Above is a picture of the Ottawa General Hosptial on Smyth Road in Ottawa.
Sue suicide attempt on September 29, 1984
John and I were having problems in their marriage. John had lost his job at the Ottawa Civic Hospital in March of 1984. I confronted my uncle Layman Sage about his molesting me when I was 4 years old. John and I began to argue all the time. John and I were on welfare, social assistance and did not have much money to live on at all, just enough money to pay for our rent and buy food - no extras.
John and his father John Sr. were in a battle together over something financial between the both of them. John went bankrupt that year and he and his sister Jackie from Montreal were not getting along. Jackie sent John a nasty letter. It was if our world was crashing all around us and it was.
I sent John out one afternoon on a few errands. It was September 29, 1984, a day after my
parent's wedding anniversary. I was feeling very depressed and suicidal and did not tell John.
When John left the apartment I went to the kitchen cupboard that had bottles of all different sorts
of psychiatric medication in all shapes and colors. I had hundreds of them stocked away. I did want to die and that day I meant to die. Life was too hard for me and my nerves were bad and I saw no
way out at all....it was as if this big black cloud was overhead...a cloud of blackness and of sadness and pain and I wanted it to just end, to end the pain I was feeling...I was overwhelmed...I needed to die
I said to myself...
I took out a pitcher of milk and looked at all the bottles of medications before me. I took so many
pills I lost track after a while. I took the pills with milk. I realized after about a half hour I wanted to live and I needed to get some help ....I didn't have a phone at the time so I went to the Italian restaurant was on the corner of Bayswater and Wellington St. I talked to the head
waiter and told him I need a taxi. He said he was too busy to help me. I then walked across to the hotel across the street. I was the only standing there in front on the front desk. I told the man
at the counter to call an ambulance because I had taken many pills and I needed to get to a hospital.
The hotel receptionist called the ambulance service who demanded to talk to me in person. The man
handed me over the phone and I spoke to the ambulance service. Someone asked me when I took the pills and I had said "about half an hour ago". The person told me I sounded coherent and told me to get to the hospital on my own. I heard two people speaking behind me. I looked around and a middle aged black couple that overheard my conversation. They came over and told me I could take their
taxi that was coming for them. I thanked them and a few minutes later I got the taxi ride.
The taxi driver asked my why I was going to the hospital. It is very unusual for a taxi driver to ask this from a stranger. I nonchantily told him I had taken over 140 pills. He sounded very hyper
and told me he would get to the Ottawa General quickly. I asked him why and he did not answer me.
The pills were taking effect and I did not realize this...everything looked blurry to me and I was
very confused all of a sudden...the taxi driver sped down the queensway....he dropped me off at the Emergency ward and walked me in....I went up to the counter and it was busy....I stood there waiting and looking over at the tv that had on some cartoons, I was very interested in the cartoon show.
The nurse asked why I was at the Emergency Department and I told her I had taken 140 pills,
she asked "14 pills", I said 'no, 140 pills" and told the nurse I wanted to sit down and watch the tv
show so I did. A few minutes later I only remember someone with a white coat on and only saw their bottom of their pants.....and then I passed out....
I was sent to Intensive care and did not know because I was out cold. The pills had taken full
effect and I was in a coma. I had a private room. The nurse called my brother who lived over the hill
from the hospital. He was told I was in critical condition. My brother never came to see me.
John Clark visited me while I was in Intensive care for 3 days. I was out for most of those 3 days in and out of consciousness. I remember once waking up and someone handed me a cup of black juice
and I said to them "is that ashes from cigarette butts you are trying to give me?" I was told it was drink to help clean up my system....I lost consciousness once again. I was on a respirator to breath
apparently and remember the nurse telling me..."don't pull that off your nose, Suzanne, you have
to keep it on to breath..."roll over, Suzanne, we have to change your sheet" I could hear the nurses say...I could not see anything at all.
John Clark came to see me and held my hand he told me. He was worried about me. The staff told him I was critical but in stable condition, my condition was upgraded.
I remember waking up in an elevator and my bed was moving. I asked the porter what was going on.
He said "don't you remember coming into the hospital. We put you in Intensive care and now
you are being transferred to the Psychiatric Ward of the hospital". I looked around me as he wheeled me onto the 4th floor of the Ottawa General Hospital. He took me up to the nurses's desk and left me laying on the stretcher. The nurses asked me tons of questions. I was put in a private room
right next to the other side of the ward next to a nurses station. The rooms next to me were also
people who tried to commit suicide. I was not allowed to put on my street clothes and had to wear
a blue jimmy shirt and some blue paper slippers. I had my own washroom and shower.
A doctor came into my room one morning shortly after I arrived at the Psych ward. He asked me if I remembered him and I said no. He said he was the doctor in Intensive Care. He asked me when I came into ICU why I had tried to commit suicide. He said I mumbled under my breath "death wish".
I told the doctor who I did not recognize I am glad ICU saved my life and I thanked him and his staff.
I told him I was depressed and he said he guessed that I was because I would not have done something so desperate if I was not depressed. I shook him hand and he went on his way.
John Clark, my husband came to see me as well as my brother Chris and his friend Larry. The ward
had to long wings to it. You got off at the elevator on the fourth floor and hung a left and then you were on the ward as you walked down the corridor. The outpatient psychiatry office is there and some offices to see social workers and psychiatrists and psychologists. Then you would see a big nurses'
desk and then the first wing of the ward was to the right and left and in the middle of the wing was the recreation room with a big tv and lots of books and magazines to read. This was the social gathering place of the ward to meet and chat and get to know everybody if they let you get to know them.
I was next to the other wing past the recreation room overlooking Smyth Road. It was the beginning of fall and the leaves on the trees were turning colors and trees were beautiful to look at. Fall is my favorite time of year because of the pretty leaves and the weather is cooler. I don't like the summer
as the summers in Ottawa are very humid and hot.
A young woman came into my room one morning and introduced herself to me. She said she was the psychologist on the ward assigned to me. She told me she wanted me to do this long psychological test with hundreds questions and not to worry, she would pick it up in a few days. I agreed to do the test without looking at it first. The test was called Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MPPI) and is one of the most frequently used personality tests used in the mental health field. This assessment or test was designed to help identify personal, social, and behavioral problems in psychiatric patients. I looked at the test and was shocked to see some of the questions.
One questions was "Do you think you are the anti-Christ". I looked at some more of the questions
and then decided I did not want to do this stupid test. So I tore it up in two and threw into the garbage can.
A few days later as she had stated earlier in the week, my young female psychologist came to ask for the test I was supposed to have done. I told her I did not like some of the questions and she told me some psychiatric may think they are the anti-Christ. I told her I tore up the questionnaire. Well the psychologist was not impressed and told me so by saying "what do you think this place is a spa and
you are wasting my time here". I told her I did not want to come to the Pysch ward but that I was shipped up to the Psych ward from ICU because I had taken 140 pills and went into a coma for 3 days and that ICU saved my life. I took offence to what she said and reported her to her boss. The next day she came to see me and she was nice and sweet as pie. Her comments were out of line and she knew it. I learned to stand up for myself on the ward.
The hospital food was shitty - very bland and had no taste - tasted like rubber to me. I was put on a diabetic diet as I am diabetic and I had to lose weight as I was obese and still am. I lost about 6 pounds in one month and I was happy about that.
Every morning there is a routine on the ward. Around 7 a.m. the lights are turned on bright in the hallways and in your room. A nurse comes in and says "good morning" I don't do mornings very well as I have chronic insomina and I have since I was a kid. Living in a chaotic home that was unsafe you learn to sleep with one eye open at most times. I am moody first thing in the morning and late at night, I am like a bear. As I turned around after about half an hour later in my bed to face the door in my room, about 6 people in white would rush in and say "good morning, Suzanne, how are you this morning?" I still had a hard time to open my eyes as I had sleepy dust in them and was not fully awake. It sure is shock in the morning to see 6 faces staring over you while you are still in bed still in your pjs. My breath stunk and my hair was a total mess.
"my team" as they would call themselves would consist of my psychiatrist (shrink), primary nurse,
occupational therapist, psychologist, social worker, student shrink (maybe 1 or 2 learning the ropes of psychiatry with the senior shirnk teaching them).
I would tell them how I felt and if I was improving from my depression, getting better whatever that meant. I was depressed most of my life, how do you get 'cured" in one month is beyond me.
They would question me and ask if I felt the pills were working and I would say I didn't want to be
on mind altering drugs and they would tell me I was "sick" and "mentally ill" and it was best to stay on the pills for the time being. Then the head shrink would tell me when I would be released from the hospital. I asked to wear my street clothes and not the 'Jimmy" blue night gown where your
derriere hangs out and in my case it was too small so I had to wear one the front and one on the back of me and I had to wear those silly looking blue paper slippers. I would take a shower and wash my
hair every morning and then get dressed and brush my hair and put on a bit of make up if I felt like doing so.
I eventually got transferred to a four bed room with 3 other women roommates. One day I walked in and saw this teenager who was one of my rommates and she was being bullied by one of the nurses
that if she did not take her meds, she would be tied up with restraints. I saw the whole thing. My roommate got more hyper as the nurse threatened her with the restraints. The nurses put the four point restraints on my roommate. One of each wrist and one on each ankle, and that is when all hell broke out in that room. My roommate lost it completely and was yelling out of control and was freaking out as the nurse walked out of the room. My roommate was red in her face from yelling so much and you could see the veins in her neck bulging out of her neck and she tried to get free from the restraints and tried to kick her legs and wave her arms around.
I told my roommate that I was a patient and also a mental health advocate and I did not think the
restraints were ok and so I told her I would untie here and I did. She was very relieved to have the
restraints taken off her. The nurse came in later and asked her who untied her and she pointe to me.
I told the nurses that the restraints were barbaric as far as I was concerned and no one not even a dog should be tied up that. I told her I was mental health advocate and she looked puzzled. The nurse
did not retie the woman to my relief and to hers.
Restraints are still being used on psychiatric wards to tie patients to their beds. Psychiatric oppression happens on the wards in many forms and this is one of them.