The Exotic Neurotic Hotel- Part 1
I journaled the whole time I was “inside,” but I’m having a difficult time sharing my experiences. Pulling straight from my journal would be so chaotic. My thoughts were racing - still are - most of the time.
I remember wondering, “How did I get here?”
The rest of us sat there, freezing in the air conditioning, a blank look on our faces. It was as though we couldn’t fathom how we had landed ourselves in that place on a Tuesday night in late August. I had my arms wrapped around me, battling tears.
After intake interviews galore, I was finally taken to the unit, my personals (what little I’d brought) searched, a couple hours worth of annoyance and fear.
What do they put you through on The Unit? A “body map.” Nice way of saying “strip-search” without a cavity search. They diagram your scars, tats, piercings, whilst you stand there in nothing but your chonies.
Welcome to The Unit.
I had nothing but my wallet and the clothes on my back that were, by now, two days old. It was smoke break shortly after I arrived, but I was out, so one of the techs put a plea out on my behalf, and that’s how I met J.
J became my first lifeline - still is. We were glued at the hip. My roomie, a super-sweet girl, was leaving the next day, happy to show me the ropes, make sure I was okay. It was loud, it wasscary, and I had no idea how things worked. Maybe they told me the rules, but I didn’t remember.
I cried and whimpered and panicked my way through my first night on The Unit. Day Two wasn’t much better. The staff gave me my usual medication - at 9AM. I take them at night for a reason; I ended up sleeping much of the day.
J was still giving me smokes, while my husband was on his way back from Ohio. That night, he managed to drop off some clothes and smokes, which meant I felt better - I was no longer bumming them from J.
Wednesday was a blur.
Meals for those on Precautions (the suicidal folks) were served on the unit. Being allowed up to the Manor House for meals was a mini-graduation, one I’d manged by the third day.
My medications had been completely changed so my mood swings were wild - I felt so out of control. But J, T, and R were there every step of the way - they’d been there before. There’s something wonderful about being surrounded by a group of people who speak your language. Much like the IF community, we have our own terms - most couldn’t be understood outside the psych ward.
I was lucky.
We took medication on command, ate on command, spoke on the phone at specific times, attended group on command. I felt a little Shawshank - I couldn’t seem to pee the first couple days unless I pretended someone had told me to. For ten days, I peed with a door open or a curtain for a door.
I don’t even know how many doctors, nurses, social workers I had to tell, “No, it WASN’T a suicide attempt.”
I felt like saying, “Listen, I’m a smart cookie. If I’d really been trying, I’d have taken a lot more than Benadryl.”
The Likes: I really did like my psychiatrist and groups; many of which were music-related. Or an ice-breaker with heavier questions.
The Annoyances: no touching, only one smoke at smoke break only, no visiting in each other’s rooms - I swear I felt like a child.
But the routine? We counted on it. When things ran late, boy did we get pissed. It was the onething we could count on to get us through our days.
I picked up a coffee addiction, even though they only provided decaf. Let me tell you, decaf tea just wasn’t doing it for me, so I taught myself to drink coffee. Now, I’m HOOKED and can’t stop drinking it.
As the days went by, I gradually stabilized. It was then that I knew my time on The Unit was ending.
What I didn’t expect was how difficult it would be to maintain that stability once home, even with a plan in place.
And it was.