“Holy shit, I don’t belong here!” That was my first thought as I sat in the day room looking around at my fellow patients.
I mean, I’d just gone a little mental, right? The moment came and left. Yeah, i tried to kill myself. I’d fucked up my arms, but I don’t have any desire to die now. No, quite the oppossite, I want to get the hell up out of here so I can live…before one of these people–
“Hello, I’m Mary. What’s your name?” The front of Mary’s pants are soaked in about five gallons of piss. In fact, I smell her before I see her. She holds her hand out for a shake, which I do not accept. She holds it there for an uncomfortably long period of time. “Do you know what I’m going to do when I get out of here?” Mary’s mouth widens out into a lipstick smeared grin. “I’m going to open up pizza parlors! I’m going to buy this place and turn it into a pizza parlor!”
Now, hear me. I’m not making fun of Mary. Mary was most likely suffering from some form of Schizophrenia; an awful disease of the mind that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. BUT that does highlight a huge way in which the American mental healthcare system has failed the people in need. You can’t box people together that are suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, drug withdrawal (they had a guy mixed in that was withdrawing from fentanyl patches) and that are just inside to get their meds readjusted. All of these illnesses or issues require different forms of treatment, there are different behaviors on display. I’m no expert on psychology or psychiatry, but I was scared witless within my first 15 minutes of being in that place and I shouldn’t have felt that way. I shouldn’t have been cowering on the other side of the room while some man suffering from delusions tore the day room apart and used the furniture for exercise equipment before he was restrained and hauled off…we weren’t there for the same thing. How was I supposed to get better and get my mind right when I was constantly scared for my well being? When the therapy wasn’t tailored for my specific condition? I’m sure many that have gone through the mental healthcare system in this country have thought the same damn thing.
But I don’t place that blame on the facility. Mental health in this country is vastly underfunded and the few facilities that are in place to help the general public are vastly overcrowded. We’re a country that dumps its mentally ill into prisons. That’s shameful. I was looking at the statistics for one prison in New York yesterday; 60 percent of the prisoners suffer from a mental illness and receive no treatment.
The next time someone wants to get on TV and bitch about American values and morality, how about we talk about the way this country treats its mentally ill and then move on from there–once they’ve dealt with that issue then I’ll be willing to hear why a pair of tits on late night television is ruining the mind of the American teenager.
Sorry for the small rant, but it’s a passionate issue for me.
So yeah, I was in an extremely diverse population of people. People suffering from every brand of mental illness you can think of. It was the furthest thing from therapeutic. Trying to hold a group, when you have such a diversity of mental illness represented in the circle, is next to impossible; they were comedic, to say the least. I mean, can you imagine if we tried to treat every form of cancer the same? Some need chemo and some folks just need to get a suspicious mole cut off.
Anyway, next time I’ll take you through what a typical day inside was like–from the heavily caloric breakfast to the feeding frenzy that was medication time.