A young friend of mine, L, went to the hospital early on Thursday. I got the call from her roommate M at 5:45 in the morning. I always get these calls just before my alarm goes off.
L had been offered some ecstacy by a friend of hers. She declined it and then went out. After a few drinks, the friend convinced L to take the drug. Things were fine for a while, then they went all pear-shaped.
L became violent and aggressive. She hit one of her friends in the face. She got mad at her boyfriend because he wasn’t her father. Then she decided she’d had enough and left the apartment. Her boyfriend sensed something was very wrong and went after her.
It’s a good thing he did.
She climbed to the roof of the parking lot and tried to go over the edge. Boyfriend restrained her. She began kicking and punching and biting. Two other friends and M came to help. It took all 4 of them to keep her on the ground. She was screaming the whole time, no words, just an unending shriek.
When she wasn’t screaming, she was talking to someone that nobody else could see. She kept saying “I see him,” but she wouldn’t or couldn’t say who she saw. We believe it was her deceased father but we’ll never know.
In the meantime, neighbors heard the ruckus. They stepped outside with phones. At least one of them called the police. That’s when M called me.
M was scared and crying. Both of those are perfectly understandable responses to the situation. I told her she was doing the right thing. She put me on speaker phone. When L heard my voice, she shouted, “You piece of shit! You’re never there!” and went back to the wordless yell.
M apologized to me, but really there was nothing to apologize for. We got off the phone and I called the cops again. I gave them some details that they didn’t have.
I heard later that a lady cop arrived first. She apparently was the mental health expert but once the male cops arrived, they didn’t treat her with respect. They cuffed L, who was cooperative with the process, and took her to a local hospital.
About fifteen minutes after that, I arrived at the apartment. The young people were all sitting in s circle, decompressing. They talked about what had happened. We all laughed uproariously when a cat missed a jump. It wasn’t that funny, we just all needed a break so badly at that point.
The friend who supplied the drug never appeared. I assumed she was at work or otherwise out. It turned out she was in her room watching cartoons. She had been there all night. She had not followed L outside or tried to help or even come out to see what all the commotion was. The whole group of young people is, as they say, over her. She lost a bunch of friends that night.
Boyfriend got together some clean clothes, L’s glasses, her wallet and keys, and we headed to the hospital. We tried emergency and they wouldn’t let us in. They told us they hadn’t seen her, but gave us a number to call. We tried the psych ward; they also said they hadn’t seen her. We tried psych emergency. They said they could neither confirm nor deny that they had her. That meant she was there so I left a message with my phone number. Boyfriend and I went home.
I spent the day wondering how she was. About 10 hours later, I called again and left another message. I gave the number to boyfriend and to M, so they could call and leave their numbers in case she preferred to call one of them. Finally the phone rang.
Of course nothing can go smoothly. I answered the phone, but there was no sound. I assumed it was L, so I explained that I couldn’t hear her and I was going to hang up. It happened 2 or 3 more times and I eventually called the ward. The person I spoke to said they’d been having trouble with one of the phones and they would provide her with different equipment. At last the phone rang and I could speak with L.
Her voice was hoarse from all the screaming and she sounded tired. She stated she hadn’t seen a doctor. I asked if she was in an observation room, since I assumed this was a 72-hour psych hold. She said no, she was in a big open room with recliners and no beds. She just wanted to sleep. We got off the phone.
I called the ward and asked about the doctor. It didn’t make sense that she had been there that long and not talked to anybody. Fortunately she had signed a piece of paper that they could talk to me. They told me she had been seen twice but she was so out of it that they weren’t surprised she didn’t remember. They also told me they were going to release her the next day, Friday. I said I would pick her up.
When I saw her, she looked rough. She was clearly tired and out of it. Her anxiety was high so we stopped at a gas station for gas, cigarettes, and drinks, then I took her home.
We have talked a few times since then even though it’s only been 2 days. We talked about what could have been different, what I could have done, ways I can be there for her. She broke her hand during the fracas so we talked about ways to splint it. She told me she plans to move since friend cannot be trusted and therefore was no longer a good roommate.
I am just glad L had friends who protected her from herself. I could wish everybody had friends like that.