapist in a hospital-based setting and I was told to receive a call later that day.
Things got worse on Tuesday (May 3) morning. The paranoia became real when someone followed me home. I was waiting for the intake call and hadn’t received it yet. I tried an online chat but once I was at the front of the line, I gave up after waiting ten minutes for a counselor to join the conversation.
Wednesday (May 4) I was in denial. I brought my feelings up during dinner but wasn’t brave enough to explain what was going on.
Thursday (May 5) morning I still hadn’t received the intake call I was expecting on Monday. After talking to a friend, they encouraged me to get the help I needed. I called the hospital and they asked me if I was able to drive myself to the emergency room. I did. I took a quick shower and put on my most comfortable clothes. I walked out the door with my cell phone, keys, and a box of tissues. I parked my car under a tree and slowly walked to the emergency room entrance. The woman behind the counter asked how she could help and I told her I wanted to check in. I signed two forms, one to consent for treatment and the other for insurance purposes. I was told to sit in the waiting area.
The wait was difficult. I had many things going through my mind. I made quick glances across the room, looking at the three others around me. I was tearing up and I wiped my eyes and nose with my last tissue. My heart began to race. My breathing started to increase. My legs and feet were moving because I was nervous. After a few minutes, a nurse called my name and called me took me behind the closed doors. The nurse told me to sit in the chair and took my vitals. She asked me if I had high blood pressure and I told her it is well controlled with medication. My blood pressure was extremely high and my pulse was measured at 147 beats per minute. I told the nurse I was scared and nervous. She explained what was going to happen to me within the next few hours.
The nurse walked me to a locker room and inventoried my personal belongings and removed my clothing. She visually examined my body for bruises, marks, and scars, making note of them in my chart. I was then provided beige scrubs to wear and was escorted to the second waiting room. A second nurse spoke with me in private, saying I looked uncomfortable and gave me Xanax to help me feel calmer. My vitals were taken again and the Xanax appeared to have done its job. A nurse called me into a private room to discuss my medical history in detail. The conversation with the nurse lasted about forty minutes. I was then told to wait in the waiting room again until a doctor was ready to speak with me. While waiting for the doctor, it was lunch time and a tray was provided to me. The meal was a pork chop with macaroni and cheese and broccoli. After waiting a few hours, the doctor was ready to speak to me and after spending less than five minutes with her, she decided the best thing for me would be to put me on Prozac and keep an eye on me to see if I tolerate the medication well. She told me I would be put into observation which would be a more comfortable environment for me. I needed to stretch my legs. In doing so, I stood up too quickly and fell back down in the chair. Another patient stood up and helped me up.
Later in the afternoon I was placed into observation where I met five other individuals. I called my mom and told her to let my husband know that I wouldn’t be able to pick him up from work. I didn’t give her many details other than telling her that I am being hospitalized because the doctor thinks I am a threat to myself. I walked between the day rooms. I binge watched Law and Order. I ate my snacks. At the shift change, the nurse spoke with me in my room. She wanted to know how I was feeling and asked me to explain what brought me here. I told her I wasn’t sure how I was feeling or what brought me here. At that time I was confused and I kept asking myself, “How did things get to this point that I ended up here?” I still wasn’t sure what to expect. The nurse told me I would speak with the doctor the next day that would determine how I would be treated. I was exhausted, emotionally and physically. I thought I slept, but I woke up in the middle of the night to see another patient had been put into my room. I slept through it.
I woke up for breakfast which was the typical Southern fare that I still haven’t become accustomed to. I didn’t eat any of it and waited for the morning snack. I was met by the other patient who helped me from falling on my face the day earlier. We stuck up a conversation and my nervousness finally started to wear off when I realized there were other people seeking help for problems similar to mine. I spoke with the doctor who recommended me for short-term inpatient care and told me I would be kept in observation until a bed was found for me. Just after lunch I was informed a bed was found for me and I was escorted in an armored car to the new facility.
Once I arrived at the hospital, I was greeted by a security officer who escorted me to the elevator where I met with two nurses who gave me a new set of scrubs and looked me over for new bruises, marks, and scars. I was shown my private room and introduced to the day room where I spent the majority of my time. The days were very structured, beginning with vitals and morning medication, followed by morning hygiene and then breakfast. After breakfast time was spent in my room to wait for the post-breakfast medications, social worker visits, and doctor visits. After the visits were completed the day continued with a few hours of group therapy followed by lunch, substance abuse group, visiting hours, snack, free time, dinner, movie time, snack time, and bed time.
During the first group session a social worker made a comment about how people are here for all kinds of reasons and then made a remark about how they are trained to tell when people are faking it. When she said that she was looking right at me. It made me furious. One of the other patients noticed and said something to me during lunch. I didn’t receive my intake interview with the social worker until Sunday. The doctor expected me to be able to return home on Tuesday or Wednesday, but after the weekly change in doctors and social workers, it was decided I wouldn’t return home until Thursday evening. I was a bit disappointed, but by Monday night I realized being hospitalized was very beneficial for me. Monday is when I got everything on the table. I wrote in my journal every little thing that came to my mind, how I was feeling, and things I wanted to discuss. By Wednesday I was nervous about leaving the hospital but knew if I had the support system in place outside I would be able to continue my treatment.
I got a ride from the hospital to the emergency room so I could get my car. During that time I checked the news to make sure the world hadn’t collapsed and talked to a friend to let her know I was on my way home and thanked her for her support. When I got into my car I called my husband to let him know when I’d be home. I then turned on my music. It felt great to listen to music again! Once I was home I was greeted by my wonderful husband who I am very lucky to have in my life (despite what others had me believing.) We dropped off my prescriptions, went out for dinner, and sat in the car and watched the thunderstorms roll in.
I have identified things that make me happy. I have follow-ups with my doctor and therapist set up. I have nothing to hide. The hardest part of the hospital-to-home transition is realizing there are no walls around protecting me from real-life stressors.
I still feel like I’m being watched or followed. I know in my heart that someone from my past didn’t mean to hurt me but the evidence is overwhelming. I’m still sitting on it because I’m not thinking clearly and don’t want to throw them under the bus. Just like I believe they had no intent of hurting me, I still care too much and have no intent to hurt them. The best thing I can do at this point is to shred the remaining evidence, forgive, and move on.
I am worth it.