Warning: Weirdness and personal details contained within. Mostly weirdness. You've been warned.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mental Health (or lack thereof)

AKA One of Those Long Rather Detail-Heavy Stories I Sometimes Tell

Did I ever tell you the one about the mental ward in the hospital? A couple months ago, a friend of mine had himself checked into the mental health ward of the hospital across the street from my current place of habitation. And me, being the wonderful giving person I am, decided to visit him a few times, since I live across the street and all. It was convenient. And because it's just across the street, I could walk, which meant I didn't need my wallet/driver's license. I just took my keys. Which was fine, until I realized that after a while of good behaviour on the ward, people can go back to wearing normal clothes. So I made a mental note to take my wallet with me from then on.

And then I went over to see my friend again, but this time I was just going to meet him in the courtyard, one of the public areas of the hospital. Since he had to physically check back at the ward every 30 minutes or so, I followed him back afterwards, as I'd done the other times I'd visited him.

Except the other times I visited were in the afternoon, during valid visiting hours. Turns out (and I knew this, I just forgot) visiting hours only start at 1 pm for the mental health ward. But nobody stopped me from wandering in, I walked right by the front desk, and stood right beside the internal desk as well. I didn't think anything of it until, as I was waiting in the common area of the ward for my friend to check something, a couple patients came up to me and asked if I was new. Um, no, not as far as I know. Nobody's caught me yet, but thanks for checking.

It kind of freaked me out, as well as bringing up the convenient memory of proper visiting hours. So I decided to leave. Except as I tried to leave, the ward door was closed. The front desk nurses at that point have to buzz people out. And the nurse asked me if I'm part of the ward. That really freaked me out, because if you're a mental patient and you misbehave, they don't ask questions. They dope you up and strap you down, and possibly use shock therapy. And me being where I shouldn't have been, without ID, wasn't very reassuring. So I was VERY happy the nurse let me out without anything further. And although my friend was in for another couple weeks, and again for a second stint a couple weeks after that, I didn't go visit him again. Wonderful giving person that I am.


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