In June of 2013, specifically on the 20th, I was admitted into the psychiatric unit of Vancouver General Hospital after an attempted suicide. As I recall, I had been having a bad week at work. The whole month in retrospect was a horrible one. I had been seeing my psychiatrist and was already on medications with little effect. During my work day, the thought had been brewing and by the end of the work day I had a full idea of my plan. After work, I went home and overdosed on a variety of drugs. However, sadly or not, I did not succeed. I arrived at the ER barely able to stand, having been dragged via the dungeons by my doctor and mother. There at the ER I awaited a series of tests and before the night was over, I was admitted to the PAU. The staff in the ER was exceptionally nice. I had previous encounters with the staff in the ER so I knew what to expect.
In the PAU, I was put into one of their “quiet rooms”. Oddly, that was my favorite room throughout my entire hospitalization. It was a prison cell with medical supervision and no one to bother me. Eventually I was moved out of that room into more generic hospital rooms. The PAU was a scary and odd place with a collection of patients of different backgrounds. During my stay it was mostly unstable patients. I didn’t interact with many of them. And to be honest, my memory of things during that time is a little hazy at best. Days turned into weeks and weeks into a month. After a while I was transferred again via the dungeons to the BIU.
In terms of routine, the BIU and the PAU were the same. But things in the BIU are less restrictive. You’re allowed passes to leave the premises if you’ve been cleared by the doctors. And they actually encourage you to leave the premises for short walks outside. But for the first couple of weeks I holed myself up in my room and refused to see anyone. Only after a while did I start to engage in what little activities there were around the BIU. In both places you lost track of time and the only way to gauge what time it was, was by the sound of the food trolley. Meal times were the most anticipated events in the hospital. It’s a real pity they don’t have enough staff to organize and oversee more activities for the patients. Patients are left to their own imaginations and willingness to interact with other patients in order to have fun. I played several games of Scrabble with some of the other patients, though I was beaten to pulp every time.
During my stay at the BIU, I only let my two friends see me and my parents. I didn’t even let my sister see me. My pride got in the way of things. I didn’t want my sister to see her big brother in such a state. I grew up thinking that being the eldest you have to be the strongest and especially being a guy you have to be able to stand up and never show emotion. I was mistaken. But the thought still prevails and I find it difficult to break away from it. I’ve since told few people about this incident. But I don’t want to hide from it anymore. It’s so stressful trying to remember who you’ve told and who you haven’t and all the made up stories for why you weren’t at this and that.
However, not everything is doom and gloom. Shortly before I left the hospital I met a patient there and after our discharges we went out for a while but recently broke things off; we’ve remained friends. Okay I lied, maybe just a bit of gloom.
I’d like to express a huge thank you to the staff at the VGH ER, the PAU medical team, and the BIU medical team. You were all extremely professional in your work and unbelievably generous in your care. My road to recovery will be a long and arduous one. There will be dark times and there will be good times. I hope to be able to remain positive and to help others through their trials as well.
For those of you who require help or need someone to talk to please call the Vancouver Community Mental Health Emergency Services’ 24 hour crisis line:
They’re trained professionals who can help guide you through difficult times help you get out of a dark space. Of course there’s always 911 if you’re in serious danger of hurting yourself.