I opened my eyes
Rays of sunlight gleaming through the window right next to my bed
A brand new day at a completely new and unfamiliar environment
My first day of stay at Institute of Mental Health
Sayang Wellness Centre to be exact
Finally away from the “haunted house” where I used to call home
But would this new place that was furbished a little like a hotel room be any better?
Nurses coming in to check on me every now and then
Making sure I took my medication on time
Informing me when the meals were ready
And then I would walk out of my room
And join the other patients at the dining area to have our meals together
Some were very nice and would chat a little with me
Mostly females, though I can’t remember if there were male patients around too
Maybe it was a female only ward
Honestly they all looked pretty normal
Despite that some shared they were admitted here for issues like anxiety disorders and maybe a few had suicidal thoughts
To us, the centre was probably a hideaway from reality, a break from a stressful life, a staycation at a not so honourable place if you may
My roommate who was admitted on the next day was a woman likely in her late 30s or early 40s
She was nice too and briefly shared with me that she was having depression
Sometimes I would see her husband and children coming to visit her
Ironically most patients who admitted there for being mentally “not right” all behaved just like any other normal human being on the outside
The only thing that was not normal was my schizophrenic mind
Every day I felt like a different soul living in my body
Every mouth of food I took seemed harder to swallow
Every step I walked seemed slow and cautious
Often dazed and staring out into space
Sometimes my saliva would drool, my nose blocked with dried blood
I felt like a terminally ill old man lying on the hospital bed waiting to die
The news anchor appearing on the television at our lounge area had the same female voice of one of the spirits that had been haunting me
As if she was despicably breaking the news to the whole world about me getting admitted to IMH officially as a mental patient
I really hated to have the TV and radio turned on at that time
Because all I could hear were voices that were gossiping about me
But there were also another group of voices that were the good ones
Whom I perceived as “friends” from my side
Coming to “visit” me
“Remember to stay good and don’t turn bad anymore” were the last words I heard from them
What bad things had I done exactly to have ended up here?
But I did have a few real human friends who visited me at my ward too
Not because I had gone around proudly telling all my friends that I had been admitted to IMH
But because they happened to contact me during my stay to ask me out during the university break
And were probably shocked to find out that I was unable to meet them because I had fallen mentally ill and was staying at IMH for observation
Of course my visitors also included my family members who came almost every day
Showering me with such love and care like never before
How serene and loved I had felt for the first time in a long while
When my sister blew dry and combed my damp hair after my shower as I watched the tv in front of me blankly
One of my mum’s colleagues who was a Christian heard about my situation and also paid a special visit
I remembered her with a strong cigar breath holding my hands and said words of prayers for me
But this love that I suddenly received from everyone around me seemed too surreal
My parents still felt like strangers to me
No, this couldn’t be real
They were not supposed to be so nice and loving towards me
They were not themselves
Their original souls had been kidnapped
And now they were possessed by other spirits who were just pretending to be nice but had an ulterior motive for getting close to me….
Maybe I was still expecting someone else
How I wished I had a boyfriend who could be physically there by my side to care for me and provide emotional support in this desperate time of need
Or if….. it could be Kim Taeyeon?
If Taeyeon was real?
If Taeyeon was here?
I had an hallucination
I heard sounds of an airplane landing at the airport in Singapore
And down came Taeyeon’s concerned parents coming to see me at IMH
Hearing their voices whispering and discussing in Korean after checking on my condition
As if to see who I was for the first time in person and confirm if I was still fit and well enough to be Taeyeon’s lover…..
Many times I secretly peeped at Taeyeon’s new Instagram account that was just created 2 months ago to check if she was still doing well and started weeping to myself
It had gotten far too much for me to suffer in silence anymore
Finally mustered all my courage
I pressed the Follow button….
While humans were generally nice
It was the constant feelings of hostility and condemnation from the invisible energies around me that were terrifying
Got me living in fear each day
Like someone wanted me dead
Wanted to suck me dry
Once a nurse called me to a private room alone
She needed to draw my blood samples
But it seemed my blood flow was pretty poor at that time
She could not locate my veins
With her expressionless face
She poked the needle in and out at various locations on both my arms to no avail
At last she managed to draw my blood from the back of my hand near the knuckle area, the most painful part I hadn’t experienced before
Was this part of the torture or punishment I was supposed to endure for getting admitted to IMH by the evil spirits?
Doctors called me to their consultation room few times in the week
To see if I was responding well to my medication
If my condition was improving
I didn’t receive any form of psychotherapy sessions during my stay
It was just them asking me questions
Having me rate my severity of hearing voices
Whether I was still having suicidal thoughts (actually a crucial reason why they wanted me to stay admitted for observation in the first place)
Usually I answered them rather sensibly
Not sure if I just pretended to be strong and only acted like I was doing pretty okay
Or my condition was really considered milder than other schizophrenia patients
They allowed me to discharge after one week and 2 days
The bad news was I would have to continue taking my psychotic medicine regularly for possibly a lifetime
And advised me to exercise regularly to prevent weight gain and keep my blood sugar level in check
Warning me about the side effects of the medicine…..
9 years later today, for the sake of writing this post, I dug out my inpatient discharge summary and memo that I had kept with me till now. After closer examination of these documents carefully, I realised that my exact diagnosis was actually called Schizophreniform Disorder, not Schizophrenia.
So I googled about Schizophreniform Disorder and found out that the main difference between the two types of psychosis is the duration for which the psychotic symptoms last. While schizophrenia is a lifelong illness, schizophreniform disorder fortunately only lasts for a period between one and six months.
Read more about Schizophreniform vs. Schizophrenia:
Maybe that’s why in my impression the doctors only told me that I was having just a mild form of schizophrenia. Despite so, during my several regular outpatient visits thereafter, my doctor still advised me to carry on with taking the medicine for a long term or possibly a lifetime to prevent relapses when I asked if I could stop the medication even though my condition had pretty much stabilised many months later…..