I left the hospital about a month ago.
I didn’t write earlier for many reasons. Initially, I was denied technology for the first 10 days of my hospitalization at the closed-up ward.
They took everything. I was allowed my bed and a few magazines. My luggage was searched. Chargers and electronics were sent home. Glass was separated from plastic. Belts were taken away from clothes. Everything else went into either a small closet to which the nurses held the key, or to the nurses’ office, access to which was upon their discretion. My cigarettes and lighter were locked up too. I got about 3 to 4 smoking breaks; always accompanied.
Interaction was limited. The idea was to spend time to heal without any distractions. Noises were rare – except for the TV that was on low volume. I remember watching Forest Gump while sitting (luckily) on one of the three recliners. Lights were dimmed.
I had visits from my family daily. I was eventually allowed to go down to the yard and cafeteria with them. I would have coffee and sometimes a kinder bueno. I slept 12 hours and ate together with the other five patients at the common table. My diet was mostly derived from the cabbage family. I think this was the cook’s punishment for vegetarians. I surely don’t have vitamin K1 deficiency.
We traded food as we complained about it. It was the highlight of our day. We also shared two bathrooms and a shower. They gave me a bedsheet instead of a towel. Sometimes people forgot to flush. I had to return my shampoo as soon as I finished. At night they sometimes did random searches of the rooms. They would put things back in the closet or their office. This period always reminded me of the Jungle Book song “The Bear Necessities”…
I had daily visits from either one of the doctors or the intern. They would ask all sorts of questions initially to establish my story, my case. It was intense in the beginning then it became more of a routine. I was weaned off my long list of drugs and little by little I had 3 instead of 8.
Without a mobile, we had access to a phone line from 2 to 8 pm. It was religious for me to call home at 7. I would then speak to the children. I would beg the little one to sing me a song.
I began to cry after a few days. I missed my kids and although I could see my eldest in the garden, it was very impersonal and cold. My problem was my youngest. I was dying to hold him. He had never been away from me all that time and I had plenty of time on my hands. I obsessed about seeing him. I dreamt of him, heard him calling my name. I held his tiny blue car I had taken with me to the hospital. I looked at his picture most of the time. I was itching inside to see him.
Doctors had mercy eventually and I was moved to the open section. It basically meant that I could soon have the right to go out for a few hours. I was in a triple room though, I had absolutely no privacy. At the time it didn’t matter because all I cared about was holding my children tight.
My phone was given back to me but I could neither connect to social media, nor write. My stay at the closed ward influenced me to a degree I cannot explain. I thought it shall pass. I thought I will eventually answer calls or at least reply to messages. I am still in my bubble. This is where I feel safe. I still have dinner at 6 PM.
Eventually I was let out. I was on Prozac and lithium. After a few painful blood tests done by intern nurses, the doctors agreed that it is time to move to the real world. I could manage my nausea then. I hadn’t talked about this side effect to anyone. I feared they would change drugs again. I had had a few “mock” stays at home for 48 hours, and as these went well, they had no reason not to let me out.
I was extremely happy. Cured I thought. I was on a cloud. I savored my sheets, my coffee, my family. I felt liberated and free from the weight of all the previous drugs that left me with countless side effects.
I was managing my own medication. No suicidal thoughts. I could get dressed and go out for dinner. I didn’t fall asleep by the time the starter arrived. I did not snore or have awful nightmares. I didn’t wake up at 3 am to empty the fridge.
Yet, I could not write. It drove me crazy. It was as though my mind was emptied – literally. This caused me great pain. Little by little the cloud of happiness was disappearing. Gravity hit in fast and I was left with my initial illness of 2 years ago that hadn’t been treated till now. I felt all the personality changes that follow taking so much drugs. I look at the mirror and wonder who is looking back at me. I barely recognize myself, although I guess we keep the same values.
What keeps me afloat is my family. I cannot break my husband’s heart by falling again. I cannot imagine not seeing my baby boy. It is unthinkable to put my daughter through this one more time. And I honestly don’t know if my father can survive one more of my attacks.
You get the general feeling. I am scared. I also tremble. It is from the lithium. My hands are shaky and my face twitches sometimes.
I look like all color has been taken away from me. My world is black and white. I laugh sometimes, but it is momentarily. The thing I love doing the most is staying in bed alone, but my doctor says I shouldn’t.
My main concern is that this illness has taken over my brain, my life. It is the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I have on my mind at night.
I sleep poorly and have had some ugly panic attacks. My husband sits me through them and holds my hand to help me breath. He tries everything from rubbing my feet to aromatherapy. It eventually passes and leaves me incredibly tired as if I ran a marathon.
Now, I have to start therapy but I don’t feel like talking to a stranger. It has been three weeks since I had to take an appointment. I am scared of the slightest changes. When will I say I am me again? Oh dear, do I really want that?