The major advantage for hospitalization on an open ward, was the increased availability of activities. Days are long in a psychiatric ward with nothing to do, and there are only so many times you can play UNO.
In The Dungeon there was Hydrotherapy classes and a lonely art room. In the State Psychiatric Facility there was occupational therapy. After weeks in a locked ward I was excited to Finally be able to participate. At 10:00 am exactly, I walked to the occupational therapy area, and realizing I had gone to school with the therapist did a little about turn and headed back to my room. Talk about a close slave!
From memory the therapists name was John, he had a twin brother and played electric guitar. We took Art together and our paths tended to overlap fairly frequently due to a mutual love of music.
The next morning I forgot about Occupational Therapy, and was lounging in the TV room reading a paper. Suddenly the therapist appeared.
“Hi! I’m John, the Occupational Therapist. Do you want to make a mosaic table with me? No one else seems to be interested.”
I could have died. One of the top situations you do not want to meet someone from your past; in a psychiatric hosptial…as a patient (only topped by at the the gynaecologists). But he looked straight at me and showed no sign of recognition. I quickly assessed that:
1) he wasn’t who I thought he was
2) he didn’t remember me, (most likely due to my disheveled appearance), or,
3) he had astounding professionalism and was pretending not to know me. There was probably something in the staff rules pertaining to this.
I considered any of these assessments better than the alternative, and not wanting to be rude I stood up and followed him to the Ocupational therapy area where multicolored tiles, grout and a picture of a sun were waiting. We went about sorting the tile pieces in silence until I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Do you have a twin?” I blurted out.
“No, not that I recall.” the John replied, looking vaguely amused. (assessment 1).
“That’s weird. I thought I saw your twin yesterday. But,” I paused, “maybe it was you…” I trailed off, realizing I was making a fool out myself. “Also…” I started, feeling honesty was the best policy, “you look ridiculously like someone I went to school with. And you have the same name. Except I’m sure he had a twin. But maybe he didn’t.”
“Did your twin die?” Katherine, a mild mannered senior enquired, walking up to the table. “I had a twin that died once. But it was before I was born.”
“Well…I definately don’t have a twin…I do have a sister, but she is younger.” John said, clearly used to this sort of debacle, Katherine walked off, and I cleared my throat awkwardly.
“Well, it’s good we have sorted that little mystery out!” I concluded. “I don’t have a twin either. If it helps.”
God, this was turning into a disaster.
But John, ever professional, smoothly moved on; setting up the mosaic pieces and asking me some basic questions about myself, and I was relieved to find out that we had gone to school together, making me partially rather than completely mad (Assessment 2). And, I began to realize, it was pleasant talking to someone who didn’t greet you with “Welcome to my space ship!”, or “its time to take your Lithium.”
I attempted to regain my reputation by talking about my successes, my family and my PhD, rather than the time I spent in a locked ward, or running away from security. John continued to project exactly no recognition of me, (assessment 3) of which I was ever grateful. I began to look forward to Occupational therapy once more and the Sun mosaic was nearly finished before I was discharged.
I could have sworn he had a twin though..!