Previous “Keeping my promises” post can be found here.
I had just been arrested because the police thought I was running a prostitution ring at my high school by a detective who I thought was going to help me get away from a guy that was bad news. Then immediately after being arrested was transferred via ambulance to a local hospital because the police had lied to my parents and told them that I had threatened to kill myself. I waited around for hours to be seen by somebody and eventually was left waiting alone because it was the middle of the night and my parents had to go home and take care of my siblings. I was told to go and lie down on one of the beds that were separated by thin walls and continue to wait for the doctor to be able to see me. That was when the drunk lady in the little bed alcove next to mine started screaming and cursing at the top of her lungs. Nobody had told me that this was not actually the psych ward, it was probably actually more like a “drunk tank” type area, but since I had no idea what was going on I started to panic. Especially after I got up and talked to the lady at the counter behind the glass about the screaming lady and she basically told me to just go and lie down again. I was afraid that right there in that room with the hospital beds in little alcoves and the little waiting area with all the plastic chairs, and my drunk screaming neighbor, right there was where I was going to be forced to stay for some undetermined amount of time. That this was my final destination. I was terrified and nobody would tell me what was going on.
I was so relieved when the doctor finally showed up to talk with me and I was told that I was going to be transferred to the pediatric psychiatric ward of another hospital. I had another short ambulance ride and arrived at the mental hospital at around 3 am or so. I was on suicide watch for the first night and had to be watched by someone at all times. Someone sat in a chair in my doorway and watched me sleep. I was awoken at 6 am (after only have arrived at around 3 am) to go and have some blood tests done and go and speak with another doctor. I don’t remember much about this, it was a fuzzy blur. After talking with the doctor I was allowed to go back to sleep.
When I was awoken again later on the reality of my situation hit me. I had been arrested for something I didn’t do and was now locked away in some mental hospital for an unspecified amount of time. I was told that they were going to let me get away with not following the schedule that day since it was my first day, but that I was going to be expected to start following it soon. I then met my fellow patients. Luckily they were all very nice and gave me a lot of space at first. I was given a tour of the space, and although I really didn’t want to be there I had to admit that it was at least an improvement over the “drunk tank” from the night before. I was taken off suicide watch by that first night and was assigned a roommate. I can’t for the life of me remember her name now, but we had an instant connection and wondered if perhaps we might have met each other at some point when we were much younger.
I quickly fell into the routine and got to know and like a lot of my fellow patients. At some point my parents stopped by and dropped off some stuff from home for me including my toe socks, my Walkman and some of my cassette tapes (this was before mp3s), and some of my stuffed animals. I walked around with a teddy bear constantly in my arms the entire rest of my stay. At some point the doctors informed me that they believed that I was bipolar and that I was going to be taken off of the Zoloft that I had been taking and be started on a different medication. I don’t remember when it was that I found out that I never should have been on the Zoloft in the first place, it might have been later on after leaving the hospital. Zoloft is not meant for people with bipolar disorder, in fact it tends to make people with bipolar disorder worse. And instead of listening to me when I kept telling her that the medication wasn’t working, my therapist just kept upping the dosage. When I got out of the hospital I had to find a new therapist, because my old one decided that she couldn’t be my doctor anymore… I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that she had me on an extremely high dosage of a medication that could have caused me to have suicidal thoughts or actions?
I don’t remember how long I was in the hospital. It was at least a couple of weeks. I can still remember how happy I was just to be allowed to go down to the cafeteria for meals instead of having to stay on the ward. Or when I was allowed to go outside for a little bit after some group therapy sessions that I had been cleared to attend that were held in another area of the hospital. After finally being released from the hospital I still had to attend outpatient group therapy sessions at the hospital for a while. And then I was finally free.
But then the reality of what had happened while I was in the hospital set in. I lived in a small New England town and news of my arrest had spread. Reporters had been calling or showing up outside my house. And the worst part was that even though I was still a minor they used both my name and my picture on the evening news. Everybody knew what I had been arrested for, and it didn’t matter that it wasn’t true. Luckily I was given a private tutor in order to try and get caught up on all the school work that I had missed while I was in the hospital and didn’t have to return to school right away.
I had to appear in court before a judge at the same time as Antonio because we had both been charged together. And even though I had actually done nothing wrong, and was trying to get Antonio out of my life when this whole mess blew up in my face we were both given the same sentence. A bunch of hours of community service and probation. I was lucky that I was a minor, because since I stayed out of trouble my record was wiped clean once I turned 18.
The real punishment came when I returned to school though. The kids were cruel. They all knew what had happened to me, and since it fit into their view of me already, completely believed that I had become a prostitute and was trying to lead a prostitution ring in the school. There was a day when in one of my social studies classes (a class about the 60’s) we were watching a video. Something was said about prostitution and one the girls in my class yelled out my last name. The teacher did nothing and I had to go up to her at the end of the class and point out to her that she needed to control her students better. The girl claimed that she didn’t realize that I was in the room, which was a lie, and completely irrelevant. She never should have done it in the first place. This was just one example of what my high school life had become, but luckily I had started dating the man who later became my husband before returning to school. He helped me deal with all the idiots and just make it through the end of the school year and the year after that. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
And I think that I have now finally come to the end of my long and rambling story.