Thursday, April 10, 2008

'The Man' Tales - My First Day

I didn’t know that my world was flat. But I found that out when I tipped over the edge of it and fell into the unknown and emptiness that welcomed me with open arms.

As I have said, by the time D and N went through those locking doors at the end of the hall – I had indeed tipped over the edge. I don’t know if it was them walking away and leaving me there that did it – I would like to think it wasn’t – but it happened.

I had a complete and total mental breakdown.

Not one that I went into screaming and wailing – but a quiet mental meltdown that stranded me in nowhere land. By the time the nurses (vultures) arrived with my pajamas and housecoat, I didn’t know where I was or who I was. Certainly not who these people (?) were who were forcing me to undress (what was the matter with my own clothes?)

In moments I forgot entirely about D and N and I only knew that I was sitting on a bed somewhere and everything smelled like antiseptic.

Those people made me change and took away my clothes and gave me some pills. When I went to the bathroom, they followed me. I could never pee let alone evacuate my bowels with anyone present, so I sat there and stared at the person. Eventually she stood outside the door and continually knocked and asked me if I was all right. That was slightly better, but the thought of them listening to me pee mortified me and I couldn’t.

My crying had subsided mostly into a whimper, but I couldn’t stop wringing my hands. That action made it hard for me to do anything for a long time as I just couldn’t stop. Eventually I noted that I was in a room with three other beds and I wandered out of there, only to get immediately lost.

I did not know where I was. I did not know who I was.

I know it sounds impossible to forget who you are, but believe me it does happen.

I stood against the wall and cried, dropping my Kleenex around me when it fell out of my wringing hands. Those (vultures) continually checked on me and made me swallow pills. Then they checked my mouth to make sure I had done so and eventually led me back to my room – pointing out my name on the little card by the side of the door. I didn’t know who they were talking about.

Everywhere I went, even just to sit on the bed they said was mine, they followed me. Sometimes I understood their language, sometimes I didn’t. During those times I just ignored them. When I looked into the polished steel that was suspended over the bathroom sink – I saw a stranger. So I ignored her too.

Mealtime on that first day soon revealed that I was indeed a freak and that they didn’t have any food for me. Intolerant to gluten, and with the kitchen closed, I went hungry and wondered what I had done to be punished so.

Eventually they gave me some more pills and helped me into bed. I cried and cried, wringing my hands under the blankets, hungry and alone in my own little world. All through the night they came in to the room and checked on me.

The woman in the bed beside me got up at 3am and talked to herself. I felt it was my duty to help her and I got up too and together we went into the lunchroom and worked on something she had devised in her own world. I didn’t have a clue what it was then and I don’t now. But much like a religious leader - I felt compelled to try to heal her with my words. Eventually I wore out and the (vultures) took me back to the room once more after I started crying that I was lost. I forgot about my neighbor instantly as I huddled in my blankets and wondered what tomorrow would bring in this strange new world.

My blank mind rested.


softinthehead said...

Aims your description of your experience is mind boggling (excuse the pun). amazing writing as always :)

John-Michael said...

("I do not want you to be writing this alone." [this is my constant thought as I have read the last 3 postings ... sans comment.]) I want to be there, by your side, as you re-enter this dreadful place of recollection. I want to hold your hand. Say nothing (for there is truly nothing to be said.)But be as much a Guardian Friend as I can make you to be aware of having. I think that 'they' call this Love. Wanting to give Oneself for the comfort and reassurance of Another.

I love You.

lisa marie said...

I bet you have forgotten much of that time there and it's probably best you have. XO

Beckie said...

I'm so glad you're writing and sharing this. It is heart wrenching to read. Hugs to you.

Lane said...

To be so closely monitored but not fed that first day? I don't know why but that strikes me as horribly sad.

You're very brave to take us through this Aims.

CrazyCath said...

Aims as you know I see this from two sides and your writing is revelationary even when I am aware of some of the things you mention. I can put names to the tasks you describe and that saddens me - that they are often just tasks to the staff. You know now that there are those who ARE vultures and there are those who are not. But in that crazy, mixed up world breakdown takes us, it all merges into one.
Losing yourself is the hardest bit of all. That bit I can identify with very much too. Not knowing where, who, what or why I am... frightening.

There is a reason we forget painful experiences. We know they are there, but sometimes the details are fuzzy. It is the mind's own natural defence mechanism. Don't break through yours for the benefit of us only to damage yourself by remembering that which your mind protects you from.

I have an award for you at my place. Keep well. Keep safe my friend.

dawn said...

A terrible first day. I have a friend who mentioned avoiding going to that place in the mind. She did spend time in the hospital for anxiety. Thanks for your great writing.

I Beatrice said...

If your place was anything like the one in which I was briefly incarcerated, then many of the 'nurses' were not so much vultures as untrained thugs! I don't use that word lightly, believe me. It's the tragedy of such places that they often attract quite the wrong sorts of people. Trained people cost more, and are therefore rather thin on the ground - and being a trained nurse myself, I could more easily see all the deficiencies.

It was a similar set-up when I used to visit a friend in a nursing home for 'the incurables' (Yes, it really was called that until just recently!). There was roughly one trained person for every ten untrained... and the standard of care was at best well-meaning, at worst atrocious!

And now that I have an autistic grandson, I find that the teachers reserved for the Special Needs children are quite often untrained, and totally indadequate....

One gets the feeling that the philosophy must be "they're dulally anyway, so they won't notice" !

Which is a deeply shameful thing in a modern society which is supposed to 'care'!

Stinking Billy said...

Wee aims, it is difficult to accept that you could ever fully recover from such an experience, and I find myself trying to cheer you up with humour as I write my own posts. How silly is that?

Mima said...

It must be incredibly hard to go back to this time, and takes huge courage. I was very lucky when it happened to me that I never reached the stage where I needed that level of help, so I will never be able to fully understand what it would be like, but your writing takes me as close as it is possible to go.

Just so glad that you are now recovered and well enough to be able to revisit this time, just go gently on yourself as you do so, and my thoughts are with you.

Momma said...

It's amazing to experience this with you, inside your memory. It must have been quite frightening. My daughter has been hospitalized many times, and she doesn't really talk about it. I know that I always cried when I left her there, but they saved her from herself when things got really bad. Sounds like they saved you, too, but I can't imagine a worse feeling than going into a tailspin mentally, only to be treated like a prisoner.

Peace - D

Anonymous said...

Aims, be easy, go slowly and calmly. Offer only what you can handle. Many hugs and prayers for you. Margie

aims said...

SITH - thank you again!

JM - You are a guardian friend! I can feel your warm thoughts from here. Thank you JM for all of your love and warm thoughts and caring.

Lisa Marie - I don't know. There are indeed blank spots as I wandered in that empty place. But other times I remember clear as day.

Beckie - As long as it helps someone else - then it is worth it.

Lane - Someone always falls through the cracks..guess it was meant to be me that day.

Crazycath - Thank you for such an incredible award!
That place and time is in brackets in my mind...if you know what I mean. But - I need to write it - I will eventually get to it in my book and this is like practise. Hard to do but worth the effort in the end.

Dawn - There are more of us out there than most people realize.

Dearest B - Thank you for this comment. I know it was a hard thing for you to do. Indeed - our 'caring' society turns their heads when anything like this is mentioned. Shameful how the people are treated - not only in those institutions - but out of as well.
Thank you my friend.

Billy - Oh dear heart! I would hug you if I could!! I for one am overwhelmed and don't find it silly at all!

Mima - Thank you so much for your kind words. The revisiting is harder than I am letting all your kind wishes are really appreciated and taken to heart.

Momma - My heart goes out to your daughter. I understand her reticence completely. It is almost indescribable what happens to your mind during these times. I will keep trying in an effort to help others.

Margie - Thank you so much! I really appreciate - and need - all of your well wishes.

david mcmahon said...

You are NEVER alone.

CrazyCath said...

Aims - If you need to write it, write it. Just do it for YOU and no one else. And as David said, you are NEVER alone. Take your time and go easy on yourself. And for God's sake make sure you back up your blog! don't go through all this (if you want it for your book) then lose it in the ether somewhere!

I DO know what you mean about the brackets. I do that too. I just haven't been brave enough to open them. And for now, don't need to.

And you are an awesome writer and so deserve that award. I am glad you like it. It took ages to make! lol

Sweet Irene said...

I don't know how you do it Aims, how you can give such a vivid description of such a traumatic experience, but you must be going through some of that hell again now. You are a brave woman and it also shows how far you have come in your life to be able to do this and to write down the words with such clarity and feeling. You are an amazing and kindred spirit.

Carolyn said...

Another painfully vivid and truthful post. Thank you for writing it.

The Lehners in France said...

Hi Aims, I have an award over here for you, fancy some fizzy plonk?

Flowerpot said...

Yes I've been there aims. Good to meet you and hope to do so again. Not a good place to be.

Mya said...

This is compelling stuff, Aims. I hope that in revisiting the experience and re-telling your story so vividly, some kind of catharsis,healing will take place. You're a brave woman.

Mya x

Living the Dream said...

very hard to read, even harder to understand what you went through, but remember I am with you in spirit. You are an incredible lady and I have said so many times, I wish I knew you in person

San said...

Thank you, Aims, for sharing this, as treacherous as it is to revisit. It's important for us to be your witnesses.

Mean Mom said...

I'm very sad and sorry that you had to go through that and your post has made me shiver, for some reason which I don't totally understand. I think you must have described it too well!! I'm glad it was a while ago, anyway.

rilly super said...

Hi aims, sounds like you survived all that in spite of the treatment rather than because of it. I hope that re telling it is more helpful than hurtful.
all the best

Sandi McBride said...

This is one of those rare times that I'm left speechless. I don't know what to say, I just want to hug you.

quilly said...

I was also a victim of abuse. There is much I don't remember, but this I know, to confront the memories and hold them up to the light of day weakens the grip they have on our soul in the dark of night.

My heart and prayers are with you.