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Going in, I never thought I would be admitted. I wore my favorite Maroon sneakers, my leggings, and my Harry Potter shirt that read “Mischief Managed” with a criss-crossed front, and my hair was thrown in its traditional ponytail. I left my backpack in the car, and walked up to the Mental Health Hospital entrance, hand in hand with my husband. There were two sets of doors. They buzz you into the first set, and then when those doors close, they buzz you into the second, basically trapping you in a little enclosure to ensure you can’t leave without a badge or them allowing you out. That alone had me anxious because I loathe confined spaces. When we entered, I was nervous, shaking, and could barely speak to the receptionist. She handed me my clipboard and told me to fill it out, typical doctor appointment protocol. However, this place felt far from typical. It seemed more like a jail rather than a place to go to for help.
I sat by a door, and every time they opened it, I could see inside, and it was a little unnerving. I could see chairs, white hospital blankets, and people. Mostly men, and I could hear groans, a few screams, and some people were crying. There were also nursing techs in black scrubs, just walking around aimlessly... It made me extremely uneasy, and my anxiety was kicked into high gear, and I couldn’t stop shaking. I was ready to go home at that point but it was only 10 minutes into what would turn into an hour and a half wait. In the waiting room was a woman who was sent in for detox, a young guy (had to be 18 or so) who was dirty and disheveled, and then me (and my husband). There was also a man looking to pick up his friend. He was in the wrong area, and as I had nothing else to do, I was listening to his conversation with the receptionist, which I now regret, because what he said next had my blood boiling. He said, “I’m here to pick up my friend, and this looks like the place where crazy people go.” Crazy people? Really?! I was infuriated that someone would insinuate that I was crazy. I definitely wanted to go home after that, and I was sure I would. It was then that they called me back.
The social worker's name was Jess. I know she seemed a little off and tired, and she even had a little bit of a snooty attitude, which was the last thing I wanted to deal with. She asked the standard questions you get at any hospital, or doctor's office. Drug use? No. Alcohol abuse? No. Suicidal thoughts? Kind of. (Hint, that's the answer that got me stuck there). Of course I had suicidal thoughts. I was (still am at times) depressed. I was coming down from Mania, and that is the worst, most depressing feeling ever. They were, however, just thoughts. Fleeting and never lingering thoughts, let alone anything I would ever take any physical action. Yet here she was, the all perfect social worker, looking at me like I was broken, and treating me even more so. Looking at me with some sort of sympathetic look that I guess she thought would make me feel better, but instead made me feel like she was judging me because of my thoughts.
Overall, I felt fine. A little worried, and a bit emotional being that I just had to relive my manic episode that led me to that hospital in the first place. It also wasn’t going to be the last time I would have to relive those days that I would rather forget. Even with those emotions, and the anxiety I was feeling at the time, I didn’t feel like I needed to be admitted, but apparently Jess felt differently.
She began talking to my husband, as if I wasn’t in the room anymore. I didn’t know what was happening and I was obviously listening into the conversation and my heart began to sink. She was giving him info on how he could reach me, where I would be, and what would happen next. I thought to myself "Reach me? Where I’ll be? What on earth is this girl talking about?!" Finally after what seemed like 10 minutes, she turned to me and said she was going to take me back. She asked me if I had any personal belongings on me and told me I would be seeing a counselor next to see if being admitted was necessary. She even told my husband that it shouldn’t be more than a few hours! I later realized that was a lie. I basically was doing everything in my power to not cry, and I just held onto my husband.
We walked out of her office and into the lobby. I wanted to run, but those double set doors were in the way. I gave my husband a hug and a kiss and I held on tight. I didn’t want to be trapped there, and I knew that once I let go, I knew I would be. I reluctantly let him out of my arms and handed him my cell phone and we said “see you later," since we were sure I would be home by tonight. I began walking with Jess, a woman I had a little bit of hate towards because I felt like she was to blame for this, and I saw what direction we were walking in. We were walking towards that door. The one I sat next to in the waiting room, and the one that made me anxious. My heart was racing, and I couldn’t feel my legs. This was it. There was no turning back and my stay in the mental hospital began.