Later in this post there will be some NSFW language and music. I’m pretty sure the songs are not safe for anywhere, but I love them, because Ben Folds is bitchin’ and this story is whack.
By my third day on the unit I’d seen people come and go and now we had a few new nutjobs. Suwanee (her real name because COME ON), Youngblood, Sister Carrie, Tracy, Ed Hardy, Wilhelm, and Topher. It was an interesting mix to say the least.
Suwanee only ever wore a hospital gown, I assumed she didn’t have any real clothes. She only appeared every once in awhile. Once she showed up to the informal Morning Group and said “do it look like I been fighting a chicken?” I said no, but her hair looked as crazy as I was positive she was. When she was asked to read her form, she said “I don’t want nobody knowing my business.” And that was all that was heard from Suwanee.
Precious college student, Youngblood, was in the hospital for depression (everyone says it’s depression, even if it’s more than that – I suspected it was more) after his first real breakup with a longterm girlfriend. He was adorable in that sweet puppydog way. He was happy when he arrived to our unit from another unit – his happiness never faded. He did magic tricks for us and read a book about the Holocaust when he wasn’t interacting with anyone. He mostly stayed to himself. One day Youngblood went to Recreation (it was optional, I never went) and it was Tracy’s first day. Tracy seemed to be a 30something woman who wasn’t all there. She took Youngblood’s book and started copying it word-for-word in her journal. I told her it was Youngblood’s and he would be back soon, she said she was just copying it. I looked into the imaginary video camera – breaking the 4th wall that had to be my movie: Kerry, Interrupted. There were several times like that on the unit – where things were so bizarre it couldn’t be scripted. She gave the book back when Youngblood came back from recreation and later picked it up again. Later he couldn’t find it and we found it in Tracy’s room. The next day she was copying a chapter of a math construction textbook into her journal, apparently because Youngblood was released and took his book with him.
Topher called Tracy “the hills have eyes” and that was about right. I said above that she wasn’t all there, but truth be told, her elevator not only didn’t go to the top floor, it never opened. Tracy said on her first day that she was admitted because of domestic violence. OK – no one is admitted to a mental hospital because THEY were abused. The girl was not right. Besides copying Youngblood’s book, she told Topher, Jem, and me that she’d been writing since she was in grade school. She said she had stories in the book she was reading – that I saw on one of the coffee table my first couple of days there. What a coincidence!
In group and in the gameroom or at courtyard break, she constantly interrupted when others were talking. Our poor therapist said “let’s get back on track” every time Tracy spoke. It got to the point where I didn’t want to share anything in group because I knew that she would have to interrupt. She seemed not to be able to help it. After Ed Hardy had told his heartwrenching story about his wife, I mentioned that my husband was in a similar situation in a closed head injury accident when he was 18 and Tracy had to jump in and ask what hospital he was in and if I knew the street it was on. Our therapist stopped her and she said “that’s ok, I can look it up later.” Dear Lawd.
Later we were in the gameroom – Topher, Jem, and I on our sofa – Sister Carrie in her chair, Tracy in the chair next to her. I was writing. I was always writing in my journal because I had to document this strange trip I was on. She asked me what I was writing and I said it was just my journal, but for some reason I said I was a writer. What the hell was I thinking? Tracy asked me how to copyright something. Remember how she said she had stories in the book that happened to be in the gameroom? I told her she would have to contact the copyright office. She asked if it was in D.C. and I said “probably.” She asked me what the steps were and I said “steps to what?” The freaking Yellow Brick Road? She said, “the steps to getting something copyrighted.” I told her she’d have to look into that herself because I wasn’t Google.
Later on, she got a phone call. There were two phones for patients to use on the unit, on opposite sides of the gameroom. My roommate, Purple Rain was on one phone, so the nurses rang the other for Tracy. She refused the phone call because she wanted to use the phone Purple Rain was on, then she walked off – into a column. It was comedy gold.
When Ed arrived on the unit he slept for awhile, like most of the patients did, but when he came into the gameroom his pants were sagging like a wet diaper. Belts were not allowed on the unit because we might hang ourselves, so he had zip ties holding his pants up, except he didn’t have enough zip ties because he held onto them every time he walked around. They were approximately 10 sizes too big for him. He wore and Ed Hardy shirt and Ed Hardy pants. The pants were emblazoned with rhinestones on the ass with roses and something on the sides. The words “Ed Hardy” were embroidered across the ass and underneath were rhinestoned flaming eyeballs. It was disturbing. He wore teal underwear. I didn’t need to know that. You did not need to know that. I saw him wear the same clothes for four days. At 8pm on his second day, Ed finally had a bag of clothes delivered. You would think he would shower and put on fresh clothes, right? Nope. He started a slowish-pacing around the gameroom. It was weird. I saw him wear the same clothes for four days. You didn’t want to know that either.
On my last day in group with our therapist, Ed finally spoke. He said that the reason he was there was because he couldn’t handle things anymore, that his depression was eating him alive. The depression was caused due to his young wife being in a nursing home. No one said anything, not even Tracy. He began to cry and someone passed him the box of tissues. He broke down. He opened up. I teared up. His wife was visiting someone in a hospital and there was a freak elevator accident. The cable(s) snapped and she was slammed against the top and bottom of the elevator and suffered multiple broken bones as well as a closed head injury with brain damage. Ed stopped short of saying she was a vegetable. She would most likely never recover and would remain in the nursing home for the rest of her days. His story was truly tragic. It’s what would be a Lifetime Movie if she fully recovered in the end and found out they had a baby while she was in the coma and she and Ed Hardy lived happily ever after. But none of us on the unit were in a Lifetime Movie. Ed was in his late twenties and had a lifetime of decisions ahead of him. He was someone I truly felt for and hope he finds an answer and someday finds happiness.
Good Lawd, where do I start? Sister Carrie’s first night there, she kept her roommate up turning the light on and off and speaking in different voices. It was so loud that my roommate thought the gameroom tv was on. And that was our introduction to Sister Carrie.
Then she would whistle. Some of us called her “The Giggler,” but to me she will always be Sister Carrie. The next day we were in Group and we heard very loud giggling. It was Sister Carrie – alone in her room. For the rest of the time Rita was there, she was The Giggler – like a Batman villain – The Giggler.
No one knew why Sister Carrie was there, she wouldn’t read her form and never said anything in Group, if she came. She sat in the same chair in the gameroom the whole time I was there and watched the Gospel channels. I thought I’d try to talk to her because I’m a glutton for punishment. I asked her if she’d heard of the pastor T.D. Jakes and if he still had a show on tv. She said “I dunno. This no show – this the Gospel channel. It’s the only thing I watch.” Yes, I wrote that down as soon as she said it. While watching the Gospel channels (there were many of them, maybe two in English), Sister Carrie would repeat whatever the tv preacher said to repeat. Yes, she did. “Say ‘I proclaim the Son of God!'” and Sister Carrie and the tv congregation said (loudly) “I proclaim the Son of God!” Other times she would talk to herself endlessly at a volume none of us could make out. We felt like we had to ask if we could change the channel because she was so much older than us.
For all but one day, Sister Carrie wore nightgowns and as she would fall asleep watching the Gospel channels, she’d slip into sleep and her knees would spread and we could all see her granny panties. Did I mention she always sat across from me? She did. She carried her Bible around at all times (Topher said “she carries it around like a dog”). My favorite thing about Sister Carrie is that one day she had her Bible open in her lap and Wilhelm asked her what book she was reading – it was obviously the Bible and she had been reading it for a few days – she said “this book right here? This the Bible!” OK, I was expecting her to say that, but then Wilhelm asked “yeah, but which book?” Without skipping a beat, Sister Carrie yelled: “THE HOLY BIBLE!” I had to go to my room and laugh into my pillow.
I could not stand this guy. He was three years younger than me. Gangly. Bad skin. Bad hair cut. Wore much-too-big superhero or Texans tshirts with jorts. He had poor social skills. Every time he read his form, he said he was there for issues with rage and anger, medication readjustment, and to gain coping skills – every time and in the same order. I learned that this was not Wilhelm’s 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time in the psych hospital rodeo. He brought up other hospitals he had been in and that he had repeatedly done the outpatient at the hospital we were in. He constantly talked about music and movies of “our” era. I would think “no, I am not in ‘your era’ and I am nothing like you.” He had visitors every day, his sister and brother-in-law. He lived in a garage apartment at their house and apparently his parents died and left him a great deal of money in a trust that his sister dealt out. He was clearly not in his right mind. He retained a great deal of knowledge about history and things, but came across as a human Wikipedia pop-up ad that you couldn’t get rid of no matter how many times you clicked the X.
And the reason this post is titled “The Bitch Went Nutz,” Sabrina
I never nicknamed her in the hospital. I don’t know why. She had so many issues that it was impossible to nickname her. Nothing stuck out. I’ve decided to refer to her as Sabrina on the blog as in Sabrina the teenage witch. It wasn’t her fault. We never really found out the specific cause of her being on the unit, but she couldn’t read or write, so to me, that didn’t mean she was “high functioning” as we were repeatedly told we were. She was clearly autistic and a paranoid schizophrenic. She drew beautifully, but wrote letters the wrong way if she tried to title her drawings. She would make sexual statements out of nowhere and it shocked me. At times she was this little girl desperate for someone to tell her she wasn’t fat, then she was this 20 year old talking about sexual conquests. It was disturbing. There were hints that there was someone behind those dead eyes. She wouldn’t watch the tv in the gameroom because she said tvs had monsters in them. One night she hallucinated rather badly. It was a night on the weekend when we had another nursing staff who hadn’t had the benefit of knowing her. She said there were monsters in her room and had drawn a picture of what she had seen – a black dog’s body with a red evil-looking human face. It was downright scary. The next day in group, she told our therapist about it and was given a STRESSBALL to deal with her hallucinations. Now, like I’ve said, I’m not a psychiatrist and I only took two psych classes in college, but can you tell me how a stressball can reduce hallucinations? Anyone? Bueller?
The day that Mean Doc Pomus had ECT, Sabrina said her “feeling word” for the day was “paranoid.” I didn’t like the sound of that. Keep that in mind for what I’m writing now. The day went by normally. I knew I was being released the following day. I was feeling detached, but better. At some point in the day, Sabrina approached the sofa of Jem, Topher, and Kerry. Remember, she didn’t have Rita to mother over her anymore and Mean Doc Pomus had taken her under his wing – so he was influencing her. She asked us our opinions on ECT. We (as a group) told her that it seemed drastic and that she was still very young and that after that there was no reverse. We also told her that it was something she needed to discuss with her parents (who visited her everyday) and her therapist and psychiatrist. I mentioned that we were also psychiatric patients who were in the same hospital and we probably weren’t the best source of advice on this subject (even though I did take those 3 psych courses). Almost immediately, Mean Doc Pomus motioned for Sabrina to come over to the table where he was sitting. She sat with him and they talked about us for half an hour, which is not an exaggeration, we could hear them. The room wasn’t THAT large.
At the same time as Sabrina left us, a nurse brought over a letter from Jem’s sister. He had had no contact with his family since being admitted. Jem tried to commit suicide and was addicted to opioids. His family had been there for him several times, but apparently this was the last straw. His sister’s wedding was that upcoming weekend and he desperately wanted to attend the wedding. He let us read the letter. She said that she was supportive and threw in plenty of Bible verses, which is quite well-meaning, but when you’re dealing with mental illness and drug addiction, it’s not very welcome. His sister wanted him to go to a Christian all-male rehab somewhere in Texas and sent a business card of the pastor who ran the rehab. We analyzed the letter. Every word. I was good at that. I’d been over-analyzing everything my whole life. We sat on our sofa discussing that she meant well, that he wanted to go to the wedding, that his parents weren’t being supported, that his therapist wasn’t “getting him,” that he couldn’t count on his old druggie friends, obviously. He was basically out of options. I understood that because of what my parents had been through with my sister. I told Jem that at least his sister was reaching out and that it showed hope.
After that, it was courtyard break and almost everyone went out except for Sister Carrie, Topher, and me. The group and the nurse with them had been down longer than the usual 15 minutes. Then there was a flurry of activity of nurses and staff and a nurse brought Sabrina up alone. She was hysterical. Crying, rocking – clearly disturbed, saying she burned herself. Sister Carrie slept through the whole thing. Topher and I huddled up on the sofa because it was truly frightening. We didn’t know if we should go to our rooms or stay there or if everything would be ok and she just had some sort of accident. Except this was clearly not some accident by the way the staff was acting. They sat Sabrina down with a nurse, then a male nurse came from another unit and they opened the door to “the quiet room” and put Sabrina in there with the door open. She stared at us with the dead eyes she had. The phrase “if looks could kill” did not apply here. It wasn’t just a hostile look or a violent look – it was a look of someone who had no soul and would take mine. I had never been so uncomfortable in my life. Again, none of the staff was in the room. I assumed they were trying to figure out what to do with her. A police officer walked through the unit through a locked door on the hallway my room was on. After 15 minutes or so, a nurse brought the rest of the group up. Sabrina was still in the quiet room, door open. Jem came and sat with us. He whispered that he was talking with people across the courtyard from another unit and Sabrina approached him yelling that she lost her best friend, referring to Jem (who she had only just met days before), then put her cigarette out on her thigh and ran into the side of the brick building with the intention to hurt herself. That’s when nurses and techs interveined and brought her upstairs. It became apparent that Sabrina would be brought to another unit and two staff had her by the arms and brought her to the elevator. Before getting into the elevator, she turned to stare directly at Jem, Topher, and me and yelled like I’ve never heard a person yell “fuck all y’all. You can all go to hell!” Then she was whisked away on the elevator to unit 1.
- I have never had someone yell at me like that.
- I was scared.
- Staff did not discuss it and shortly told us we were to go to bed.
- Thank sweet American Baby Jesus for Xanax
Afterward, Purple Rain told me that Sabrina had sat behind the sofa listening to us talk about Jem’s letter and our analysis of it. We assumed she thought we were talking about her, with each time we said “what is she thinking” or “she’s just trying to be helpful” or Jem saying “there’s no way I’m doing what she’s saying.” Apparently her imagination put her over the edge. Remember: her word of the day was paranoid. Why none of the staff paid attention to that, I have no idea, but the whole situation could have been avoided if that would have been addressed early that morning. I felt bad for Sabrina, but at the same time, she didn’t need to be on our unit from day one. She wasn’t high functioning. It was sad and tragic. I can only imagine her whole life will be like that. In and out of hospitals and bouncing back and forth between parents and step parents.
But, the bitch did in fact go nuts. Maybe you had to be there.
Mean Doc Pomus rolled to his room spewing expletives and had words with Jem. I was so stirred up I don’t remember what was said, besides MDP saying “it’s them three!” with expletives thrown in. It was a scary night that I was ready to put to bed.
Here are two completely different versions of the Ben Folds songs. I’m not saying you need to listen to both, but you do.