This is hard one for me and one I struggled with as to whether to discuss, but I promised myself I would be open and honest about my journey through my illness and treatment. I needed some time to process all of it and get some things straightened out before I could talk about it. I have to share this because it could spare someone else going through the torture I went through.
June 30th: I had an appointment with my therapist at 2pm. As always, I was open and talked truthfully what was going on in my life and inside my head. My therapist is well aware that I’ve I had suicidal thoughts (with no plan and no intentions to carry my thoughts out) throughout treatment and even in years prior because I was always sick and because of what treatment and my illnesses have done to my brain. On this day though, I talked about them becoming more frequent than usual. It used to be once or twice a day and had progressed to the point of all day, every day. I kept telling her I didn’t know what was going on and why this was happening. Even though I’d had a major set back in my treatment, I still WANTED to live. I still had (and still do have) hopes and goal and dreams. I wasn’t finished yet. I hadn’t fought this hard to quit now. I just didn’t know what was going on in my brain.
I guess I scared her. She was concerned, very concerned. She told me that she didn’t have enough to have me committed but if she could, she would have. Instead, she suggested I get into see a psychiatrist as soon as possible to have my medications checked, maybe something needed to be adjusted or added. If I couldn’t get into see one quickly, she wanted me to go to the emergency room and be evaluated there. This is when I started panicking and my anxiety kicked into high gear. Ok, this MUST be more serious than I thought.
After therapy I called my mom and told her what was going on. She came home and we called my insurance company and all the psychiatrists we could find (I had to see a female because of things in my past, I couldn’t go through what happened with the state psychiatrist and handle that trauma again.) Finally we decided that the emergency room was the quickest option. I didn’t want to go to either of the 2 hospitals in the county I live in because I knew too many people who worked at both and in the past neither of them had done anything to help me. We called the closest Baltimore hospital. They were pretty much waiting on me to get there. I thought “ok, this might not be so bad. They’ll call for a psychiatric consult, I’ll get my medications checked and I’ll be able to go home comforted.” THAT IS NOT AT ALL HOW IT PLAYED OUT!
Instead, I had to deal with a snooty P.A. who really didn’t want to hear anything I had to say. Being that I had talked with my treatment doctor the day before (I had been incredibly sick over the weekend and my doctor had ordered blood work based on my symptoms.) I asked the P.A. to run the same tests my doctor had ordered. I had gone for the blood work the morning of the 30th as well, not even a full 5 hours before going to the ER. The P.A. did NOT run them. I became irate. (Keep in mind that when I got taken back to triage, they frisked me and had a security guard sitting across from me, watching me. This only caused my anxieties to escalate.) When nothing was going according to plan and it appeared that I was not going to get the help I needed, I wanted to leave. The P.A. told me that I could either voluntarily commit myself or she would, but either way I wasn’t leaving.
I had been in public safety for 15 years. I knew what it took to have someone committed and couldn’t fathom how she was “going to do it.” But I’ve learned never to trust the health care system. And so instead of waiting to see what they came up with, I opted to voluntarily commit myself so that in the future, if I applied for a job I would never have to check that box that says something to the extent of “Have you ever been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward?” That right there should tell them that I was thinking about the future.
I did freak when I found out I couldn’t have my music, that was my coping tool. I had my mom write out the lyrics to “I Am The Fire” and the chorus to “Amen” by Halestorm. That, I could take with me. And that I could read when panic and anxiety were in overload.
They moved me over to “Crisis Intervention” where I would be evaluated by a social worker/therapist with a Master’s degree to determine whether I would be admitted to the pysch ward. They put me in a room with just a bed. This seemed like a bad idea to me, for anyone who was experiencing a “crisis,” to leave them in a room by themselves with nothing but their thoughts and a video monitor. When I had to use the bathroom, it was literally like a jail/prison bathroom that you would see on Lock Up or some other prison show. It was new all time low for me. I finally asked for paper and a pencil to write. I wanted to remember all of this, so I wrote to document my entire experience. I found this to be a contradiction to the “no sharp objects” rule but I wasn’t arguing. I was exhausted and fully expected to be released (my mom was in the waiting room.) Again, I was wrong. That’s what happens when you’re truthful. I wanted help, I didn’t want to have these thoughts, but they didn’t warrant a stay in a psych ward. Yet that’s exactly where I ended up.
Five hours later I was moved upstairs to the actual psych ward. 230am. I didn’t get any of my meds that I took regularly, including my anticoagulants and heart meds. I asked and was told no. This I thought was down right neglect and extremely poor patient care. I was moved to a room with a roommate. I have never in my life felt more alone and out of control. I silently cried, tossing and turning till I finally found sleep.
July 1st: 6am I was woken up to have blood work done. In less that 24 hours I had 3 sets of blood work done in the same vein, my only good one. I was so bruised and it really looked like I had a track mark. Being that I’m sensitive to even Band Aids, I had blisters on my arm from all the removing of tape and then it being put back on. I went back to sleep for an hour and then was woken up for breakfast. Based on the “Daily Routine” I was to see a psychiatrist between 9-11 am. I was still convinced once I saw the psychiatrist they would agree that this had been a colossal mistake and I’d be discharged. I saw a medical doctor who still denied me my regular meds. Finally I was going back to see the psychiatrist…a MALE, the one thing I knew I couldn’t handle. They sent a female social worker back with me. I get back there and it’s another fucking P.A. I needed an M.D./PhD!!! I was furious!!!
After looking at my med list the P.A. decided to discharge me because the hospital could NOT handle my medications. He didn’t at all care about my mental state but simply that they couldn’t handle my meds. A HOSPITAL COULD NOT HANDLE MY MEDICATIONS???!!! I figured the supplements, but the meds?? I was sent back to my room while they set up a discharge plan. I didn’t see a real psychiatrist until after I was told I was going to be discharged (and yes, it was a male-he never even looked at my med list, so this whole “visit” was for nothing.)
Funny too, that they set me up to see an N.P. at one of the offices my mom had called the day before. Even funnier, they called me last week to say the hospital had finally sent over my records and the N.P. wasn’t comfortable taking me on as a patient due to my med list and health history. What a joke?!
Wondering what it was like in there? Well watch every movie made about psych patients (start with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and then move onto “Girl Interrupted.”) That’s pretty much what it was like. There was a guy in there who looked like Zac Galafinakis but acted like Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” My roommate latched on to me. I guess I gave her comfort. She had a meltdown when I told her I was being discharged. Prior to that though, she told me that everyone was talking about me and how pretty I was and I didn’t belong there and how mysterious I was. (This actually made me laugh.) So I was crazy enough to be forced into commitment by the “normal” people but I wasn’t crazy enough for the “crazies.” Talk about feeling out-of-place in the world.
I was severely dehydrated upon admission yet I never received fluids to help with that. I was probably suffering some amount of malnutrition being that I hadn’t eaten almost anything in 5 day, that wasn’t even looked into. My experience was a total and complete and non funny joke!
That being said, if you are suicidal and you do need immediate help, do something! Call the suicide prevention hotline, go to the ER, call a doctor! Just because you are not going to like some of the things that go with it, putting up with those are worth it to save your life.
For us with Lyme or any other tick borne diseases, please read this part! When I finally got back the results of my blood work from my doctor the following Monday, I found out that ammonia levels were extremely high and toxic! (My white blood cell count was also extremely high – indicating some type of infection. Again, that was not addressed in the hospital either.) There was a medical reason for the way I was feeling. High ammonia levels can cause confusion, delusions, poor judgement, mood swings and that’s just to name a few symptoms in the brain. It can also cause liver and/or kidney failure and cause problems in the lower intestines. My symptoms were explained by a simple blood test that I had fought to have done in the hospital. Had they done it in the ER, I would have never ended up in the psych ward. (I also found out that I had C Diff which completely shocked me since my symptoms in the department had greatly improved.)
The last couple weeks have been hard. I still look “good” and “okay.” But if unchecked I could have died; whether from the ammonia or my own hand. That’s pretty scary. It just proves that no matter what you still have to know your body and no matter how sick you are, you still have to fight for your health and advocate for yourself. I had my mom to help in the ER but I was completely alone and on my own in that psych ward.
What’s still hard for me is that no one seems to understand how sick I really am. I keep explaining it and with very, very little exception I am still advocating for myself. While I know that “NO.” is a complete sentence, it makes it harder on me mentally when people are constantly second guessing you, or think you’re dramatizing the situation, or that “you have to be better by now.” This is a lifelong fight. I will one day get into remission, but that doesn’t mean I’m cured. My illnesses effect every aspect of my life even when I don’t want them too. I push through the pain every day. I don’t quit. I have been physically overdoing it lately because my mind needed it, to be distracted and “feel normal.” I’ve been going to a friend’s farm and trying to help out and talking to him and his wife and their wonderful children (his son has Lyme as well.) It takes my mind off things and I have grown very, very fond of his wife and reconnecting with an old classmate as adults has been great too.
My mom had surgery and I’m not taking my Ativan and Marinol like I’m supposed to because of taking care of her the BEST I PERSONALLY CAN. I’m still catching flack for not doing enough for her (from other people.) I’m physically exhausted. I’m not sleeping. I’m detoxing as well as I should be, but I am trying. I’m not out of danger with the ammonia yet. Its frustrating and I’ve had more than a few good cries by myself, I just wish people would take time to TRY to understand me and if they don’t believe me to look up the information themselves. I’ll even provide the test results to them. This is what I need and want from people who are supposed to and say they do love me. I don’t want drama. I don’t want a guilt trip. I don’t want pity. I want to be shown some compassion and to be understood and listened to. I know no one will full grasp the things I’m going through unless it happens to them (and I don’t wish that/this on anyone.)
This was as tough as I thought it would be to write. I read my notes/journal from the hospital. I’ve shed some tears. I’m angry today. I’m hurt. I’m just not my normal self, although over the last couple of weeks, normal seems to be a distant memory. I will get back to good. I’ll get back to my routines and nurturing myself the way I should. Hopefully, it will start tonight with a good night’s sleep (I’m taking my meds I have prescribed to get that.)
As much as I’m tired of hearing other people saying it, I just have to remind myself “This too shall pass…”