This incident happened back in 2014 when I was last committed to a psych ward for a suicide attempt. A little background, I am female and was 19 at the time. I was coming off of 3 years of bipolar medication while at a peak of substance abuse facilitated by my first year in college going crazy with new “adult freedom”. One night I had a big mental episode and was committed for the first time in the adult ward, previously I had only been admitted in the minors’ ward during my adolescence for similar episodes.
Within this unit, you had to share a room with the same sex but weren’t given any proper introductions. The facility as a whole wasn’t managed effectively nor did any of the nurses or doctors seem to care other than to prescribe and get you out. I was lead to the room I was staying in and the nurse just said to the other lady in the room “This is your new roommate.” and left. The woman appeared to be in her late 40s earlier 50s Hispanic and just a little taller me. She would not keep her gaze off of the floor in front of her and didn’t say a word or move when I said hi. I noticed she had a tattoo of a cartoon version of the classic red devil but as a baby. I figured I’d just leave her alone and stick to my area of the room.
The first night went as they normally do in a psych ward with a nightly group and my “roommate” declined to share anything yet again only staring at the floor barely moving an inch. While everyone was lining up to be given their medication before bed the ward across began to start banging on the glass of the door and screaming. One guy was smiling while banging his bald head against the glass window part while the guys behind him were screaming and jumping around. It seemed as if they were almost going to break through but orderlies came and took them away with their screams still lingering through the halls.
Being in psych wards before I wasn’t surprised by out of the ordinary behavior like yelling or fights starting but this was completely different to me. I was with disturbed adults now people who had years of illness deteriorating their mind not little angry kids anymore. I actually felt scared for the first time because of the high level of unpredictability with these people. I knew I wasn’t all there in the head but even these people had me anxious and made it difficult to try to get any rest that night.
You know what feeling of being awake but you haven’t opened your eyes yet? The moment where you are barely waking up and everything is fuzzy. This is the state of conscious I was in later that night. I felt like I was waking up but as if something was waking me up yet still tired so I wasn’t opening my eyes. The more I came to I felt pressure on my forehead and I could sense sweat dripping on my face. I open my eyes to find the roommate standing over my bed staring me in the eye with one hand on my forehead and the other in a balled-up fist on her chest while she speaks in what I assume is tongues. I look into her eyes and they are blank and empty of any emotion.
She keeps speaking faster and getting louder, I am paralyzed at this moment not sure what to do or what she would even do if I were to yell or move. It was only us in the room and the nurses station is all the way at the end of the hall. She started wiping the sweat off my forehead while still speaking fast and erratic and I wasn’t sure what she was doing or planned on doing next. She then put both hands on my forehead and at this point was screaming while shaking me but not long before a nurse came in and took her off me. The nurse seemed more irritated that she had to get up and do her job rather than concerning of how I was doing or feeling. She escorted the woman out and said to don’t worry and just go back to sleep. I don’t know how but I managed to fall back asleep. I assume she got transferred to the more severe ward because I did not see her again the next day and luckily, I was able to leave later that day.
This incident has since been a reminder for me to never go back and to manage my mental well-being because while I have issues I could be in a far worst state of mind. I still wake up some nights with lingering anxiety and have to calm myself down to go back to sleep. I never want to go back to a ward in my life to experience this again or something far worst.