As many of you know, I was forced to make one more trip to the ER. This time it was for side effects so severe I that I could barely walk, had major muscle tremors, short-term memory issues, and speech issues. It's called Serotonin Syndrome, and it could have killed me. (Read about Serotonin Syndrome here.)
This was not my fault; it was the doctor, nurses, and pharmacists who should have known better than to prescribe counter-indicated drugs. It was immediately diagnosed by the ER doctor, who then had to send me back to the psych ward. And this is where the nightmare truly began.
They did not inform that I was being placed in isolation. I thought it was a temporary room while I waited for an open bed. The room is entirely bare but for a bed. The lights are kept quite dim, and I had no control over them. The window and curtains were locked behind a mesh screen. As a child, I was placed in a bare basement with similar lighting, not knowing when I could get out or eat, nor if I should apologize or not. Sometimes I'd be punished if I cried; sometimes it made punishment worse.
This caused a major PTSD flashback, during which I actually tried to hide from the nurse, yelling apologies. I was hysterical. Once I calmed down, I explained the reaction to the nurse, who then told me it was protocol to place patients who had more than 2 visits to the ward in isolation. Later I found out the doctor instructed that I be given no phone privileges at all and no visitors.
Despite the PTSD episode, the doctor kept me in isolation from January 25th until January 29th. I cannot describe the mental hell I was in. I needed out of isolation, and I couldn't figure out how to do it. The doctor gave me no guidelines, and the nurses told me I "had to prove" that I belonged with the other patients. This was extremely puzzling to me. I had never done anything wrong at any point during any of my stays there. I only had the PTSD flashback as a "major incident."
The doctor didn't ask me anything about my medical or family history, nor did he do much more than glance at my files. I don't think he ever spent more than 3-5 minutes with me on any given day, nor was he around the ward for his so-called observation. He insisted that past files were irrelevant; that he "had to base the diagnosis on what he observed."
One of the nurses took pity on me, and gave me a writing pad and two books. These were the only things I could do from 2 PM to 11 PM. The morning hours were spent in group therapy, which was the only human interaction I had, until I was allowed one phone call per day. This meant I had to choose between talking to my son or talking to a friend who was part of my support system.
Meds were changed, but not explained to me. The doctor then informed me he was recommending I go to the state hospital for more observation, without explaining why, beyond "being uncertain of my diagnosis."
That was the breaking point for me. I went to the psychiatric unit customer service representative, and filed my complaints with her. Apparently I irritated the doctor so much with my questions about a treatment plan, isolation, and what he meant by his definition of observation that he suddenly released me on January 30th.
I still have tremors and memory issues, so please bear with me when I make spelling and grammar mistakes. I suspect I still have Serotonin Syndrome and will be adjusting meds on an outpatient basis.
I have been through hell and back, and I have survived every time. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. Don't ever stay silent when your health and safety are affected. I will never quit fighting. I will never stay silent, nor will I ever quit advocating for the things I believe in.
Once more, all my gratitude to those who supported me in various ways.