I slept for what seemed like days, but in reality it was about an hour. At 7:30am the morning shift nurse came in to say hello. He was tall, had a slightly Scottish accent and like all the other nurses in the psychiatric ward he wore casual clothes. He asked me how I slept and gave me a brief rundown of the facilities.
He asked if I needed any medication and I told him no. I’d been off the meds for four days and I’d like to keep it that way. It was only an hour and a half until my big appointment, and I had a strong inclination to sleep until 9am. However hunger got the better of me and I decided I should eat something.
Since they wouldn’t bring me breakfast in bed and the dining room was upstairs I decided to have a shower before breakfast. While in the shower I started to examine the situation. I needed to try my hardest to act normal so they doctors would let me go. I couldn’t stay in this place, there were no corners on anything. That might sound like a strange thing to say when you are trying to find a way to get out of the ward you’ll understand.
I did the best to fix my hair, slipped on my shoes, brushed the remaining leaves and dirt off my shirt and went upstairs to the dining room. On the way one of the nurses pulled me aside and informed me I had a phone call from sister 1. I had a quick chat and she was going to bring some clothes in later that afternoon. I brushed over my experiences so far and got off the phone as quickly as I could – I was starving.
The breakfast wasn’t particularly appetising but it’s amazing what a day living on emergency ward sandwiches can do. I think I was the only person that talked to the people serving the food. I sat down with my breakfast and surveyed my fellow patients. I knew immediately that I didn’t belong there. Everybody looked dishevelled and sullen. I was so glad I trimmed my beard on Monday otherwise I might have looked like the rest. My hands shook as I lifted my spoon, but looking around the tables so were a lot of other peoples. That was one of the strangest breakfasts I’ve had in my life.
After breakfast I retired to my room. My nurse was under instructions to check on me every 30 minutes before I had been seen by a psychiatrist. I tried my best to act calm when they checked on me. He was quite comforting and did his best to soothe the fear which I was trying to keep hidden.
I was racking my brain trying to come up with a strategy for fooling the doctors but I kept coming up blank. If I tried to hide it then they will pick it straight away. I had to be honest and as clear as I possibly could. I ran the questions I thought they would ask through my mind and prepared myself for them. I couldn’t afford to screw this up. If they forced me to stay I was already thinking about suicide options. The way I figured it my sister would bring my mobile phone to me at some stage. I could use the charger and the oxygen port above my bed to hang myself. I had already checked out the window locks and security cameras and escape didn’t seem like an option. I was thankful they hadn’t put me into a proper mental hospital.
Once it hit 9:30am I started to become frustrated. I overheard a conversation in the hallway about the doctors being late. It didn’t look like I’d be able to speak to the psychiatrist until the afternoon. I couldn’t spend another night in the ward. If I couldn’t fly out today then I would fly out tomorrow. Nothing was going to stop me from running away from this.
“Are you ok Matt? You look a little bored.”, said my nurse cheerfully and he performed the obligatory checkup.
“Yeah I’m pretty bored. Just waiting around”
I was trying to act as casual as possible with one leg folded over the side of the chair. I had made the bed and was fully dressed with my shoes on. I was ready to go home but the wait was driving me insane. My nurse talked about humility and courage, and how hard it was to face these problems. Humility and courage. Perfect. Let’s fake those and get the hell out of here.
I waited another hour and nobody came. My nurse started skipping the 30 minute checkups, and the chair I was sitting in was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. I didn’t want to lie down in the bed because that would mean that I was staying. I didn’t want to lie on the floor because that would mean I was freaking out. Eventually my fatigue got the better of me and I lay on the bed. I was asleep within minutes.
I was woken at 11:15 by my nurse. The doctor was ready to see me. I jumped out of bed and slipped my shoes back on. The nurse wandered off and didn’t bother escorting me down. I wandered around for a while and eventually somebody pointed me in the right direction. I finally met the man who was supposed to decided my fate – Doctor SH.
Doctor SH asked if it was ok if a female student doctor also sat in on the conversation. She was quite attractive and my goal at this stage was to be as agreeable as possible. The doctor asked my nurse to join in on the conversation. I wasn’t particularly happy with that situation. If I had known he was going to be involved then I might have attempted to act more normal when he was doing his checkups.
But I couldn’t change that. I had waited 15 hours to have this conversation and I wasn’t let myself get distracted. I had to act like I wasn’t trying. I had to be humble, courageous and do whatever it took to convince these people to let me go.
It was showtime.