All of a sudden I am in the car. It is night. I have no comprehension of what time it is but I see bright lights swirling together in a blur as we speed to the hospital—my final destination for the evening. I see this huge blow up snowman outside a gas station and he freaks me out. Oh wait it is the holiday season. The whole scene is very surreal. However, everything seems to make sense, perfect sense.
We arrive at the emergency room and I am in great spirits. Not aware of my disheveled appearance. I am wearing a blue windbreaker with the hood pulled tight around my head. I am in the waiting room with the anticipation of a little kid waiting for my prize, rocking back and forth in excitement. I am on a game show and any minute behind door number one I will win the beautiful house where he and I will live.
When we enter the room to see the doctor, he speaks quietly to my parents and I fidget and roll around on the examination table. The doctor comes back with papers for me to sign. I sign on the dotted line to please my parents, having no idea I have just had myself committed.
I arrive on an acute psychiatric ward for the evening and all I see is a lot of self help literature. They administer some drugs. I fall right asleep.
The next day I go to take my first ambulance ride. It is pretty anticlimactic. There are no sirens or anything. I chill in the back being taken to my next destination. The destination: my dream home.
This isn’t my dream home. I arrive and check in. I say goodbye to my parents and my little sister in her cheerleading uniform with some roses waiving goodbye, waiting outside because she isn’t old enough to come inside.
I settle into my room. I have a little duffel bag with some clothes, a journal, some pictures and toiletries. The psych ward is not as crazy as what is portrayed in movies. I haven’t seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. However, there is an interesting set of characters. The first day or two or three…I am pretty out of it and I see flashes. There is the woman with the frizzy Afro who wears a hospital gown who smells like pee. I eat school lunch food. The sandwiches have no crusts and I have a little juice box of lemonade.
Being trapped inside, really distorts my sense of time. It feels like night most of the time.
It has been three days. My roommate arrives. Where to start? She is there because of a marijuana “problem.” There is the marijuana problem—which isn’t a problem. It is just recreational. Hmmm. And then, there is her “open” relationship with her husband. They are how you say? Swingers. They have a very special relationship with at least one other couple. I hear all about it. She is a talker.
I go to the group therapy room. I am in there sitting on the floor. I chat with a Vet who is there. I don’t know why he is in there with me. I tell him all about myself. How I want to be an actress, all my grand plans for myself. He is enthralled. I give him my phone number. All of a sudden his penis is in my hand. A nurse walks by and hurries him out of the room. I have no idea what just happened. I am very drugged. I don’t see him again.
The medication is working. Somehow the doctor—the same doctor who I was convinced was a leprechaun in his little green suit a few days earlier—has picked the right combination. I am lucky.
My razor is returned to me. I go outside in a little courtyard. The facility begins to feel less like a jail. I find a girl to talk to that went to my college. She has a rage issue associated with her lupus.
I am released about 5 days after arriving. I am a lot better. Plus, it is expensive as hell to be here. A week later, I get a collect call from jail. The vet kept my number.
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), over 10 million people in America have bipolar disorder, and the illness affects men and women equally. The average of onset is in one’s early twenties with many patients often reporting experiencing symptoms prior to a formal diagnosis.