A few hours ago, I was released from the psychiatric unit of my local hospital. I had been there since Friday. I didn’t want to go to the hospital. In the end, I knew it was the right thing to do.
Friday night, everything just came to a head. My flashbacks were occurring quite frequently to the point that I was becoming almost paranoid. Looking back, my thoughts were so irrational. I genuinely believed that my mother was going to come and hurt me. I heard her voice in my head and I couldn’t get it out. I didn’t feel safe. I jumped at every little noise. I couldn’t breathe because I had gotten myself in such a panic. I was switching between wanting to die and wanting to find safety. I ended up cutting myself more than I even consciously realized. I taped menstrual pads to myself, grabbed my hoodie and my sneakers and ran out of the house. I left the house originally planning to take a walk, hoping I would be able to find some relief. Instead, I found myself panicking even more, constantly looking over my shoulder, running through the streets in the dark of night. After awhile I decided to walk to the hospital. I waited in front of the emergency room for a while still hoping the feelings would go away. But they were still there. I knew I had no control at that time. So I went in.
When I first got in the ER, I was panicking. I kept telling the nurse to “please don’t let them (my family) find me, please don’t tell them I’m here.” When I met with the social worker in crisis, she asked me if I was hiding from anyone because of what I kept saying. I told her the basics, that I left my family because they were not nice people. No one wants to hear that shit anyway.
After a few hours in the hospital, the panic began to subside. I started to feel safe again. I wanted to leave, but of course you can’t just do that. If you don’t admit yourself voluntarily, they will involuntarily commit you. Then, if you try to sign out of voluntary before you are released, they will involuntarily commit you. So not much of a choice, is it? The staff kept trying to tell me I was depressed. I specifically told them I was not depressed. It was an issue of anxiety and PTSD. I know the difference very well. It always seems to be a fight, though. I was more upset at the fact that I was now going to be missing my first day of work, and I’d probably be out of a job. All these steps forward I took and now I’d have to start over.
In the hospital, I contemplated going back home. Maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this freedom. I don’t know. I moved away, yet I still ended up hospitalized. So maybe it wasn’t the right choice. Maybe I missed something. Maybe my mother was right. Maybe I can’t live without her. I just want to be normal. But maybe I have to acknowledge the fact that I will never be normal.
It doesn’t help hat my support system is lacking. I have no family, and while I know that is for the better, hospital staff see that as concerning. I tried to reach out to someone on Friday night, only to be shut down. I couldn’t contact my therapist because she was out of the country. While my online friends are available, I often think there is a lack of understanding, especially when some of the comments they make tend to piss me off or upset me even more than I was upset to begin with. I’m not even surprised I ended up in the hospital. I have no one here. I’m not even sure the people I have a distance away are supportive for me anymore. At this point, I only have complete trust in my therapists. Everyone else is just sort of out there outside of my protective bubble.
Going back to my hospital experience, I can’t tell you how much I dislike going into psychiatric hospitals because you have to answer the same horrible questions so many times, tell all your problems to at least one person on each floor. It’s frustrating for me because I always struggle with whether or not I should be open about my history. If I say I have flashbacks, they want to know of what and why. When they ask about any abuse history, they want to know who, how, and how long. I never know what reaction I’ll get when I say it was my mother. I admit, the last couple of times I was hospitalized prior to this, the staff were accepting and appropriately responsive to me. During this hospitalization, when I revealed that my mother was my abuser, the nurse made a face and asked me “Are you a lesbian? Is your mother a lesbian?” What? Hold up. I just told you that my mother and father both abused me, which means my father was in the picture, which means my mother was not a lesbian. But even then, what the hell kind of a question is that? Saying something like that makes me feel like you are insinuating all parties involved are homosexual. Mother-daughter sexual abuse has nothing…I repeat NOTHING…to do with homosexuality. This assumption gets me so infuriated. If I was a male who admitted being abused by a male, would she have asked me if I was gay? I highly doubt it. Sexual abuse is rarely about sexuality. I am not a fucking lesbian. Fuck. If it weren’t for the fact that I hadn’t slept in about 30 hours at that point, I probably would have blown up at her. But I was so physically and mentally exhausted that I just let it go. It makes me rage just thinking about it, though. Then again, I can’t blame people for their complete lack of knowledge about MDSA. I just need to use this experience as more fuel for me to spread awareness.
I have to say, the one (and probably only) positive that came out of this hospitalization experience was seeing the psychiatrist. This psychiatrist had a brain. He had a concern. He actually talked to me for a good 30 minutes, which is something I have never experienced from a psychiatrist before. He listened to me. He listened to my concerns. We went over my whole lengthy medication history. For the first time, someone is focusing on treating my PTSD. Not depression. Everyone always wants to shove anti-depressants down my throat. In fact, within 10 minutes of arriving on the psych floor, they wanted me to take a dose of Celexa. I refused. First of all, been there, done that drug. Second of all, these people don’t even know me or my history yet, how are they medicating the unknown? I am glad I stood my ground, and the psychiatrist agreed with me. I think he liked me. He told me that I should pursue a career in psychiatry. When I told him I wanted to be a counselor, he said “you can do both, you can do whatever. You’re probably smarter than I am.” This dude just met me. What? How does he assess me so fast? At the end of our session, he said “I would be honored if you would be my patient. I genuinely enjoy talking to you. Can I shake your hand?” It was late at night. Maybe he needed sleep. I don’t know. Everyone else was saying how much of an asshole he was, but he was anything but to me.
Anyway, he prescribed me Prazosin. It’s actually a blood pressure medication but has been used off-label to treat combat veterans returning from war with PTSD with considerable success. He said it should help my nightmares and night terrors. He also prescribed Topamax, which has been used in treatment-resistant PTSD (since I haven’t responded well to anti-psychotics) and hydroxyzine for panic attacks. So far, so good. I had no problems in the hospital. No side effects, except for the hydroxyzine making me extremely tired. But I’d rather be tired than in a panic.
Overall, the other patients were cool people. I talked to everyone. There was one girl who was a little inappropriately attached to me and the other patients were saying she was in love with me. She may very well have been. She was constantly sitting next to me and at one point pulled me over to the side to ask me to help her fix her bra. She also touched me several times despite me telling her please do not touch me. It irritated the hell out of me. I try to be nice to everyone but between the MDSA and the nurse’s question about being lesbian, I was just not in the mood to be involved in that shit. I knew I had to be patient and bite my tongue if I wanted to get out of there. Acting out would have just gotten me involuntarily committed or punished with a longer stay.
Since I was doing well on the medication and had a therapy appointment already scheduled today, they released me. I’m glad, because being in that place was not an overall positive experience. It was very unstructured. There were very few groups and activities, no outside time, and very little staff. There were no individual counseling sessions and no meetings with a social worker, which I have always had in my other hospitalizations. It just seemed very disconnected. You never really knew what was going on. If it wasn’t for my roommate getting in contact with my therapist for me, I don’t think the hospital would have even ever contacted her to tell her I was there. I learned a lot of the patients were “regulars”. With the lack of care there, I am not surprised. Many of the patients were just homeless and needed a place to stay. It’s sad. The system isn’t working. It needs to be fixed.