Tales from the Psych Ward (Part 2): Getting to Know Other Patients

Finally Getting Roomed

When they made the decision to keep me, I was kept in a room with a TV watching old movies and Law and Order: SVU. I kept asking when they were going to take me upstairs and one of the techs asked why I wanted to go upstairs so bad (I was thinking that this unit was an equal representation of upstairs…. yeah, I was wrong). I told her that I wanted my time to start (which ended up not mattering but, as I said in Part One, they like to mess with folks).

When I got to my room, I met my roommate, Janice. She was asleep and I didn’t turn any lights in. I just sat down to wait for the meds to help me sleep. They couldn’t give me my usual meds until I saw the psychiatrist. I had gotten to the ward until around 10:30 p.m. so everyone was pretty much asleep and the day was over.

Before I even went to my room, I was told that I was going to love my roommate because she was the nicest lady. They did NOT lie one bit. I won’t tell her business as it’s hers to tell but, when I go to places like this, or hear the stories of other people, it makes me feel that MY little problems are nothing compared to some of things a lot of these people (especially) have been through.

She was asleep but she woke up and greeted me “Hey baby!” I smiled and said “Hi” and she told me I had the prettiest smile. I thanked her and just stayed quiet because you have to learn where you are before getting too comfortable and I’m not really good with new people.

The nurse brought me my meds and I went to sleep to wake up to a new day and a new routine.

My First Day…. SMH

I woke up and talked to my roommate and we bonded. We talked about why we were there, how we were feeling, our families, all that. She said that she knew that I was a good person the first time she saw me. This has happened before in the psych ward as this is (again) my second time here.

Oh, by the way, the upstairs was the same as it was TWELVE years ago. A hot mess. I think they added more doors to get out though. But yeah….. fun times. Anyhow, the docs make their rounds (if that’s what you want to call it). First you are awakened early so they can take all your vitals. You get your vitals done and you can go back to sleep or whatever it is you want to do until it’s time for breakfast. They ordered me pancakes and they were cold. I think I got turkey bacon too. This subject is going to be talked about later on as I feel that the food that the rest of the hospital gets should be the same as the food that WE got. For some reason, that is no longer the case. I can say that the first time I was there, that WAS the case. The food was good. And it was the same as what the other people in the hospital got. I will remember to talk about this subject at the end of this series as I have a lot to say about how people with mental illnesses are treated as opposed to people with physical illnesses. You can’t claim that a mental illness is just like a physical illness while treating the people that have mental illnesses differently but I have a lot to say about that as someone who is IN the medical field with a mental illness.

Anyhow, they asked their little stale questions:

  1. How do you feel today?
  2. How did you sleep?
  3. Are you hearing voices?
  4. Do you want to harm yourself?
  5. Do you want to harm anyone else?

These questions, if you know the game, are easy to get by on. They observe you throughout the day as well and pay attention to whether you come to group or not (they didn’t even tell us about group until Monday when a lot of their people came back from training and vacation but I will speak on that later as well) but anyone can fake their way out of a psych ward without REALLY being well if that’s what they want to do.

At one point, I was asked to step outside of the room so that they could talk to my roommate with HIPPA and all (we both were in the room from then on because I likely knew more than the docs did and she did too regarding my situation so we had no secrets). When I stepped outside, I went to the group area to see what the layout was.

The med techs had already come around to say “hi” as my roommate was very popular among the staff because she’s just REALLY nice and I actually care about her to this day. We exchanged numbers but her phone has been off and I have texted her and called her a number of times. I hope she is okay.

Anyhow, I go to the group area and stand against the wall. This (I’m trying not to cuss right now) PERSON stares at me. So I notice her staring at me like she had a problem. I will preface this situation and my reaction with the fact that I had missed ONE dose of my medication (just like the last time I got taken in by the POLICE to the psych ward). So I say “Hi, is everything okay?” This broad says to me “No, you bumped me”. I’m looking around because I didn’t bump a soul and haven’t had my meds and I feel the Hulk rising up because, again, ALL I NEED IS A REASON TO MESS SOMEONE UP! So I clasp my hands together and I say to her “Oh, I didn’t know. If I did, I apologize.”

She stood there continuing to stare at me. You can consider me triggered. I don’t like to be picked on and I don’t like people LYING on me. Those are some things that will take me to a whole other place. The med techs were sitting there and they saw a switch turn. One told me to come to them and she held my hands and said “She tries to start stuff with everyone. You didn’t bump her.” I knew I didn’t but the mere fact that you think that you want to really mess with me when I just got there like I won’t literally murder you (and all the ways I could kill her were going through my mind because…. NO MEDS). So I started crying. Most people that know people know that, when certain people cry, it’s not out of sadness, it’s out of rage and the mere fact that you know you’ll get into trouble if you kill someone.

So I walked up the hall and my roommate was coming out. I was punching my hand like it was her face. I then went into my room and started punching the mess out of that hard bed. And when I say I punched that bed hard, I mean, I punched it until my knuckles were bleeding and swollen. I was SO pissed.

My roommate was using a wheelchair because she had knee and back issues from a fall so she hurried up and wheeled herself up there. The med techs were going to come but she told them she had it. And some folks came out of the social worker room looking for the “shot”. I will tell you about the shot a little later. SMH

Somebody always has to try you!

My roommate comes in and holds my hands. I’m crying my eyes out because, again, I KNOW what I am capable of and, just like with my daughter, this is NOT appropriate behavior to lash out and beat someone to a pulp when they touched a nerve. So she wiped my tears and told me to breathe. The staff looked in from the outside and just let her handle it. But that broad took me somewhere that many people haven’t seen in many years. That was going to be her last day on earth and I meant that. So I stayed away from the group area for a while. I just wanted them to give me my meds. I feel like it was a bit of a set up because I didn’t get ANY meds until Friday night after the psychiatrist had evaluated me and “talked to me”. Please believe that I am going to do a deep dive into what I feel is wrong with mental institutions as well as the concern that people with mental illnesses have been pushed out with the closing of so many hospitals that were to help with mental health. But I don’t want to digress because this will really become a rant.

When you know your triggers (see Knowing Your Triggers), you know to avoid them. So I stayed in my room. This broad comes up the hall to one of the med techs (now, mind you, this broad has been at the hospital longer than I have and it is explained to EVERYONE that the color of the scrubs tells you their role) and she asks “Who are you? Are you security?” The med tech just shook her head and was like “No, I’m a med tech”. This heffa says to her “So, if something pops off, are you going to call security?” At that moment, I wanted to bash her head into that wall but my five day stay would have been a LOT longer. She was going to die. I was like “Is she trying me right now as in is she imPLYING that she’s going to fight me and doesn’t want security to stop HER beating me up? Are you THINKING about starting something with me so I can stomp your head and bash it into the ground?”

When the dummy went back to her room (next door to mine and connected by a shower), the med tech just told me “Sis, don’t worry about her. She has picked a fight with EVERYONE here!”

I got the lowdown on this heffa: Her name is Mary and I don’t care if she reads this blog, GOD saved her. When my case worker came around and the psychiatrist (ONE) came around, they asked if I wanted to commit homicide and I said “Yes, to that broad over there”. They were like “Don’t worry, she’s going home in a few hours.” They basically were kicking her to the curb. I later found out that she flashed a med tech and then got mad when they took him off the floor. I learned that she picked a fight with someone that was about to leave and the people had to be like “Don’t you want to go home (this later happened with me in ANOTHER incident the day before I was set to go home)”.

I learned that she would try to interrupt everyone talking to the specific med tech (the med techs were attractive from what I could see above the mask. The women were beautiful and the men were BIG like tall and muscular or some were just imposing. Ain’t nobody trying to fight them), that she had turned the light off on my roommate the day I got there while she was taking a shower, and that she had tried to slap this beautiful younger patient (I’ll tell you about her in the ‘character’ section) there that was so sweet. Had I known all of this beforehand, I probably would have exacted revenge on her for everyone because NO ONE likes a bully. I hate bullies with everything I have in me.

This is getting a bit long so let me just tell you about some of the people I met and some of the shenanigans that I witnessed while there because this is only part 2 of a literal series that cannot be all addressed in a FEW blogs.

The Cast and Crew of the Circus

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com
  1. Chips: I called her chips because all she talked about was the chips and how the people were trying to poison her. She would just bust out with funny stuff and no one knew what she was talking about. She reminded me of Crazy Eyes on Orange is the New Black. I liked her. Whenever I didn’t want my chips, I would give them to her. When that broad I wanted to kill left, she gave her her snacks. I still hate that broad though. But Chips claimed she was pregnant although she was found to be in her 50s. I don’t know nothing anymore. LOL
  2. The Little Engine that Could: Known for trying to be covert and come on the women’s side (the sides for the sexes are not really separated), slamming doors, and stealing food, this dude barely can walk and shuffles down the hallway like he’s going to get somewhere quickly. I got into it with him because he came to the group area and just turned off the light for nothing. Like for why? Literally WHY?! I told him he was petty and he talked about fighting me while shuffling up the hallway. SMH. Again, why? But I can’t take credit for the name as my roommate gave him that name.
  3. The Screamer: I almost got into a fight with her. If I were to guess, based off the days I was there and observed her, I would say she had schizophrenia. She had to get a number of shots to put her down. She cussed folks out for no reason and they had the GALL to put someone in the room with her. I get that they needed to fill the beds as people were downstairs (and I told them I would volunteer as tribute to go BACK downstairs where the TV was but they said no). She got into it with this old guy that looked like my dad and he told her (after reading the bible to us) to “Shut up you old gray haired BITCH!” And then they proceeded to, in slow motion, get up to fight. It took everything in even the STAFF to keep it together. This happened when the regular staff had come back and were training NEW staff. I got into it with her when I was taking my linens to the dirty pile. You have to cross through the group room to do so. So, when I did so, I said “Excuse me” both times I came through. She says to me when I come back through “What you lookin at bitch?!” Man, my response was “Do you want to die today?” She didn’t make her slow motion move to get up but I told her that I would knock her old ass out and then the med techs were like “Kendra, do you want to go home tomorrow? Just let it go.” I stayed away from the group room again.
  4. The Sweetheart: I don’t know how her switch was turned when she first got there but she got released the day before I did. When I was annoyed that I wasn’t going to go home in the 3 days I thought I was going to, she offered me some literature. She was such a beautiful little thing and a mom. She had manners and was just the sweetest. She gave my roommate a hug and was like “Would you like a hug?” I was like “I’m not a hugger but I’ll take a hug from you.” She said to me “I’m not a hugger either. Thank you for accepting my hug.”
  5. The Starer: This broad was so unsettling that her roommate asked to be in another room which happened to end up being the Screamer’s room. She just stood around staring. Wasn’t nobody messing with her. Them quiet ones are the ones you need to be scared of. I know that because of two of my siblings. That ain’t no fight you want, believe me.
  6. Preppy: I will only call her that (no malice) because she spoke properly. I found out that she was very educated and we both write blogs. She also has a number of degrees and we were talking about our experience with the facility and wanted to facilitate some sort of reform. But she was cool people. I didn’t get to talk to her much but I hope to connect with her again.
  7. White Lady: She was the only White person on the women’s side and felt so bad for her. She signed herself out and resigned to live in her car because they were going to send her to a DC Homeless Shelter and we all knew she was going to be targeted just because of the color of her skin. I did give her my number. I really hope she’s okay.
  8. Sis: My roommate. We changed one another’s lives in the five days we were together. I got her to be compliant with her meds by explaining what they were for. She calmed me down when I was pissed and I calmed her down. I was her listening ear and she was mine. I hope she gets in touch with me soon as she is on my mind because she was ready to give up and I was telling her all the reasons why she couldn’t give up and how the hospital was putting her in a better position than some of the other people that left. I really hope she calls me or texts me at least to let me know she is okay. We made a promise not to ever be inside those walls again.
  9. The Birds: Yes, we had birds outside. At around 8:00 p.m. these little reddish looking birds would come to our window. They had a nest above our window it seems. A few times two would congregate and we would make up stories about where they came from, their names, and what they were talking about. We were BORED!!!!!

I will add that you really don’t know if any of the stories told are true. You only know by what you observe because I caught some people in a few lies while I was there but I didn’t say anything. If the number of things change and how they got to the fourth floor is hazy or they don’t remember, you have to kind of just nod and smile. I nodded and smile a lot with Chips. LOL You just had to especially because you couldn’t really understand anything she said but I have to say that the day I met her, I gave her Chips as her name because allllll she talked about was Chips. Lay’s Chips, sour cream and onion but um… we only got plain. She also told me she like the chili and cheese Fritos. I kind of want to go there and just give her some but I don’t want to set foot back in that place unless I have to.

I’m Going to Stop Here for Now

In my next part, I’m going to talk about the “therapy” given while I was there. That’s enough for a blog right there. I will talk about the conditions as well as what I felt could have been handled better. Because I am an objective person, I really had to look outside of myself as to some of the reasons why things were the way they were and the first thing that I totally forgot was COVID. That makes a big difference.

Anyway, thank you for reading the second part of this mess of a story. I mean, the old people fights were pretty funny. And there were a NUMBER of them. And the Little Engine That Could was just a hot mess.

Published by tallgirl79

Blogging about life. Well, my life. As a black, bipolar, mom to a teenager with special needs, well, there is always a story to tell. From my aversion to having a man to my weird experiences while trying to avoid people, it's all there. Being me is.... different but it always makes for good blogs.

5 thoughts on “Tales from the Psych Ward (Part 2): Getting to Know Other Patients

  1. Oh Kendra, what a mess that psych ward is. I was worried for you whenever someone wanted to fight and was so proud of you from walking away from that awful woman and not engaging with her terrible behaviour. That must have been so hard for you but you made good choices. I’m so thankful your room mate was a lovely lady – having a friend in a psych ward is like finding gold, seriously – it’s such a blessing. Were your rooms nice and the beds comfortable? Was the bed linen nice (sorry, I love interior design and decoration – and it’s especially important in a hospital)? Did they offer you guys stuff to do in the day? You said only the downstairs area had a tv so I’m worried they didn’t give patients anything to do in the upstairs area. Sending you lots of love, Janet xx

    1. They had “group” every day but the “group” wasn’t really told to us until like Monday when the real staff came back. I don’t know what people’s issue was with that but it all changed dramatically. I told the people whenever they came around and asked about if I was going to group and stuff changed. Because you can’t judge us on our attendance at group when we don’t know there is group. But I will be talking about this in my next part.

      The beds were hard. That’s how my hand was swollen and bleeding from punching the bed. It was just a crappy atmosphere but we got to watch TV in the group area, color, and do word puzzles. I snuck some markers to my room. They weren’t worried. I put them back before I left. LOL

      1. Lol good thinking. I think colouring in is a great activity to soothe an anxious mind. I’m sorry the beds were so hard and I hope your hand is ok xx

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