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Friday, July 26, 2013

A Journey to the Unknown

Last week was one of the more interesting weeks of my life. It involved the ER, the BYU Police, lock-down units, cattle herding, delusions, homeless people and lots of talks to the bishop. Allow me to explain...

Let's start from the very beginning...a very good place to start. After all, when you read you begin with ABC, when you sing you begin with Do Re Mi. The beginning of my story is similar. It has ABCs and Do Re Mis. Anyway, I digress.

I should begin by saying that I have depression. I've suffered with it most of my life. Its a condition called Dythymia which is a chronic depressive state. Anywho, I started a new medication this year called Celexa. It was great. But, I started losing my vision when I'd stand up and would get really dizzy. So, I went in to the doctor to have my medication changed. She decided to put me on Buproprion (also known as Welbutron). Unfortunately the switch didn't go very well for me. I started having some major side effects; both from going off the celexa and starting the welbutron. One of those classic side effects is an increased tendency towards suicidal idealizations. So, that is what happened to me.

So, on Tuesday morning I was having an especially bad day. I woke up and spent most of the morning not really functioning. I had planned out several suicide plans and was wanting to carry them out. So, I quickly realized that I needed to go see the doctor. I decided to head over to the BYU Health Center Urgent Care where I met with Dr. Ogden--she is my prescribing doctor. I told her what was going on with me. I explained my symptoms and situations. She said that we needed to change my medications and that she wanted to make a couple of phone calls. After she excused herself form the examination room, I sat patiently in my seat. I was shaking slightly as I was rather nervous. Upon returning she informed me that she had called the Hospital and informed them that I would be coming to the ER. She had also called the BYU Police to escort me there and informed me that I wouldn't not be able to leave her office without the Police escort.

Shortly thereafter, the police came and escorted me to the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. They checked me into the ER where I was put in an observation room, hooked up to all sorts of machines, poked, prodded, checked, and tested. They even took 6 vials of blood to do random tests. It was an adventure. Then the Crisis Case Worker came in to talk to me. She explained what her job was and what was going on. And she told me that it would be best for me to be institutionalized for while so I can be observed. I was nervous, but she said it was really the best option. She also said that they had a bed open up at that hospital that day, so I wouldn't have to be transferred all the way up to SLC. So, I reluctantly agreed.

After being put in a wheel chair, they wheeled me up to to the 4th floor of the hospital: a locked down unit. As I entered the room a horrific realization came to me: "I do NOT belong here!" I looked around the unit and was surrounded by some very severe cases. Willie was rocking in the corner talking to himself about what he wanted his name to be. Olivia was talking about how her husband was gonna kick everybody's ass. And that her other husband was gonna come and take her out. And that her OTHER husband was gonna sue them. Then of course there was Mary sitting comfortably in her chair facing the wall while rocking. What had I done? What kind of place was I going to? What had I gotten myself into? This was a HUGE was just a mistake!

They wheeled me into my room and asked me to have a seat on the bed. They left me there for about an hour. Alone. Then the nurse came in to take my vitals. I expressed some concern about not really belonging in this kind of a unit. He looked at me like I was a bit delusional and said that I'd be ok. That they'd take good care of me. Then he left me alone again for a while. After a while I met John. He was to be my roommate. He actually seemed pretty normal too. So that was a comfort. That day I met with the nurse, the doctor, the therapist (Tiffany), and the psychiatrist (Mike). It was a long day and I felt so ridiculous. Luckily Miles and my bishop both came to see me.

As Bishop Pickering walked into my room he looked so relieved. He was so sure that I had totally lost it and was trying to dig out my eyes with my thumbs. Luckily I was just fine. He said, " gotta get out of here as fast as you can. Say whatever you have to say, do whatever you have to do!"  It was hysterical. He was just swearing up a storm. One of the reasons I love him!

That was one of the scariest nights of my life. I would wake up to pounding, screaming, yelling, struggles, and drama. Olivia was putting up a fight. They had to take her to the solitary room where she gets strapped down so she can't hurt anyone. She did not want to go, so she was fighting back. D-R-A-M-A. It was just all around scary and awkward.

The next day I began the routine. First was vitals. They came in the room at 6 and took all our vital signs to make sure we were alive. They then gave us all our medications that we were to take. Breakfast was served at 7:30. We were allowed to make/receive phone calls from 8-9. Then we went to group therapy for an hour. After group we met with our therapists/psychiatrists. Then was "group exercise time." This was the funnest part.  They would turn on music for us to lift the mood. But all we would do is walk around the hall way in a circle like zombies. It was dehumanizing. They would just stand and watch us to make sure we weren't hurting ourselves as we walked cattle...or sheep. It was ridiculous. Note that I had been doing the Insanity workout, and this was not really keeping up with the types of workouts I had been doing. Then we had lunch. In the afternoon we went to another group session followed by arts and crafts time. Then dinner, visiting hours, and in bed by 10.

I met some very interesting people. Olivia was a delusional schizophrenic poly who believed she had many husbands. Mary was manic.  John had a mother that couldn't let go. Willie was just crazy. He named himself different names every few Laffayeetaffyaffyo. Sometimes they were hard to say. Rayne is a homeless Native American with a suicide problem. Grace had major psychosis (heard voices) and would often randomly start yelling about not wanting to do the dishes or give anyone oral sex. DD was an school teacher who taught English and was bipolar. Jane was a total alcoholic. Kristen was a new mother that had psychosis after giving birth. I actually learned a lot from these people...well most of these people. I was reminded that my problems in life really aren't that bad. I have people who care about me, want the best for me, and support me.

By Friday afternoon I was going through all my discharge paperwork. I celebrated leaving the hospital by going to see Red 2 with my mom.  All in all it was a good experience. I learned a lot about myself. I got a lot of great material to read through and help me in my journey through this life journey. And I also got a lot of great tools to use in the future. So that was my experience being held up in a psych ward for the week! Feel free to ask questions should you want. You can do it right in the comment section below!


  1. Fascinating experience! Thanks for sharing, Lee, and I'm glad you're feeling upbeat about it.

  2. I too suffer from Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I have had a lot of success on Celexa and Ativan but not Zoloft, Welbutrin, Prozac, or Cymbalta. I literally thought I was slowly dying on Cymbalta. :P Fortunately, I never got admitted, but I had some similar scary experiences when I went to group therapy at the hospital. Thank you for sharing your experience and being so honest about it. A lot of times when you are on a downward spiral, it is hard to realize that you are not alone. Keep up the good work. Love ya!

  3. Dear Leland, thank you for sharing this with us. You are so talented that you could already analyze it! We all have depression times and it is good to know that we have bellowed ones who are caring. Especially one….Heavenly Father who will never let you down. Look at you, He gave you so many tools now to help you…

  4. I'm so glad that a tragedy was averted. I appreciate you opening up, you really do have tons of friends who are ready and willing to help in any way. I don't see you much anymore, but I think of you often. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do, and I'll see about making it down for the Easter concert next year, if you're going to have one of course!

  5. Holy crap. Terrifying. Definitely not an experience I envy.

    In the end, are you glad it happened, or do you think they overreacted?

    Are you feeling your normal self again?

    Glad you went to the doctor, and I hope you're feeling well! Thank you for the update, and keep in touch!