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How, Not Why
I have a knack for trouble. Always getting into it, and not knowing how to get out. That mixed with my depression, anxiety, and need of Prozac to function like a normal human lead to some interesting, dangerous, and permanent solutions to even the slightest of issues.
December 26th, 2017, I was admitted into the adolescent mental health services ward for suicidal ideations.
Everybody asks why I wanted to kill myself and how I got to the hospital. In reality, that is no one's business. No one asks what life was like in the "loony bin". The time I spent with other suicidal teenagers, drug addicts, and ten-year olds with anger issues contain some superior stories than my crying and screaming that got me there.
I was at a therapy session, which mostly consisted of me bawling, ripping out my own hair and wailing "I can't do it anymore!" My therapist consulted my mother and suggested taking me in to the hospital because I was at danger of harming myself. It wasn’t a surprise to me; I had been hospitalized for the same reasons before. About an hour after I left therapy, my mom was driving me to the hospital, and I sat in silence.
Getting to the hospital, sitting in the emergency room, and being taken up to the mental health floor was all a blur. My head was pounding from crying so much, and I felt like throwing up because I was so anxious. I was taken into a room where they inspected me as my mom went to do paperwork. I was stripped naked, all my cuts were examined, and all (ALL) places where things could be hidden were searched. It was mortifying.
I was taken onto the floor behind giant locked doors, ensuring no one escapes. I sat at a little round lunch table (sharp corners were forbidden) and was given paperwork to fill out. Basic questions like "How are you feeling?" and rate it from one to ten. The area looked like a hotel mixed with a prison. There were doors lining the walls to each of the rooms, but the windows were small and had wires in the glass. There was a nurses' station that could have been a receptionist's desk if it were anywhere else.
I wrapped myself in the blanket I brought that I had received from my best friend Emily for Christmas. I felt comforted in it's warmth. I knew that as long as I had it, I would be connected to Emily and I would be okay. After a while, a nurse approached me.
"Your mom is about to leave and would like to talk to you," she said softly. A tear streamed down my face and I nodded. If I would have said anything I would have burst into tears.
I can't even remember if my mom hugged me. I knew she was mad. But the fact that she felt no sympathy, no sadness or sorrow, broke me down even more than I already was. I almost refused to see her. I knew that seeing the anger in her eyes would just hurt me, and I needed to stop hurting before I couldn’t feel anymore, ever.
I did visit her; I knew I would look like a complete jerk if I didn’t. She didn’t say "I love you," or "I'm sorry," or even "Get better soon." She tried to pry information out of me on why I was suicidal. I knew that I would talk about nothing else for the next few days, so I just shrugged it off. I couldn’t deal with that right then.
Going back onto the floor with the rest of the 'crazies' as I call them, I was terrified. No one knew me, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to go introduce myself. How would one even go about doing that under the circumstances? "Hi, I I tried to kill myself." I knew the rest of them were there for similar reasons, but they didn’t need to know my story.
I had to stay out in the open while the nurses prepared my room. The usual rundown. Make sure there is nothing sharp. Clean up after the last patient. Change the sheets. Check for anything I could use to harm myself and take it away.
I was sitting at the round table again, the papery scrubs itching my skin. My eyes burned from crying and my fingers shook with fear. I started pulling out my hair until there was a bald spot on my scalp. I couldn’t help it.
Occasionally, another kid would come out of their room to get a drink or ask to have their bathroom unlocked (Apparently the bathrooms were always locked when someone wasn't using it). They always scrutinized me, then headed off to their own haven. I felt exposed, like a turtle stuck on it's back. I didn’t have a sanctuary to hide in.
I sat there for what felt like an eternity before I was taken into yet another room to be questioned. I was a prisoner, my crimes being pulled out of me, my attorney deciding if I was guilty or not. I was.
I retold my story for the thousandth time, getting the same reactions. "Oh well, I hope you get better here." Yeah me too. That's why I was there, to get better.
When my room was ready, I sat on the scratchy hospital bed and cried. I crossed my legs and softly rubbed the recent cuts on my ankle. The burning calmed me, even though I knew I had to find a new way to cope.
Eventually, I was forced to leave my room. I didn’t resist, even though I was terrified of facing the other kids. I didn’t know what they would think of me. Not that it would have affected my entire life, but it mattered for those few days.
I was still in the hospital given scrubs, waiting for my clothes. I asked one of the nurses if I could have my clothes. "Oh, yeah." She said, like she had totally forgotten about them. "I'll go through them right now." She laid out all of my clothes on the desk to make sure none had strings or anything in the pockets. I wanted my clothes so badly that I didn’t care that my underwear was on display for everyone to see. Besides, getting my clothes would be a reason to go back in my room and hide, and that's exactly what I did.
I changed into my own clothes and immediately felt better. My confidence went up, and I was ready to face the others. I didn’t want to, but I knew I had to, and this was the time.
Meeting the others was terrifying, yet somehow relaxed me. They were all so supportive and understood my situation like no one else ever has. They had my back, even though I had just met them. The girl who had the biggest impact on me was named Seven. Seven had been in the hospital about six times already, and she was getting ready to move into Boy's Town. She needed me as much as I needed her and knowing that I had someone gave me the hope I needed.
Seven never asked me why. Not once. Her main concern was how I was feeling. I guess that is the difference between her and everyone else. Why is not the most important question. Why doesn’t matter. It's the how you recover and how you go about the rest of your life. The why cannot be changed; the how can.