And that’s exactly what I did. I think that initial stay was about five days. I spent 24 hours on suicide watch then went to regular inpatient status where I was allowed to attend group counseling, individual counseling, and other ward activities with the rest of the patients.
After a while, I did enjoy the restfulness of the place. Enough activity went on that we were kept occupied, but it was a big change from normal life with three kids under the age of ten, a husband, a job, and a house and all the responsibility that came with that life. But I kept most of my turmoil inside, again in an effort to be sent home as soon as possible. I talked to Bob every night around 6 p.m.—we had a pay phone on the ward since cell phones were prohibited. He assured me that the kids were fine and everything was going okay. I don’t know how much of the truth he was telling. I know he continued to work, and his mom stepped in to take care of our kids as much as she could help. I felt guilty about that but knew that he didn’t have any other options.
Other people on the ward were very polite and nice to me, particularly those first few hours. We had an assortment of people that you might find anywhere—what we had in common was how unmanageable our lives had become. One was a nurse at St. Dominic’s who had been admitted through the same emergency room she worked in after being picked up by the police for tearing up her husband’s truck with a baseball bat. One older lady who was suffering from depression was very brave to talk to me as I sat crying at dinner the first night I was there. One was a young man who was on leave for psychiatric reasons from university—he was very articulate, well-spoken, and completely unaware of how dangerous to himself and others he was. Shortly after I was released, I heard he had died in a single-car crash after his parents signed him out of the ward. It was ruled an accident, but I will always wonder.