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Everything about my second stint in the psych ward was different, from the people to my duration to the very hospital where I was I wasn’t there for school refusal and anxiety as much as I was there for my depression. It had gotten the best of me and I started having hallucinations telling me to harm myself. Funny the way it is that the seemingly happy child is more messed up than anyone ever thought. I felt like giving up. Hell, I called the Suicide Hotline the night before I was admitted to Two West. But the most important difference about this stint was that I got the help I needed.
II. Two West
Two West was totally different than Two South. My psychiatrist sent me there because they had something called DBT—Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is really intense as opposed to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (normal therapy).
Two West was different than Two South in many ways. Instead of a level system, there was a point system. Points were earned for eating, showering, good behavior, and participating in groups. I had no roommate; instead, I sat and actually thought about what I did wrong instead of singing songs from the Internet. There also weren’t just teenagers at Two West. It was the Adolescent and Young Adult Mental Health Unit, meaning that patients were from age twelve to twenty-four years old. Grown people. But the biggest difference was that almost everyone from Two West ends up going to residential.
I would have been a part of that group had it not been for one individual.
Just like at Two South, the people were some of the most interesting ones I’d ever met. The staff included Lynn the teacher, Jenni the kindred spirit, Scott the midget, Becky the butch, Vicky the Asian night nurse, Victor the math wiz, Victor the MRI technician, and, my personal favorite: Anthony. Or as I called him, Jon Bon Jovi (they’re twins, I swear). My fellow inpatients were Olivia, Corey, Mason, Barret, Maddie, Alex, and Zac.
Olivia had blonde hair that cascaded down her back and wore all of the latest fashions. She was depressed and had an opinion about everything. She wasn’t afraid to let people know them either, whether it was about the soap in the shower, to the fact that we should’ve gotten style points.
Corey was one of the “young adults” in Two West. He rarely left his room, let alone attended group so I don’t know why he was there. However, when he did go to groups, we were all graced with interesting quotes. My favorites that I wrote down include, “Is this a gay hospital? Cause I’m gay.” And, “Do we have the Koran? I wanna read about the Latin Kings. I’m in the Latin Kings!” Thanks, Corey. Thanks for your input.
Mason was a twenty-three-year-old who was arrested for drunk driving and then all of the sudden decided he was suicidal. Even the staff doubted him. I don’t have much to say about him because he was only there my last two days, and rarely attended groups. Surprise there seeing as there was nothing wrong with him except his alcoholism.
Barret was both the Mom and the Mayor of Two West. She had been in and out of Two West for six years because her insurance wouldn’t pay for residential. She was the first person I saw the night I arrived, and she immediately ran up to me and hugged me and told me that everything would be all right. I liked Two West and was open in the therapy groups because of what Barret showed me that night. She created what she called “The Family,” which consisted of Maddie, Alex, and me. She looked after all of us like we were her own children. Barret is part of the reason why I am now the way I am.
Maddie and Alex went to the same high school, but were total opposites. Maddie was popular and had scars up and down her arms because of family drama, but behind the scars was a caring, strong person. Alex also had scars, but because she was a nerd. However, we all learned that Alex had a beautiful voice and played the piano better than anyone any of us knew.
Finally, there was Zac. The boy in the room next to me. When I checked in, he was in restraints. He escaped the restraints once, only to get put in more powerful restraints. He was watched 24 hours after that escape attempt. After he promised he’d be good, he got out of the restraints and punched Olivia. Zac went to jail.
IV. Day Four
The days flew by, and before I knew it, it was night number three, and Barret had left. Day four followed.
The speaker in my room buzzed, waking me up, “there’s a priest here if you’d like to talk to him.”
Ah, f*** it I thought. I might as well go talk to him. He’s probably old and lonely.
When I walked out of my room, I saw a twenty-something priest, and he asked who I was. We went for a walk in which I explained my thoughts and what I believed suffering meant. On that walk, I learned more religion than I ever learned in a class. And Father Pat was the funniest priest I’ve known in my seventeen years of life.
He told me once I got out of the hospital to tie a single yellow strand of ribbon around my wrist. Yellow for suicide awareness. The priest gave me a smell piece of string and I started tying it around my right wrist. “No, no, no!” he shouted. “It must go on the left wrist. It’s forgotten just like those suffering.” At this point I burst into tears. The priest was funny, and taught me that God’s love comes in all different shapes and sizes. To this day, a yellow string is stuck to my wrist.
That talk with the priest changed me and ultimately, kept me out of residential. He said to me as I walked back into my room, “Whenever you feel like giving up, remember that you held on in the first place for so long.” I burst into tears once again.
Tears of happiness continued flowing as my speaker buzzed again. “Your parents are here. You’re going home.”
My time at Two West (not South this time) was completely different. The most important: I actually learned coping skills to use when situations arise.
Each and every morning, I look down at my wrist, see my yellow string, and remember that God is with me, no matter where I am.
The yellow string reminds me that I made it and now my goal is to help people complete the program.