a psychiatric ward - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The psychiatric ward was once called an asylum, yet it is no place to seek asylum, not the true meaning of the word. It should be a place of refuge from the storms that hurt the mind, a place of love and sanctuary, a place to be welcomed into arms that will hold you until the entire self is soothed, content simply to dwell in those moments with you, being your anchor, the pillar in your hurricane. And so in truth the "asylum" would have been more aptly named as a house of torture, for the removal of any hope of real love is such. I think of the bare walls and bare floors as reflections of what the place really is, as if the building itself was trying to tell the staff what they had built and perpetuated. Then there were the windowless rooms, the lack of real light, the doors without handles... it was the world's most obvious constructed metaphor for emotional indifference. If the asylum was an asylum, it would be the same as one of those fancy retreats for the rich, all soothing, calming, comfort and love... it would be a manifestation of empathy so that the entire person, even the deep brain would be soothed. We love ourselves when others love us, we value ourselves when others value us, and there is no good at all simply saying the words if the actions tell another story.
In my nightmares I am trapped on a mental ward. I can’t move my hands without feeling the restriction of the straps. My head is as clear, no trace of the “madness.” I strain against the black polyester with every ounce of strength and still I can’t budge. My back hurts right from the base of my spine to the tail bone. Saliva is pooling in the back of my mouth. The staff have gone. I am alone. Heart pounding ready to explode, my eyes scan left and right for signs of someone coming to help. No-one. Worn green curtains hang limp on flaking chrome rings and though the gap passers by pay me no attention at all.
I am back in my personal hell. A cheap analogue clock ticks loudly on a nearby wall, each second marked. I need to turn, I need to swallow and mindless squirming won’t help - so I think of watching the show” 24,” what would Jack Bauer do? I turn in the thumb of my right hand, fold it in as flat as possible and pull, not caring if it dislocates. My hand comes right out. Then I do the same with the left. Even with two hands free it isn’t enough, I can’t turn. If I sit up I may be caught and re-tied too tight for this little trick to work a second time. I point my right foot so hard the muscles become painful and I twist it until it is free, but my left is bound too tight. I twist, some relief for my back and easier to swallow. A nurse comes and says “Oh, I see they untied you.” I agree and manage a staged smile, she unstraps my last leg and I turn to my side. I’m sure Bauer would be out of here by now, armed and dangerous, but not me. I’m a pacifist, scared of the “professional care” that leaves me scarred on the inside. The bleach tinctured ward fades and the nightmare intensifies to the next level.
No longer is the door open, no bright light comes from the hallway. No handle, no way out. Four concrete walls, a linoleum floor, a toilet with no paper and a bare mattress - this “seclusion room” is a prison cell by another name...
Perched on the end of Gina's bed was the old lady from over the hall, rocking back and forth. In her gnarled hands was the figurine from home, the only thing her husband had gotten passed hospital security. He'd put it in their daughter's sippy cup and filled it with berry juice, no-one was getting that away from her. She'd been disappointed to finish it earlier than usual but happy to find mother's "angel" at the bottom. The old woman turned and spoke with the voice of a petulant child, "Finders keepers, losers weepers!" Then she turned back to the angel and stroked it again, its owner quite forgotten.