17-Jan-09, 05:03pm #1
is releasing a book
Ever done time? I have (long story).
I guess the Confessions thread prompted me to tell this story.
I have "done time". In a criminal mental hospital. I was locked away for three months back towards the start of '05. How?
I relocated to Perth around that time with big dreams and aspirations. I'd always wanted to study law, and was thrilled when my application was accepted to UWA. So I moved, settled into the swing of studying again. And naturally partied. Hard. What's frighteningly evident now seemed impossible then. I was undiagnosed with bipolar and I was swinging far off the edge.
Most of what your hear about mental illness revolves around depression. Well imagine the maniacal opposite. I was experiencing a constant high that was better than any pill. You couldn't turn me off. I slept an hour or so a day, drank copious amounts of booze, and hit the ganja harder than I ever had. And I felt great. Nobody realised I was any different to my usual self as nobody knew my usual self. I had relocated interstate and everyone wanted to be friends with this crazy barrel-of-laughs kind of guy from Melbourne.
Easter came and went, and I was part of a group of friends going on a roadtrip up North. It was apparent my behaviour had started to get on the nerves of some people, as things were pretty catty in the bus we'd hired. Our first night we had reached a caravan park in the Cervantes, and we played drinking games until everyone but me had gone to sleep.
If there was one point in this journey where you could say: do you remember what it felt like to go insane? It's probably here. Fuelled by booze and mania, I went to the beach to try and clear my head. That's about where rationality stopped. I slipped into psychosis. I was on that beach for the rest of the night, slowly building up the logic in my head that the world wasn't real.
I started talking my thoughts through aloud on this empty beach (so the secret recorders could hear my genius). I tried swimming out to the luxury boats I could see with people waving (the water was cold and empty). I waved to the cavalcade of cars that drove down the beach, each driver beaming and nodding their head (did I mention the beach was empty?).
In a moment, I realised I was Neo from the Matrix, and that I could control this reality and bend it to my will. In another moment I'd concluded that I was God and that I had created Australia as my own personal heaven. In yet another, and in one smooth action that agonises me to this day, I realised I was Lord of the Rings and cast the ring I wore on my finger - my dead father's ring that I treasured above all other possessions - into the ocean.
Something was terribly wrong. I stripped off my clothes with glee and decided to start running away from the beach to find someone to share my fantastic news with. Totally disoriented now, I ran up the first house I saw. It occurred to me that this was my house and that I didn't need a key. I smashed my hand through the door's window ready to greet whomever I came across.
I must have made a hell of a lot of noise. I ran up the stairs and was greeted by an extremely frightened old lady who promptly smashed me in the head with a hammer.
Fortunately the neighbours had heard, and came running up to restrain me. As I laughed with incomprehension - this old lady was clearly my ex-girlfriend in disguise - the men tried to take me down the stairs. I offered to jump off the balcony as I had the power of flight, but they calmly suggested that I take the stairs.
I was lead to a jeep and tied up with rope. "This is just like my SAS training", I told them, "are you my father?"
The police arrived. I was thrown into the back of a van. I was still nude and blissfully unaware of how dire the situation was. I was thrown into a cell and blacked out...
...to wake up still in the cell but with absolutely no recollection of how I got there. "Am I dead?" I asked. They gave me the day's paper to prove that this was real. But it wasn't real. I could see messages in the paper that told me this was all a test so I could join ASIO. I played their game with smug self-assurance. They even got some clothes on me.
I was offered the chance to walk free - or an interview. I chose the interview. Video recorder and everything. I've never seen the tape - later my solicitor blocked it from being shown in the courtroom - but I was dribbling absolute shit. I explained how this was all a test and had a perfectly rational explanation for breaking into a random old lady's house whilst completely nude.
I was locked up again and after a long wait, was carted into a van again and driven back to Perth. Which was an event in itself. I kept trying to break out of the van and when the police transferred me to another van I was less than accommodating. I was probably ten seconds away from being doused with capsicum spray before some semblance of reason kicked into my head and I made it to the other van. To this day I still wonder how painful capsicum spray is.
I was taken to a processing centre. Fed some food. And at some stage they gave me a chance to speak to my Mum. It must have been the most harrowing phone conversation she's ever had in her life. She sounded stone-cold serious when she said she was coming to Perth the next day and didn't laugh once at my jokes or reassurances that everything was fine.
I think the police had had enough of my bullshit. They stripped me of all my clothes and threw me in a rubber-walled cell. I could see a video camera, and could "hear" my friends laughing at good ol' Marshy through the walls. I jumped, prodded, smashed the door, yelled expletives, gesticulated and masturbated. Nothing could get anybody's attention. The light was so bright. I shut my eyes to no avail. At some stage once I'd settled down, they gave me underwear.
I was taken back to my cell exhausted. And shut down again.
I don't remember much of the next day. I was transported to court in a van full of people. I remember someone telling me to leave the junkie opposite me alone or he would kill me. I still had no clue what's going on.
The day was probably one of the worst in my life. I was locked up in a concrete room with a group of other people waiting for court. The wait seemed to go forever. Eventually I was lead to who would represent me as my lawyer. It must have been quite the meeting getting sense out of me. I remember snatches of conversation - something about ASIO and having a 'sequential stream of consciousness' - while my mind was elsewhere, my articulateness was in full flight.
I went to court. I got to see my Mum and two of my friends from Perth in the crowd. They looked more than uncomfortable with my smiling and waving. I was deemed unfit to enter a plea, and sent back to the concrete room, sent into hell.
The people in the room had had enough of my blathering. They all got up at once and group bashed me. Punches and kicks flew at me indiscriminately. This wasn't like a fight I had been in before. They were going for broke. I was beaten so hard around the face that my eyelashes fell out. The guards did nothing. I didn't open my mouth again and was the last person to be let out of the room.
Another journey in a van. I was being taken to a psychiatric hospital for criminals. A place I would spend the next three months of my life.
The first few days I was batshit insane. God knows what went on. I remember seeing my Mum yet not really, I was more fascinated by the big red alarm button on the wall - I pressed that a lot - it set sirens off throughout the hospital. There was one every few metres to press around my wing of the institution. My Mum later described my glassy-eyed lack of recognition as one of the worst days of her life. I still feel guilt today about that.
I remember trying to get the nurses's attention. The only surefire way was to get nude. This was usually followed by a headlock, some grip that made it impossible to move anywhere but where they wanted, a dose of tranquiliser in the bum, and some time in the room.
The room was similar to the rubber-walled cell in the police processing centre. It had a mattress and that was it. It was dark, and you stayed in there until you fell asleep or shut up for a really long time. It seemed effective to a point. I don't know how many times I was thrown in that room at the beginning of my stay, but I'm sure it was a lot.
Over the next few days I slowly came to, and started registering what was around me. I was in the 'A' ward of the facility. It was the highest security. Plastic cutlery, the highest ratio of nurses to patients, and not much to do at all. Not that I was worried about boredom yet. I'd wake up early for the TV because it spoke to me. Mel and Kochie would wink and make inisde jokes and I'd laugh along. Around this time they were announcing the new Pope. I was convinced it was going to be me.
The meds kicked in a bit and I started to function enough to be able to talk to the other patients and nurses. This ward had a high turnover of patients as it was for extreme cases who eventually got downgraded to a less severe ward, in spite of this, there were a few regulars. Psycho Crazy Bitch, the Mute Asian, and Bob with Bitch Tits. I was shocked one day when I started to talk and Psycho Crazy Bitch came up to me to tell me, with a faint note of admiration, how fucked up I was.
"Do you remember me?"
"Do you know how fucked up you were?"
The irony being that if the most messed up person in the hospital was coming to tell me that I was fucked up, there must have been some serious problems.
After about a week I decided I was better and that I'd go back to studying law. One of the case workers had to inform me that they'd withdrawn my enrolment as I was unfit to study. This is where I had my first of many cries. I was locked up, in another state, with no family to call on, and now no reason for even being here.
I was still deemed unfit to make calls. In spite of this I managed to reverse charge call my friend whose father was a psych nurse. I'd just managed to get him on the phone with cries of help before the nurses realised what was going on and took me off. I think some part of me knew I needed help, I just wasn't going about getting it the right way.
A lot more crazy things went on in that ward in the early days, some interesting phone conversations with my friends and family when they called, stuffing socks down my underpants to make my cock look bigger, and I even managed to pash Bob with Bitch Tits (I still hadn't come out yet though).
I moved wards and it was time for the doctors to deliver their verdict. I was diagnosed with bipolar and my "incident" was attributed to extreme mania developing into psychosis. I was pretty accepting. Clearly something was wrong, and the doctors had the answer for it. My Mum described it best from what she'd heard from another psych nurse friend - "if you have to have a mental illness, bipolar is probably the best one to have."
So I wanted to get better and recover, the trouble was I was locked up. I spent a brief amount of time in ward 'B' - metal cutlery! - and then was moved to ward 'C'. Ward 'C' was the long-term ward where some people had been for years. It had a Playstation, pool table, computer, and even an outdoors area we could frequent if we were nice to the nurses. The people in there were alright, still crazy, but alright. Apart from one man who had been in there years. He had stabbed someone to death and everyone hated him. I hated him. I tried to avoid talking to him at all costs. But meal times we were all forced to sit together at a table. Ever sat opposite a murderer and asked him to pass the tomato sauce? I have.
Despite the trimmings, the overwhelming factor working against you inside is the boredom. It's the same everything all the time. Just for kicks I tried eating some cake (I was allergic to egg) I discovered that I'd grown out of my allergy. I was in a hospital - what was the worst that could happen?
Towards the end of my stay, we got the Internet connected and I have to say Inthemix helped a lot. I simply lurked, but reading about a community that existed outside my world really helped a lot. If I couldn't listen to quality dance music - I could at least read about it!
I spent my birthday locked up. I got a shitty beanie.
I was deemed fit for release shortly there after. I left with strict instructions from the doctors and nurses to take my meds every day and to avoid drugs at all costs. There were a few memories from that day that I will treasure. Walking out of hospital and smelling fresh air. Not looking back as we drove away. Checking my mobile for messages and not having any! (It had been off for three months, I think it deletes them from storage after a while, that's what I told myself anyway!) But the absolute best was memory was a chicken parmagiana washed down with a glass of Cascade Light. My Mum was over the moon to have me back. But unfortunately the recovery process isn't as cut and dried as that.
Think of someone recovering from a major car accident. They have to learn to walk again. Learn how to function. This was the mental health equivalent. The meds had me absolutely zombified. I couldn't laugh, I couldn't cry. I was there but not. We all thought that once I was released it would be all things back to normal, but it definitely wouldn't. My friends and family will gladly tell you it was a year before I was back to some semblance of my former self. And probably another year again before I was "back to normal".
I've taken three courses of meds over that time. The first batch was Olanzapine and Epilim. This left me like a zombie and I couldn't get an erection. I was on that for a year. Lithium was next, it left me dopey yet functional, I lost a job because of this. Now I'm on Abilify and have stayed on it - quality of life has improved tenfold.
Last edited by Marshy: 17-Jan-09 at 06:21pm