When I was in the hospital the last time, they taught us how to do something called zen doodling during one of the groups. Since I am not the most artistically inclined, I was hesitant to try it. But the woman told us that there were really no rules. If you can doodle, you can do this. I doodle while on the phone, so I gave it a go.
There really isn’t much to do while you are in the psych ward. Sure, there’s a TV, but you have no control of what is on unless you’re lucky enough to have the remote. For some reason, it seemed to either be cartoons or some lame movie. You can sleep, which I did often to kill the time. My last roommate liked to sit on the edge of her bed and stare at me, which was unnerving. I did my best to ignore her, but it wasn’t easy.
There is the occasional phone call, (although you only have 10 minutes) meal times, evening visits, being called to the nurses desk for medications and whatnot. You could also walk the hallways. I didn’t do that very often, but some people couldn’t sit still, so back and forth they would go.
I went to the patient fridge and tried to score some chocolate milk. Usually, I was too late.
I played Uno with a few other people one evening, until our sleepy time medications kicked in.
On the third day I was there, I was bored off my ass and lonely. Both of the ladies that I had sort of bonded with were released that day and my roommate wasn’t much of a conversationalist. So, with my paper and colored pencils in hand, I asked if I could sit with two depressed guys who were playing chess. They said sure. For about an hour, we all three sat there in comfortable silence, except when one of them would say something about the chess game. I would smile at them and they smiled back. I can’t exactly explain why I felt so much better being near them.
I felt safe.
There were many types of people in there and I did not feel very safe around them, so I appreciated these two men who let me be near them for awhile. Both attended group, so I knew their stories. One guy was contemplating getting electroshock therapy. The other was severely depressed and had been there for a long time. Both were very nice people.
Of course, I played it cool the entire time I was in there. I wanted out, you see. I am an excellent actress and the doctor let me go pretty quickly, when honestly I should have stayed longer.
These people that I met in there, I will never forget them. I hope that they get better and can see the light again. I hope that the people who heard the voices and acted so erratically can find some peace.
We all deserve to feel safe, especially within our own minds.