On May 27 I entered a program for people living with a mental illness and an addiction or “concurrent disorders”. It was a program that involved a three week stay at a hospital located about two hours away from my home. I had to be there for 8:30 am so I left my home at 6:00 am to allow myself time to get lost along the way. Leaving my husband and daughter was emotional and I cried for the first fifteen minutes as I drove away and chain smoked my way down the highway. Although I knew I making the right decision, I still felt an overwhelming sense of guilt at leaving them to fend for themselves. How dare I have to go for treatment?
I arrived at the facility around 7:30 am and spent the next hour frantically smoking and wondering what were the next three weeks going to be like for me? Was I going to be able to cope without alcohol? Just the thought of giving up the alchohol and my drug of choice were making me feel anxious but I knew that I was never going to get my mental illness under control if I didn’t.
Finally it was time for me to go in. The next few hours passed in a blur as I was shuffled from one nurse to the next as they took my vitals, information, bloodwork, and urine tests. The deal with this facility was you had to arrive clean and sober so you had to take a breathalyzer and a piss test upon arriving and if you you weren’t clean or sober they’d tell you to go back home. There were a few tense moments for me as it showed I had Ativan in my urine, and I openly admitted to taking one the night before because I was feeling so anxious about coming and I didn’t know that was considered a “drug” but they let me stay! Phew!!!
Initially I was given my own room and time to myself to unpack and settle in. I still hadn’t met any of the other residents as they were all busy in classes while I was being “processed” but the lunch hour was coming up soon and I knew I would be seeing them right away. It’s always nerve wracking being the new kid and this felt no different.
There were only three other women besides myself on a unit of twenty people and as per my natural tendency I held back somewhat and observed the dynamics of the group for the first day. I was polite when spoken to and welcomed conversations, but I was reserved and somewhat distant. It was a somewhat overwhelming day and I was glad when the evening came and I could finally go to bed. It took awhile to find my way around the hospital (especially the half mile walk to the smoke pit) and as I settled into my bed for the night I wondered what tomorrow would bring. Twenty one more sleeps I told myself.