There’s one more area of my experience at the psych hospital I want to cover, and that is the seven words spoken by one nurse to one of the other guys stuck with the rest of us.
She said, and I quote, “everyone in here is really, really sick”.
Seven is supposed to be a lucky number. Even if you don’t believe in superstitious things, you’d probably be more comfortable with 777 on your license plate than 666. This lady has ruined the number 7.
She ruined it so expertly I had to write out “and I quote” and use quotation marks to write out her words.
She was trying to calm down the man who wouldn’t piss in the urine cup because he was very agitated and distrustful over how his urine was going to be used. When he first came in he thought one of the nurses was going to lock him in the bathroom and argued with that nurse for a good ten minutes too.
Because the one thing you want to hear, as someone who is struggling, is that you’re “really, really, sick”.
They also like to hound into your brain that there’s a “team” working to fix you. And what does that do? That takes away, for a moment at least, your responsibility to your health. That gives you the right to act however you want. It also gives you the right to give up. And that’s when they come at you with the “want to try a little medication?” thing. They tried their little scheme with me. What they didn’t know is that I’ve been studying psychiatry since I was fifteen and am not one to listen to any “team” that keeps me in the dark about their opinions of me. I lost all respect for them within ten minutes of being there.
Some people might think I’m talking out the side of my neck. I will never, ever argue with a person who says they are “sick” (mentally), I will never, ever tell someone medication is a bad idea. None of that is my business. What I will do is show you the ramifications of the system we’ve established here.
There is someone I’ve spoken to before who says her neighbors keep her in her house and plot to get her kicked out of her apartment. Therefore she can’t leave to do laundry or take out the trash, and they even keep her, sometimes, from using the shower or other things. She can’t shop at the local stores because the clerks don’t like her and they’re stuck up and they don’t want poor people in their store.
This experience is extremely real to her, it keeps her locked up in her apartment nearly 24/7. She only orders take away food and even then sometimes she tells me the pizza guy hated her.
I’m not going to tell you her entire life story, that’s not my place. What I said above isn’t even my place, but I really, really need to get this point across.
Some people suggest medication.
Some people suggest doctors upon doctors.
What some people don’t know is that she’s been through all of the above. Then once some people know that and they see no change, they say “well, it’s just the illness”.
Don’t try and pull that. Because every single justification she gives me for these instances is that these people know she’s “crazy”. That her county coordinators are telling all her neighbors that she’s “crazy” and that’s why they keep her locked in her apartment and want to kick her out. That’s why the clerks hate her. The fact that she’s on disability and not rich is also a reason.
Sitting in that hospital this week, I can’t count the amount of times I had no control over the thought of “well, he gave me that look because he thinks I’m crazy” about one of the nurses.
You can call it paranoia. But what that does is let a doctor reinforce to you that you’re crazy. They load you up on medications and say this will help, and then blame your “illness” (or God forbid they call it a fucking “disease”), when it doesn’t work how they promised.
What I’ve learned at Second Story is that, well, there’s always a story. It’s never as simple as a category. I will never, ever call this person crazy because I don’t believe for one second she is. I don’t, for one second, disbelieve her. It would be irrational of me to disbelieve her because the stigma of everything around mental health truly is keeping her stuck in her apartment. Years of being told she is sick is truly keeping her stuck in her apartment.
When I came home one of my first thoughts when I walked past my neighbors and they glanced at me was “shit, they know I’m crazy now, I need to stay away from them”, like they somehow were at the hospital staring through the walls (since there are no fucking windows) right at me.
I don’t even call myself crazy and that thought whizzed behind my eyes.
I’m prone to unconventional thoughts, it’s how my brain perceives the world. But a hospital that’s supposed to help with your mental health isn’t supposed to perpetuate things like that. It’s supposed to remind you you’re okay, you’re human, and that everyone struggles with something. It’s not supposed to make me think my neighbors are against me because they might have heard me use the word “Telecare” or the acronym “PHF” (that’s the hospital).
I don’t care if you think you have an illness and that you’re sick.
I don’t even care if you think mental health issues are “diseases” (just don’t try and argue with me about it because I don’t want to have to dunk on you).
All I care about is that you understand how you think about yourself should be a direct result of what you think of yourself, and not what other people tell you is wrong with you.
All I care about is that the “team” working on you and your health is headed by you and not them.
When I hear people tell me someone diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar or Borderline personality or any disorder ever cannot live a life without medication or even just a normal life in general, I just laugh. Because I see it every day I work. And every day I’m impressed by the people on medication and the people not on medication. Because they’re determined to be who they are regardless. And that trumps your opinion on what you think a “mental disorder” is.
You think respite houses were built by professionals? No, they were built because people with diagnoses like schizophrenia and Bipolar carried on their lives without medication, without any other hospitalizations, as a direct result of going through peer programs. That was how it all started. Don’t believe me? Look it up.
And those results trump any opinion of any nurse who thinks anyone with mental health issues are only “sick”.