About 14 years ago, I was hospitalized for depression.
It was before I was married or had kids, and it would be the second of three times that I was committed somewhere.
This second time, I was admitted to Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT.
It’s a pretty swanky psychiatric hospital that provides treatment for psychiatric and addiction disorders.
Drugs, alcohol, depression, anorexia, schizophrenia… you name it.
I wrote a little bit about it once here.
It was much nicer than the psych ward at Norwalk Hospital, where I did my first stint, and Danbury Hospital, where I did my third.
Those places are not so much fun.
But Silver Hill was really nice.
Like a country club where you didn’t necessarily need money to join.
You just needed to be pretty fucked up and have decent insurance.
Although a good connection didn’t hurt.
I met all three criteria.
Regardless of the place you go, there is kind of a protocol when you enter these places.
When you are first admitted, especially in the cases of severe depression, you are first placed in sort of a high security section.
At Silver Hill it was called Acute Care.
Regardless of which facility you are admitted to, very few people want to be there initially.
It is unfamiliar.
This unfamiliarity is scary.
You don’t know anyone.
You have limited access to your family.
You are tired, or detoxing, or both, and you are unable to do all of the unhealthy or deceptive or shameful things that, while you know they aren’t good for you, have become your survival mechanisms.
Your whole world has changed in the snap of a finger.
It doesn’t help that upon your arrival, anything that could be potentially used to harm yourself is taken away from you.
The drawstring to your sweatpants.
If you have never been in one of these places before, you may be looking at everyone else like they are the fucked up ones and you have been wrongly committed.
The first few nights, when you have been told you are there to “get some rest”, a nurse comes into your room every hour.
To check your vitals. To take a sample.
To make sure you haven’t hung yourself with a hidden shoelace or that you aren’t fucking the crazy guy down the hall from you.
It’s similar to that first night in the hospital after you’ve given birth.
Minus the cute babies.
It’s tough to sleep when someone is waking you up every hour on the hour, and poking and prodding you.
If you are a smoker, that can also pose problems.
I was a smoker during all three stays in the nuthouse.
In Norwalk and Danbury, there was no smoking.
That doesn’t make things easier.
Being depressed and quitting smoking cold turkey is a tough combo.
That’s one of the benefits of a place like Silver Hill.
In the Acute Care Unit at Silver Hill, there was an outside deck.
A couple times a day, the doors were unlocked, and you were allowed to go out on the deck with a staff member.
He or she would hold your pack of cigarettes and ration out one at a time to each smoker.
You would stand in line, with your Marlboro Red or Camel Light or Parliament in your mouth, and wait for the nurse to give you a light.
And then you would smoke the shit out of that thing so that you could go get your second cigarette before you and all the other smokers were herded back inside.
By the second or third day you are there, you start to adjust.
You have befriended someone.
You understand the routine and feel a little more comfortable.
And then, once the staff has determined that you are not a danger to yourself, something big happens.
You earn your shoelaces back.
You never appreciate your shoelaces so much as the third or fourth day you are in rehab.
And shortly after that, you graduate.
To Main House.
Main House is a whole different ball game.
It’s kind of like transitioning from elementary school straight into high school.
There’s a big difference.
And while I had become used to being away from all things familiar and had now earned much more freedom upon my transition into Main House, this was where the scariest part of my stay at Silver Hill occurred.
But I’ve run out of time.
So you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to read about that.