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Walking through the double doors to Psych 1 was not as nerve-racking as I had expected. I originally envisioned a room full of noise, and overly medicated patients drooling over themselves in wheelchairs. Just like they show you in the movies. Instead, I was met with an empty room, and three Nurses. In the empty room, I could see that it had books, a television, crayons, and a door that led to the outside. Looking at the door, all I could see was my disheveled reflection in the window. I noticed there were no brown recliners, but there were leather sofas, and tables with connected metal seats. The nurses station was on my right, with a counter that was so high I could barely see over it. I was told by the nurse that I needed to be searched again, to be sure that I didn’t bring anything from the other hall that I wasn’t supposed to.
I walked into a bathroom with a female Tech, just like I had done earlier that day, and we began the process. I took off my gown, my shirt, and my pants, and as we began I noticed that thrown into the corner of the moldy, and uncleaned floor were straps. The kind they use to hold down the unruly patients. Just like the ones in the movies. My stomach was churning at the thought. To the left was a small metal toilet with no water in it, only rust. There was a shower that had clumps of mold, and hair sitting on top of the drain, and the shower head itself was dangling from the wall. At the end, I was escorted back to the nurses station. I saw a male standing at the desk, and he had the same bracelet on that I did. It was then that I realized that Men and Women both occupied Psych 1. Women were down one hall, men down the other, and the nursing station was in the middle for safety. I was scared being that I never really trusted strangers, especially men in a general public setting let alone in a Mental Hospital.
I was given my sheets, and sent down my hall. My room was all they way to the end on the right. The door was impossibly heavy, and it was the only one that was shut all the way. The others were all cracked open. I pushed open the door, and when I shut it I decided to leave it cracked to have some light. When I looked around the room, I saw two other ladies asleep in their beds. My bed was in the middle of the two, and in front of the bathroom. I made my bed the best I could in the darkness, and laid down. The bed made the same noises that the recliners did, so I laid perfectly still, attempting not to make too much noise. I could hear what sounded like the ticking of a clock, but I couldn’t see where it was, but I was thankful to have it. The sound was soothing, and it gave me something to focus on. I closed my eyes and somehow, I slept.
We were awoken at six o’clock in the morning, by a Tech slamming the door wide open, flashing the lights on, and yelling “Get up! Get Up! Time for vitals!” My eyes shot open, and my heart was racing. I glanced around the room in an attempt to find the clock, and saw that it was right in front of my bed on the wall. It was barely 6:05 AM and I was the only one who woke up as told, so I used this opportunity to use the bathroom, and clean up some. I was impressed with this bathroom compared to the others. It had faux marble counters, a clean shower curtain, and no mold anywhere. There was still no lock on the door, but I could reach the handle from the toilet seat. I leaned forward, and held onto the handle as I went, to ensure no one would be able to just walk in. That was probably one of the most anxiety filled moments I had dealt with thus far.
When I walked out to get my vitals done, I saw the men and women all grouped together. Some were laying on the couches trying to get back to sleep, others were staring into space, and some where pacing back and forth. One guy was yelling, and claiming he was “God.” He exclaimed that he was “superior to all the other men here.” I was trying to just find a seat and sit quietly, as I didn’t want to talk to anyone, or do anything but continue being a good patient so I could go home. They took my vitals, and they told me to go wait in line for breakfast. I was hoping they served real food in this part of the hospital because I was starving. We stood in a single file line with ladies in the front and men in the back for 20 minutes. We had to wait for everyone to get their vitals done before we could go and eat. We were then sanitized one by one, as the Techs walked down the line pouring Hand sanitizer in our hands, and instructing us to use it and rub it up to our elbows. I didn’t understand it, but I did it without question.
When the Tech opened the door all I could smell was the scent of breakfast sausage, and biscuits. I was hoping it wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me. My stomach was rumbling, and we walked into the breakfast room, grabbed our trays one by one, and we were served our breakfast. I was relieved to see real food and we had exactly what I had smelled. Sausage biscuits, oatmeal, a fruit-cup, lemonade, and a small container of orange juice. I sat down at a table, and when I went to pull the chair I realized these take muscle to move. I was weak from being tired so I pulled it out the most I could, and sat down. Three other patients joined me at my table, and these three people would become my friends. They would become my confidants, and the people I would turn to, and learn about over the next few days.