This photo is of an inner-city residence called PIN House, for People In Need. They take in those who have mental health difficulties. They are currently under a massive renovation thanks to the efforts in our community to aid those who are homeless and in need of mental health care.
Don’t forget to scroll down for today’s blog appearing after today’s poem
Mental Hospital Blues
By: Leif Gregersen
I will never forget my days inside
It was as though my soul had died
They cut me off from the world I knew
Accused me of things that just weren’t true
Nothing ever was as bad as that time
I lost six months though I had done no crime
I had so many strange ideas and thoughts
I really thought all hope was lost
But as I paced the dirty halls
And was confined inside four empty walls
I realized this too would end some day
And the end began to come in a small way
My dear sister came to visit me
Though I was so ashamed I wasn’t free
But she showed she cared and gave me hope
Gave me so many little ways to cope
I did get out, and found myself a new home
Even though in many ways I’m still all alone
I earned back friends, I made my way
To happy times and better days
If you are like me never give up all hope
Make knots and grab tight to the end of your rope
November 20, 2017
Well, it is a pretty dark issue, the one I tried to communicate in my poem. How many of you have spent time in a psychiatric hospital? There are psych wards of course, and no one much likes being forced to stay in them when they could be at home, but being in a hospital dedicated to mental health issues can have a great deal more problems.
One of the things that often worries me about being in the psychiatric hospital in Edmonton is that they house a great deal of child molesters and murderers, and often these people are free to roam the grounds with very little (or very poor) security. I can recall going to a support group where people from the forensics pavilion as it is called were guarded by a nursing aide who kept falling asleep. I have been told that a great deal of the people who are in this pavilion are there to get out of responsibility for their crimes. One time, I was walking down a hallway and one of these people stood in front of me, patted me down and then asked me if I had a cigarette. I felt very violated, but I still have a strong desire to help these people in any way I can.
It definitely was a scary thing to go to this hospital the first time, even the first few times. They don’t tell you where you’re being taken, they just drive you out to the hospital and turn you over to staff who quite often lock you in solitary for hours before anyone says a word to you. Soon after, you get the ‘privilege’ of being put in the regular ward and this can be extremely scary. There was a time when a guy picked a fistfight with me and the staff members kept encouraging him to charge me despite that he had initiated the fight.
But to get down to the good parts of mental hospitals, they are often able to help people in ways that no other place can. If you get a good doctor, he or she will see you often and work out the problems you have with your life in general and of course your medication. I have always seen it as something of a miracle how no matter how convoluted or messed up my thinking and acting was, somehow things would get better in the hospital. I wish there was something I could say to people who have family members, loved ones, or they themselves will need to go to this place that can make it easier, but I have always had a very difficult time myself. I would say one of the best things you could do would be to engage in as many groups and recreation therapy and occupational therapy classes as you can, they will give you tools that will be essential to you succeeding when you leave the hospital, and believe me, no matter how bad things may seem, just about everyone will one day leave the hospital.
Life now, 16 years after spending a 6 month chunk of my life in the hospital, things are going really well. I have my own subsidized apartment, I am writing on a regular basis, I have many friends who are incredible people and I am healthy and happy. What it came down to was establishing a regime of medications that I won’t go off of for any reason unless directed by my doctor, building up my mental and physical ability to work part-time and to write and publish my books, and understanding that I am part of the community around me and the world around that. There have been some extremely hard times, like the loss of my mom, but by having people I can rely on to talk to, to have resources such as grief counselling and other things, I managed to get through, and I hope all of you can find your own path as well. Drop me a line here, let me know what you think of my blog and any questions you may have.