a weekend in the mental ward

By my third year of living alongside acute, pervasive psychosis, I had sufficiently conditioned myself enough to mask my internal worries. Able to convincingly conceal my constant fear of government abduction, I searched for and successfully secured a new job. I accepted the Director of Sales & Marketing position for a new hotel opening up in downtown Baltimore. 

Daily, I plastered insincere charm and confidence over my dread and discomfort and performed as expected. It was a typical corporate office environment and I was able to  numbly execute the duties of staff meetings, sales lunches, and budget reviews. Unbeknownst to my employer and coworkers, I was also enduring some of the most intense and distressing episodes of inescapable, intense psychosis.

While I believed my delusions were 100% real, I never revealed them to casual friends, coworkers, or acquaintances. I limited my frank and honest concerns about secret agents and sex cults to my boyfriend, a select few family members, and some of the doctors I encountered during hospitalizations. Unless you were included in that limited group of people, you would never know I was suffering through immense emotional angst.

Believing that my boyfriend was a secret agent and assigned as my guardian, partner, and influencer created a very stressful environment. I equated the arrangement to the act of sleeping with my enemy. I believed he had the influence and power to reveal the truth, stop the constant surveillance, and curtail the coded messaging. 

I would often lash out, demanding that he redirect “the assignment,” and order “his people” back off. Invariably, he would deny all accusations of association with a secret society, shadow government, or covert mission. His insistence of innocence only served to infuriate me.

Unable to secure an admission of his involvement would often escalate the intensity of my anger. Often, I would unleash my frustrations, confusion, and animosity at him. I would rail at him for the inhumane government plot to breed and brainwash children like myself. I would throw and break things. I would rail at the indignity of perpetual manipulation even after I had clearly uncovered the truth. I raged that everyone involved in “my case” held tight to their secret identities. I erupted with resentment that “Weirdness” would not directly communicate with me, instead electing the obscure and cryptic method of secret messaging.  My ranting was vicious, unrelenting, and could border on violent.

Sometimes, in my fury, I would try to run away. My boyfriend would have to block and restrain me, determined to protect me from roaming downtown Baltimore in a reckless, unstable rage. The fiery battle for truth could extend into hours. This memory is from one of these explosive and erratic days.

I can not remember why or how we came to find ourselves in this particular heated and emotional argument. But, after a couple of hours of intense screaming, scratching, and attempts to flee the apartment, somehow, my boyfriend had located a psychiatrist in the neighborhood that was immediately available to meet with us.

Exhausted from the vicious arguing, I agreed that it might be a good idea to halt the fighting and pursue a calmer state. I was hopeful that the doctor could provide some type of mood stabilizing or anti-anxiety medicine. So I calmed down and agreed to go. But although I seemingly transformed my demeanor, inside I was still seething with resentment and enmity.

In the doctor’s office, my anger resurfaced upon detecting coded messages throughout the doctor’s interaction with me. I promptly flew into a frenzy. I did not hold back my unshakable conviction that the doctor was also “part of it.” 

I began to berate her. I began to scream. I perched on the edge of her desk, slamming my hand down and inching closer and closer to her. I tried to shame her, screaming at the top of my lungs . . .”How do you people live with yourself?!?!? . .. . how do you expect me to save the world when you are making it impossible for me to work and concentrate!?!?! . . . do you people just sit in a room and think of ways you can further fuck up my life and mind!?!?! . . .you are an evil fucking bitch . . you and all of your people!!!”

The doctor maintained a steady gaze and was very calm and stoic throughout my tirade. She only reached her hand towards her phone, never breaking eye contact, and slowly picked up the receiver. “NooseGirl, I am calling in some other people to help us. You are making me very uncomfortable right now. Try to calm down.”

Within minutes, 3 very large uniformed armed guards walked into the room. They stood by the door as she explained to me and my boyfriend that she thought admittance into the hospital would be a good idea. She explained that the calm, controlled environment of the “behavioral health unit” along with a carefully prescribed treatment of medications could offer supportive surroundings designed to improve emotional stability and a return to comfortable normalcy. I continued to protest, but ultimately, between she, my boyfriend and the calm, friendly disposition of the guards, my tirade ceased. As I agreed to hospitalization and signed the papers to self admit, everyone relaxed and exhaled a collective sigh of relief.

This drama rolled out on a Thursday or Friday, During the hospitalization, if I took any time off at all, it would have only been one sick day. My weekend in the behavioral health unit was spent watching tv, making crafts, reading books, attending group therapy and taking closely monitored medication. While the experience did not cure my psychosis, it did allow me to de-stress and calm down. The therapeutic visit provided an unplanned “staycation.”

I was released on Sunday night and back to work on Monday morning. I was all smiles, professionalism, (and as the sales & marketing leader) unrelenting team cheerleader. My job included internal PR so I was constantly engaging with and offering inspiration to  employees with the intent of raising their self-confidence, their sense of ownership, and empowering them to perform with pride for our new business. I was Miss GoTeam all the way.

And just like the prior 3 years of living and working in psychosis, no one knew the hidden truth. No one suspected the depth and pain of my internal struggles. No one had an inkling that I passed the weekend away in a hospital mental ward. And no one would have ever fathomed that I believed the entire business was a government front and that most of the employees were secret agents. 

No one knew anything . . .  they just knew I was smart, funny, inspiring NooseGirl.

5 comments

  1. Thank you for writing and sharing your experiences with psychosis. I have a family member who is experiencing the first psychotic break and it does feel pretty hopeless and helpless. He recently went on Zyprexa. How were you able to eventually get out of your psychotic state and live a functional life? My family’s greatest fear is that he may never be able to be back in reality. His delusions include a lot of paranoia about being spied on, the CIA, etc. All we want is for him to realize that this is not true and that he is safe. Any advice or guidance you have would be greatly appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comments. It truly is a tough place to be. When you are suffering from psychosis, you absolutely believe your delusions 100%. There is no amount of coaxing, reasoning, or convincing any mental health professional or loved one can do to break the resolve of the sufferer.
      I was sort of “tricked” into voluntarily going to a mental health clinic to be prescribed anti-psychotic meds. I was told that I would be told the truth about the government conspiracies, but I would need to be on meds in order to better handle the shock of the truth I was to be told. I bought the proposed compromise and after 4 days of the medication, the psychosis broke.
      The only advise I can give you is to be patient. Do not try to argue, ridicule, or convince him otherwise. Chances are he will just retreat further into the psychosis and belief that you are actually part of the conspiracy. Just be patient, compassionate, and try to have reasonable discussions with him. Eventually, something will work. Zyprexa is a good drug, but there are others that you can try if it turns out not to be “the one.”
      I wish the best for you and your family member. Don’t give up hope.

      Liked by 1 person

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