Friday, November 15, 2013

Life As A Nomad: Psychiatric Facilities and Why I Write

This post is tagged with the following triggers: self harm, trauma related to abuses of power; however, I am fairly certain that this post will not turn out to be triggering. But I feel the need to put this up before the words come out of my hands.

I remember long nights in the summer. I was one with this land, behind the trees. slipping on moss in the creek and rising again in laughter. Here, I am safe even when the sun goes to bed. I climb up mountains of earth and wise trees, branches that reached out toward me, inviting. I would take hold as I would a hand shake or a tight embrace. It is the close to human, sheer loving hug I ever experienced as a child.

I would scale to the top and perch myself safely in the perfect limb in the daylight; sturdy and shaped just for me. This was my joy, my safety as rays of sun would reach down to the squirrels and snakes alike. There was no danger in this place. Many would argue as thorns further down the path and far away from anyone else they grew huge lengths and hidden within life threatening poison.

But I just looked and smiled at how the trees know us too well and in their own defense stand up for themselves, tall and mighty and with no compromise.

There was one tree in particular as I reached the top I sat above and could see the whole town and even the Missouri River bridge. A few more hours previous my mother and former step father had decided to divorce. That alone was not sad to me as I looked down at the house I lived in. It was a nightmare place, a place that drove me deep into the woods to find comfort.

As I gazed it a realization hit me and rattled my very core: I am a nomad, and a nomad has no home. A nomad moves from place to place for short stretches of time, then once all resources were gone has to pack their things and leave.

The tears only came at that time because once we moved, I knew that I would never be allowed back into this wonderful sanctuary. I would never again be in a place where the birds sing cheerfully, or see a doe within a few yards of me, gazing back but not running away as she knew I was not there to harm...I was simply there because I too needed a haven like this.

I walked back to to that house...then toppled into the psychiatric ward. Some there were criminals, others wailing in psychic pain. The first time I found myself in this place, the screaming resonated in my soul.

I wept, whether for me or for them I know not.

I am a nomad. Even with a roof over my head...I have no home.

~*~

You will never know torture until you find yourself among many who have botched suicides and now have to cope with hurting others, being called selfish, loathsome...

Worthless.

You will never know how desperately we need to be free and be among the outside land until you are locked in a place with a heavy metal door with a clang, as if you were in prison. You are already imprisoned by haunting thoughts and insatiable urges to tear your skin until there is nothing left.

Rip yourself to shreds.

My first psychiatric hospitalization was in children's unit. The truth was it wasn't a bad place and I daresay there were moments of comfort in the weeks I was there.

But my second admission to a psychiatric floor was when I was 18. And adult floor. As all the other patients shuffle lifelessly and without aim or cause while others chatter become silent on my arrival, and that door clangs shut.. and I heard the  the dead bolt lock...my arms and legs went limp. I sunk to my knees and it began to rain lightly on my face with tears.

I came in with a few things since I didn't know how long I would be staying. But they dug through everything. They read my journal and didn't allow me to have it back.

To take away a writer's words away from them is to shove them in a closet and lock the door. To my horror, they had such closet. It is called a "quiet room". In it there is only a mattress, no window, no sheets or blankets. When someone is in it the door is locked and there is only a tiny hole to look through. This door also clangs with the same sickening sound.

And the person who is in there is never quiet. They are screaming, spinning, beating their fists into hard tile. They crumble inward eventually and fall silent. When they come out of it, they leave their broken heart there as well in the name of "safety" for that person to not harm themselves or others.

But all of that is subjective. I have seen it used as retaliation.

I have passed by these locked quiet rooms too many times. That is why I know what the person does and how badly it breaks them.

Because it happened to me.


I ended up in a quiet room deprived of sound. I had only a socked foot so I couldn't even feel the sound waves. If I raised my voice it only increased the time I had to spend there.

After being slammed in there four times in three months I'd had enough. After having been electrocuted dozens upon dozens of times, I'd had enough. After pushing the limits of Madness herself I'd had enough.

I'd had enough. Sleepless night after sleepless night, the screaming horror of being in in dark crevices of my mind and being swallowed whole, spit back out mangled and covered in acids a vile putrid smells, stripped of my dignity I finally stood up and shouted

"ENOUGH!!!"

That was partially my CHOICE. I could have eaten their drugs, stayed in that quiet room and taken up residence in the catacombs of forgotten memories, lost in time and space. I could have stayed in those group homes, served decaf coffee and foods that I was allergic to and no alternative, continued to share a room with a dead woman (that's right. I was in a group home and the woman stopped breathing in the middle of the night. BiPap machine didn't beep and in the morning I woke up next to a corpse). I could have done all of that.

In this I lost my voice. Even where I live now, is labeled a "group home" but I live in my own apartment. I have staff for minor things like panic, and have my own medical equipment here in my apartment since the med techs have no clue how to administer IM medications. I have had things taken from me that no one should ever have the right to.

But I -- we -- can only lose it if we let it go.

This is why I write. I write because words flow like a river from me. They occur without prompt, they find me and I paint them on this canvas (which take many forms, not just blogger) to show how terribly beautiful life is with coping with a chronic illness.

I write to give all of us hope. I BELIEVE IN HOPE. I will never sit here and encourage you or me to hang it up for good. I don't care what paper says. I don't even believe in numbers (albeit another topic entirely), so they mean nothing to me other than what a medical professional may see and speak.

I write because we need each other, period. Sick or not. Suffering or soaring. Dead on the inside or done...you aren't alone.

I am not strong. I need you to understand that. I don't possess some human superpower that reaches beyond the scope of imagination...I indeed have peace that surpasses all understanding in Jesus Christ and that is the basic truth. That is where I turn. That is how I remain standing.

That is how I am even able to write.

In this I mean no offense. But this is truth to me. I'm not demanding or asking you to take these beliefs as yours. I mean only this...and that is I am no different than any of you.

The only difference is one voice. And if one voice can make such a difference...how about two?

Three?

More?

I leave you with the chorus to this 90's one hit wonder bands that many in the states will know by Chumbawumba. In my low moments I listen to this song in my head and I come here to bring you comfort in times where I would need it. I hope this is helping someone.

Sing it with me friends:

I get knocked down
But I get up again 
You ain't ever gonna keep me down.

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