You come to lying on a thin plastic covered mat. There's a quiet calm, one that you haven't felt in a long time. You have no clue where you are. There are just four walls, a floor and a high ceiling. Deeply set in one of the walls, there is a door with a small window in it. There is no doorknob. There are windows covered with wire mesh and the scenery outside is unfamiliar. The feeling of dislocation never really leaves even after days of pacing the stark three-meter by three-meter room. As the Haloperidol wears off, you become manic, then psychotic. First, the shouting starts: threats, pleas and calls to the almighty. Then, you throw your body at the walls, windows, door, and finally the floor. The large man, who occasionally peers into the little window set in the door, ignores you until you've passed out from exhaustion. Later, you piece together that they've given you another dose of drugs while you were unconscious and the cycle starts all over again. There is no passage of time. Your memory isn’t working so it’s hard to remember what it was you did to get here in the first place. There is no day and night, only the now-ness of existence.
You haven't eaten in days and the reserve of adrenalin is running low. They wait. When you're too weak to fight them anymore, they know it's time to feed you. Now you just wake up, pace, and then sleep again. You body has gone without food for so long it has forgotten how to digest it. Your first trip out of the cage is a dash to the can. Sometimes you don't make it and you've gone and soiled your pyjama bottoms. OK, first anger then humiliation. It’s amazing how fast that makes you realize for the first time in weeks: everything's not OK and this isn't some gigantic conspiracy just to inconvenience you.
After that, they leave the door open. You can come out and sit at the small table. Eat with other inmates. And then go back to your cell. No one wants to talk. You can’t even think straight enough to form a sentence if you wanted to talk. You can’t leave. The only way out is guarded 24 hours a day by a least one big guy and a couple of nurses. The level of complexity increases by a factor of ten. You begin to take in the details. Yours isn't the only cell. There is a row of them all alike. There is a hall connecting them together and a small alcove where the tables are. At the ends of the hall, there are more locked doors. Recessed into the wall, opposite to the cells, is the nurse's / guard's station. You can see through to the outer ward. A hope of freedom runs through your muddled mind only to be quickly replaced with the recurring thought, "Where the hell am I?" and "OK, I get past the guards … then what?"
Once you have sufficiently demonstrated that you are in fact part of the real world again, you are moved to more conventional hospital quarters. By then you are in a state of deep depression. This is a side effect of being psychotic for so long.
The complexity increases again as you learn your previous residence was called PIC (Psychiatric Intensive Care). It's restricted part of the psychiatric ward where you now live. Here, nurses have largely replaced the guards. (The guards were in fact also nurses, just the big male kind.) They keep a watchful eye but don't interact with patients except when there is some small conflict that needs to be resolved or more drugs to be consumed. There is a routineness about their actions, highlighting the hours of repetitive work making rounds, filling out paper work and dispensing drugs punctuated occasionally with the odd emergency.
There is a weird silence about the ward. There is little conversation. Everybody shuffles around in their own little world, careful not to come to be close to anyone. There's lots of room compared to PIC. There's a TV to watch. Oh, ya. Everybody likes to watch the soaps. It helps pass the time.
Time returns. You quickly pick up on the routine. Breakfast, lunch and dinner at the cafeteria mark the passing of the day. Lights out and you're asleep for the night. It’s a troubled sleep but the drugs help.
People can now come to visit: Mom and Dad, the Minister, the Doctor, and friends. You're kind of embarrassed but you're so depressed you could care less. You get to go on day trips. Adventures back into the real world. At first it’s great: a real accomplishment. Freedom. Then it hits you, you're alone and vulnerable and you'd rather spend the time getting to know the cute, young, bulimic girl that lives on the female side of the nice safe ward.
You never really leave a psychiatric ward. It's as much a state of mind as it is a place. You spend years reconstructing your life after being psychotic. You fight depression, broken relationships, and social stigma. And come find a new reality that you've got to medicate and control this beast that lives deep within your brain.