I’ve left out a lot of detail, detail I would like to save for another time. I am fairly certain that you’ve gotten an idea about the setup of the particular ward I spent my stay in.
Monday came rolling around and they asked me if I was ready to be discharged.
Realistically, no? I hadn’t received any help while I was there. I refused the medications sure, but that didn’t mean there was nothing else that could be done?
But I smiled and said absolutely I’m better now.
They had me sign paperwork and take a survey (I obviously mentioned the talent show in the survey). They set me up with some counselor in a really bad part of my city and sent me on my way.
Walking outside into the parking lot was unreal. It’s not like I spent weeks in the ward but I did spend hours. Hours there were enough to make me feel like I forgot how to live like an outsider. When I got home things felt just as strange. Being admitted into a psychiatric ward takes a piece of your dignity, your self esteem. I felt embarrassed and ashamed but that didn’t stop me from getting into the shower and getting myself ready to go back that night and visit my house mates who were left behind. I went to a local market and bought chocolate covered bananas, 50 chocolate covered bananas. There weren’t many luxuries in a ward and I felt as though they desereved something extra for the struggles they were facing. My mom couldn’t understand why I wanted to go back but of course didn’t refute my decision.
When I buzzed myself in and the secretary asked who I was there to see I responded, everyone. She recognized my voice and let me in. I walked into the dining hall with my box of chocolates and handed them out to the few faces I recognized. Those who spent the past few days with me couldn’t believe what a little bit of makeup and a real shower could do.
But I was confused.
Many of my housemates were gone. When I had asked a nurse where they were I was told they were all discharged.
Discharged? Discharged? These people were just telling me how they still hated life and they were discharged? I remembered a girl my age asking the nurses if she could stay one more day because she felt she wasn’t ready to leave and she was gone when I got there around 5pm that night.
My mind is still blown away by this. I thought I got away with being discharged because I tried so hard to seem normal and put together but realistically, it didn’t matter.
This makes me so sad. I am only hoping that not every mental health system is like this – but I’m not too optimistic.
I went to my first counseling session a few days after my discharge.
I was patiently sitting in a waiting room where a homeless man was talking to himself, a woman was pacing the room, and multiple children were crying. It was an old building right across the street from a Planned Parenthood, where protestors made frightening eye contact with me as I was pulling in.
I had already decided I wasn’t coming back before I even went in for my appointment. When I was finally called, I entered an office that looked like a kindergarten room full of crayons and disorganization. My counselor was very nice and asked me to tell her anything and everything. I just couldn’t.
I obviously don’t have great insurance and some people would say I should just take what I can get – but this wasn’t ok. They group multiple people with different social problems into one category and expect the same treatment to work for all of them. This made me think about budgets and just how much money is really going into mental health. It seemed as though it wasn’t much.
I left the office and never went back.
** Future blog posts will be interviews with some amazing survivors, counselers, healthcare professionals, and the general public**