Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Days of Despair (a reprise)

Blackness engulfed me and depression held my mind in its iron grip. My thoughts oppressed me with ridiculous stories, which I foolishly believed. I thought that I had killed my sisters and that I had written a Francine Rivers novel. The new year brought more confusion and a refusal to care for myself.

Tuesday, January 6, I entered St. Joseph's hospital under the Mental Health Act. Given a choice of pill or needle, I chose neither, and ended up being held prisoner of six pairs of hands while someone pulled down my pants and another person needled me on the butt. When I entered fourth floor psychiatry, they first put me in a room with three other people. I was so paranoid about other people they had to give me my own room. Among the jumble of images and impressions of my early hospitalization, I remember trying to climb the bed's bars to "escape," being practically dragged by two nurses to the bathroom, and yanking out my IV tube. I don't remember the early visits people made. In fact, there is a whole block of time where I don't know what happened. In the beginning, the nurses had to help me with everything, including bathing. I spent much of my time in bed.

Eventually I grew well enough to take care of my own hygiene and eat properly. I went off constant care; I was permitted to go home for a few hours the last week in January. My greatest desire was to go home for good. In February, I eventually was allowed to stay entire weekends at home. Agonizingly long weeks passed. I went through two and half $5 calling cards making home calls home. I steadily improved until finally, on March 13, I was officially discharged.

This is a piece of writing I wrote in Writer's Craft, shortly after my hospitalization at age 17. Of all of my times in the hospital, I think it was the hardest. The Marion wing at Saint Joseph's hospital was truly a prison for me. Back then there was a smoking room and they gave you pop with every single meal. My room was a bubble room, so my Mom put Chirpy my teddy bear from my babyhood in the window. There were no curtains on the windows and the view showed the busy street below. My family doctor came to visit me regularly to check how I was doing and I had a tutor, BJ Robinson, who helped me with school work and regaining my brain function. Mrs. Rooks came and gave me a card from my classmates and a journal, and many of my classmates would come at visit when they could. I still have two huge teddy bears from that time, as well as a quote calender called "God's love" and a beautiful gift book and journal. I had many, many visits and cards from people in my church community, all of which I have kept as a reminder of their love and support.

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