I look down at my now stringless pants and my fantastic new socks covered in rubber. "Strings aren't allowed in here. People get creative." My pajama pants with strings and laced shoes now sat alone in a cardboard box behind the glass.
I'll see you soon, I thought, only four days. Maybe less, since I had technically "voluntarily" committed myself here, though the only other option was mandatory admission.
Walking in, I was met with several eyes. They probably were thinking what the hell was I doing there, as I am not the stereotypical picture of someone who would end up in a psych ward.
My god, why is this considered the solution for suicidal people, I thought as I walked into my new room for the next four days. The slanted doors, sinks and the lockless bathroom door greeted me with whispers of "Look at you, you can't even handle to have proper sink, or closed bathroom door. A coat hanger to hang your jacket here? Pshh remember, crazy? You can't have a jacket, you might kill yourself."
I sat down on the rigid bed and stared out my barred window. A loud, manic string of words rang out, as I turned around to a girl about the age of 23. There was Becca, my new roommate. A feeling of relief came over me, at least there was someone closer to my age to keep me company for the next couple days.
"Hi, I'm Florangel, I'm sorry I didn't catch all of that." I replied.
"Just my diagnosis, name, and why I'm here. It's all my friend's fault. She wouldn't let my boyfriend live with us because he deals drugs, but I swearrr he stopped and he's been clean of meth for a month, I think. She's such a bitch."
I listen to her story of her issues of her roommate, her new boyfriend, and her child that had to be sent away. I ask her questions and soon began to piece together a picture of her life. People may judge her life decisions, but once I heard her story I could see how she came to be who she is. How, despite the rough exterior, there was a sweet, young, 23 year old woman, who has had a hard life and did what she could to cling to happiness, even if the happiness led to abuse and hurt.
It's all she's known, so how could she look for something different?
Becca, soon left for her appointment with the inpatient therapist. Time to stare at the safety proof room and imagine all the creative ways I could commit suicide. Not as a plan to or anything. Just all the safety measures against suicide, made it interesting to think about how one would go about doing that. It's all you can really think about when every object you look at is a reminder of why you're there.
I look at the clock and it's only been a hour. A hour. A whole 60 minutes. Joy. I had enough of staring at the blank walls. My imagination had run dry. I walk out to go to the common area. Fixating on an empty chair, I quickly go to fill it to avoid the eyes on me from fellow patients. A tall, brunette female sat next to me. She turned and told me "Hi, I used to be a man, if you were wondering."
"Oh, I wasn't. Nice to meet you, I'm Florangel."
"I knew that was your name. I could see your spirit was an angel. I know because I am a god."
"Cool, I'm just a college student."
"I can help you with your math. I am one of the smartest people, I didn't need to go to college."
"I could definitely use help with that." I say, as the nurse walks in with a cart of food. "Dinner.", with an evident look of contempt. All the patients began to fill the common area. Where do I sit, I thought, but Becca soon appeared and motioned me over to sit with her and another woman.
The food that sat before me, was quite interesting... It was clear they made an attempt to make it look more appetizing, but really it looked comparable to a four year old's idea of plating a "fancy" meal. Making an effort to choke down the stale tortilla chips, was quite a battle. My appetite seemed to be nonexistent, and the lack of palatable food was not helping.
I look up, and Joanne, the woman who Becca had sat by, was staring intently at me.
"Hi, honey. How's your first day?"
"It's been alright, a bit overwhelming."
"Don't worry, you'll get used to it, the more you get committed here. You're lucky you got sent here. I have been on the side where the real crazy people are. This one girl broke the phone we used to communicate with the outside world by chucking it at the nurses while screaming."
"Oh, well that's good, I guess."
"Group!" the nurse called out.
Everyone in the room started to shuffle out into the hallway like a herd of cattle. I followed them into the room crammed with chairs. "So, who wants to talk about what's bothering them first." the therapist pried. Silence is all that followed. "Anyone?". after what seemed to be forever , a woman named Arlene spoke up and began to tell her story about her struggle with alcoholism. Nods went around the room and the spirit of understanding filled the room. More people began to share their stories, but I sat silently.
My struggles are nothing in comparison to these people, I thought. I feel pathetic for being here, when the people here have gone through so much more. Finally, group therapy was over. I went back to my room and sat on the bed. Becca came in with a stack of papers given to her from her therapist.
"It turns out I also have co-dependency disorder. This is way too much for me to bother reading" she stated.
"Could I read those? I could read them for you." I replied, desperate for any form of mental stimulation.
She handed them over to me, and I began to learn about all the factors of how co-dependency disorders developed. It is so interesting. I wish I had majored in Psychology like my plan had originally been, I thought. The nurse walked in to do their 15 minute round checks.
"We're still alive!" shouted Becca while waving her arms frantically.
"I see that.", the nurse replied with an un-amused look on her face.
The door closed, and with having finished reading the packet, I laid down on the rock hard bed and stared at the ceiling. I never realized how used I was to constantly learning something until I was put in a place where there was no new information to be found, only coloring sheets and TV to engage our already numb minds.
A couple hours later, bedtime was approaching and another nurse walked in with a cart. "Time for meds!"
"What are these?" I inquired.
"Medication for anxiety, depression, and sleeping."
"I don't have anxiety and I don't want to take an antidepressant without knowing what I'm taking and what the side effects are."
"Well, I would suggest you take them, or they can hold you longer for refusing to comply with treatment."
"I will not take medication that I don't need and that I am not informed about."
I rolled back over and shut my eyes, attempting to forget about the fact I only had paper thin sheets and a suffocation proof pillow to give me a sense of comfort. The night was filled with the creaking of doors, furious scribbles of the nurse's writing pad, and a bright light of the nurse's 15 minute check-ins to make sure we were not dead. Sleep is clearly considered a luxury here.
The next day, a knock on the door and a shout of "Breakfast!", was our alarm. Begrudgingly, I swung my legs to the side of the bed and rose up. I went to get my coffee for the morning, to find out there was only decaf. Apparently, caffeine was not allowed. My caffeine withdrawal induced headache cried out, but there was no way to respond.
To be continued...