Friday, May 28, 2010

a cautionary tale

If you want to skip reading this one I will sum it up for you: Lisa + vodka= four point restraints. But if you want the gory, humiliating, and (let's be honest) kind of funny details of a twelve hour period of my life which occured back in the summer of 2000, read on. But be warned, this was the Old Lisa. You know, the crazy one.

I found myself one Sunday afternoon on the inpatient psych ward at St. Lukes hospital, facing a commitment hearing the following morning, which I was sure to lose. About a week prior to this I arrived to the hospital by ambulance from my sister's house, where I passed out (sort of, I was concious but could not get off the floor and my heart was doing crazy things). Several days of IV fluids had me feeling better, but now the plan was to send me to the eating disorders treatment center at UIHC (evil hell) against my will. I didn't have much hope of getting out of it because I had lost committment hearings in the past, when I was in much better shape.
Alone, depressed, powerless, future uncertain. What's a girl to do? Getting wasted seemed like a fabulous idea.

I started calling everyone I knew who might bring me alcohol. Oddly enough, I kept getting shot down. It seemed nobody wanted get wasted with me on the psych ward on a Sunday night? Just when visiting hours were about over and I had all but given up I got ahold of my friend Liz, who was happy to hear from me and delighted to smuggle in some contraband.

Liz showed up within 20 minutes and we both went straight to my room and closed the door. I was on a mission :get wasted, eff it, who cares. I drank till my head spun, then hid the rest of the vodka in my hospital issued mouthwash bottle (after pouring the mouthwash out under the bed, since my bathroom was locked). Then visiting hours were over and Liz had to go, and I weaved my way down to the dayroom.

From here on out it's kind of a blur. there are some things I remember very clearly, and some things that I did I do not remember at all, but were told to me by other patients the next day. Apparently I got up on the pool table and started giving a speech about freedom to the other patients. I remember the speech, vaguely, but I do not remember the pool table. I remember hearing my name on the loudspeaker, asking me to report to the nurses station immediately. I remember to long walk down the hall to the nurses station, the way the walls were swaying as I tried to make it there without falling down. I don't remember if I was successful or not.

The next memory, I am in my room, and one staff is searching the room and another one is sort of frisking me and shaking me at the same time and saying "what did you take? What did she give you?".
Me (slurring): "kiss my ass!"
Me again:"But first you'd have to shave it! Haha!"
Yes, in my drunken stupidity I had insulted myself. Classy. But if you need any more evidence as to why I shouldn't drink, read on.
They left and I was alone sitting on my bed, with a staff person sitting in a chair outside my room keeping an eye on me. I remember falling out of my bed and landing on my head, but it didn't hurt, just sort of felt like I was floating down. Staff helps me back into my bed. I don't remember much after that.

Here's where the other patients fill in the blanks. They weren't supposed to go down the hall where my room was because of the "crisis", but several of them kept finding excuses to walk by and get a glimpse of the drama. Apparently at some point I crawled out of my room and partway down the hall. When staff asked my where I thought I was going I replied "I'm going to f-ing Pizza Hut". Also I threw up all over my room and the nurse was overheard saying "well, at least we know she ate dinner!".

But I guess things got a little crazy when the lab showed up to draw my blood. I totally flipped out, which is why I woke up the next morning in the seclusion room in restraints.

I drank so much that when I woke up monday morning I was still a little drunk. So I was not alarmed to find myself strapped down in the seclusion room. Maybe I was a little amused? You have to remember, at this point in my life I was quite dysfunctional and didn't care about much. Anyways, as I lay there surveying my situation, it dawned on me that I was wearing scrubs. I realized that at some point while I was unconscious (or semi-conscious) someone had stripped me and changed my clothes. Things seemed less funny after that.

After being checked on several times, a nurse came in and unstrapped me. She brought me out of the seclusion room and over to a chair in front of the nurses station and said "SIT". So I sat there. I'm not sure how much time passed, but eventually my doctor came on the unit, walked right over to me, and said "I can't believe I had to get a phone call at 10:30 last night for an order to put you in restraints! There is no longer any doubt in my mind that you need to be committed, only now I am rethinking my recommendation on where they send you after discharge!" Then he huffed away.

Next my court-appointed lawyer shows up. "Lisa, it doesn't look good."

"I know." I say.

When it is time, the nurse takes me from my chair to the room where the committment hearing takes place. I sit silently through the whole thing and don't say much. There's no point.

After the hearing, the nurse asks me if I want to go to the bathroom and get cleaned up. I shuffle into the bathroom, look in the mirror, and find that my hair is wild and crazy and I have dried puke on my face.

I just sat through my hearing with dried puke on my face.

I will end this story here. It just goes on and on and gets more painful and embarrassing. For years. Until eventually, remarkably, against all odds and predictions, I start to come out of it. I think maybe getting pregnant with Emma was what jumpstarted it. I started eating, quit drinking, started going to church. I did these things, not because I was sure that "health" was what I wanted, but because of my deep "mother's love" for my daughter. I had to take care of myself, to take care of her. A few more years would pass, bringing marriage and another baby along the way, before I really began to see that life without the eating disorder was possible, and worth fighting for.
I guess I'm still fighting. I have my ups and downs, but when I think back to where I used to be I realize how far I've come. It's like looking at a completely different person. When I look back I see a sad, desperate girl, acting out because she is afraid to face her feelings, desperately wanting help but unwilling to accept it, spinning her wheels in the mud that is the life that she created for herself.

I'm so glad I'm not her anymore.


Amber Rochelle said...

You have such an amzing story to tell...and you have come soooo far. Being able to pull yourself out of that spot attests to your wonderful character. There are plenty of parents out there who love their kids, but continue in that destructive cycle regardless. I know you still have a hard time, and that there may be slip-ups, but I see you trying SO HARD to do what's best for your daughters. I hope one day you'll be doing it for your daughters and because YOU deserve better.

And...I love your writing. I felt bad laughing because this story is not at all funny, but the way you write about it put a humerous twist to it. If you ever wrote a book I'd buy it!

Sairs said...

My story, is similiar but without the eating disorder and the alcohol. Because I got diagnosed with borderline personality disorder when I was 21, I decided, if I'm crazy, I will act crazy. I did this for years and had over 85 hospital admissions in that time. When I went to emergency, the staff knew me, the security guards knew me and in that hospital, I have 5 very think files on my psych history. It took me many years to break out of it and I finally stopped wanting to do crazy things and get better and started to listen to the nurses. I'm still struggling with the added diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but I'm getting there. One day at a time. I think you have done awesomely. Well done for wanting to be well and putting others needs first, like your children. I think you have an amazing story :-)

battleinmind said...

I agree with Amber, your story of progress is really amazing. I did giggle at the way you wrote this, I agree with Amber - you write a book and I am SO buying it!

bananas said...

"I'm going to f'ing Pizza Hut!"

Is it bad that I laughed while reading this?