Rem Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest: The Sequel
The first time I killed myself was the last time I killed myself, thirteen or so years ago. I just want to make that clear right away. Also, as wonderfully surreal as any of this may sound, in no way am I romanticizing suicide. Choosing to take your own life is not an easy thing, and the repercussions it has on those left behind are more far reaching than anyone can imagine. So don’t look at this story as a love letter to my scars because it is not. It is a scary ass story about something incredibly stupid I did that did little but add more chaos to a life that was already spinning in a maddening infinity.
But to start this off right, I have to skip some incredibly interesting parts of this story: the how I did it and the why I did it. Don’t worry, there will be a (very bloody) prequel to this piece that tells you the whole sordid story, but today, we focus on that time AFTER the action, and how I ended up in a mental ward being run by people less intelligent than myself. The hell and torture I experienced after suicide was not the prodding, burning irons of the occupants of hell torturing me. No, my punishment was to be sent to a place that was, in many ways, worse than that. A place where you are just drugged up and ignored and no problems even get touched, never mind solved. It’s like purgatory with poorly painted walls and free meds.
So there I am, sitting on the hospital bed, my wound (not on my wrists, mind you) sealed up and no longer spewing blood. I have been medicated, even though I showed up very calm. Make no mistake, I was not some raving lunatic when I hurt myself. I was in the middle of some deep and genuine shit and it was taking a toll on me. But the only reason I was in that bed is I was (un)lucky enough to have a random friend show up. No cry for help. No freaking out last minute. Nope. A guest surprised me and well, let’s just say the state I was in surprised them. Cue failed suicide.
So there I am sitting on the hospital bed, totally normal. Perhaps a bit indifferent but I am not seeking pardon for my sins, nor I am sobbing in regret. This is when stuff gets extra insane. I cannot speak for laws in other countries and am not sure how they work in this area, but in America, suicide is an attempted murder, therefore, illegal. So once they have plied you with anxiety meds, someone walks over to the bed and informs you that what you did was illegal and you can leave here in two ways, regardless of how normal a state you are in that point. You can go with the cops or you can be checked into a mental facility until you are deemed safe.
Yup, there is no “going home and sleeping off the sadness.” There are repercussions.
The choices are very much loaded and pretty much them telling you to go to the mental ward (because who would choose police?) and the moment adds an interesting layer of darkness to an already dark moment you find yourself in.
If you went into your suicide attempt feeling like shit, which is what most do, expect to feel even shittier and more alone after. That is just how gently America handles it. If it is not a massive tumor they can see, they don’t take you or your disease seriously. Real talk, the American health care system is broken, and we learn that in our darkest moments.
“The American health care system is broken, and we learn that in our darkest moments.”
I actually wrestled with the choice for a bit. Police or mental ward. Oddly, I thought about going police route for longer than I should have. Felt the more badass option. *Says in gruff voice: yup, they done locked me up because I am a threat! *Spits some chew on ground. Yeah, as badass as that sounds, that is not the decision I went with.
Reality is, that will follow you on job applications and will haunt you a lot worse long term. The asylum thing you can keep to yourself and no one will know. Hell, 90% of the people who KNOW me are completely unaware that this happened to me. Until now, anyways.
So as you can tell from title I chose loony bin. I don’t care how un-politically correct that is. I STAYED THERE. I CAN CALL IT ANYTHING I WANT. But what I expected and what I got were two completely different things, as you are about to find out.
I will not name the facility in Massachusetts in which I stayed, but I will tell you this. My experience was SO awful, a year after leaving that place I was working in the field just praying I could provide more solace to young people in their moment of need than that place gave me. Wait, getting ahead of myself.
Escorted in, of course. I am expecting a wing of a hospital semi-filled with people who are in some sort of bad place, like I am. What I walked into was an empty, vacant loony bin. One girl, easily 6-8 years YOUNGER than me, running this entire place alone. No joke. My first thought was:
Oh, this is gonna be a shit show.
I just knew it. A KID running the place. Sterile, white, long hallway which the tiny rooms branch off of. Small “living room” with one, old-school TV bolted to the wall. She told me everyone would have to agree on what we watch. I still don’t know if she was fucking with me or trying to be funny. Both failed, just so she knows. You are allowed to bring next to nothing with you because this is how our country punishes people for being sad. Funny thing is, I was no longer “suicide” sad at that point. I was more disgusted with where I ended up. The sadness was more like a sickness. My rock bottom had pale walls and a TV with four channels.
“My rock bottom had pale walls and a TV with four channels.”
First thing that happens, though. She goes through my stuff to make sure I have no contraband (weapons, drugs, or other awesome things). I have none. Then she tells me I have to shower. Yeah, that makes sense. But then she tells me that, due to that fact that I was a threat to myself she had to monitor my shower. “Are you kidding? You can check me when I walk in, this is dehumanizing.” Nope, this is how it goes. So there I am, in the shower, washing my ass, with a girl who was younger than me standing outside it, pretty much checking in every minute. Also, she was cute which made this whole thing even more troubling to my already troubled soul. Yes, dehumanized was one of many things I was feeling that weekend. If that is what they try to do after suicide attempts (shame person into docility) they were doing a fantastic job.
The weird part is, there was NO ONE talking to me about what I did or why I did it or what I had planned in my life next. For two days, me and this young girl just kinda hung out. By the second day, we were playing pool in the rec hall and she wanted to bang me. I had somehow become the “bad boy” to this broken thing who clearly deserved to be here more than me. I couldn’t imagine the level of self hate she must have felt to want to bang a guy who just tried to take his own life in an incredibly violent manner. Poor thing is probably smoking dicks in some back alley in Quincy now for OC’s.
Okay, back to me.
The other thing that is really interesting about your stay in a cuckoo’s nest is, they can drug you up, relentlessly and without cause. Every four hours this girl would call me over and give me a little cup of water and an assortment of colorful pills that I knew nothing about. What am I taking and why?
“Oh” she said, twirling her bubblegum. “They’ll relax you.”
“But, um, I AM relaxed.” I told her.
“You HAVE to take them. Sorry.”
Okay, fine, Fuck it, I like drugs. Thing is, whatever cocktail they were giving me was something I came to nickname “zombie juice.” It would just make me dead-eyed and docile, even though I was no threat to anyone at that point, even myself. The ONE thing I had hoped and prayed would come out of this experience (meeting someone else in mad house who actually understands sadness), did not. My entire three days were spent alone; the wing stayed empty outside of me and her. So apparently I was the only suicidal person in the area that weekend? How slim are those fucking chances? Well, my odds regarding everything were awful at the time so I should have expected it. An empty loony bin with a sweet but self-hating teenage girl who probably had cut scars beneath her own stretched sleeves. It was bittersweet, but far more bitter.
By the third day, a doctor showed up, talked to me, saw that I was completely sane, and assigned me some anti-depressants and sent me on my way. There was no grand exit with a friend getting lobotomized and me killing them, then jumping through an open window. There were no other interesting individuals I met who I formed a deep bond with and still talk to. I got NO THERAPY regarding what led me to such a violent act, and the only after-thought was they forced me on some anti-depressants before sending me home.
The funniest part of the story is when I came home, went back to work, and lost my job for trying to kill myself. Let me tell you, if you think the real rock bottom was at the nut house, nope. That shit was cake to be honest. The real rock bottom was realizing I was coming back to a life just as cruel and stupid as the one I had attempted to leave.
Only difference is I had some cool scars and an interesting story to tell at the end of it all.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the American mental health system. For saving my life? Hell no! They were fucking awful, like an absentee parent. No, I wanted to thank them for introducing me to Xanax that weekend.
That was awfully nice of them.