Today was quite interesting. I am currently in my psych rotation at school which means I am required to spend so many hours a week at a mental health hospital. At first I dreaded the thought of it. Why?…because my mother died in a psych hospital almost a year to date of the ending of this rotation next week. I mean literally rotations end next Friday and the 1 year mark is on that Monday. Strange I think, but not coincidental at all. I know there is purpose in me being here now and how that parallels with me being in the mental health hospital with my mom on this day a year ago leading up to her death. Not only was it weird with the hospital aspect but just also having to revisit thoughts of my mother in her manic stage of her bi-polar disorder. I also don’t trust the mental health system because of how poorly they treated my mother which I am sure caused her death. (I may sound crazy but it is clear from what happened that the meds killed her….I am so sure of that, but think me crazy if you will.) On top of my personal business the connotation of mental health is just…HORRIBLE. Everyone is freakishly afraid of encountering these people. Many people haven’t even stepped foot on a psych floor to determine this. Anyway…on to my point.My first day I hated just because it was boring and pointless, but I was also on an unlocked unit where patients were free to leave when they wanted. They were also there for drugs and alcohol and no major pscyh disorders. This week they put me on a locked unit- this is where the “crazies” so to speak are held. I was afraid out of my MIND.
I was greeted by this wonderful black nurse who just seemed so happy to have me and the other student. We slowly were able to observe and get a feel for the floor. We met and talked to a host of people.
This one woman who was schizophrenic was very very very out of it. She was incoherent at times and mumbling amongst a host of may other things. Her appearance was that of a disheveled homeless woman. She was an FBI agent doing undercover work finding murders and doing drug busts, she also an MD who worked for the system, she was a some kind of military leader, and a police officer. At any given moment, she would present with of these occupations. She was……a riot man. I wish people could see her to believe the things I saw.
There was another woman who had schizoaffective disorder. She was very friendly but clearly was not with it. She constantly heard voices, kept saying she had to leave to get her kids, and also said that something was in the air killing people and it had nearly killed everyone on her block.
There was another man who apparently ate anything metal in attempts to kill himself. He was schizophrenic. If anyone saw him they would never guess that he would even try such a thing. He was just big, jolly, and laughing a lot. He talked us to DEATH!
Among other people of the floor was a young suicidal man, a young lady with a severe inability to control her impulses, plenty more schizophrenics, and a host of others.
Today I was in court. Before then up on the floor they had gotten a new admit. This woman was also schizophrenic and claimed she was fine. Her goal for the day was to get out so she could look for a house and buy one which wouldn’t be a problem because she had a couple million in the bank, but still needed a loan?
Court. Mental health court was…a fanfare. We arrived on time at 10am and many of the workers did not show till at least 1045. Many of them fought, but it was clear that this is how they run things. The point of court is to allow committed persons to have a fair trial, so to speak. We followed a doctor around who was quite a character. He talked during the hearings and was just loopy, yet kind and funny.
The cases we saw you wouldn’t believe. I mean I didn’t believe. There were cases like a girl who set a pizza box on fire then threw it on a worker because she wanted to kill her to a woman who gave birth at home, stayed there for hours and stated the ambulance left her there to a girl, who said shed be a lawyer, model, bball player, and something I cant remember. She repeatedly told her mother of dangerous stuff she did and that she wanted to kill herself but it was all a lie so she could go to a shelter which would make her eligible for a house. There were two suicide cases. One woman tried to hang herself in the hospital because she had drunk her life away. Another woman was 56 but had the mental capacity of an 8 year old. The list goes on and on and on.
Ok the point! Over the past few days I’ve found psych fascinating. On one hand it is just amusing to watch these people do things that no one would believe outside those walls, and quite frankly a lot of stuff is funny. At the same time I find it so heart wrenching that this was their lives….hearing voices, multiple personalities, unable to control their behavior, suicidal ideation and so much more. Why them? Why not us? When I thank the Lord for “waking me in my right mind” I truly mean it right now. These people are just like everyone else, but they have a mental illness. Many have been functional people previously. I now hate the stigma associated with mental health because its no where near reality. These people need love, care, and patience from their caregivers.
I also have been finding myself in regret wishing I could have been a better advocate for my mother. Whenever she would slip into her manic episodes I had no idea how to help her and often felt helpless. Being here, I am learning the resources that we should’ve had, or at least if were given should have been made known to me. Now I find myself wanting to use those resources…but its too late. I do realize I did all I could in those situations given my age and resources and ultimately nothing is my fault. I am also reminded of the days when my mother didn’t look too different from them with hallucinations, aggressive behavior, delusions, and paranoia. Its all so much to take in, but I think it my be helping heal.