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Horror In A Hospital

About four years ago I was an active drug user and alcoholic. I used marijuana around the clock and binged on alcohol whenever I had the opportunity to. I was taking a very dark turn in my life but how dark was yet to be seen. From what I can gather a very different person started to emerge in me. I wasn't eating or sleeping and often had paranoid delusions that my phone was being tapped and my house was being surveillanced and my conversations recorded. Everyone was against me, even my family and my closest friends were subjected to my paranoia. Unless you have personally gone through a psychosis, I doubt you will understand what I'm talking about. It feels like you've been swallowed by a mass of nothingness. You breathe, blink and sometimes talk but all human vibrancy has been extinguished. My family decided to take me to the emergency room, I had no insurance at the time and people were limited as to what they could do for me. One of the most vivid memories was telling the EMT that I would be turning 21 in a few weeks. He just smiled and assured me that I would be out of the state hospital in time. I believed him and my worry soon dissipated. As soon as they unshackled me from the gurney I looked around at my surroundings. It looked to me like some deranged high school with endless dingy halls and reinforced windows. Shortly after the nurses inspected me for tattoos, scars, and any other identifiable characteristics they asked me endless questions about my drug use. They were so mechanical and cold. Soon they led me to a common area where people sat dazed watching TV, reading magazines and talking to one another. I slumped in a chair and just looked off into space. Soon I was approached by a guy around my age. He asked my name and I told him. His face became animated in some weird fascination and he asked me if I would like to go out with him that night. I responded hesitantly. still being very much out of it that yes, I would like to go out with him. Much to the delight of the other patients surrounding us, he asked "What time should I pick you up?" Laughter was all I remember and then oblivion. I was soon moved to a ward. My apologies are extended because from this point on, I only remember bits and pieces. I remember being given linens to put on the matress and looking blankly at the nurse. I was to sleep here?? Away from anything vaguely familiar? After I made up my bed, I went into the common area. I sat there horrified and taking in all that was happening to me. Shortly after that point, a woman named Frances approached me. She looked to me like my grandmother. She began asking me various questions like my name and my birthday. Upon telling her she hopped up and screamed "GO TO YOUR ROOM!" Feeling like the wind had just been knocked out of me, I felt terrified and fled to my room. I remember laying on that matress and soon the very geekish looking security guard who had witnessed what Frances had said to me, approached my door, peeked his head in and said "I guess someone said something to her that she didn't like too much." He smirked and walked away. I was in another dimension. I laid very still until I was in complete darkness and finally one of the nurses came to inform me that I had visitors. My two older sisters were waiting by the nurse's station with shampoo, soap, and other personal hygiene items for me. We moved to a table and began talking, none of which I can remember. The men circled our table and made obscene faces and gestures at us. When they left all I could do was swallow my tears and tell them that I was going to be okay. Finally, I was given my medicine and went to sleep. I suppose that what happened next could be chalked up to extreme anxiety and an extreme case of homesickness. At night I would sleepwalk and try to get into bed with the female patients. When I would come to all I remember is the screaming and the lights coming on. It was almost like I was possessed. I didn't remember doing it. One patient thought that I was going to take her pillow and smother her with it. Looking back, I almost laugh, but I can understand why that would scare someone so much. I was operating on what I like to call auto pilot. I wouldn't shower, wouldn't eat, and wouldn't talk. A nurse dragged me into the showering quarters. She ******** off my clothes and held me under scalding hot water. She washed me, scrubbing me so hard that it felt like sandpaper to my skin. It robbed me of any dignity I had left. She called me a 'honky *****' as she held me down. I found out that the state passed a law forbidding staff from showering people. That experience still haunts me to this day. My 21st birthday came and went in the weeks to come. That's my big joke. I didn't celebrate my 21st birthday in a bar but in a mental institution where they had better drugs. The doctors ran multiple tests but still couldn't really tell what was wrong with me. They decided it was in my best interest to perform ECT on me since I wasn't responding to any of the medicine I was being given. ECT is Electrical Convulsive Therapy where they induce a seizure and run a current of electricity through your brain in the hopes that it will begin to regulate the brain activity. I signed the consent forms, truly not knowing what I was consenting to. My first session was incredibly scary. The doctor warned me that there was a small chance that I could die from the anesthetic I was to be given. It was such a rare thing that medical students were invited to come and watch the procedure being done. When I awoke, I had the worst migraine I had ever had multiplied by a hundred. I couldn't walk or talk and had to be placed in a wheelchair and taken to bed. I endured two more sessions of ECT and soon my behavior returned to normal. I know to some people ECT may seem primitive, extreme, or cruel. Personally, I don't know where I would be if I hadn't been given the ECT. Today, things are better. I am two years sober and I'm moving on in my life. But all the things that occurred at that particular hospital has made such an impression on me.I think that the scariest thing is when you enter a psychiatric hospital, you are at the mercy of the doctors, nurses, and psychiatrists. Abuse is a common thing and most complaints fall on deaf ears. State hospitals are very dangerous and there have been several deaths and acts of violence at this particular hospital. Mental health is such a serious issue but with all the stigmas attached to it, it's being swept under the rug. The things that I've stated here were truly despicable and wrong but you can't live in the past forever. A victim will never recover. I refuse to be a victim. I hope that by sharing my story, I've helped somebody. Thanks for reading!
mentalJewelry mentalJewelry 22-25, F 3 Responses May 13, 2011

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How long ago was this? They stopped most ECT in most hospitals! :( but I was in several hospitals too so I have an understanding of how this is!

Thanks for sharing:) I turned 14 in the adolescent unit of a mental hospital so I know what you went through. As a parent of a 10 year old daughter I can't imagine sending her to a place like that @ such a young age, but like you I'm not a victim and have moved on. It's part of my past but it doesn't determine my future:)

I have been there and appreciate you telling your story. Being in a hospital is a surreal expereince to be sure...reading that brings back bad memories for me--but I am glad you are better now and have come to terms with the experience. Best to you.