Hospital 2.0 arrival

Admit had been a nightmare. I don’t mean a little. 5+ hours spent in the noise and commotion. The slamming doors and raised voices. While I was dreading going upstairs I was so glad to be out of the evaluation center. I followed the staff person in silence. carrying my brown paper bags of shame. What few belongings I had brought were with me in those bags. Not a word was spoken. She didn’t offer any and I just let my eyes wander the halls I knew too well. As we stepped onto the unit I knew this was different. It wasn’t okay. not even close. when mental illness is clearly discernible clear down the hall it is pretty easy to start worrying. What stood out most was the noise. The linoleum floors did little but amplify the sounds up the walls and down the hall. Overhead speakers piped in music too loudly. A TV at one end of the hall blared away with a patient singing in spanish. Another walked hunched and tiptoeing avoiding the dark lines and changes in the linoleum tiles while speaking to herself. I took it in. In the 30 seconds from door to nurses station I absorbed it. The nurse walked out and pulled up an impossibly heavy awkward formed plastic chair and planted it there in the hall. The busiest intersection. Besides the phones and the day room. I felt stripped and naked. not even a wall to press back into. They had run out of food downstairs and I was offered a PBJ. I had eaten nothing but for a cookie that morning and knew I had to eat something. But my anxiety was climbing, fast and hard. There were so many male patients. So much agitation. My warning system was telling me, loud and clear, get out. There was no out. I knew that. As I sat awkwardly holding a tray, trying to eat a sandwich I didn’t want surrounded by people that scared me I just lost it. The nurse added a box of tissues to the crowded tray. There I sat crying. out in the open. the patients stared. I wanted to hide. to shield myself from this. I couldn’t control the emotional meltdown that was taking place. The exhaustion, fear and sadness just leveled me. I force fed myself the sandwich and the small dixie cups of water. A female patient offered a hello. A single bright spot. A large guy, like pushing 280 paced muttering and angry followed by a staffer. My breath caught. I couldn’t be there. I had to get out. The nurse did a brief check in to assess safety and to give me rundown of unit rules. I remember little of it. I stood naked before the female staff as they mapped every inch of me looking for wounds, marks and tattoos. I was somewhat shell shocked at that point. The day feeling endless. I would retreat to my hard small bed under the sandpaper rough bedding and try to make sense of it all though I could not. I would not sleep that night. I remained vigilant. every sound a danger. every voice catapulting me into anxious awakeness. I sat up cross legged hugging myself in an attempt to sooth the anxiety. angry raised voices drifted from the hall. The big guy was still agitated. singsong words came from next door as the hunched little woman continued her dialog with the invisible. and so I tried to ride it out. to make it till dawn. I had no watch. no clock. Hours ticked by marked only by the staffer doing checks. As morning dawned I drifted into restless sleep. In day light there wight be some safety.


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