S E A R C H ( wut r u lookng fr)

Monday, July 6, 2020

Some Notes on Hell

As I've written elsewhere, the 24 hour mental health clinic is a surreal, unreal, uncanny, dream-like place. This is especially so  when its populated by the same handful of faces - staff and patients alike -  coming and going at odd hours. 

Let me back up. 

To be 24 hour level of care you need to maintain a certain staff-to-resident ratio. 
Say you don't have the staff to maintain this ratio, say, perhaps because its a holiday weekend. The solution is that the state 'mandates' or 'forces' staff already on shift to work longer than they originally agreed to. 

Without getting too much into it - as of yesterday, in 48 hours I've worked 32.
By tomorrow I will have worked 48 out of 72. If I work Night, I have to stay for Day. Sleep slips to the back of line. My coworkers are in the same position. The same 4 or 5 people have 'held down the fort,' so to speak, over the 72 hours. All sleep deprived, caffeine charged, losing it.

I was just describing it to a colleague as Sartre's No Exit filtered through a fever dream streamed to a mid 90s screen. Sleep deprived, overworked psychosis sets in - I wonder if it's not the case that I'm on some directors set, playing a part I don't remember signing up for, like in the way that Ryan Murphy uses the same actors to play different characters both across different seasons of his shows, and within the same season. Or how videogame worlds are filled with skeletal code structures painted over with the same uncanny copy-paste skin graphics; the amorphous crowd in the background painted with same face.

I was just describing it to the adolescent residents - 'I wouldn't ever claim to understand how it feels to be trapped here, forced to be here, but I can tell you, I get a taste of the craziness when I spend almost all my time here.' I of course have the privilege of quitting, of walking off shift, of leaving, etc., (exit) that the residents don't (they only have voice), but unconsciously, in the realm of affect, this does not prevent me from feeling trapped, not unlike they do. 

I work 16 hours, sleep for 2, get up because I have stuff to do, work another 16. When I leave and when I return, I'm with the same people - the same staff, the same patients.

A particle accelerator of misery.
Hell is not other people, its the lack of other people, the lack of options.
Hell is voice, voice is no exit.