Last year I started doing something stupid. I was so stressed out, was suffering from insomnia, and honestly the only thing I wanted to do was sleep the day away. So, I started taking benedryl. The highest dose… two tablets. It made me sleepy, so I didn’t have to worry about my insomnia. Something was finally working… until it wasn’t. Then I started taking more four instead of two. Then 8 instead of four. Then 16. Then 25. Then… half of a 100 tablet bottle. It was around that time when it would make me fall asleep within an hour after taking them… sometimes less. I had to remember to go to the bathroom before I went to bed because getting up was horrendous. Then one night, I had to get up. I clung to every surface, even the wall, so I could get to the bathroom safe. Then, as I was trying to turn around at the toilet, the floor was extremely slippery and my socks didn’t do anything to support me. I was on the floor. At first it was fine. I was going to get up and go to the bathroom. Only I couldn’t, no matter where I tried. I had to scream for help, and when my mom came down, she tried to help me get up, but I still couldn’t.
Somehow, I managed to crawl into the living room. The idea was since there was a carpet, I would be able to get up and into the chair. That didn’t happen either, and my mom couldn’t even support me enough to sit me up. I lye there on the floor, unable to do anything, and I was completely terrified. Eventually, my mom had to call 911 to help. It was in the ambulance when I told the EMTs about how much benedryl I took.
Rushed into the ER, everyone started doing tests and asking questions. The one that was asked repeatedly was why I took so many benedryl tablets. I had the same answer every time, since it was the truth. They were concerned about me, and it showed in their actions and words. Then, one of the doctors said “she has schizophrenia.”
The moment those words were spoken, the ER staff became careless with me. They yelled at me loudly so I could hear them. There was no more comfort in their actions anymore. I had to go to the bathroom very badly, so someone brought in one of those portable toilet things, and I tried to go. I kept saying that I really needed to go to the bathroom, and the nurse there kept yelling at me to just go. Eventually, she suddenly pulled me up and threw me back on the bed (yes, threw). They gave me a bedpan. Nothing. Someone yelled that if I didn’t go they would have to catheterize me. I told them to do it.
THEN the social worker came in. Again, I was asked why I took so much. With the same answer from me. At this point, though, she was the only person not yelling or angry with me. Of course, “social worker” meant a stint in the psych ward, but when she started to tell me that the doctor believed it was a good idea if I got admitted to the hospital.
By that time, I had full mental control of what I was saying, and I let them have it. I told them that if they wanted to keep or take me somewhere, it had to be something other than the 7th floor. I mentioned Horsham, Bryn Mawr, and one other. Then I pretty much told her what I really felt about their 7th floor. Incapable. Group sessions were a bunch of crap, and didn’t even have a therapist running them. It takes forever to see the psychiatrist… when there is only room for 18 patients on the floor. Art therapy was sitting in a room trying to find something to do that wasn’t made for children… it got a little better when they allowed crochet needles and yarn, but a social worker or mental health aid had to be there at those times. There’s more, but you catch my drift. A couple of minutes later, I was free to go as long as it was into the custody of my mom.
I went home and to bed. And I didn’t even think of the experience until months after… and I was angry.
First of all, what gives health providers the right to change their behavior toward a patient when they find out the patient has a mental illness… especially Schizophrenia. Oh, and I’d like to note that I am NOT Schizophrenic (and I would probably be even more terrified than I am with my illness. Of course, I don’t know though, so I can’t claim experience). I have Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar type. Eventually, after I regained my ability to speak, I let everyone in the room know this (and said that their disrespect was horrendous)… of course, this was when I was set to go home and they were dealing with discharge at the time.
I know now that I should’ve reported it. Such discrimination is uncalled for. But people with mental illnesses are hardly shown the respect others would be if reporting it was necessary.
No one really knows about this experience, so… SURPRISE!!!