Sally, Interrupted OR Sally's Snapped a Nut
Sally's Dedication to Sue
- Robert Dowling Studios
Robert Dowling Gallery and Studio
I interviewed this subject for the full details and accounts of what led to and what transpired as she was "held captive" in an institution for three days while other's decided her fate. She has read and has agreed to all contents of this article. I have changed all names to protect identities. All accounts are real.
On April 15, 2008, the door bell rang as Sally sat in her living room drinking her morning coffee. It was a young gentleman indicating he was there to give her one free room of carpet shampooing. "Heck, ya, bring it....." Sally soon found it, of course, to be a Kirby Salesperson. “Dammit All!!” She thought but she is impressed with the machine and quickly signs up for the brand new state of the art model which is ONLY $2K. Bear with me...this IS part of the story.
Little history....Sally was on an antidepressant that is actually a stimulant. She, at that time, was on very very high doses prescribed by her gynecologist (yes, her gyno). She had also, and unknowingly, become addicted to the Mexican equivalent of our Valium. It is not equivalent AT ALL. It is much more potent, much more addictive and much more difficult to become released from its clutches. Aside from that, Sally likes her cocktails and her diet pills. What a combo, right?
That evening Sally goes out with pals and has more cocktails then needed. This stimulant antidepressant has a history of causing suicidal tendencies. Those, in which she acted on that evening by cutting her wrists. Sally, realized what she'd done but didn't realize the severity. She called her best comrade to "console" her. Sue quickly came to Sally's aid and drove to Sally's home where she was met by the sheriff and an ambulance. The sheriff indicated that "until the scene was secure", Sue could not enter the premises. Sue and Sally do laugh about this today because...come on...secure the premises? It's not a homicide for the love of Gawwd. Sue was eventually led into the house to be met with Sally (she doesn't remember this part) either already on the stretcher or sitting on the counter with a towel wrapped around her wrist. Sue escorts the ambulance to the hospital as Sally is in the ambulance chit chatting coherently with the two deputies who were with her. Well, not actually WITH her, but for whom now "owned" her for 72 hours. It’s called being "in on a 51" and it means you are under the county's care for 72 hours. It was indicated later that Sally should not have survived, but she did. Sally was brought to the ER where Sue stood by watching as Sally's wrist was stitched up in two places, "ya, that's gonna leave a mark." Sally thought.
Once done, Sally was signed out and taken by ambulance to a psych ward, or to be politically correct, a "mental health facility". Around her area, they don't tell anyone where the patient is going. All the deputies do is find any open bed at any mental health facility in the area and transport the patient to that facility. It is up to the patient to contact family and friends to indicate their whereabouts. Sally is seen immediately (at 3:00 a.m.) by an intake counselor who is less than happy to be bothered by such a "loser". Sally was reminded that she was 4x over the legal limit for alcohol consumption, had a high concentration of amphetamines, valium and antidepressants in her system BUT YET was coherent enough to have a conversation, let alone walk. Sally recognizes, "ya, I could see where that MIGHT be frowned upon." Apparently, paramedics don't like that particular combination of alcohol and drugs. Sally's fate is essentially sealed. She is advised that she will be going to 28 day "spin dry" as she describes it. That being inpatient rehab.
At the mental health facility where Sally was brought that evening, they gave her high amounts of vicoden (a pain killer) but pulled her completely off of her antidepressant, which could have caused seizures, but I digress. She is doped to the point in which she slept for nearly 24 hours. She finally got up at 9 p.m. the next evening, finds herself in scrubs and little slippers with rubber grippers on the bottom (the kind you'd put on a toddler so they don't slip on the tile and fall). Sally found the slippers particularly amusing. She walked to the nurse and asks for something to eat. The nurse says "sorry the snack room was closed at 8:00 p.m." Sally goes back to her room and quietly lays down. Another nurse sneaks into Sally's room and says, "psstt...come with me." This nurse was an angel. She had the keys to the snack room, very quietly tip-toed with Sally to that room and let Sally take as much as she wanted to eat and gave her two diet cokes. Thankfully, this nurse understood that Sally was a victim of herself and really shouldn't have been there in the first place. She was not like the others, after all, Sally thought. She was quiet and not a trouble maker. This angelic nurse was, thankfully, on duty during most of Sally's stay.
The next day, the valium kept coming every 4 hours and now they were feeding her heavy doses of minerals and vitamins which made her sick to her stomach. Sally went out to the TV room for breakfast. She noticed a 20-something Native American man wrapped in his stark white blanket. For the record, Sally assures me the beds are cold, you get a sheet that is about a "20 thread count". The mattresses aren't necessarily made by Serta and are less than comfy and you get one single solitary white blanket. Oh, AND, of course you are stripped of all of your belongings. You are supplied with their shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush (which quite certainly isn't a Colgate recommended product), small black comb that was very similar to one her father uses to put hair oil in his hair daily....but definitely not a "pick" or large toothed comb that would even stand a chance of getting through Sally's permed hair, and lotion. She was provided with lotion to keep her skin soft and smooth as a baby's bottom during her stay. She was surprised they didn't give her a plastic coffee mug to take home that said something like "I survived Mental Health - 2008" or a T-shirt with something similar.
At any rate, Sally was somewhat coherent and wrote a letter to the resident psychiatrist with whom she was to meet soon, and basically begged for her life. Sally would wither on the vine if she were to go to 28-day "spin dry", as she calls it. She could not be away from her support system, her family, friends, boyfriend, work, etc. The psychiatrist met with Sally in her room. She was kind of a manly looking woman and quite intimidating. The Dr. questioned Sally why she'd not been in any of the "group" therapies or activities. Activities? You mean like art activities? You mean like painting jewelry boxes and stuff? Things like that? Alright, she'll participate in the little groups if that's what was required. "However", Sally indicated, "I've been drugged for nearly two days, I can barely walk or eat, let alone paint a jewelry box." The Doc indicated that if Sally wanted to save herself, she needed to "pull it together" and come up with a suitable plan for the judge she'd be seeing the next day. This plan was to be in lieu of inpatient therapy. Sally sat on her bed and cried. Judges don't listen to what people like Sally have to say. The court system is so bogged down with cases like this. They don't have time to listen to crazy people like her. That's why there are intake counselors who talk to people like Sally. These intake counselors make their complete and "good" assessment and decide the fate of those patients coming in, before the patient is even capable of putting a thought together. Sally knows the judges depend on these "professionals" opinions without question.
She is not normally a "pray for me" kind of gal. However, some in her family are into the guardian angel concepts and the archangel concepts. Sally had been indoctrinated into these types of beings. Sally thought "What the heck, I've got nothing to lose". She prayed to the only archangel whose name she could remember, Archangel Micheal. She said the same prayer 3 times out loud "Archangel Micheal please call upon my own guides to help me out of this mess I have created for myself." She felt ridiculous saying the words out loud, but really look at where she was. People were yipping and yapping to themselves all the time, right?
It is NOW snack time!!!!! In this place, Sally indicates, you very quickly base your entire day and being on the anticipation of your meds and your being fed every two hours like a three year old. Let’s take a step back to the Native American (NA) gentleman whom she'd noticed earlier. He pulled her aside and said "watch, I've got something to show you." Sally is thinking "Fabulous..." . Not because he was NA, but because he'd been wrapped in his blanket all day like a streaker. At any rate, Sally goes along with him to the snack room. Rules in the snack room:
1. Use antibacterial gel as you enter the room
2. Let the attendant SEE your used towelette and the disposal of it prior to your entry into said room
3. Choose ONE snack and ONE snack only.....no need to gorge yourself. After all, another meal is just two short hours away.
4. Choose ONE and only ONE soda, juice or drink (and we're not talkin' alcoholic drink....much to Sally's dismay).
The friendly NA man wanted to show Sally something, remember. He shows her how to slip MORE THAN ONE SNACK INTO HIS BLANKET IF HE WORE IT INTO THE SNACK ROOM. That was the entire reason this man walked around with a blanket all day. So, it wouldn't appear ODD that suddenly at snack time, he was wrapped up like a mummy. Sally thought that was pretty cool, he even got her an extra Kellogg's Rice Krispy bar that day. She liked this guy, he was cool. She "hung" with him and his "pals" who also seemed relatively normal, well, considering the circumstances. However, she did keep everyone at arm’s length.
After snack time, was Arts and Crafts Class. Because of the conversation with the psychiatrist, Sally thought "ya know what, you better get your butt off your bed, get out there,mingle and get into these stupid classes or you WILL end up in spin dry." Sally quickly caught onto the unspoken rules of the "pack" but was 15 minutes late for the 60 minute crafts class. Oh the horror of it all. Suzie Craft Woman or the Craft Nazi as Sally describes her, was less than thrilled that Sally had the audacity to show up late. For Gawd's sake, it was hat painting day and Sally needed the ENTIRE hour to paint a hat. Sally quietly sat down and saw a bag of wooden picture frames that were in the shape of the word "LOVE". They were to be painted. "Okay, Cool, I can do that. How long could it take to slap some paint on a damn picture frame? What? 10-15 minutes, give or take", Sally reasoned. So Sally, AGAIN not knowing the rules of the Nazi Art Class Woman, grabbed some paint and a picture frame out of the bag (that ,in and of itself, should have been a clue, the frame was STILL in a bag). She dipped her brush into some purple paint, which she learned very quickly was not to be used directly out of the jar or can BUT poured into the lid first. Alrighty, then, that can be done....no problem.
But just as she dipped her brush into the purple paint the Craft Nazi said, in a relatively snappy and shrill voice, "So, where'd ya get that?" Sally smiles and happily replies "oh, I just grabbed it out of that bag over th........" and before she could even finish her sentence, the Craft Nazi cut her off and the rest of the conversation went something like this:
Nazi: "Did any ONE show you how to do that particular craft? We aren't doing the frames today, we are painting hats and now you don't have time to paint a hat."
Sally is very much a hot head, she tried not to be condescending or snide so she smiled politely and said "well, what, EXACTLY do I have time to do, ma'am?"
Nazi:"Well, you have time to paint a stone."
Sally: "Perfect, point me in the direction of the stones."
Nazi: "in that drawer over there and the paints are beneath them."
Sally walked over and picked out two stones because one said "Love" and the other said "Hope". She wanted to give them to her boyfriend who was hurt and alienated by her actions of the days prior. In fact, he refused to take her calls. Only comrade Sue would call her while she was in the facility. Sally was happily painting her little ceramic stones. Which as she describes, took her......oh I don't know.....ABOUT 3 minutes total. They were about the size of her thumb for Gawd's sake. Sally reflected for a moment and thought of Sue. She wanted to do a really special one for Sue. Sally went back to the "stone drawer" and found a heart. Sally grabbed the light pink, dark pink and yellow paints and took her time on this one. More conversation between the Craft Nazi and Sally:
Nazi: "So, where did you get the stones?"
Sally: "In the......."
Nazi: "Ya know, you are ONLY allowed one stone PER day."
Sally's had it: "Ya know what, MA'AM. I'm in on a 51....you know what that means? I'm here for 72 hours. Any way you slice it, 72 divided by 24 IS 3, as in 3 days. I was doped up yesterday so this one here", she pointed to the green one that said "Love", "is for yesterday. And, this one here", she pointed to the gold one that said "Hope", "is for today. And, this one here", she pointed to the colorful one she'd just painted for Sue, "is for tomorrow because I will be in court and will miss my art class. So, here are MY three stones for MY three day stay. Questions?"
Nazi: "Well, the lacquer that needs to be sprayed on them will not be dry by tomorrow."
Sally was boiling at this point: "Ya know what, I'm gonna go ahead and assume Walmart sells this stuff you call lacquer and I'm guessing I can figure out how to use it pretty easily....if not, I'll consult with someone. Sound good?"
It was as if Archangel Micheal saw the two in each others' faces as the rest of the class looked on in horror OR looked down at their little hats trying not to make potentially threatening eye contact with the silver backed gorilla they'd been calling Sally. Before the Craft Nazi could retort, a voice came over the loud speaker system, "Sally Blah, please report to the nurses’ station. Sally please report to the nurses’ station." Sally then said "now if you'll excuse me, I've been called to the nurses’ station. If you could point me in the direction of a paper towel to wrap my stones in, that'd be greeeeeaaaaatttttt." I'm certain, knowing Sally, that part came out kind of sarcastic. I'm just sayin'.
Now this next part was nothing short of a miracle. Sally got up to the nurses’ station, where Sally'd become a quick favorite of all the nurses. She was approached by the social worker, "We are releasing you tomorrow after your court date under the following conditions:
· You see your psychiatrist within a month
· You make an appointment and complete an AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Addiction) Assessment and follow the recommendations
· You contact a case worker to monitor your progress and keep in contact with him/her
· You complete High Intensity OUTPATIENT treatment
and this all needs to be done in 90 days. If non-compliant you will go back to court and will more than likely end up in a 28 day inpatient program."
Sally could barely contain herself and was astounded at what she was hearing. Outpatient treatment!!!?? How in the heck did it go from being 28-day inpatient spin dry to outpatient treatment? Sally didn't care, she was goin' home. The rest of the day Sally sat in the main TV room listening to others talk to themselves and guffaw inappropriately as they watched the movie "Big" with Tom Hanks. A woman suffering from anorexia sat next to Sally at Sally's round table and she watched as the nurses tried to stuff this woman with so much food she would never be able to keep it down. Sally watched a woman doing cross word puzzles out of a book. Sally asked the woman for a page out of her book. Because this was one of Sally's peeps there in "lock up", the woman was more than happy to oblige. The puzzle very quickly became boring. Sally decided to color. Yes, color. Here, apparently, they'd provided stacks and stacks of photocopies out of a coloring book and baskets and baskets of brightly colored pencils, crayons and markers. Sally colored two pictures. She intended on bringing them home to give to her sweety, along with the nicely colored stones for which she'd fought so hard against the Craft Nazi. Yes, her sweety who, incidentally had spoken to her on that day as well. He indicated he loved her and wanted her to come home.
The only request Sally made when she went into the facility is that they didn't dry her jeans in the drier because they would shrink. That evening the nurse on duty remembered this request. She washed and handed Sally her jeans so she could hang dry them in her room. This, again, was against policy, but the nurse didn't care. Sally took her shower and tried to do the best she could with her hair and the doll sized comb they'd provided. No product to fluff it up and no hairspray and she had to go in front of the judge tomorrow. Sally looked in the mirror with no makeup and as her hair hung limply, she felt as though she looked like Aileen Wuornos, the notorious serial killer who was featured in the movie "Monster".
Next morning, Sally jumped out of bed because the sheriff would be there by 8:30 to take her to court and then she'd be released. She couldn't get dressed fast enough and didn't even notice the jeans weren't quite dry yet. She walked out to the nurses’ station to sign papers and found the "nice" nurse had set her breakfast tray out early so she could eat prior to court. Meanwhile, another girl came out of her room. She'd apparently been a staple patient there since Sally indicated the woman changed into different street clothing outfits about 3x per day and clomped up and down the hall in espadrilles. Meanwhile the rest of the patients donned scrubs and those little non-slip footies. On this particular morning, this girl was upset because she wanted 1% milk and got 2% or some other minute detail. She started throwing a fit. Much to Sally's amazement, the woman then pasted her nicotine patch to her forehead and started stomping around in her red espadrilles in an effort to make her point clear to the nurses. That deputy couldn't get there soon enough, Sally thought.
Following procedure the deputy, who was a tiny female about 23-ish and heavily armed, strapped a belt around Sally's waist and attached the cuffs to Sally's wrists. Sally reminded the deputy about the wounds as they were being stressed by the heavy metal objects for which they were attached. Sally said, "if we could just loosen these up a bit to alleviate some of the pain, that would be gggggrrrreeeeaaaaattttt." Sally ALWAYS draws out that word when she is being sarcastic but doesn't want the other person to know. Similar to the "boss" in the movie "Office Space" where he patronizingly says to his employees, "ya, if you could go ahead and come into work on Saturday, thaaaatt'dd beeee gggggrrrreeeeaaaaattttt."
Sally finally got home that day, took a nap, made all the phone calls she needed, started and completed her 90 day program AND gained a cat from the outpatient facility as well. Duma$$, as Sally refers to the administrator, was moving to a new apartment at the time of Sally's 21 outpatient classes. This new apartment didn't take cats so he had two cats living in his office complete with litter boxes!! Okay, that's not a health violation AT ALL, I'm certain of THAT! One cat he chose to take with him, the other not. Mozart was his name, as stupid as Sally thought that name was for a cat. He was timid. But as timid as he was, he took a liking to Sally and she to him. Mo always wanted to be by her side.
At one point, Sally fell off the wagon with the valium and it showed up in her urinalysis. She was called into 'his' office. 'He' (Duma$$ as she begrudgingly described this administrator) stood over her, looked down his nose at her and shook his boney finger in her face, in a meager attempt to intimidate her. He accused her of faking a new prescription she had just received from her psychiatrist, along with insulting her intelligence on every level possible.
During this barrage of interrogation and discipline, this beautiful creature named Mozart, sat right next to Sally's chair. It was as if he knew she needed him there for comfort and to give her calm energy. Sally stroked the animal's fur and the little animal's plan worked. Sally did in deed, maintain her composure and got through it. On the last day of Sally's classes, the instructor, Rachel, said "if we don't find a home for him by Friday, he's being put to sleep". 'Him' being Sally's comrade for the prior 7 weeks, Mozart, and who was also perceived as being a nuisance to and by Rachel.
This "professional" KNEW how attached Sally was to Mo since he'd helped her endure the 21 sessions of pure and utter hell. Sally knew "putting him to sleep" was a cheap attempt at social engineering and emotional manipulation to get her to take Mo home. Sally challenged Rachel in front of the group, "Oh Really, Rachel, and where EXACTLY would that place be. That place that's gonna put him to sleep?"
Rachel: "Well, wherever they go to do that."
Sally: "Again, EXACTLY where is that place? Because I know of NO shelter, vet or organization that would even consider putting this animal to sleep, given his personality and how gentle he is. So, please provide me with a name."
Rachel couldn't come up with a name but said "I can't remember the name. Regardless, no one is taking cats now because ALL facilities are full of cats so he will be put down."
Sally, quite frankly, couldn't give two craps what Rachel had to say at that point. Sally had listened to her cheap arm chair psychology for 7 weeks and was done in approximately 45 minutes with all of it. Sally felt it her job to save this animal as much as he saved her from these two nut jobs who called themselves mental health "professionals".
She told Rachel to find a box for Mo for his car ride home. Sally quickly loaded him into the car, as if they were escaping a concentration camp. Sally said you could practically hear the tires of her car squeal as she pealed out of the parking lot that night. She wanted to get out of there as soon as possible to avoid having them bring her or Mo back into "the hole". On her way home, she cried. She cried firstly, because she'd gained weight from all the lattes she'd chosen to consume during her 7 weeks in "the hole", and secondly, because she beat the odds, was free of valium, saved her comrade cat and was finally FREE!!
Sally has done well. She has her ups and downs. She continues to be monitored by her psychiatrist who she believes is the one who "saved" her from going to spin dry. Although it's never been discussed, Sally truly believes this man has saved her life. She and her boyfriend are still together. Sally showed me the stones that were lacquered (and "they" said it couldn't be done...HA!) and are now sitting on the dresser of her bedroom. Meanwhile, Sue keeps her's on her kitchen window sill. Sally still looks at that heart shaped stone every time she goes to Sue’s. Its a comical reminder of the Craft Nazi and the fun it was fighting for, winning and creating that gem for her dear and forever friend.
Now, as reminders of that horrid day back in 2008, Sally has the scars on her skin, her comrade cat (who she has since renamed), the stones she fought for, and of course the Kirby Vacuum. ©