Easter Eggs

"You can't go home yet" was all that I heard. Every day I shuffled into the crammed meeting room with the faded yellow walls, and heard the doctors deny me freedom. I was in the hospital for the sixth time due to a manic attack. I don't remember most of it, but as the doctors scribbled in charts and threw each other concerned glances, I knew I must have done something awful. 

This particular week was Easter week. I got the deadly news that I wouldn't be home with my kids. Wouldn't color eggs. Wouldn't go shopping for sugar laden bunnies, and wouldn't see their faces light up like easter baskets were the second Christmas-time. Of course I was angry, but it was more than that. This hospital was suffocating me. I walked down halls where patients felt the same, each of us resigned to the fact that this was our new home. I remember a young girl, her arm swaddled in bandages, telling me "These cuts are for my father. He called me crazy." It was like being in some horrible dream, where nurses with pills were the only thing which would wake you up. 

Sunday arrived. Easter. The hospital had major plans that day to dye easter eggs, some semblance of normalcy for the holiday spent in hell. There was dye of every color, and markers dried out from so much use in the arts and crafts room. We were making baskets. They were little strawberry crates, and multicolored yarn was heaped into them. So this was a kindergarten project. Great. My drugged out hands were too lazy to get the yarn through the holes, and a psych tech tried to help me. "You can do it!" he kept saying. We were like his own special project, he the cheerleader and we the 5 year olds. 

I sat with my hands folded in my lap. I couldn't do this. I was supposed to be doing this with my kids. I was the one who should be out in the "normal" world, where doctors didn't say you can't see your family. One man had a fit, threw a basket against the floor, and tried to run out the door. After shoving a psych tech against the wall he had assured himself a stay in the hospital within the hospital. The rubber room was at the end of the hall, and that would be his new home for now. The hall was long, and as he was escorted out, I kept thinking that he couldn't help it, didn't belong in this place. Making kindergarten easter baskets with old yarn and shaky hands would have driven anyone nuts. 

We finished the baskets and some of the arts and craft helpers were faking being impressed. That's how it is in hospitals. You are treated like a baby until you act up. Then, you are given more medicine to stabilize you, and knock you out. As I colored an egg with an old marker, I noticed a woman eyeing me. There are many people like that in the hospital. People who burst your comfort zone. "Yours is pretty" she said, and I saw the look in her eye like she wanted it. So I gave it to her and watched the grand finale of the grass being put into the baskets unfold.

Some people in the hospital don't mind being there. It is a place where they are understood. It's a place where everyone empathizes with you and your day is tailor made. Wake up, pills, breakfast, group, lunch, group, breaks here and there, and dinner, etc. The day melted into each other as my three week stay was prolonged. "You can't go home," kept ringing in my ears. Who were these doctors, in their fancy white coats to tell me what I could and could not do? I actually cornered one of them and begged for Klonopin. Well, maybe I was still a bit manic...However, I knew that as soon as they closed the door to the forbidden zone, the door into the nurses station, I was doomed. Not another day. Not like this. I looked down at this easter basket I held and saw every mistake I had made. Every reason I was here. It was sickening. It wasn't my fault. Had I implanted a gene in my head which promised bipolar disorder? Had I asked my parents to have a baby with a "defect?" No. The apprehension grew and I looked down the hall. Patients were shuffling around waiting for easter dinner. The stained rug, evidence of spilled juice at snacktime, was a sickening backdrop to a place where no one ever left. They did of course, but not me. Not on this day.

It took three weeks for the doctors to finally let me out. The conclusion? Too much anti-psychotic. I could have told them that, for a cheaper price than two thousand bucks a day. I had no expression on my face because I was drugged. That happens in hospitals. To calm you down you are sedated. You are less trouble to the staff. You are dead inside to appease doctors and nurses.

As I gave my final farewell to the place (and hopefully the last) I saw a new resident in the rubber room. There would always be more, a never-ending cycle of people who just can't handle the place. Some people need a reprieve from their madness, a place where they can do something simple, like weave easter baskets. A place to add structure to life again, a place where no one judges you by your "crazy" behavior. Somewhere over a distorted rainbow is the hospital, and all you need in the ruby slippers to take you home. Doctors can't understand the need to get out of there, the need to a least try to live normally. Some bipolar patients need the hospital. I apparently did, but when the doctors who are the ones who misunderstand by drugging you too much it can drive you to madness. Pills are usually needed by most bipolar people, but beware of the hospital. They will feed you so many you'll never go home. The hospital is safe. It is a place to heal. Apparently it is a place to make yarn easter baskets as well. My stay changed me. I will never go back. I will dye my own eggs. At home with the kids.

hollyjulia hollyjulia
41-45, F
2 Responses Mar 13, 2009

I remember my stay in one. It was the worst and we were treated LESS than human. I felt WORSE in there than anything. I WILL NEVER GO BACK! I don't care if I have a ******* heart attack or anything. <br />
<br />
If there is a Hell it's ECMC Psychiatric unit. Fourth floor.

Did you staying there help you get better while you were in there or did it make you worse while you were in there? Was the enviroment helpful or was it bad. Because I've seen many pictures and they all look like its very depressing in there. Are the pictures true?