Saturday, March 3, 2012

My Story: My first few days in the psych ward

I have reached a point in my healing that is compelling me to complete more of my story. I hope that by writing out a detailed account of what happened, I can hopefully begin to process its impact on my life. In addition, my therapist has suggested that I work toward reading my story aloud during therapy sessions. Because the experience of sexual assault cannot be simplified to the assault itself, I am including in my story the aftermath of my assault as well. Thank you for bearing with me while I rehash the past to create my narrative, and I cannot thank you enough for allowing my voice to be heard and for the positive feedback I have received!

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A common side effect of the medications often prescribed to inpatients in a psychiatric ward is lowered blood pressure; therefore, it was hospital protocol for patients to have their blood pressure taken periodically, including throughout the night.

Due to the heavy dosage I was given during my first few days, my blood pressure was taken hourly throughout the night. It may sound really annoying, but I did not mind too much because whatever medication I was taking allowed me to either fall back to sleep immediately or sleep entirely through these check-ups. I must say, though, all of my “treatment” during my hospitalization, including these blood pressure checks, only added to my feelings of having lost control of my life and having gone plumb crazy.

Consistent with what I had been told earlier, I was awakened later that day to meet my team of healthcare professionals. It was in this initial meeting that I was introduced to the psychiatrist who would become my doctor for the remainder of college and the first few years following graduation.

During this meeting, I learned what to expect on a daily basis in terms of the various therapy sessions (individual and group) and medical appointments I was expected to attend. For what felt like the billionth time, I was asked to share my recollection of my assault and details regarding my emotional experience during the immediate aftermath. The psychiatrist was also interested in learning about my mental history prior to my assault.

I guess because I previously had been treated for anxiety/depression and had a family history of mental illness, the label of “bipolar mood disorder” became the most viable explanation for my condition in the eyes of the psychiatrist; it wouldn’t be until last year, over nine years later, that I would hear the term “post traumatic stress syndrome” in relation to my experience.

This meeting, like all of the meetings I would attend with medical doctors, was held in a different part of the psychiatric wing of the hospital. If I remember correctly, inpatients were required to be transported in a wheelchair to these sessions as well, but I could be mistaken. I do know for certain that we had to be escorted and buzzed back into the inpatient hall.

Upon reentering the inpatient area, I saw that a new patient had arrived – in handcuffs. He was surrounded by a group of different professionals and was making quite a fuss. I had wanted to call my roommate to bring some belongings over, but that would have required me to squeeze by the commotion. I decided to wait until after the ruckus had subsided to place my call.

When I no longer heard the man yelling, I walked into the hallway to place my phone call. The man was actually still there, but he was sitting in a chair against the wall with his head slumped over asleep. I never learned the story behind him, but seeing him in the hallway that day was the last time I saw him. Perhaps he was admitted to a different section of the psych unit, or maybe he was there for questioning to determine competency for criminal charges. Who knows…

I placed the call to my roommate, and she kindly brought over some of my clothes and toiletries. I felt embarrassed that she had to stand in front of the surveillance cameras to be buzzed in through the locked hall and then hand over my bag while they searched through my belongings for anything with which I could harm myself. My razor, which she had thoughtfully packed for shaving, was removed and later given back to me when I was released the following week. I have absolutely no recollection of what I told her in regards to my hospitalization, but I do vividly remember her awkwardly standing at my door and asking if everything was okay.

I then called my parents. I had briefly spoken to them the night before upon signing all of the admittance paperwork. I don’t remember too much about these phone conversations, mainly just the feelings that went along them. I do know that my parents asked if I wanted them to fly up, and I remember being adamant that I preferred they remain at home. To my left was a man sleeping in handcuffs, and to my right was a woman frantically walking around talking to herself in a hushed voice; I did not want my parents to see me in this environment because I thought it would only amplify their worrying and raise further questions regarding what led to my hospitalization. I was not yet ready to disclose any information to them regarding my assault because I still couldn’t wrap my head around it – or what the hell was going on in my head and life, for that matter.

21 comments:

  1. Again, a heart-wrenching post. You had so much to process and I do not even know if you ever began right then. Daze.

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    1. JBR, thank you so much for the validation.

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    2. I also want to mention that I am glad that you are being blessed at the Jesus Calling blog. I too am blessed daily by the devotions.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing! You're amazing!

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    1. Anonymous, thank you for reading and for your kind encouragement. xx

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  3. Sorry for not commenting sooner, you ARE amazing, and strong and a fighter, I admire your reslience greatly, and you. I am so sorry that you were assaulted, it is all kinds of wrong, and years of fighting and having to stand up for yourself, all so wrong. How could anyone think we just made this stuff up, what does our prior mental/emotional/physical/behavioural state have ANYTHING to do with being raped, our culture still blames the survivor of assault. You DID not do ANYTHING to deserve what happened to you. Sending you love andhugs. Take care. Kel

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    1. Hillary63, thank you so much for your kind words and validation. Your support means a great deal to me, and I really appreciate you following along with me during this time of healing. I find your own blog so helpful. I really appreciate all of the honesty you portray in your posts. Thanks again for your support.

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  4. I'm glad that you are writing here. I know that my blog helps me to heal, and to help others not feel so alone. Thank you!

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  5. Came back by to give you a safe hug.....

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  6. I know you have not posted in awhile, but I wanted to wish you a Happy St. Patty's Day. Blessings.

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    1. Thanks so much, JBR! I hope that you had a nice St. Patty's Day as well! xx

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    2. A delayed response. I did not do much on St. Patty's. Blessings to you dear one.

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  7. Hello!! I just want to encourage you to keep writing! You have an amazing story and it will touch many people's lives. God is healing and blessing you. You have been through so much and you are overcoming so much! Keep healing so proud to be a part of your blog and seeing how far you have come! I hope that the act of telling or reading your story out loud is as healing for you as it was for me. I felt a sense of freedom and so much stronger.
    God Bless You
    xo

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    1. Lisa, thank you so much for your encouragement and support. I really appreciate it. Yes, I will definitely keep writing. I just needed to take a little time to clear my mind, but more on that later! I am glad that you find my blog helpful to your own healing journey. Thanks again for your kind words. xx

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  8. (((Safe hugs)))) Thinking about ya!

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  9. Thanks for sharing. I know it's not easy and you should be proud of yourself. At first I couldnt even admit to myself that what he happened was rape - so it definately does take time.. but i havent come as far as being able to share my story yet. thanks again. It helps knowing that there are people who can understand what it is like to go through certain things.

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