As most of you know from social media, I went back into the psych ward for another week due to yet another relapse and suicidal urges. This was not my “regular” bin, as they did not have any open beds, so after a day or so languishing in the ER detoxing and begging anyone I saw to let me die, I was transported to a few towns over to their local psych hospital. For the sake of protecting the innocent and the very, very guilty, let’s just call it “Bedlam.”

Bedlam is a run down joint with four wards: Psych, Detox, Juvenile, and Dual Diagnosis. I was in the Dual ward (dual diagnosis means that you have addiction as well as mental illness). Where my regular bin has just one ward, is clean, relatively calm, fully and capably staffed, and run as well as a psych ward can be, Bedlam was the complete opposite. Nowhere was the nurse ready to check in with me every day to see how I was doing, gone were the therapy groups wherein people could work through their problems with the watchful eye and sympathetic ear of a therapist. The food was always cold and barely edible. But all those things didn’t compare to the fear.

The fear. Fear for my physical safety, fear for my mental stability, fear that I would get out in a worse state of mind than I was carted in with. The anxiety med that I was taking “as needed” and took maybe once every few days was no more. Now I was taking it every four hours. I spent the first few days completely despondent, desperately depressed, prone to crying jags and near catatonic states. I only saw the doctor once in the eight days I was there, and that was just to fill out paperwork. The visions of cutting until I was a jigsaw puzzle of scars bathed in blood were relentless. Then there were the Guys.

The Guys were a gaggle of men who spent their days fighting over who was tougher, who spent more time in jail, who had more and better tattoos, whose dick was bigger, who had fucked more chicks, who did more drugs, who could do ANYTHING better and meaner than anyone else. These arguments were constant, always at top volume, and always ignored by the staff. I was terrified of The Guys, because they all seemed to have hair-trigger tempers, and anything (or nothing at all) could set them off. I tried to be as quiet and invisible as possible. I disassociated a lot, going into a kind of fugue wherein my brain became static, all the loud voices blending together into an unintelligible white noise as I stared at the floor for hours. I was in hell.

Bedlam was cold. So cold. We spent most of our time wrapped in the paper-thin blankets from the rock-hard beds, mummies populating the common room, shivering and staring at the clock waiting for the only respite we had – four cigarette breaks per day. 7 AM, 1 PM, 6 PM, and 10 PM. Then we shuffled with our blankets out to the courtyard where we could suck down two cigarettes back to back before being shuttled back inside for more tedium, threats of violence, and worst of all, absolutely no help from the staff. We were cattle in a pen, pushed in and out of the ward according to whatever insurance you had, whether you were better, the same, or worse than when you came in.

By the time I was released on Thursday, I was so emotionally shattered I couldn’t cry any more. I stared out the window as my dad drove me home and said very little, except that I had been in hell, and that Bedlam should be shut down. The stories whispered between the patients about suicides on the ward (one girl unraveled a bath scrubby thing and hanged herself with it, so  the story goes) and how the freezing cold showers, hostile staff, and dangerous patients were a disgrace, not to mention the lack of a doctor’s care (one girl, suffering from emphysema from years of smoking crack, had to beg for over two hours for her inhaler). This was more than enough to show that this was not a therapeutic environment in the slightest. This was one of Dante’s circles.

I’ve always felt that my mental illness is a punishment for something, that I must have done something wrong in a past life, that somehow I deserve every second of emotional torment for some reason. Bedlam was  the first place I felt that way from other people. The same people who were supposed to be helping me. Us. All of us, even The Guys. We were all there for help. What we got was hell.

I really didn’t want to write about this. I’ve only been out for two and a half days, and I’m safe at my parents’ house, recovering. But I had to let it out, wash it away like the shower I took as soon as I got out, practically sobbing as the hot water beat against my back and I scrubbed Bedlam off of my skin. But it goes deeper than skin. And I can’t wash that away.


Bedlam — 11 Comments

  1. Sending you good thoughts and so very much love. Thank you for hanging on. Thank you for surviving.
    {{{{{{{{{{{ferocious hugs}}}}}}}}}}

  2. Oh Danielle… what a truly miserable sounding place. How in the world would a place like that ever make anyone better??? I’m so sorry you had to be in such a hell of a place. I hope you’re feeling better… although I’m not sure how you would be after 8 days there. It sounds like it would just make it all worse.
    Colleen last post: The Princess of Opinions

  3. Fucking inhuman ! I figured you were gone for a bit when you didn’t post…I’m sorry there isn’t something I can do…I do know for me it’s one day at I time…I send you good feelings,thoughts ,hugs and hope tomorrows a better day

  4. I am so angry on your behalf. Assholes should be shut down. How dare they treat people, especially people who are in a delicate emotional state, like that. I am so sorry it happened to you. I hope you never, ever, set foot near that place again.

    I wish I could give you a big warm robe, a nice fire, a lovely sleep and your favorite food. I wish I could help you feel like you should – a queen among women.
    Suebob last post: Sea Change

  5. Completely agree with IndyCity Girl– fucking inhumane. This reminds me of the days before psych hospital reform. There have been similar incidents at a psych hospital that is required to take Medicaid patients in my town. The care of those who have minds that need medical help seems to be the last stigma– looked down upon by medical “professionals” who should fucking know better. *lets out huge angry breath*

    I’m so glad you’re out– and with your parents. I wished I lived closer so that I could bring you candy and coloring books and we could watch reality shows together– even if you didn’t feel like saying a damn thing. I get this. When I get damn depressed, I don’t want to talk– I’m just too tired. But just having someone by me, even if they don’t say a word helps keep me a little more tethered to the world.

    Please stay with us, Miss Banshee. I know it’s so fucking hard. So very fucking hard. Why is it that the most beautiful souls sometimes have broken minds– that’s just not fucking fair. It’s not.
    If my love helps, and I hope it does, I send heaps of it. And healing mojo. And more love.

  6. I know it doesn’t make a damned bit of difference, but I’m so fucking sorry, Danielle. I’ve been so worried in your absence, assuming you were bin-bound, but never dreamed you’d been sent to hell. Glad to know you’re out and in a safe place–and with HBO, no less! Take care of yourself, dear girl.

  7. Thank god you are strong enough to retreat into your mind & survive living hell. I can’t bear to imagine you in that place! And I think you should let the name of that travesty of hospital be known worldwide. It’s the only way to close it down & spare others what you’ve just gone through.
    You are an amazing woman, Danielle! You’re brilliant, funny, gorgeous & you have a beautiful soul. Please be good to you. I wish I could fly across the country & give you hugs, pudding & some company to keep you from slipping. But I do know how easy it is to just put a toe wrong & fall hard.
    Always know that you are loved. Get some sleep, take a few good, hot baths & eat your mom’s good cooking. The kitties await.
    Love & good juju to you.

  8. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. All of it, but especially Bedlam. Mental health care in this country is shamefully awful and it just breaks my heart that people are being treated like that, and that you had to be in that space at a time when you really needed support and help.

    I’m also sorry to hear that there were trolls. I didn’t see the comments myself, which may be for the best for my mood this morning. You have every right to delete their awful, hurtful comments. Honestly, I can’t even understand why a person would make such a comment on a blog such as this. It’s just very inhumane, isn’t it? Just keep in mind, that comment didn’t really have anything to do with you. It shows the quality of the person who made it, that’s all.

    Take the best care of yourself that you can.

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