Agitating is the best way to describe the cold, eerie commercial way people handle mental illness during a psychiatric admissions intake. You would hope and even assume that they would be warmer, given the circumstances and the obvious awareness that this soon to be patient is in fact nervous… or better yet terrified!
The non-chalant scripted conversations to be had upon admittance is frightening when considering you are entrusting these individuals with your sanity. Humbly approaching strangers with your secrets on your hands, pleading for help. The raredy of kindness is a perfect example for the reason that stigmatism exists. If we cannot depend upon the ones that are trained to know us better than we know ourselves, how do you suppose we should hope the rest of society to.
The counselor was warm but the questions were brutal. The sounds of my own nervous feet tipping and tapping on the floor as my hands taper away at the sticker on the health form placed in front of me.
“Do you drink?”
“Yes” I say sheepishly
“Do you do any controlled substances” he asks.
My face reddens and suddenly I panic.
“Will this effect my job or life in anyway?”
Afraid of the ultimate admittance of something he’s probably heard a million times before but to me this was new. This was the first for me. This was my fear. The fear of the world knowing I had flaws and of course they knew but I had yet to admit it. Even to myself….
Writing is organized, well thought out and provides a release that requires no after effect. When you write your thoughts, you almost never have to see how the readers perceive you. In therapy, you are supposed to essentially provide all these trying and delicate emotions that you have within you. You’re to share these personal thoughts, feelings and history that not even some of the closest people to you know. Not only does it feel invasive, it’s embarrassing to say the least.
It’s all for the greater good you tell yourself and so I hunker down and open my mouth like a good little patient in anticipation that they will fix me.
Eventually I am scurried from one doctor to the next listing again and again all the reasons that I am here and the events that led me to this point.
As I sit in another office furnished with the same melodramatic furniture from the last 3 offices. I wait silently and read all the posters and brochures available to pass the time. Suicide hotlines are apparently a trend here and I have read up on all of the signs; should I or a loved one feel the need to end his or her own life.
Suddenly my psychologist arrives and though everyone before her has heavily stated and reassured me of how much I would love her, I am saddened to realize I in fact do not like her one bit.
She’s a scraggly women that appears to be in her late 30’s but with no real care towards her image or apparel, she could easily be mistaken for much older. I analyze her tight blonde bun, her cold exterior and the way she welcomes me to the program without providing a smile or even a bit of eye contact. I immediately notice that she has no ring and it becomes apparent that it maybe fitting. Perhsps a divorce or no marriage at all I wonder. Now you may ask, what her marriage or social life matters to me but humor me if you will. Would you go to some one for baby advise if they never had a baby? How could I expect this stranger that has seen and learned but never experienced family or stress for herself which ultimately are all the triggers that cause my mania and depression. I want someone who understands and is relatable.
So without providing boundaries and not a care in the world as I assume she knows based on my chart, that I’m crazy! I out right ask her if she’s married? Has she ever suffered from a mental illness? Does she have children ? All answers lead to no. She then returns to her notepad and begins to ask the same questions I have been asked time and time again.
“Do you think you have powers?”
“Does the radio or Tv talk to you?”
“Do you feel everyone is out to get you or that your phone is tapped?”
With a strike of the pen, I am told yet again I have rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Meds are changed again and I will be escorted to campus for a full tour of the facilities. Within a blink of an eye she’s gone and I feel no better. In some instances I actually feel worse and it all suddenly hits me like a ton of bricks. I feel a bit woozy and the room starts spinning. I hold onto the table in need of reassurance that I will not collapse. The realization that I have actually just admitted myself to a psychiatric hospital is unnerving and surreal. A new stage in my life has begun and I know that I’m in for a tall order.
I urge myself to look beyond the obvious and carry an open mind. Either way I better buckle up as I’m in for an adventurous ride…