Thursday, January 10, 2008

Looney Bin 2

I arrived at Looney Bin 2 at around 3 am, handcuffed and in the back of a police car . The hospital was out in a rural area and situated on a large piece of land on a lakefront. It consisted of several building and housed adults, adolescents and children. There were detox and medical wards, residential facilities and crisis facilities. I was taken to a crisis wing.

I was escorted inside and taken to a room with two nurses. They made me undress and checked my clothes for weapons, drugs, etc. Once again my belt was taken, along with my toiletries. I was shown to a room with three beds, two of which were occupied with sleeping women. I lay
down on the empty bed and tried to sleep. I was exhausted, but too mentally keyed up to sleep. I was also more than scared about what had happened. I was worried about my husband's reaction and worried that he might use this against me. I was also worried because I knew that this was no luxury facility and that it was going to likely be a pretty scary place to spend time.

When 6 am rolled around, everyone got up and got dressed and received medications. The wing held maybe 10 patient rooms, three patients to a room. There was a couple of offices and a nurse's desk at one end opposite a day room. The day room overlooked the lake and had a balcony that served as a smokers' area. There was a television in the room and lots of old books and puzzles and one phone for patient use.

I did not have any idea of what to expect here. No one had filled me in on the routine. Patients trickled in to the day room. They were all ages and pretty evenly split between men and women. Breakfast was brought to us; apparently the patients in this wing were not allowed to go to the cafeteria. That was a privilege you earned as you improved.

I spent the day sitting in the day room or in my room, reading or watching TV. This place was much more unstructured than the first. There were no group sessions or social workers to talk to. The doctor was supposed to appear around 5 pm, but the nurses said that he may or may not show up. It seemed to me to be a sort of holding pen.

I did not talk to many other patients. One older woman sat in a corner talking to herself. Another women was on the only phone for hours at a time, randomly calling people from the yellow pages. Many patients stayed in their rooms and slept the day away. When I was able to get to the phone, I called home and begged my mom and husband to do something to get me out of here, but there wasn't much they could do. Big B called Dr. J, but he said I had to be released by the hospital doctor.

Luckily for me, the doctor did show up at 5 and I got in line to see him. He listened to what I had to say and when he realized I was already under psychiatric care, he told me he was releasing me. I don't know exactly why he released me. At 7 pm, Big B arrived to take me home. He didn't say much. When we got home, my mom was in the backyard playing with the kids. She told me she was going to stay as long as it took for me to get better.

November turned into December and Big B and I were arguing constantly, all in front of my mother. During one huge blow-up, he told me that after Christmas, he was filing for divorce and that he was going to take the children from me. He said I was not fit to be their mother. He didn't know who I was anymore. I was selfish for being sick and selfish for swallowing the pills. He didn't think he loved me anymore. How could he, he asked, I was a totally different person.

These statements were made over and over and I was extremely worried that he was going to follow through with his threat. At times, I wanted him to leave and would tell him, beg him to leave, but I also worried about how I would handle the logistics of a divorce. I started talking to friends, asking for legal advice. One friend provided me with a list of good divorce attorneys. I stopped telling Big B how I felt because I did not want to give him any more ammunition. I also learned that if we divorced, I would probably not be able to leave Knoxville. I had thought that I would move back to Nashville if it happened, but that looked like it would not be a possibility. I was especially worried because I am a stay-at-home mom. Before having kids, I was a teacher and have always intended to go back to teaching when the kids are older. But teaching is not something that you can just walk into in the middle of the year. It would be difficult for me to get a job teaching anytime soon.

The weeks before Christmas were not much different. The medication was not working for me. Yesterday I wrote that Dr. J had put me on Wellburtin. That's not true, I had forgotten that first we tried Zoloft along with Zyprexa and Geodone, two anti-psychotics. The Zoloft was doing nothing for me and the anti-psychotics left me feeling drugged and sleepy. I continued to have periods of anxiety and rage and still hated my baby. My mother and Big B made sure to keep me away from Ladybug. And Ladybug was still crying , arching her back and screaming for an hour at a time.

My friends knew I was depressed and knew about the first hospitalization, but I did not tell anyone about the second hospitalization or about the psychosis. I was afraid of being judged. We still had not told Big B's family what was going on either.

The rest of my family came to visit for Christmas. We tried to put on the best front that we could, but it was futile. The tension in the house was palatable. I waited on pins and needles for Christmas to be over, wondering if Big B would stay true to his word and file for divorce.

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