The First Time You Go to the ER with Suicidal Thoughts
You are 19 years old, on your computer at home, and you have been depressed for weeks, maybe even months. It has gotten really bad lately, and you are talking to your best friend online. You have been really laying it all down about how depressed you have been and how all you want to do is sleep, you wish you could stop existing, and you wish everything could just end.
Suddenly, you hear a knock on the door of your apartment and it startles you. You have been isolating yourself for days, so this is a surprise. When you look out of the peep-hole, you are bewildered to see a male police officer standing outside the door. Shaken and not knowing what else to do, you answer the door.
He knows your name. How does he know your name? When he asks to come in, you are reluctant to let him come in, but you know you don’t have a choice … do you? So you let him in. Then he asks to see your room. When he looks inside your room, he scans the interior, most likely getting full view of the scattered articles of unwashed clothing, dirty dishes, week old pizza boxes, and of course, the multiple anti depressants on the bedside table. Of course, he immediately asks about the pills. “What are the pills for? Have you taken any of the pills today? How many of the pills have you taken today? How are you feeling right now? Do you want to hurt yourself or harm someone else right now?”
He asks if he can take you for a ride in his police car, and you are reluctant to go, but again, you are not offered a choice and you are also not sure whether or not you have one, so off you go. About ten minutes later, you are arriving at the hospital. At this point, all you know is that someone called a hotline and the hotline notified the police that you are a danger to yourself. Nothing else is explained.
You are taken into the hospital emergency area by the police, and left in a small, white room with one hard, non-cushioned chair to sit in and wait for a triage nurse. Someone immediately comes in to ask you to remove your clothes and hand over all of your belongings, including your phone. They give you what they refer to as “blues” which just looks like a plain blue hospital outfit and they exit. They even take your underwear and bra.
It takes hours for the nurse to come and you are so agitated and emotional at this point that you feel like you would have been better off at home. When the nurse finally arrives, you try to ask him what is going on through your tears and hyperventilating and all he says is that you are a danger to yourself and he would be interviewing you to determine whether or not you will be admitted for a stay in the hospital. Of course, you immediately panic. You have never heard of being hospitalized for depression. All of this is extremely overwhelming, and why was it taking so long?
The nurse begins to question you rapidly. “What did you tell your friend when you spoke to him earlier tonight on the internet? Do you wish to harm yourself right now? Do you want to harm other people? Are you hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there? Do you know, in what specific way you would harm yourself? Have you had, or do you currently have, a plan set in place to harm yourself?”
Eventually you let slip that one time while you were walking to work you had a fleeting thought while you were crossing a bridge, wondering what it may be like to jump off that bridge. The nurse pauses and writes down what you said. You immediately regret telling him. The nurse tells you he has everything he needs; the psychiatrist will be in to see you shortly.