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Involuntarily Committed to Mental Hospital January 6, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Involuntary Committment, mental illness, Psych Ward, Psychotic.
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My husband knew that something was the matter, but had no clue what it was or the magnitude of the problem. He got a few glimpses here and there, like when I wrote a $55K hot check for a brand new Lexus, spent thousands of dollars on plants and flashy trashy new clothes, and started wearing garish makeup (ringing my eyes with a gold makeup crayon).  Or when I quit my job (managing a $55 million construction project and making over $100K a year) out of the blue. He knew that I wasn’t doing drugs or drinking, but still- something was very, very wrong.

I finally reached the flashpoint where I realized I could no longer tell reality from fantasy when I encountered an infestation of zombies at my neighborhood (YMCA) swimming pool. Dripping wet and still in my swimming suit, I drove myself home.  Scared to death, I begged my husband to take me to the emergency room after I told him I was hearing voices.  He didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell him, the nature of the voices or how long I’d been hearing them (3 1/2 months). He was just thankful that I had finally admitted to him that there was something wrong.

Once we arrived at the Hospital emergency room, I immediately changed my mind about wanting to be there.  Actually, the voices changed my mind for me.  At their direction, I tried to leave, but my husband cornered me like I was a calf at a rodeo. Finally, after taking off all my clothes in the women’s restroom (at the direction of the voices) and parading around naked in the waiting room (and refusing to put them back on or wear a blanket), as well as several escape attempts, I was put in a locked private room, alone except for a talking blood pressure machine, six imaginary people talking to me in my head, and an imaginary tree person drawing leaves and branches on the white walls.

They could guess, but they didn’t know, that I was having delusions, but they could never have guessed at the magnitude of the problem. In the meantime, the staff wouldn’t let me leave the locked room or tell me what was going on. I knew they couldn’t legally hold me, but they were doing it anyway.   I felt powerless. I believed they were trying to kill me by radiation so they could drop my dead body on Iraq as a weapon ( but I didn’t let them know that).  In frustration, I (at the direction of my lawyer, who was one of the voices in my head) threw a stool at the door, trying to break the little glass window in the door so I could leave. I was unsuccessful, only managing to make a few dents in the drywall around the door.

At the point I threw the stool, I unknowingly entered a new realm of law: involuntary commitment. I had crossed a line, demonstrating in concrete terms that I had become a danger to myself and others, and demonstrating to the hospital personnel that I needed evaluation by an independent (outside the employ of the hospital) licensed mental health professional to determine whether I had to be involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. The Hospital was required by the laws of the State of Washington to have a designated mental health professional interview me once the stool hit the wall.  Up until that point, the hospital would have interviewed me without the intervention of the mental health professional, and they would most likely have released me, because there aren’t enough (mental) hospital beds to handle all of the people who need care.

Telling everyone within hearing range that I was a mermaid, walking around the waiting room showing people my feet and asking them if they could see my fins, and even taking off my clothes didn’t demonstrate to anyone that I was a danger as defined by the State of Washington laws. Mermaids aren’t harmful, and believing you’re a mermaid isn’t against the law.  Even taking your clothes off in public doesn’t automatically qualify you as a danger. But throwing the stool changed everything. It gave the State the authority  to lock me up in a mental hospital. Once there, the mental hospital legally* held me against my will for 120 hours before they went before a judge to get a court order to hold me involuntarily up to 2 weeks.  Before the two weeks was up, they had to again go before a judge to continue holding me beyond that 2 weeks.  The second court order allowed them to hold me up to 90 days, but they only held me one week longer. I was out in 3 weeks.

*Note: By State of Washington law, the mental hospital can only hold a patient 72 hours before they have to go to court to get a court order. But that excludes weekends and holidays, which is why I was held 120 hours.

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Comments»

1. susan - January 6, 2010

Mermaid,

I thank you for having the courage to write this incredibly hard to read piece. It was very beautiful. It must have been extremely hard to write, I found myself shedding a few tears as I read.

I think we have all been there. I hope you are in a safer place now.

2. Crazy Mermaid - January 6, 2010

Yes, thank you, I am in a better place. There has to be more humane treatment than the one I received. Getting it all out in the open this way is a good thing. Shine the light into the dark corners.

3. Sleight of Hand « The Other Side of Madness - January 8, 2010

[…] hospital, patient rights, psychological crisis, state hospital) Crazy Mermaid’s account of her psychological crisis and involuntary hospitalization is the most articulate and candid narrative on the subject I have […]

4. moodybpgirl - January 8, 2010

Wow! Just wow. You are such a gifted writer and you describe your experiences so vividly. I hope you don’t mind but I was inspired to write a blog post after reading your last two.

Crazy Mermaid - January 9, 2010

Thanks for your kind words. I’d be honored if you write a blog post after reading mine.

5. Louise - November 5, 2010

Quite a story. Anyone living in Florida should know about the Baker Act and should know about their rights.

6. Stacy - January 7, 2011

I have been admitted (or committed) 4 times in the past 3 years. It is to the point now that I feel safer in the hospital than outside. They give me pills, but they only help a little. I feel all of the time that there is a storm inside my head, and I know how it is to see things and to hear voices. Thank you for your story.

7. Drowning in despair, Hystaricaly laughing at the Bright pink lion - November 28, 2011

I should probably be committed. I’m 14 and live in Texas. My parents don’t believe in depression, or Bi-Polar (which I’m pretty sure i am) that those who commit suicide are just attention seeking idiots. When i try to tell people at school about seeing purple talking monkeys and the like they treat it like a joke. I’m suicidal and keep trying to kill myself but no one listens (The fluffy kangaroo has made me delete a sentence here) i feel either dead or hysterical and when ever i try to tell people that the cuts on my leg are from my razor i come up with stories like my cat scratched me or i fell off my Bike they wont let me tell people ………………………………………

Debsako - December 1, 2011

To the 14 year oold boy with suicidal thoughts
My sister is bipolar and pet there is help for you

You are suffering possibly from a chemical imbalance in your brain. Please go talk to an adult at school or another parent of a friend that you think will listen. Ask to be brought to a doctor to explain what you are thinking. There is medicine to balance your moods you are not alone. Once you see a professional they will talk to your parents if that is what you wish. Trust me you will live a normal happy life with Bipolar. Get the book – An Unquiet Mind
by Kay Redfield Jamison’s
Don’t give in to the negative thoughts seek help from others 🙂

moodybpgirl - December 1, 2011

Drowning, I’m sorry you are going through so many terrible struggles. All I can think is that maybe you can contact a lawyer to intervene on your behalf, since your parents/legal guardians aren’t looking out for your best interests. I think the fact that you have so much insight into your illness at such a young age shows you have a lot of potential to make a strong recovery. I hope things get better for you soon.


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