Psych!

Again I find myself wondering how authentic (meaning "not anonymous") I should be on this blog. The point of blogging can change from blog to blog, writer to writer, and day to day, after all, and I do have a profession to consider. "Your blog has been an issue," a coworker said recently. "Everyone knows about it." All right. Well, just as they don't have to talk to me, they don't have to read it.

That debate can and will go on probably infinitely. I'll skip to my conclusion, which was I will not have an anonymous "extra" blog, and I will tell my stories because I have something to say. If you have time you should watch this video. In it the lady says a bunch of feel-good stuff out of which I drew the point that a lot of people are seriously messed up, and maybe it's not so bad to just say what we think. Indeed, maybe we NEED to do so.

But readers may wonder, "why would she write that?" Or "why ADMIT you have anxiety and depression if you're a nurse?" Usually the answer to the first is "because I feel like it." I think of bloggers like The Bloggess and wonder the same thing (in her case, the answer is "because it's fucking funny"). To the second, my answer is, because a LOT of nurses have untreated mental illnesses that are making them miserable and not affecting their practice in any way (a distinction I make because admitting you may be impaired is another issue entirely, one that I am not talking about here), and there is no reason for it. And so I will now proceed to...

NNR Goes to a Mental Hospital After Spending the Night on Tele for Multiple Episodes of SVT and Chest Pain Which Turned Out to Be Annoying but Not Dangerous yet Still Require Imminent Cardiac Ablation

I've written before about how psychiatric illnesses are ridiculously stigmatized. I don't like it. I'm even annoyed with myself for wondering whether I should write about having them. If I had diabetes or cancer I'd write about it all the time. I was in a spot where I just needed some help---think of it as the mental equivalent of a diabetic who is danger of diabetic coma because they just can't manage their blood sugars at home. I tried, hard, but it didn't work, so I went to an inpatient psych hospital for a few days. Like a little vacation out of town only none of the drawers open and you get really crappy food. Also, there's no bar, and they don't allow conjugal visits.

I know this because I had to sign a list of things I wouldn't do, and conjugal visits were on there. "I don't even have conjugal visits at HOME," I said. "Girl, you tellin' me," said the lady checking me in.

Mostly "orientation" there is a giant list of things you cannot have or do.

You can't have any strings, including shoelaces. This is so you cannot choke yourself. Since hoodies are my uniform year-round, they spent a lot of time yanking strings out of my sweatshirts. I was wearing Converse Chucks and those fall off your feet without laces, so they fastened them with zip ties. I've left the zip ties because they make the shoes into slip-ons. It's actually a good idea. I considered, but rejected, the idea of letting them know from my experiences in the mental health area of the ER that those things won't do jack to keep patients from smothering themselves with pillows or making their bedsheets into nooses. Both can easily be done in the 15 minutes between "checks" (seen "Girl, Interrupted"? they actually do the checks). They also did not perform a body cavity search. I mention this only because I have an unfortunate occupational knowledge of the variety and potential lethality of items that can be placed or lost in, most often, rectums.

You can't have any electronic devices. Paper books are OK, but not even a Kindle Paperwhite. How the shit am I going to kill myself with a Paperwhite? "This rule is to prevent distraction from therapy." OK, well, there are two issues with this. Three, if you count that it's STUPID. The first is that there is no therapy. Psych hospitals, no matter how you dress them up, are bins to store you while they mix the appropriate pharmaceutical brew to bring you up to the starting line with everyone else. They give you activities to do for 3 or 4 hours a day, mostly to keep you from going the rest of the way out of your mind with boredom, but if you add in sleep that still gives you a good 12 hours to sit around thinking, "Holy crap am I bored." (My roommate insisted that Khadafi had stolen her underwear, and given that I had no opening furniture or bags to put my stuff in, I mostly sat around and guarded my underwear. I mean, if your underwear is stolen, you obviously are going to have to up your supply again.) The second is that paper books are just fine. If I'm really so distracted by reading Gone With the Wind on a Kindle vs. a paper book, I probably have issues that cannot be solved by a 3-day hospital stay. I do get the no-phone/no-iPad thing from a HIPAA standpoint, because they have cameras, and you KNOW people would be all tweeting their roommate's thorazine shuffle and making fun of the fake drawers and stuff on Facebook. It would totally be bad for business.

Anyway, back to the electronics. Then they said "unless it helps your anxiety or something." Well, all right then. I (at nearly 40 years of age) set about crafting an intricate case detailing my need (NEED!) for my Nintendo 3DS, which was languishing in a security bin somewhere along with my iPad and iPhone and shoelaces and pretty much everything I had brought with me because it somehow was all contraband for some reason. This rebounded because they felt my ardent pleas for just a half hour to water my flowers in Animal Crossing were a little strange.

And speaking of Animal Crossing, this silly game I'm addicted to, my townspeople were freaking me out a little. Before the psych hospital I had a medical hospital stay because of PSVT, which with me just started and I crumpled to the floor in a heap.

IT'S LIKE THEY KNOW.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf screenshot

Animal Crossing: New Leaf screenshot

The bottom line is that I spent 2 and a half days there and emerged feeling like a not only functional, but much happier person. Going back to the diabetes parallel, I found the right mix of insulin to stabilize my sugars. It takes a while for psych meds to really get ironed out, but I've dropped my lifelong reluctance to take them. Life is short, and I no longer choose to spend it waiting for my neurotransmitters to balance themselves out. It would be nice if that could happen sans all the drama with infantilizing everyone, but I suppose there are reasons for policies, plus they have to justify the $1,500 per day tab. I wasn't excited about going, at all, but I'm glad I sucked it up and just gave it an honest try.