by Jennie Lloyd

I wrote this all down to keep myself alive. For six days and five nights, I was a mental patient in total lockdown at one of Oklahoma’s fifteen publicly-funded mental hospitals, the Oklahoma County Crisis Intervention Center (OCCIC) in Oklahoma City. I was a Catch-22 mess of a woman: on the outside a silent, complacent patient, but on the inside a survivor overwhelmed and maddened by the conditions of a state-run mental hospital.

I didn’t check myself voluntarily into OCCIC. No, in my mind, I could’ve solved my mental illness pretty simply: with a plan and a gun. This was the second lock-up in two months; I’d attempted suicide by an overdose of Xanax and rum only five weeks before. After a six-hour IV-drip and a vomiting episode at OSU Medical Center, I spent a mere 12 hours at the Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health (TCBH). I told the psychiatrist I wasn’t suicidal anymore, so she signed discharge papers and sent me home before the double-vision and shadows in my eyes cleared (that would take another three days). The next few weeks, I wandered around like a ghost. I passed through the long lines at Family & Children’s Services, got new meds, quit my job. But I wasn’t better.

The summer before the overdose was normal. We celebrated my birthday at the creek—my two boys, one tween and one toddler, splashed in a bright kiddie pool in the backyard. We ate grilled hot dogs and bought sparklers. The problem was me–I was changing. Panic attacks stalked me wherever I went, and I felt nauseated constantly. I left my coffee bar job early because of stomach ailments and bolted from summer classes after anxiety attacks drove me from my seat. I began to think, obsessively, that I was no longer the healthy and sane mom my sons deserved. Instead, my intelligent and beloved boys were stuck with me. The guilt and despair pounded inside my head, day in and day out, over and over again: These boys deserve a mom whose moods don’t snap like twigs, a mom who isn’t drowning in life’s battering waves, who isn’t choking on its foam. I found evidence of my failure everywhere I looked–in laundry piles and dust bunnies, in weeds and my drained bank account.

I did the only thing I could think of: I made an appointment with my family physician to switch anti-depressants. I was on Zoloft for ten years, during which that little blue pill had curbed my panic attacks side effect-free and held back the curtain of despair so I could step into my life. But over the summer it abruptly stopped working, even at a higher dosage.

In my experience, family doctors don’t know much about anti-depressants except that they can prescribe them. So my doc, who actually specializes in sports medicine, suggested I “just pick another one.”

“So, you just want me to pick another anti-depressant?” I asked to make sure I heard him correctly.

“Yes,” he said, unabashed, then waited patiently for an answer.

I picked the first one that popped into my head–Prozac, because it’s similar to Zoloft and cheaper–and I started taking it the next day. I developed strange woozy-brain feelings every afternoon, but wrote it off as part of an adjustment period. But my depression didn’t lift and when the dust settled, I found myself in a dark ravine of despair and anxiety. I could no longer see the stars in the sky for the black vacuum of space.

So five weeks later, I gingerly slipped my boyfriend’s loaded, snub-nosed .38 out of its hiding spot. It was cold, and heavier than expected. I placed it on the smooth, dark wood of my computer desk, and I felt a jolt in my stomach at the metal clang it made. I snatched sideways looks at its brass-topped bullets and its lethal, black bulk as I typed a sort of exploratory surgery on my brain with cold fingers, an attempt to understand the exact nature of this new illness. My rapidly-changing rounds of antidepressants–Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, double Celexa–shot through my body like bullets into a fire.

When I finished writing, I quietly walked out into the navy night, unlocked my car door and slipped the gun under my front seat. Tomorrow night would be the night, I thought. I was afraid of the gun, but maybe even more afraid of being alive. Part of what I wrote that night was this:

I feel so fenced in by these walls; these steel-beamed, 100-year-old walls.  One hundred years of entrapment, of misery, of loneliness bend toward me each day.  Each day I wake up and wonder, “How many pills can I take, and how soon?”
… I feel like a monumental asshole for not getting any better. I feel rage at every morning I wake up to a multitude of my failures. The price [for my failures] has been steep. I don’t have the heart for that kind of gore [suicide by handgun].  It’s just too awful and disgusting.  But I don’t know if I have the heart to go on anymore, either.

The next morning, Sept. 29, 2010, all hell broke loose when I called Blake and admitted to taking his gun. I wanted to die, but I’d made him a promise after the first attempt–that I would tell him if I was going to try again. So I did. Suicidal minds embrace contradiction: yes, I wanted to die, but I wasn’t dead yet and as a living being I had to abide by this promise I’d made. He immediately called a mental health help number, which sent over two Tulsa police officers and a pair of crisis therapists from Family & Children’s Services within an hour. After an officer retrieved the gun, and I talked briefly to one of the counselors, I was deemed unsafe to stay at home.

I panicked as the officers and therapists closed in, ready to take me into protective custody. I hadn’t spent much time at TCBH after the overdose, but I knew I didn’t want to stay there again. The facility is a plain, one-story place off Harvard, stripped-down, with beefy psychiatric technicians positioned throughout the hallway to tamp down any violent outbursts. Last time I was there, Aug. 20, 2010, I counted at least four techs, but only half as many nurses. Inside, haunted, wide-eyed patients pace the hallways like zombies. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t have a choice anymore.

The officers drove me to TCBH, where I was interviewed by two different intake workers only to learn there were no empty beds.

A sad-eyed, middle-aged man sat behind a yellowing computer in a little room and asked me a familiar round of questions, to determine the severity of my condition. I pitched the answers in as few words as possible:

“No, I don’t sleep much.”

“Yeah, I eat fine.”

“I always take my meds.”

“Yes, I had a plan. I stole his gun. Five weeks ago I overdosed.”

“Too many reasons to explain.”

All the private hospitals in Tulsa said they were full, he explained. There was no room at the inn, so to speak. As I waited to see what would happen next, I eavesdropped on two psych techs talking in the hall. They complained loudly about a local private psychiatric hospital that only seems to have available beds when a person has insurance.

Oh shit, I thought, I don’t have insurance. Anxiety sparked like lightning through the thunderheads of depression in my mind. Little did I know at the time that for all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, there are only 15 publicly-supported Community Mental Health Centers to serve our state’s mentally ill.

Faced with at least a budget shortfall of $800 million for the fiscal year 2012, cuts to Oklahoma’s mental health programs are slicing services down to the bone. Already the last year and a half has seen mental health funding cut by more than $25 million, over 200 employees laid off, and a Norman substance abuse treatment center close down. Forty mental health beds for children are gone. A men’s treatment center in Tahlequah is now shuttered and dark. And that leaves Oklahoma with a rising number of calls made to the state’s suicide hotline, as well as an increase in suicides. It’s an increase Oklahoma can’t afford, according to Mental Health America’s ranking system. Our state ranked 46th, near rock bottom, for cases of depression each year. Oklahoma’s suicide rate ranks only slightly better, 39th.

So, there I was–an uninsured, suicidal patient–stuck inside the claustrophobic process of finding a bed at one of the publicly-funded facilities that treat all the uninsured, in-crisis, or severely ill mental patients in Oklahoma.

TCBH issued an emergency order of detention (EOD), I was “ED’d” as mental health workers say, and, because all the beds in Tulsa were full, I was transferred to Oklahoma City, 100 miles away.³ On the hour-and-a-half police cruiser ride, I stared out the windows in silence and tried not to think about the metal handcuffs cutting into my wrists, which were “for my own safety.” Occasionally, one of the Tulsa police officers tried to cheer me up with a snack or a compliment about my looks. Once we arrived at OCCIC, a rundown little center in a rough area of Oklahoma City, I was led inside still handcuffed by the officers. Before they left, each officer gave me a long, purse-lipped stare and said, “Good luck.”

Throughout the entire day nothing had really punctured my black mood until about 10 minutes after I sat down in the partitioned triage area. An Oklahoma City police officer corralled a freshly-handcuffed guy into the small area with me. He was wild and ferocious and looked about 16, though I overheard him say he was 20. He grabbed one of the wall phones, dialed a number in a frenzy, and started screaming at his mother, alternately calling her a bitch and begging her to come get him. When she hung up on him, the boy started to bash his head against the thin wall that separated us, rattling the chair I sat in. Bang, rattle. Bang, rattle. When he had enough of hurting himself, he began to verbally abuse everyone within hearing distance. He screamed every vile, racist utterance he could conjure, directing his anger toward the OCCIC workers, who were a majority African American. His arresting officer finally shouted, “Son, I’m gonna Taser you if you don’t shut up!”

I stuck my fingers in my ears like a scared kid but I could still hear him screaming. The boy was still unruly, and a strange alarm–a loud, repeating “quack-quack” sound–played throughout the building. “Quack-Quack-Quack-Quack! Help is needed in the Triage unit,” it repeated calmly, over and over again. A small army of mental health workers arrived soon after to smash the boy to the ground. I overheard a nurse say, “Give him Ativan and Haldol,” and then the boy screamed, “No! No Haldol! I’m allergic to Haldol! Call my mom! I get seizures!”

And this was the precise moment I realized that I was utterly fucked. I curled up into a ball on the floor of the room, my eyes streaming with tears. The nurses did not call the boy’s mom, and instead several of them forced him to the ground and he was injected with something. I can’t confirm whether or not they gave him Haldol. Halperidol is a serious antipsychotic drug, which can lower a person’s threshold for seizures. A few minutes later, the phone rang in the triage and I heard a worker talk for a moment before she hung up. In a loud voice, she called to the other triage employees to say it was the boy’s mother and that he does indeed have a seizure disorder and shouldn’t have Haldol. By then, though, the injection was over, and the boy in a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt had returned to bang out a rhythm with his head against the wall that slowed and finally stopped. I didn’t see him again until the next night at dinner. He recognized me and pointed to his forehead, all red and swollen, then asked proudly, “Did you hear all that?”

I said, “Of course.”

He smiled broadly.

After an hour of lying on the floor, a psychiatrist stepped over me into the small, square room without comment. She was short and squat, with a slight grimace which never broke into a smile. We began yet another interview about my mental state and 15 minutes later, I had another handful of diagnoses: Major Depressive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Anxiety and Panic Disorder. The doctor didn’t tell me what being “ED’d” meant, as the mental health workers called it; she didn’t tell me how long I would be there, or when I could call my family. I followed a nurse to the locked ward where I would stay, from Sept. 29 to Oct. 4. I had to list everything I was wearing, down to the color of my underwear and bra. They took my hoodie away because it had a thin string in the hood, and tried to take my bra but I lied and said it didn’t have underwire. Sure, I might’ve lost most of my dignity, but goddamn it, I was going to wear a bra.

My eyes slowly adjusted to the blur of bright overhead lights, the flurry of other patients flocking for a look at the new inmate, and the scuffed, hungry-white color of everything. As a psych tech showed me my bed and the one communal bathroom, an anorexic blond girl stepped on my flip-flops in her attempt to follow me.

“Dana, give her some space! You’re stepping on her!” the tech shouted at the patient.

The girl stared blankly at both of us, and came to a stop in the hallway. For the next hour, Dana stood in that same spot without moving. She was a kind of ghost who stood in corners, who hovered near the nurse’s station, who refused to sit down. She was one of the more peaceful patients, a harmless wraith of a girl with dark blue eyes.

Later that evening, after I’d begged through the plastic hole in the nurse’s station for special permission to call my family long distance, I talked to my mom on a black payphone over the din of all the other chatter in our communal “living room.” A lanky patient in her mid-20s paced the main room with a jerky stride, and talked to herself loudly as she picked at her spout of tangled hair with a hospital-issue brush.

“Ma, all I wanted was some peace and quiet,” I cried into the phone. Tears seeped out of my eyes; I was exhausted beyond all measure. I begged my mom to find a private hospital, that I’d pay whatever the cost as long as I could get the hell out of OCCIC. She promised to look into it, then we hung up and I turned back to the white-washed room lined with gray plastic waiting room chairs. In the corner of the room was the scariest door of all–a genuine old-fashioned isolation room with two heavy slide-locks on the outside and one small window. The light was on, and the door was cracked open. A woman was lying on a bare plastic mattress in the middle of the floor, reading a book and twirling a strand of her long black hair around her finger. She looked up at me with angry blue-black eyes. What kind of dangerous insanity is this? I wondered, and reminded myself to laugh loudest at her jokes. Later, Chandra told me a little about her life, her frequent trips in and out of jail and mental hospitals for her aggressive behavior, up to and including threatening a local Braum’s with a terrorist attack. Chandra was stuck in the isolation room for allegedly attacking another woman.

My room, shared with two other roommates, was farthest away from the nurse’s station, which meant I was one of the least threatening people there. The rooms closest to the station and the living room were filled with more severe cases–women who murmured all night in the dark, whose relationship with reality was shaky at best, who coughed and hacked until dawn after years of meth or crack smoking.

One of my roommates was a lady in her sixties, maybe a hundred pounds, with wrinkles outlining her tiny face and mischievous smile. Kate committed herself voluntarily to detox from alcohol; she wanted to get clean and head back to Ponca City, where she liked to sit on her back porch and watch her grandchildren play. She told me she was up to a pint of vodka a day and beer on top of that. “Better than I used to be,” she said with a smirk.

One night, when we were stuck in our room during a “quack-quack” alarm event, Kate told me about the last time she’d been locked up there against her will.

“I didn’t remember anything for seven days. I had the DTs real bad,” she said, still surprised after seven years at the force of her own withdrawal sickness. DTs, short for delirium tremens, is a withdrawal syndrome caused by cessation of alcohol but typically only occurring in the most severe cases of alcoholism.

Kate looked around our room, at the high, painted windows set into deep sills. “I was in this room last time I was here!” she remembered.

“I tried to kick the windows out but I ended up falling on my ass instead,” she laughed. I cracked my first smile at this because I understood the feeling. Being in lockdown 24/7, stripped of everything but a rectangular plastic bucket filled with a client handbook, a hair pick, a tiny brush, and travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant, will cause just about anyone to consider kicking a window out. Some days, I paced my room alone, only to stop occasionally and reach out toward those thick, opaque windows. The sills were so deep and the windows were so high and covered with so much paint that I couldn’t touch them or see out of them. On the window closest to my bed, someone had etched the words, “Watch out! The ghosts come out at nite!!!”

With a turquoise crayon I took from the living room, I wrote in my room:

I wait and I watch. Each evening, anxiety begins to pump through my veins. I feel like I can’t breathe and my face is flush. I have an unexplainable, heavy, hot weight on my chest as it gets later and later into the night. I’m worried. Worried that tomorrow will never come, that I’ll never sleep, that no one will ever get me out of here. Seems silly when I write it out like this, but I can’t deny those itchy-vein, near-giddy feelings that creep up as the sun goes down.

On the second night, I realized I was truly trapped until someone else decided I was “sane” enough to go home. This someone else was my psychiatrist, who saw me only three times during my entire stay: once when I was admitted, then for five minutes the next day, and for the last time when she printed my discharge papers. The psychiatrists and social workers were rarely seen on the ward at all. I was spit-fire angry at being detained against my will, so I did what any sane person would do: I wrote strongly-worded letters with my trusty turquoise crayon on the only paper I could find, my patients’ rights handbook. Day one, I’d spent in a haze of denial and weariness, but days two and three were engulfed in rage, wherein I hissed impotent threats in the payphone receiver.

I took hot showers in the dead of night when most of the other mental patients had passed out on their plastic mattresses when their smokers’ coughs had deepened to a bass relief playing against the key of a never-ending fluorescent hum. With my thin towel in hand, I walked silently past open rooms where patients snored, curled under bleached-white sheets and blankets. Keeping clean was a queasy task, but each night I stepped past a moldy curtain into one of two shower stalls. I avoided looking at the clots of hair covering the tiled floor and clogging the drain. The water poured in a thin, hot stream straight down the wall, so that I had to stand flat against the slimy tiles to get wet. To wash, I either had to beg at the nurse’s station for a paper cup of shampoo or use the bright-yellow antibacterial goop already in the bathroom. The shower stalls were often littered with wet paper cups, yellow and blue slime leaking out onto the tile. I learned to step over the paper cups, to ignore the hair and roaches, and to tamp down my gag reflex.

We had three toilets with no locks on the doors, so we frequently walked in on each other. I learned to knock on the heavy, faux-wood doors, and to identify myself when someone else walked in. The “mirror” in the bathroom was nothing more than a polished piece of metal nailed over each sink. When I dared to peer into it, I saw a dull, fish-belly gray stranger looking back at me with eyes that were dark and sad and lost.

On Friday, I cracked. I mean, outwardly. On the inside I was all raw egg, but on the outside I rarely betrayed emotion. When my social worker sat me down that Friday afternoon and told me I was going to spend the weekend in the hospital with a “chance” of being sent back to Tulsa facility on Monday, I fell apart. I’d spent the whole morning and afternoon pacing the locked quarters, my ribcage stuffed with hope, waiting to see the psychiatrist. But I didn’t get to see her that day, only my social worker, who slowly explained as though to a small child, the seriousness of my suicidal ideations and previous suicide attempt. I cried and pleaded. I said I hadn’t been serious, that I didn’t even know how to use a gun, that I didn’t see the point in being locked up all weekend. I was at the bargaining stage of the grief process. But it was no use–Roxanne, my tall, imperious social worker didn’t budge.

“It’s already been decided for you,” she said.

At this, I launched into a tidy little rant about how her facility didn’t provide any therapeutic or creative groups, cognitive behavioral therapy or meditation classes, or exercise of any kind. The majority of my days are given over to re-runs, eating a little and pacing a lot, I cried. The state mental hospital experience is like living in a DMV waiting room for a few days. We were all waiting: some for homeless or battered women’s shelters to open up a spot, others waited to detox or to be heard in mental health court, and still others, myself included, waited until we could behave ourselves before the doors would open again.

After all this, Roxanne softened a bit, and said, “Well, one of the reasons you’re here is because you don’t have insurance. When you don’t have insurance, this is the type of place you end up.”

I stared at her; I had no retort for that. She was right–these places don’t have much funding, and what funding they do get is slashed year over year. On the surface, I understood that I’d been sent to this stripped-bare state-funded hospital because I had no insurance. I go to school full-time and take care of my young sons–two occupations that don’t provide a great benefits package. But does that mean I, along with all the other suffering patients I hung out with, don’t deserve good, quality mental health care? Is this what Roxanne was intimating?

I must’ve stared at her strangely for a long time because she gave me an “assignment” to work on over the weekend. Roxanne granted me permission to use a pen and legal pad to write with, and she wrote down several questions I needed to ask myself: What does your ultimate life look like? What are you doing now to get this quality life? Is it working for you? And if not, what are you willing to change?

And with that, Roxanne was gone. I was back on the ward with the weekend stretching out before me. These were hard questions to ask of anyone, sane or not, but I was glad to challenge myself with something beside sitting cross-legged in chairs while staring at old episodes of House.

When we weren’t catching cat naps on our uncomfortable beds, the female patients sat around in the uncomfortable chairs. We did what I think most women would do: we talked. We changed channels but didn’t really watch the TV. We discussed our problems. We complained about the food and the psych techs who worked what seemed like endless shifts, who tiredly dismissed us as irritants when we weren’t lined up for food or meds.

“We had better food in county jail,” my new friend, Jane, said one lunchtime as we picked over a greenish-tinged meatloaf, cold asparagus spears and a couple of canned, slimy peach wedges. I laughed at this idea. Jane is a perfect size 4 with a hypnotizing face with her hair chopped in odd angles, which set off her dark blue eyes and smooth features. She told me that her boyfriend had cut her hair off in a rage as he screamed, “No one will ever want you now!”

But Jane was the kind of girl who could tell you a story like that without a crease in her forehead. She had a rough life and bad things happened. Normal, acceptable, passé. So here she was sitting next to me and my near-lethal case of depression, after the same boyfriend had poisoned her. When it didn’t kill her, he called the police at 5 a.m. to tell them she’d tried to commit suicide. Allegedly. I never questioned her sanity though I could never reconcile how someone could be poisoned with as much Xanax as she’d had. With its chalky, bitter-sour taste that quickly coats the tongue, Xanax just isn’t the type of substance that can be easily mixed into food or drink, especially in massive doses. But I let the inconsistencies float away; I didn’t care what she was lying about. We sat together on the locked ward day after day, and shared her emergency room blanket, stained here and there with charcoal vomit.

She didn’t know where her boyfriend had gone with their 15-month-old daughter. Over our cold food and the din of Law & Order, Jane and I told our stories and cried over our babies. My toddler and tween were in good care, oblivious to my hospitalization. But all Jane had at that moment were the memories of her little girl, a downy-headed pixie she named Peace.

“When she plays in the backyard, she likes to pick those white weed flowers,” she told me. “She smells them so deeply that she sticks ‘em up her nose, and then puts ‘em in her mouth!”

We both laughed so long, even as a sharp shot of pain through my body. I missed my boys; I missed the pecan tree and white shepherd’s purse sprouting in my own yard.

I wrote by the sliver of fluorescent light from the hallway that night.

By emergency order of detention, I’m still alive. Despite everything, the will to survive is within me. That’s why I called Blake, to admit I had his gun, to admit I wanted to die. I screwed up my plans for a second time. As Neil Gaiman wrote, “Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”

The first time, I woke up. This time, I hope to fly. Despite every hardship, every bad word, every fuck-up, every failure and prayer, every desperate act and missed call, every disappointment and violence, every act of God and man, my most primal self will not surrender. Even when we fight with ourselves, we often lose.

When Monday finally emerged, I was up at 6 a.m. By breakfast at 7:30 a.m., I was already asking when the psychiatrists would see patients. “Oh, they get here around 8, but they’ve got a lot of patients to see. They don’t make appointments,” one annoyed psych tech told me.

I paced in a nervous cold sweat, and pressed down on the hope that again collected in my chest like cloud-white stuffing. I spotted Roxanne around 10 a.m., and pounced. “When will I see the doctor?”

“Just wait your turn. She’s got a lot of patients today.”

I paced some more; I stuffed down my hope of going home. Blake called, and he was confident I’d be released that day. He had already planned to take a half-day at work to come get me.

I sat on the edge of a gray waiting-room chair, and nervously chatted with Jane and everyone else. After our weekend on the ward, I could almost feel the fort of camaraderie we’d formed out of the only things we had–our voices and blankets and crackers. And I felt safe in it.

Another hour passed. Then another. Finally, Roxanne came back for me. I was allowed into the plastic-sealed nurse’s station and said to the handful of nurses and psych techs, “Wow, it’s strange to be on the other side of the wall.” They chuckled as I followed Roxanne into another locked hallway, which she accessed by keycard, and into the psychiatrist’s cluttered office. In an excited rush, I told her how much better I was feeling, and how much Roxanne’s questions helped me clarify my life and my place in it.

The doctor gave me the poker-faced grimace, said she was glad I was feeling better, printed my discharge papers and signed them. Roxanne didn’t smile. I didn’t care about their lack of enthusiasm anymore. With papers in hand, I burst back onto the ward with a burning, dizzying ecstasy in the pit of my stomach that stretched into my cold fingers and toes. In a few hours, I would finally, finally walk out the doors, not handcuffed and wildly depressed but with eyes wide enough to take in the world! And the white, tender shepherd’s purse! This time, I wouldn’t walk past them in my yard; I might even pick a few, smell them deeply and try to eat ‘em. Just to see. I was delirious with the idea of seeing the sun.

As I busied myself around the ward, stripping the thin white sheets and blanket from the mattress and heavy plastic pillow, giving back my rectangular bucket, a new patient was admitted. She was the size of a small hill, draped in a blue, shimmery muumuu. As she plopped down onto a double-wide gray seat, she shouted, “When I get outta here, I’m gonna smoke a Big! Fat! Joint!”

Blake arrived around 3:15 p.m., and a psych tech told me to get my things together. I hugged some of the other patients and wished them well, but Jane had vanished. I hoped she would be ok, and that she would find her little girl. I walked eagerly through short hallways, like a ship passing through locks in a seaway until I finally pushed open the double doors to the waiting room. Blake leaned back into a chair and I waved and smiled.

I kept walking until I was outside, and took a deep breath of pavement and hot sun and the fresh shock of being free. I faced down the building that held me captive. Blake handed me my purse in silence as I sat shakily on a curb and slid a menthol out of the pack.

“That was my room,” I said, and pointed my cigarette toward a pair of painted-over windows, which looked small from the parking lot in slanted afternoon sun. I exhaled smoke curls into the October sky, and felt so light I could almost float away.

Coda: Updated Feb 2011

Beginning in June 2010, TPD began keeping track of the time and costs associated with driving mentally ill patients to out-of-town facilities. I’m a full-time reporter now, and requested the information for a separate story. But I knew I’d find my own worst-day-ever on the spreadsheet, too. Sure enough, there I was, a single line listed by date, Sept. 29, 2010. Two officers escorted me silently to OCCIC that day, costing the city of Tulsa $265.46 for 9.40 man hours. Enough time for them to head out to OKC, drop off the mental patient, grab lunch at a nearby BBQ place (they discussed this in-depth on the ride over) and head back in time for their shifts to be over.

The officers drove a total of 208 miles that day, a standard round-trip to Oklahoma City and back. Between June 2010 and Dec. 28, 2011 (the date of the last entry), TPD has driven 357 patients to facilities 286 times, a total of 65,719 miles. Oklahoma City is the most common destination, with 139 drop-offs, with Norman coming in second (77 drop-offs). Officers took patients to Muskogee 35 times, to McAlester 18 times, Clinton 14, Fort Supply 9, and Lawton twice.