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The psychiatric hospital was always my most dreaded place to be. It was dull. No life, no love, no happiness. There is no color here. The walls are all made of white brick and the floors, a beige linoleum. There were no windows throughout the whole hospital, encasing us all inside of the darkness, drowning us. The bright, white lights combatted this, staying forever lit in the halls, the cafeteria, and the offices, burning the eyes of everyone that walked in their vicinity. The halls often stayed silent, only echoing the cries of patients. The walls seem to absorb these sad, depressed feelings of its inhabitants and radiate it back into the atmosphere. We are all put here to get better, to get happy. Except, no one ever does.
Everyone has their reason for being here. Most will never say the truth. I don’t like to talk about it either, but the doctors make us. Once a week, every patient in each ward goes to a mandatory support group. At 8:30 every Monday, the nurses break us out of our rooms and we form a line. We slowly trudge to the common area, like a group of zombies awoken from the dead. Once we arrive, the psychiatrists make us talk about our emotions. These groups usually did no good, often resulting in all of us sitting in a circle of despair and forced speech. Once I got there today, I noticed an unfamiliar face. He had auburn-brown hair with a skinny face. His lips were a soft, precious, pink color. His jawline was sharp and his cheekbones were high. He was big and muscular, yet he seemed kind and not harsh. Despite all this, his most striking feature was his bright green eyes. His eyes were the color of a thriving forest, a field of grass, the leaves of a flower—easy to get lost in. As I was admiring his appearances, his eyes darted towards me, locking in on my face and settling there for a long while.
“Good morning everyone,” our psychiatrist said in an artificially enthusiastic tone.
“We have a new patient joining us today, his name is Alex. Introduce yourself please.”
He stood, rising tall and opening his mouth just to speak in a low mumble, “Hello everyone”
“Tell them about yourself, Alex,” said the psychiatrist in his deep, raspy, voice.
“I’m 17 years old and I’m from New York City,” Alex stated.
The words seemed to flow out of his lips like water, soft and gentle, but cleansing. The group began to discuss many things, yet neither Alex or I paid any attention. Shared glances from across the large group circle is how we passed the usually miserable hour.
At the end of the session, the doctor asked, “Bella, please stand up and introduce yourself.”
In my mind, feelings of sadness and anxiety started zooming through my head like bullets during a crossfire.
Eventually, I stand and say, “My name is Bella. I'm 17 years old and I grew up in a small town in Georgia.”
The psychiatrist then asked me, “And why are you here?”
The words brought along so many painful memories I seem to relive every day.
“I am depressed. My mom died a year ago—brain cancer—and I’ve been depressed ever since.”
The words reluctantly flew out of my mouth, despite how hard I tried to keep them back. After I ever so hesitantly talked about the past, others started talking about what put them here as well. Throughout this time, Alex’s gazes changed appearances—no longer warm and bright. I was used to this. Sad, pitiful looks were common after my mom passed. But his eyes didn’t look the same as the others, they weren’t artificial. They were truly, totally, completely sympathetic. He didn’t look like he knew me as ‘the girl with the dead mom.’ He looked at me as if he knew me, Bella, as Bella. He looked at me not only like I was the most important thing in the room, but like he would always be there for me, despite anything along the way. That made me feel better than I have in a long time. It didn’t cure my depression, but for the first time in a while, I made me feel pure, uninterruptible joy.
After the group was finished, we formed another line, heading to the cafeteria. For lunch, we all passed down the time in such uniformity, it looked as if we were the products spit out by a factory. I took my tray and sat down in my typical little, dark corner, peacefully excluded from the rest. The walls were enclosing yet comforting. The paint upon them was the same beige as the rest of the building. As I was eating, I noticed a tall, auburn brown haired and green eyed boy sit down next to me. Alex looked at me and smiled with that smile that makes me feel like nothing else. Suddenly, my sad little corner was no longer dark, no longer sad, and no longer cut off from the rest of the world. My whole world had become bright, striped with flowing colors, vibrant and exhilarating. I forgot how happiness felt. I forgot how someone or something can make you feel so colorful so vibrant and exhilarating that nothing could possibly ruin it. He made me feel that way. Alex brought the happy back into my life simply with that smile. I couldn’t wait to see what more he would bring me. He was my key. My key to happiness.