I wasn’t as lucky for the Salt Lake Olympics because I was in a mental institution for a portion of the Olympics. I had had a manic episode on a vacation in Asia that year and nobody around knew what to do; the obvious solution was to fly me home.
My Dad sprang for a trip home for me. Between the flight and layovers, I didn’t get to sleep for about 28 hours, and got put into the “hospital” the next day after my not-so-glorious return. I was so tired from the flight and disoriented that I had difficulty sitting through the four-hour long admission process.
In all actuality, I probably didn’t really need to be there at all.
As I watch the figure skating now, it’s a different story as I’m not in danger of being admitted at the moment, but the memories are coming back.
The TV room was crowded, and fortunately, there weren’t any arguments about what shows to watch or no noticeable fights over the remote control, but I didn’t feel comfortable- the room was decorated with ugly paintings with gilded frames, the walls were dreary, and like me, all of the patients were so drugged, out of it, psychotic, or depressed that there wasn’t a whole lot of cheering for the athletes going on.
The day was so full of activities they wouldn’t let me adjust to the time difference and let me sleep.
I connected to some of the patients more than others.
There was the patient who stared at me enviously all the time because I had a carton full of duty-free cigarettes and he didn’t have any. He wigged me out so badly that I mostly stayed out of the TV room, where he was firmly ensconced.
There was a woman who wrote beautiful poems about how we were all living in her dreams; I knew instantly she was confused as life was really something that I had dreamed, not her.
Another woman was a chronic patient- she couldn’t cope in the real world, but knew the ins and outs of that place and would forever return.
I vowed never to become like that and planned for my release as soon as I could. To that end, I constantly called everyone I knew, trying to earn my freedom. I felt more like I was trapped in a jail than in any kind of helpful place-there weren’t any windows with views, and I definitely didn’t have a private room.
I was lucky enough to get out and stayed with my family for a few days.
I had missed quite a bit of the Olympics and my enjoyment levels were definitely not as high as they should have been when I got out. I had a double culture shock from returning to the US and from being in such a horrendous place, if even for a brief time.