This is a multi-part story about my ten-day experience in a hospital that focuses on depression and anxiety and my participation in my healing. The people I met, the food I ate, and the treatments I utilized.
Before I begin to explain anything about my journey, it’s important to discuss what brought me here. Three weeks before I entered the hospital, my depression was owning me. I was sad all the time, I couldn’t stop crying, and the bad thoughts were loud. I would fake it for 5 hours during the show, but as soon as Annie left I fell to pieces. So I got with my therapist and my NP and told them I needed to go. They pushed back because of COVID, but I knew what I needed to go.
At this point they say there are no beds, but there are beds at the fancy place that costs a ridiculous amount of money. So, I called my dad. My dad and I have had a contentious relationship up to this point, but when I told him what I needed he said: “I’ve got that, who do I pay?” I ended up getting a bed in the normal hospital so off I went. But not before a COVID test.
I arrived at Newton-Wellesley and parked my car. It was a makeshift assembly line conducted in tents in a parking garage. When it was my turn I was escorted to a tent where a man put a giant Q-tip in my nose up to my eye. I asked the woman who escorted me back to my car how she was doing. She said “it’s really starting to get to me”. I mean they are in a parking garage with no protection from the elements. I wanted to do something for them, I didn’t know what, but something. However, I needed to pack so I went home to await the results and then head to the hospital.
I feel surprisingly calm. Which makes me wonder, will the people at the hospital believe me? Will they believe that I’m sad, depressed, suicidal? And I’m so tired, why am I so tired? I feel like I should be scared, but I’m not. Maybe this means I’m ready to go.
I arrived at the hospital – Karson and Annie dropped me off, but I walked in alone. In processing takes about 4 hours. Testing, vitals, consultations, blood work, and a lot of waiting. They put me in the STU or the short term unit that specifically deals with anxiety and depression.
They took me to my room. It was a remarkably tiny room with nothing but a bed. No dresser, no desk, no closet. It was awful. At this point the Mental Health Worker had to go through everything I brought with me. She emptied my suitcase and tote bag taking a razor, tweezers, anything with a cord, and my ID and credit card. She put everything else on my bed. I was beside myself with anger. What I didn’t know is that this was what they called the “quiet room” where they put people who are having an episode. But I didn’t know that and I felt as though I was being punished. Like I was in prison. Like I had done something wrong. This is where they had to put me so I could get in, but again, I didn’t know that. I never left my room that day. I stayed and read and tried to keep my shit together. Dinner came and because I was new, my name wasn’t on the list and I didn’t get dinner. I got a tiny container of tuna salad and some oranges. I was fucking pissed and wanted nothing more than to go home.
I literally felt like I was in a movie about crazy people and there was no way I was getting out.
It is at this point I learned about the rules. So. Many. Rules. They are in place to help us so we don’t do anything to harm ourselves or others, but as someone who is pretty independent, they came hard. First are “checks”. These happen every 15 minutes. If you are in your room, they will open the door. If you are in a group, they will check on you there. If you are in the bathroom they will knock on the door and you have to yell out your name. If you are in the shower, same deal. And if they have to ask twice they are coming in and have to see your head and hands. Oh, and you had to wear a mask whenever you weren’t in your room.
There is also a schedule every day. Here’s an example:
8am – breakfast, meds, and vitals
9am – morning planning
10am – some kind of group (CBT, CBT, Addictive Behaviors)
12pm – lunch
1pm – another group
2pm – fresh air walk
3pm – free time
4pm – fresh air walk / vitals
5pm – dinner
6pm – porch time
7pm – wrap up
8pm – bed (for me at least – I was trying to stay on my normal sleep schedule)
That was my first day. And I had never wanted to leave a place more in my whole life.