Planet Earth as it Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing

It was three years ago that I tried to take my own life for the second and quite serious time. I found myself on a 24-hour suicide watch in the psych ward of a respected Cambridge, MA (USA) hospital with which I was already familiar, having spent a week there for attempt number one. Life on a psych ward is rather uninteresting. Aside from the regular compulsory summons to the desk for meds (beneficial or not) and the rather unhelpful sessions with the battery of doctors assigned to pepper you with unhelpful questions to decide whether or not it’s time to discharge you, it consisted mostly of marathon sessions of “House” in the common room and me sitting quietly observing other patients. 

Due to my experience, I subdivide psych ward patients into three general categories: 1) those who, sadly, are beyond help, so traumatized, wounded or otherwise neurologically-damaged that they can and never will (likely, though I hope with all my heart otherwise) function in everyday society. I had the sad fortune of meeting a 37-year woman who was very egregious, but often combative toward other patients and frequently had to be sedated. I had a long conversation with her toward the end of my stay, in which she revealed that initially, in her late teens, she had been hospitalized by her very wealthy and influential Manhattan family (she didn’t drop a name, nor would I reveal it if she had — and she could have been lying, though I believed her) had forcibly hospitalized her. By this point, she already suffered from akathisia and dystonia, caused certainly by earlier generation anti-psychotics, which, given her description of her symptoms as a teenager, were unnecessarily prescribed.

2) Those who find themselves in the psych ward and who genuinely want to get help and recover. They are the sad ones in the room; aware of their misery and ashamed of where they’ve found themselves, but desperately wanting and willing to return or join life as defined as normal. They never are late for their appointments, are first in line for their medication, obey curfew, turn off the light in the restroom when they’re done. They’re the ones who end up recovering reliably.

Then there’s category 3: the recalcitrant ones. This is where I fell in. The ones who are unwilling to admit they have a problem and either obey reluctantly (me) or flat-out rebel (Randle McMurphy). The former category cooperates because of a misplaced belief that manipulating these particular authorities will allow them to be discharged earlier and in order to continue to follow their chosen path; and, as the mental health profession is underfunded, understaffed and subject to tragic ridicule within mainstream media, popular culture and the medical profession often, such tactics often work.

More later on my third and fourth (scarily almost fatal) attempt. 

~ by Benji on October 28, 2013.

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