To be blatantly honest, I don't remember the next 5 days.
Once upon a time, the was a "normal"(my apologies on using that word) Laura. It was one month after my 41st birthday. I apparently was alert, zero signs of anything concerning or abnormal. I got dressed in my uniform, drove to work, and chatted with some of the staff. I then took some of my co-workers to an industrial building, when suddenly I stopped walking, I was unresponsive, somewhat like a catatonic state. Someone brought me home (to this day I don't know who it was).
I then perked up and insisted on going to Canadian Tire (local hardware store), wearing a skimpy black dress. When my husband and I were touring through the store, I thought that I must have a 200lb concrete bird bath and started dragging it down the aisle. Hubby put that back. I immediate discovered a $2000 BBQ that we HAD to have, which I started wheeling down another aisle, even though we had a perfectly good one at home! Let's just say hubby got me out of there quick before I actually purchased something outrageous.
Remember, I STILL don't have any recollection of anything! I apparently was very happy when we returned from the store and BBQd steaks, on our perfectly good BBQ. I even sauteed mushrooms and onions, baked some potatoes, and whipped up a Caesar salad for the family.
After dinner, hubby noticed that I was starting to crash; slurring my words, walking very slow and staggering, so he told me to sit down in a chair, that he had put out for me in the sun, while he worked on his car.
I guess at some point, I went into the house and made 5 superficial cuts on my left forearm. I went to the adjoining door to the garage telling him, "Hun, I've been a bad girl". His response was calm with an "Oh Geez".
He then realized that something seriously wrong with me and immediately drove me to the ER. After being examined by the on duty psychiatrist, who gave me an initial diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features, I was convinced to voluntarily admit myself into the psychiatric unit for observation and initial treatment, I was not placed under the "72 hour watch". (Note: I STILL have no recollection of these events!
After 3 days of being on the "lock down" side of the unit, I finally awoke from my state and was alert. The nurse came in, with a big smile (one of the two nice nurses there, in my opinion). She asked me where I was, I looked around and replied, "a hospital". I provided her with my name and date of birth. It was only when she asked me what day it was, that I realized that I had lost a few days!
They then transferred me to "other side" of the psychiatric unit, assigned me my room, with another female, and was encouraged to mingle and participate in the group sessions. I volunteered to stay an additional 5 days to ensure the med therapy, the had given me, was working.
I hate to say this, I wanted to get out of there so much sooner and so did my husband as it wasn't the most healing environment. I realize the staff had their rules, but it was run literally like a jail (maybe worse). If I was exhausted by the end of the day and asked politely if I could take my night meds a half hour earlier, they would just point at the clock, give you a dirty look, and state, "medications are distributed for another half an hour", and slide the plexi glass window shut. All the lights were shut down at a specific time; bedrooms, halls, most of the common areas, except the nursing offices. If I got up in the middle of the night, as I wasn't quite tired, I would quietly grab my book, and walk to the common area, that did have a light on, and sit and open my book and read. The two nice staff, would come up to me smiling, and quietly ask, "you can't sleep?" and I would tell them I would only read for a little while, as reading made me sleepy, and I would return to my room shortly, which I always did. The rest of them however, would scold me like a child and send me back to my room like I was being punished!
The hospital, as a whole, is very lovely; comfy chairs, warmly painted walls, lovely art work on the walls, and nice new magazines. However, the "psych ward" was a totally different experience; mismatched furniture, old torn magazines, it's not a warm and nurturing environment; it's cold with it's atmosphere and staff (minus the two nice ones).
That was my "one and only" psychotic episode that has ever occurred, due to a life altering event (the trigger), since my diagnoses in 2010. I stay med compliant, to the letter, and use every one of my learned coping strategies so I will NEVER have to go there again! After a total of 10 days (5 being unaware, 5 being aware), I was discharged to go home.
I do however, stop in several times a year, to drop off new magazines that I have read because I know they will be appreciated by the residence.
So, if you have some fairly not abused magazines or puzzle books you aren't using, please don't throw them out, and consider donating them to your local psychiatric unit!
Laura Marchildon will blog honest and true posts about her real life experiences.