Thursday, December 7, 2006

Memoirs from a Mental Hospital Part I…

I do not think there are any more interesting places to write about than the confines of the psychiatric ward of a hospital. I’ve just spent the better part of a week locked inside of one so I have lots of writing material and I am just bursting at the seams wanting to get it all out.

It all started last Saturday night. I was feeling horrible and wracked with paranoia. I got my father to drive me to the hospital and voluntarily admitted myself. This distinctly surprised my father so he knew then, that I was in dire straights. My parent’s showed a lot of empathy and concern during this ordeal which surprised me even further.

Psychiatric hospitals are an interesting place to be for sure. It is kind of like jail except with decent food. Much of the people that are patients are court ordered and are under strict lock and key. You spend much of your time just pacing the floor of your room or endlessly walking the hospital halls until the nurses get tired of seeing you and state and ask you, “You sure are pacing and walking a lot. Should I let the doctor know you are not feeling well?” That was their way of saying, “You’re getting on my nerves. We will sedate you if you don’t stop what you are doing.”

I will start with a simple cast of characters followed by many tales as the days unfold this weekend.

1) Silent Peter – Silent Pete was a great guy and my favorite of all the patients I spent time with on the ward. He was in the hospital because he had tried to commit suicide a few days earlier by overdosing on his anti-psychotic medications. He rarely said a word and when he did, it was profound. He was a voracious reader and I think he consumed a good shelf of books in the dayroom while we were there. Pete usually hung out with me as I can be kind of quiet and reserved as well in real life. Pete also suffered from schizophrenia and extreme social anxiety so we had a common bond.

2) Endlessly Talking Bi-Polar Dude – This guy got on everyone’s nerves. The only time he quit talking was to sleep and he didn’t sleep much. Last night, they finally put him on continuous watch which gave us all a kind of collective sigh and revenge. He couldn’t even take a shit without a male nurse standing there and watching. He had been hiding his xanax under tongue until he got a sizable dosage saved up to get “high.” He forgot that they thoroughly search our rooms at random while we are there. His favorite saying was that he could “break three hundred bones, three hundred ways in a man’s body,” and “I am fluent in three martial arts.” He was full of shit. He was so fat, he couldn’t move a few inches without getting winded.

3) Gentle Giant Ben – Giant Ben was an interesting character. He looked like your stereotypical hillbilly out of the movies or TV. shows. He was also deaf so talked like a deaf person does in a Down’s syndrome kind of way. He had wild hair and an even wilder beard. I never once saw him take a bath the whole week I was at the hospital. He was the most amazing lip reader for being totally deaf. As long as he could see your face, you could carry on a fluent conversation with him although he was hard to understand sometimes. Gentle Giant Ben was famous for his projectile diarrhea and flatulence experience that explosively rang and echoed through the halls of the hospital one evening. To bad he didn’t hear it.

4) Streaking Kenny – Kenny was this tall and lanky African American dude that was there on court order. The police had found him walking down his neighborhood street completely stark naked. Kenny had a penchant for playing pocket pool and was uncomfortable to be around because of it. Pocket pool is where you masturbate via the pocket of your pants. Kenny also snorted and grunted like some wild animal the whole time I was there and it got on my nerves.

5) Rowdy Rodney – Rodney’s role within the group was flirting with all the nurses which he did with aplomb. He was a handsome dapper of a man. He was waiting to be transported by the local sheriff to the state mental hospital in Montgomery, Alabama. Rodney was a tiny little Italian looking guy, but a voracious eater. He would order two of everything on the little menus they would give us everyday to choose our meals. He would boast at mealtime, “I have the heaviest food tray out of all of ya’s!”

To be continued…


Cheryl said...

Oh, this is good, good, good. You are quite the storyteller. What a treat to check back and see a new title. You sound like you're doing really well. Take care, OK?

m said...

Did Kenny ever live in Ypsilanti MI? I did volunteer work at psychiatric hospital up there and one of the younger patients was a lanky African American male named Kenny.

PS You don't have to answer my question. I imagine there are a lot of Kenny's out there in the world.

PSPS I wish they would make pyschiatric hospitals less like prison. They should be warm comforting places.

PSPSPS I am GLAD you are back.

SKQBDOO said...

Wow, I am so glad you are ok. I guess the bright side is that you got some really good material for the blog!

Holly said...

So glad you are back and feeling better Andrew! We all missed you bunches :)

******* said...

Dude...glad to see all your pistons are firing again...In the years I have been reading your various blogs, this hiatus had me truly worried. I've said it before and I will say it again....there is a best seller inside your writing.
Glad your back...shoot me an email when you get a chance

Kristen said...

Ahhhhh (sigh of contentment), Andrew is back. :)

I have spent some time visiting in mental hospitals, so can picture your new cast of characters quite well.

Rest and take care of yourself. You did very well to check in and get help. Reward yourself with something special. You sure deserve it.

(My rewards are all-day gardening when the garden is not covered with snow; air popped popcorn with hot curry spices, butter and olive oil, or perhaps a hot bath with bath salts and a good book to read.)

Sometimes the simple pleasures in life can be very rewarding, and having you share yours with us is a gift to us all.

zirelda said...

I'm glad to see you back Andrew.

latibug said...

I'm glad you are back. I'm loving your writing. I hope we get a chance to read many more of your stories over the next few days.


HEN said...


So gald to see that you are back. I too have spent my fair share in mental hospitals and they are a great place to get some writing material. Glad to hear that you are ok. Can't wait to hear your stories, they make my day.