Many doctors, psychologists and nurses have had me in their care. The doctors are clouds, that rain pills down into my mouth. They say I have paranoid schizophrenia and that I have to take Latuda. First, they gave me Seroquel, but then darkness laid over me, so I fell asleep. To wake me up, they gave me Risperidone, but then my body shivered, and my period disappeared. In the end, I got Latuda, it took a long time to get used to it, in the beginning, I threw up a lot, was worried, and I got pimples, but I got used to it, I had to because then there weren’t many kinds of medications left, so I had to accept life with the side effects.
Psychologists are rainbows, they come, after the doctors are done raining, I like psychologists better than doctors, because they understand you and are colorful, doctors are not evil on purpose, they just don’t know, that they hurt more than they help with all the medicine. The nurses are all the other kinds of weather because they are there all the time and shape everyday life when you are in a psychiatric ward. I have already been in 3 wards, despite me being just 23 years old.
You might think, that psychiatric wards are scary places with insane people, who get crazy. That might be the case in some closed mental institutions, but not in those wards, I have been in, I have always been submitted to open wards. It’s very peaceful and calm, the time goes slow, I have been very bored when I have been admitted. The wards are full of birds, that try to get out through the windows, but many of them just flap their wings against the glass.
At night it calmly snows apple snow in the halls, two times, when I haven’t been able to sleep, I have walked through the thin layer of snow, while I stick my tongue out, so the snowflakes could melt on my tongue, it tasted heavenly. But one has to be careful not to walk for too long in the snow, or one will freeze to the bone, some do that. They never come home again, they get sent to protected apartments and homes for the mentally ill, unfortunately, they are too used to the life in a psych ward.
I was once in a ward, where all the walls were mirrors, I walked and walked for several months and did not find my way in the labyrinth of reflections. After 3 months I finally got to go home. I thought I was going to be there forever, but luckily that was not how my fate was spun.
You might wonder, what is wrong with the people, who are admitted? Well, I will tell you, most of the admitted, are sad, scared, and feel guilt. Of course, anger is also an emotion, many feel, but is not shown as often. People don’t dare show it, because then they just have to take a lot of pills. I remember only once, that somebody screamed, that was the first time, I was admitted.
The girl who had her room next to mine had been admitted in with a schizophrenia diagnosis and autism. She was in extreme emotional pain and very dependent on getting medication on time, of course, it was so. With her autism then it was important to follow a set routine. One morning the staff had a lot to do, so much, that she did not get her medicine on time, which caused her yelling and screaming, then she locked herself in her room for a few hours, and then it was over.
The most dreary thing, I think I’ve experienced in a ward, was, a girl who tried to strangle herself with a wire, she was in a lot of distress, her skin became blacker and blacker every day, dark slime started to drip behind her when she walked crying down the hallway. In reality, she was in to much pain for an open ward. Tears always ran down her cheeks, her arms were covered with wounds from cutting herself. She was sent to a closed ward. About two weeks after I saw her again, she was out for a walk with a staff member, her slime had become stone, she looked stronger, so I assume, she felt better.
I have met many interesting people when I have been admitted. In one ward there was a chubby lady, who was recently divorced, so she cried stoneware. Cups, plates, and bowls fell to the floor and broke into pieces, then all the cats came quickly, they waded in the broken pieces and cut their paws, so I had to sit down with a tweezer to get every piece out of their paws again. Afterward, I washed the wounds in soap water and put bandaids on.
The nurses had too much to do taking care of people, so they didn’t have time for the cats, they said, the cats aren’t real, they were just hallucinations, but I knew better, they were very much alive, the nurses didn’t understand me at all. There was also a man, who believed, he was an alien, who had fallen down to earth, he was always wrapped in tinfoil, he said, he was trying to hide his green skin, so the rest of us wouldn’t be afraid of him. He told me, that he didn’t have any friends, he never had, when he was a child, all the other kids were mean to him. His mother was the only one, he could talk to, she had told him, that he was something special, which was why all the other kids were so mean to him. From that day onward he knew, that he was an alien.
The one, who had it worst in the ward, was the young boy, who thought, that everyone was trying to steal his thoughts. He filled his ears with earplugs, put cotton in his nostrils, and never opened his mouth because then there were no holes, from which we could steal his thoughts through. Of course, I had no intention of stealing his thoughts, but I would have really wanted to hear, what he was going around and thinking about. Maybe there were really many voices in his head, which spoke all the time? Maybe he saw scary things?
I have always seen and heard things, which others don’t. That is why I’m not really a human being like most others, I live in a different world, I live in the filter, which makes everything black and white, it makes it so, that I can not speak, the words become stuck in this transparency, that swirls around me, which is why, I write, otherwise I can’t communicate. In the beginning, the filter was just a membrane around me, but it grew into me, it got its own will, it did not want to live in the shadow of me, it wanted to control me. It began to steal my thoughts, and slowly began to control my thoughts.
The filter wanted me to do things, things I did not want to do. It said, that I should attack all the people, that approached me, I should claw and bite because everyone was out to get me. In the beginning, I was extremely afraid of the filter, I didn’t want to hurt anyone, so I fought it. After a few years, I realized, that I never followed the commands, it gave me, I knew then, that I was stronger. Then the filter weakened a lot, today it’s just a little green slime, which loyally has to follow me everywhere, I go, it no longer has a voice or will, I control it. In the country, where I live, I am king, queen, prime minister, and everything at the same time. The day, the filter weakened, I wrote this poem
I lay in bed,
suddenly a lion lays next to me
it is weak
the fur rumpled
she looks mournfully at me
I feel like heating milk for her
then I recognize the eyes
those blue eyes
they are mine
I am looking into my own eyes
I lay my head on her
feeling how the lion and I sink together
in the end it is just me left in the bed
and a lot of golden hairs
I know now
that I am not dangerous
I am the lion
who has no teeth
I don’t know, whether it’s good or bad to be the tamed lion. I think, I have to create fangs out of rockhard materials, so no one can hurt me, but I will only use the fangs to defend myself, I promise. I think I need to be angrier.
From the book “Psykosudrotningin sigur frá” by Anna Malan Jógvansdóttir.
The book is also available at The Nordic House library.