It was the late fall, and my maternity leave was coming to an end. The leave had been wonderful and I had enjoyed it, but now I had started training Frigga into going to day care.
Just around the corner my job was waiting. I was a prison guard, and for the most parts I was good at it. And I liked it. It was a safe job, no unemployment in the area, and being hired by the Danish state has some descent benefits.
Day # -2: Saturday
I remember that weekend very well. The whole of Saturday my moods had been poor. I did not have any energy, and just the thought of any kind of responsibility knocked me off my feet. This day was way worse than what I had experienced in recent years. But at the same time it wasn’t new. I’ve had it before, but this time i had lost control. That said i managed my way through the day, and I hoped for a better day to come.
Day # -1: Sunday
I think that sunday morning – until that day – was the worst I have ever felt I my life. For 3 straight hours I was hiding I the barn crying my lungs out. And I had no idea why. I was so afraid, so sad, and extremely suicidal.
Early in the morning we had briefly talked about going to Legoland, at the last day of the season, just to pull the most out of the tickets. I have never asked if my wife came looking for me that morning, but anyways she was left behind with three kids, being Fenja and Frigga, and our much older foster son. I have always since assumed, that she had no idea of what to do, and took the parental descision of keeping the kids away from me. And that was likely the best descision.
For some reason around noon, I stepped up, pulled on my ever-fake happy-face and walked into the house. “Ok, I am ready, let’s go to Legoland.”
As I walked to the house, I had no idea, that those words would come from my mouth minutes later.
I must have been somewhat persuasive, because as soon as the lunch was over bags got packed, and we drove off.
Going to Legoland was my dummest descision ever. It was extremely over crowded, looooong lines, sharp elbows and crying children. It did not help on my mental imbalance. But well we got through the troubles, highly due to my wife’s great attention and ability to read the situation, but also much thank to our dear friends Tanja and Martin. The night after that day is a totally blackout. I remember nothing.
Day # 0: Rock bottom.
Next morning as the kids were prepared for institutions, we drove off. But my balance was useless. When I dropped off Frigga, my eyes were red, swowlen and blank, and the daily manager noticed emidiately. Again the conversation if any is lost.
I drove back home, and in our driveway i stopped the car, and the tears suddenly exploded from my eyes. And right then, for the first time really in 20 years, I gave up. I did not want to live anymore. It wasn’t that life was meaningless, but I just couldn’t do it any more.
When the doctor says “no”
For some reason I called my doctor, and when the nurse/secretary answered, I could only whisper one word betheen the hopeless stream of tears. “HELP!” She knew who I was because of their phone system, so in seconds I was redirected.
It took some time, till the doctor answered, but I guess I was not the only patient that morning.
But when she did answer – my doctor and saveuer – she knew in a heartbeat, that she needed to see me right away.
After the rather short conversation to my doctor I drove off. It was a 10 minutes drive, but I had no rational thinking. The speed was high, the interest in surviving the trip was minimal and my driving was hopelessly reckless.
But somehow I survived, even though I noticed very high speed at times.
As I arrived to the doctor I waited just a few minutes in the waiting room. Henriette, the doctor, is always very energetic, positive and dedicated, but today she was a changed woman. She looked determined, but worried; focused, but perplexed; and her ever-smiling fave was reduced to a sharp observing attitude. She was very worried, obviously!
We talked in her office, well I mostly cried, and after roughly 15 minutes, she came with the worst possible suggestion, I could imagine at the time. She wanted to admit me to a mental department at the hospital.
To begin with I refused, but Henriette was persuasive and finally I accepted against my actual emotional state of mind. While she worked on establishing contact to the hospital, I waited in a next-door office. She must have had a few other clients while i waited, but somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes after my arrival, she had made the layout for the rest of the day.
I tried a few last times to deflect from the plan, but Henriette was convincing and consequent. It was a very nice “no” to any other foolish ideas.
Car-swap without explanation
As I drove from the doctors clinic on the way to the hospital, i tried to call my wife. As a ground school teacher, she is not always available on the cellphone, so I called the office with a very short emergency message: “I need to meet her by her car in 15 minutes. I am on my way to the hospital.” She had no clue, what had happened that morning. And that we were to switch cars, so she could get or kids that afternoon.
My wife stood ready at the parking lot, when i arrived. Her eyes shined of fear, and in less than 20 seconds we had switched car keys, I had said that i was on my way to the psykiatric department at the hospital. Nothing more. I don’t even think I gave her a hug, a kiss or anything. Those 20 seconds I have regret many times since.
I arrived at the hospital as agreed, and the time frame given to me from Henriette was honored. The psykiatric reception was behind locked doors. I rang the bell and waited. A nurse arrived, asked for my name, and left again – with me still standing outside a locked door. Those few seconds i had a huge conflict in my mind. Should i run and not know where to? Or should i honor my promise to Henriette, a promise strong enough for her to trust me to take the ride myself. Without handcuffs and police officers.
The nurse returned while i was still battleing myself, let me in and showed me to a waiting room. Locked in. Windows with bars. If i wasn’t terrified before, now i was!
I lost track of time in that room. I did nothing, not even stare into the air. The only thing in my mind was fear, sadness, hopelessness – and a huge desire to end it all right there and then. But i didn’t know how.
I see you..!
As time passed i sometimes raised my eyes a bit, and suddently it hit me. That guy walking back and forth, i knew him. I knew him from work, and he was starring at me with death in his eyes. I slowly gathered myself and prepared for my worst expectations. I was so sure, that he would come into my room and start some sort of troubles.
But before that happened the nurse and a doctor arrived.
When the defence takes over
The staff arrived at the best and the worst time. Potentially they hindered a conflict, but at the same time, my mind was in a very strong defensive mode. All saidness, frustration and hopelessness was pushed aside. All thoughts of suicide was temporarily paused, and now i was in front of the first evaluation, that would be crucial for my admittance to the hospital or not.
I had been in places like these many times, but always as a family member or as a prison guard, so i had some idea of the place. I knew that money is a shortage in the psykiatric systems, that there are hardly enough beds, and the there was a thorough selection and evaluation before any kind of hospitalization.
I talked to the staff for half an hour i guess, and they ended up offering me a bed for the night. But after telling them about the possible former inmate from earlier, they had a bit difficulties in finding me a suitable room. So as an emergency solution i has admitted to the ward of the skitzofrenic – in isolation.
Before being brought to the right department i tried once again to leave the premises. But the kind nurse looked at me with an indulgently smile and said:
“Your doctor has told us, that you have a really strong defence, and we believe that you are of current danger to yourself. So if you choose not to take this volunteer admittance, then we will have to do it by force against your will.”
And so be it. For the first time of my life i was in psykiatric care. For the first time i couldn’t just leave when i saw fit. I cried most of that evening and half the night. I was terrified. Terrified and relieved.
More to come!
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