Two Halloweens ago, I was in the mental hospital (catch up on all that here and here) and there was a really ridiculous party. I mean, it was a nice party, but since it was in a psych ward, the whole thing was sort of surreal. In every psych ward I’ve ever been to, there’s been some sort of social worker type who is in charge of planning activity hours to keep us all from going even more crazy than we already are.
Some of them sucked -- I hate anything arts and crafts, and besides, the markers were always dry -- and some of them were cute. Like, they would bring this big poodle around and you could pet it: “Animal Therapy.”
I vaguely remember some sort of flower arranging class, which also bored me. Beauty companies are constantly having you somewhere to arrange flowers at events -- you design a bouquet that’s just like the bouquet of floral notes that went into the new fragrance, see? -- and because I am not clever with my hands I get very sick of it very fast. Also you always have to do it standing up, workshop-style, and I usually make myself wear atrociously high heels to industry events. Because I’m sooo professional! No, I do not fool anyone.
But back to the mental hospital. What else? There were yoga classes, and I watched but refused to participate. First of all, I was not about to do yoga in paper jammies, which is what I wore the whole time I was there, since the clothes I’d been admitted in were so wildly inappropriate (don’t ask). Also, it wasn’t a real yoga class, since everyone who was participating was heavily medicated and Thorazine-shuffling all over the place half of the time.
So really it was a lot of bending from the waist and rolling up slowly, or laying flat on mats and breathing deeply, which I figured I could just as well do in my room, where the creepy clique of dudes who always called me “Blondie” couldn’t leer at me and try to get a glimpse of my stomach and/or underwear (also disposable – I got a new pair from a cart that wheeled around the unit every morning).
The best and most unexpected one was the grooming hour, when we all got supervised time around a table in the arts and crafts room with tweezers and a mirror. There were also nail grooming tools, but you know me – I can never be bothered to do my nails, particularly not during my recovery from a psychological breakdown.
Instead, I got to pluck my eyebrows for the first time in two weeks -- and two weeks feels like forever when you’re locked up on a ward and have nothing to do but read bad books from the “library” – a tiny room that was unlocked for half an hour every three days or so, and had like 80 books and two PC computers, which you could line up for and then use for 10 minutes. My Twitter account was blocked, thank God. There’s no need to Tweet that you’re in a mental hospital. Of course I was tempted.
But back to the Halloween party. It was sort of my favorite thing ever. “Monster Mash” played over and over from a boom box propped up by the microphone in the nurse’s station that was usually used to summon us to get our blood pressures taken and come take our meds. I remember the loonies (they were exactly that, trust me; I'm not even being offensive) lining up all drugged and comatose-y (what?!) for their chocolate cupcakes with orange icing. We ate mini bags of Doritos and candy corn and mini chocolate bars from brown paper sacks with Jack-O-lantern faces cut out of them.
I was watching it all go down with my best friend on the unit, this bipolar teenage girl that I just loved, and laughing with her. I hadn't laughed hard like that for so long, and suddenly, I realized that I really, really missed being around people. Before coming into the hospital, I’d isolated myself for a ridiculously long time. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been to a Halloween party. I’d stopped functioning normally in the normal social world like that and doing normal, fun things.
I'm better now, but I'm not all the way there. I still retreat from healthy fun all of the time, I guess. I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’ll be for Halloween this year, but if it happens to be on a psych ward once again, well -- it could be worse. I’ll always be grateful for the little things institutions and rehabs do to make my stays bearable. Good psychiatric nurses, doctors and social workers who give a fuck make all the difference when you’re in unhappy places.
She claims that it’s “easy” to do -- “gooey on purpose.” She “just blended the three colors and did a thick top coat.” Uh huh. Again, I suck at anything do to with nails or artistry in general, so chances are, you will not see me rocking this manicure this Halloween. Rémy did some other cool stuff, but I’m saving them for another spoOOOoooOOOky post. Stay tuned.
Anyway, what’s your favorite Halloween or mental hospital memory? Doesn’t everyone have one or the other?