Hello again ATS!
A couple of weeks back I promised to write a thread detailing the strange journey and twists that my life has taken over the past several months and
how I wound up being a literal “Missing Person” without even knowing it...
But then, as seems to be the case with me these days, life got in the way. I do not quite know how or why it happens – I just know that chaos seems
to really really
like me for some reason. Not that I am complaining as it is not all bad. It is just that sometimes a little NON chaos might
At any rate – I am here now to fulfill my promise and tell my tale.
As some who read these words will already know, I have a psychiatric history and have been very vocal about it for several years now. I choose to be
overly open about my own issues because I believe very strongly that there is an undue stigma regarding mental illness in our society as well as a
woeful lack of education about the entire subject. The mentally ill are one of the few groups left in this culture who still endure open bias and
ostracism. It has always been my hope to shed a bit of light into this dark corner so that people might see it a bit more clearly and, maybe, become a
bit more compassionate about those who suffer.
Now, stepping down from my soap-box, we begin...
The event that triggered this change in my world is something I am hesitant to talk about because it involves family and differing points of view.
Suffice it to say that sometimes conflicting viewpoints simply cannot coexist – even when neither is fully right or fully wrong. Sometimes it is
just an oil and water kind of thing. That was the case here. One minute I had a home and was beginning to feel pretty comfortable and stable. The next
minute I was walking down the street with a gym bag- with absolutely no idea where I was going and in the midst of a full blown psychotic episode.
That all happened late one Friday night in September. It was the twenty-seventh if memory serves.
Trying to shed light on that night is very difficult because the situation I found myself in had put me into a very irrational state of mind. For
example, days later, as I unpacked the gym bag – I was left astounded at some of the things I had packed. I had managed to grab a few things that
one would expect – but I'd also packed things that I would not possibly have ended up having any use for at all. Things like two four gigabyte USB
sticks. There was no rhyme or reason to it.
The same applies to my behavior that night.
Initially it all made perfect sense to me, as I walked out of the house I had been living in. I would just find my way to California – where I had
lived before and where I felt at home. It was the perfect answer to everything!
Except I was in Georgia...
I made it all the way to the freeway on-ramp and had stuck my thumb out before the above all began to sink in... The shock of the situation I had been
in wearing off. There I was, at around one o'clock in the morning, standing next to a freeway – coming to my senses to some degree and totally at a
loss for what to do.
I had nowhere to turn.
In that moment the depression and anxiety spiked and I just about gave up. In fact the idea of giving up is what, ironically enough, kept me from
having to do so. You see, several years back I had made a promise to a friend – that if I ever felt like giving up, I would go to the emergency room
and tell them about it. It is very important to me to try to keep my promises – so I started walking away from that freeway on-ramp and began the
several miles long walk to the hospital.
The stark truth is that, at the time, I did not think the hospital would do anything at all to help me. Over the years I have been in that very same
emergency room in various states of mental health crisis and each and every other time they simply blew me off, telling me to call a doctor the
following day or referring me to someone else who would then tell me that they did not treat patients who did not have insurance. Always a
This is what I expected to happen... That I would fulfill my promise only to be expelled right back into the hopeless situation I had arrived in.
Only it did not work out that way. In fact the very same
Doctor who they always called in to brush me off chose, this time, to take me
seriously. I spent two days in an emergency room bed and then was told that I was being moved to another facility.
Let me stop here to address a snobbery of my own that I have been guilty of in the past. Despite the fact that I have a twenty-nine year history of
mental illness, I have never ( before this point at least ) spent a single second in any sort of psychiatric hospital. I was never an inpatient. The
truth is that I took a sort of pride in that and bragged about it in a way... I might meet new people and, when the time came to tell them about my
issues, I might say something like “I'm crazy, but not like been to a loony bin crazy...”
Those are words that I will never speak again – and a lesson in humility I earned as I spent eight days in a Mental Health Crisis Wing.
The journey from the ER to the Mental Health facility was pretty surreal. As I have learned since, in the state I live in ( Georgia ) there are only a
couple of counties left that still have such facilities. This is something I did not know at the time. All I know is that a very attractive woman
walked into the room, said she was going to be my driver, gathered up my things and led me out. Her partner ( A guy whose entire appearance screamed
“I've been out of the military for about two days and I will KILL you if you so much as fart off-key ) was waiting outside. I was loaded into a sort
of ambulance ( one that looked like an ambulance from the outside, but was much more like a police paddy wagon inside ) and then we drove... and
drove... and drove... and then drove some more.
Hours passed driving.
At first I occupied myself by stealing glances at the woman ambulance driver – because mental patients wearing hospital gowns are pretty damned
But as time went on, and we drove deeper and deeper into the middle of nowhere... Well my inner-ATSer began to kick in. I mean we were in the freaking
boonies and I was started to think about all sorts of off the wall things....
Was I being renditioned?
Was I being taken to some horror movie type mental ward where they'd try to do experiments on me?
Had Georgia decided I'd make a better citizen of Alabama?
That last one is close – as I am sitting about five minutes from the Alabama border as I write this.
Eventually the boonies began to give way to exit signs and indications of civilization. A few exits past that point, we left the freeway and started
navigating through back streets until we arrived at a large and modern looking hospital.
I was removed from the vehicle and walked through two sets of double doors that I would not walk back through for the next eight days.
One had flown over the cuckoos nest. I was in the nut hatch. The crazy house. The padded wall motel. The place I never thought I would ever be.
And thank God it happened.
For those of you who wonder what it's like inside a place like that ( at least the one I was in – I've been told I lucked out and wound up in a good
place and not one of the really scary ones ) - the singular word I can invoke to give the most honest impression is...
edit on 1/11/14 by Hefficide because: (no reason given)