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A Lifetime Decision
I glared from my wounded wrist to the broken piece of glass floating in the blood-stained bath water. Inhaling hard, I let my head rest against the back of the bathtub and closed my eyes while I focused on the stinging sensation as I wiped a tear from my cheek.
“So this is what it feels like to be free,” I thought to myself. All I could think about was getting out, finding an escape.
“This feeling is all I need. I don’t need anyone else. They wouldn’t miss me… Their life would be better off without me. I’m a waste of space; a big, fat, ugly monster…” I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted it to be over. I wanted all of it to be over. A solid knock on the bathroom door woke me up from my daydream.
“Time for dinner, Sarah!” yelled my brother from outside the door.
“Okay…” I replied as I got out of the tub and reached back in to unplug the drain. Turning around, I looked into the mirror, tears in my eye. I had no more time to waste. I couldn’t let my parents find out about my new medicine. Grabbing a red towel, I dabbed my wrist, making sure it had stopped bleeding. It was rough and scratchy against my wrist, and it began to burn. After I dried off the rest of my body, I combed my hair, threw it in a ponytail, and went to my closet.
“No… no… no…” I flipped through the shirts, one by one, looking for something to hide my new best friend. Yes, we were going to be very close. Finally, I found one. I slid it over my wet hair onto my body, sticking my arms through the sleeves. My eyes were drawn to my wrist. The old shirt was dirty from hanging in my closet for so long, but it covered, and that’s all I was looking for. Pulling on some PJ pants, I ran downstairs.
“Sorry I took so long…” I sat down at the table and kept my eyes on my plate. I could feel my mom’s glare on me, probably wondering why I took so long. A minute later she looked away and began eating again. For some reason, nobody said anything throughout dinner.
Two Weeks Later
“Hi Spunda, how was your day?” my mom asked me as I walked through the door after a long day at school.
“It was okay…” I said, planning on taking a trip up to take a bath. I needed to be numb, and I could think of one way to get there.
“Yeah… Pretty much… I’m going to go take a bath.” I started to walk out of the room.
“No, hold on. Tell me what happened.”
“Nothing happened… I’m just tired.”
“You’ve been ‘just tired’ for a couple weeks now. You never come downstairs to visit with your family and daddy and I can hear you crying at night. What’s going on?”
“Nothing! Nothing is wrong!”
“Sarah… Your dad and I think you need to talk to someone. If you won’t talk to us about it, we’re going to get you a counselor.”
I gave my mom a death glare and ran upstairs. They can get me a counselor for all I care! I’ll just sit there for an hour a week and refuse to talk, just like I do for them. It’s their money they’re spending. Nothing was wrong with me. I had no need to see a counselor.
I brought my radio into the bathroom and blasted the music while I turned the water all the way on hot. The warmer the water is, the more pain it’ll cause. I let the bathtub fill while I ran to my room, grabbed some clothes, and my best friend. When I got back to the bathroom, I locked the door, took off my clothes, and climbed into the steaming water, preparing myself for the sweet, sweet fix I was about to receive.
The Next Day
“This is stupid. I don’t see why I have to go see this lady anyways.” I commented as we pulled up to a lifeless looking building.
“We can turn around now if you agree to start talking,” claimed my mother.
I climbed out of the van. Looking at the tan painted walls, fake plants, and neatly raked rocks, I began to worry. What was the lady going to ask me? What would she do if I actually told her something? What if something slips? I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t sit in an empty room for an hour, laying on some bed, and be treated like a mental patient. Nothing was wrong with me. Nothing.
My mom walked up behind me and placed her hand on my back, motioning me to take another step forward. As I did, I focused on what was to come. My mom told me that I was going to see a girl, but she never added details. I didn’t know her name, whether she was old or young or even if she was cruel! While I tried to create a perfect image of what I thought was ahead of me, I triped on the curb. I let out a shriek and my mom half laughed at me. Not a laugh saying “haha You tripped!” but more like “Oh my goodness I hope this works”. She was more nervous than me.
As we reached the door, an elderly lady with veiny hands opened the door for us. She appeared to have a few more years in her life. I was curious as to why she would waste those years with a stranger that didn’t give a flying rats tail about her.
“Thank you…” I said to the elder. She just looked at me. Her eyes were glossy and bloodshot, like she’d been crying and they had a tint of blue in them, but it was smothered with gray tones. Her lips formed a frown that was unheard of, and it caused worry-wrinkles to form in her forehead. My eyes wandered down to her hand on the glass door. Her skin was almost transparent; you could see every vein. I wanted to know her story. Why was she here?
I finally walked through the door to get a whiff of a scent I’d never smelt before. It was a mix of old people’s houses and a funeral home. My mom and I wandered over to the counter to see a middle aged woman reading a National Geographic magazine. Looking up from her reading, she questioned us.
“May I help you?” She asked. Her eyes were bugging out; it was as if they were going to pop out of her head and onto the large stack of file papers. I backed away a bit at the thought of her eyes missing the papers and hitting me.
“Yes. My daughter, Sarah, has an appointment today,” returned my mom. I’d never seen her so serious before and it sent chills up my body.
The buggy lady spoke again, “Go ahead and take a seat over there.” I nodded and inched my way to the doctor-looking chairs.
About twenty minutes full of thinking and sweating had passed when a short, blond-haired, cranky looking lady walked through the doors.
“Sarah,” she croaked as she looked around. I didn’t move. I couldn’t. My mom stood up and I knew I had no choice. We walked through the door, down the hall and turned into the first door on the left. Both the lady and my mom took a seat while I stood in the doorway.
“Please,” she motioned towards the chair, “take a seat.” I looked up at her and she smiled a comforting smile. It made things easier to sit instead of dart out of the room like a speeding bullet. I chose a place and introduced my butt to the chair. It was surprisingly extremely comfortable. I adjusted, and the chair creaked when I moved even the slightest ligament.
“Spoke too soon…” I thought to myself as pieces of the back and arm rest started poking my body.
“My name’s Dotti. I’m assuming you’re Sarah.” She turns to me.
“Yeah.” Was all I could manage to spit out. I looked at the floor.
“Well Sarah, it’s very nice to meet you. I’d like to talk to your mom alone for a few minutes if that’s okay with you.”
“Whatever.” I got up and walked out of the room, closing the heavy wooden door behind me.
A few minutes passed and they finally came came and got me, bringing me back into what I thought was my worst nightmare. Dotti explained that I was going to meet with her once a week and we’d see how it went from there. After my mom left and Dotti and I were alone, she explained to me that everything I say is confidential, and that she cannot tell anyone anything I say. I moved in the chair once again, finding a spot that I could deal with.
After a few meetings with Dotti, I found out that she was actually pretty nice. Throughout the first couple meetings, it was just basic talking. I caught her up on my story, leaving out the part about my best friend. We just got to know each other, and I began to consider her my friend, too.
One day I went in. I was having a terrible day, and I was looking forward to seeing her for once. We got in and I began telling her about my day, then I grabbed my bag I placed on the floor on the way in. I reached in and pulled out a worn-out baby blanket. I explained to Dotti that this blanket was made for me by one of my mom’s friends when I was only two, and that I named it Star Blanket.
Silence began to grow between us, pulling Dotti and I further apart. I was holding Star Blanket in my hands, just looking at it. It brought back so many memories. This blanket was there through it all for me. It wiped away my tears and it kept the bad monsters away at night. A tear landed on my hand, and I realized I was crying again. I looked up at Dotti, and she was looking into my eyes with a concerned look spread across her face.
“I can’t take it anymore Dotti… I can’t do anything anymore…” I started to explain before I was cut off by my trouble breathing and my sobs interrupting me. I hid my disgraceful face from the world, from Dotti. I buried it deep in Star Blanket and I let myself go. A minute later, I felt warm arms embrace me. I didn’t do anything but sit there. She pulled me over to the couch and sat next to me, holding me and telling me that she was there for me.
“Sarah… Have you ever hurt yourself?” The million dollar question. I looked at her while my tears drew black lines down my cheeks. I couldn’t hide it anymore. I took in a sharp breath and pulled up my sleeve to show her my wrist. All was quiet.
“I’m going to go get your mom, Sarah. I’ll be right back.” I looked at her. My friend, my true friend, just stabbed me in the back. It felt as if a ten inch blade had been thrust straight into the target, my heart. I began to beg her not to, telling her that she promised she wouldn’t. It didn’t work… And three minutes later both my dad and mom were in the room with Dotti and I.
Dotti told them about my wrists as I looked away ashamed. My mother had begun to cry, and I refused to look at her. When they finished asking me why I did it and realized I wasn’t going to talk to them, Dotti said one more thing as if telling my parents wasn’t bad enough.
“I’d recommend a hospital. They’d keep her for a few days.” She said.
My dad responded for my mom, “Is there a cheaper alternative?” Thanks dad. You care so much.
“No. Well, yes. There’s a place named Aurora. It’s a behavior health system.” She began to explain about Aurora, and my parents decided for me that I’d go.
We got to Aurora and ended up waiting about an hour and a half to talk to someone. They took me into a room and asked me questions about whether or not I wanted to be there and why they recommended me to go there. I responded by telling them I didn’t want to be there and they checked my wrists. Another hour later my mom left me with my dad and the office people to go get me clothes. I was stuck.
Every door had a lock, including the elevator. We climbed in the elevator, pushed the number two, and the doors closed. A few moments later, we heard a ding, and the doors opened. I was slapped in the face with an extremely strong scent of disinfectants. My dad placed his hand on my shoulder and I shrugged it off and walked forward. It was almost 10pm. I went through a security check where they checked my bag, took the underwire out of my bra, weighed me, took my blood, took my picture for an ID and made me pee in a cup. It was prison.
Finally, they brought me to a room. To get there we had to go through another locked door, and again, I was the first door on the left. This door had no lock, or even a handle. There were two empty beds, two empty dressers, and a little bedside table between both beds. The bathroom had no lock, either. There was nothing glass or sharp anywhere. I wasn’t even aloud to have shoelaces. The shower curtain was all plastic; not even metal rods to hold it up.
Eventually the nurse left me alone and I broke down and cried. I climbed into my new bed and tried to fall to sleep. I didn’t have a roommate, but I could hear the person in the room next to mine snoring. The mattress was about three inches thick and it rested on a piece of wood. The pillow smelled weird and it felt like I was resting my head on a rock. Pulling the single sheet over me, I passed out.
Six thirty the next morning a new nurse was over my head, telling me to wake up. I mumbled something rude and threw the pillow across the room when she left. Climbing out of bed, I noticed something. I never changed that night. I was still wearing jeans and my t-shirt. I could care less how I looked and what my hygiene was like.
I walked out of the room, not sure of where to go. Boys and girls were walking down the hall the way I had come last night, so I followed them. A girl I’d never seen in my life ran up to me and squeezed me like we were long lost friends.
“Welcome to Aurora! My name is Andy. You’ll love it here.” She smiled and walked away. I kept walking and a nurse pointed me to another room with glass windows exposing the whole room to the nurse’s office right across the hall. Other boys and girls slowly came in and then an adult. We began our “morning exercise”. We had to write a positive thing about ourselves on the whiteboard in front of everyone.
I was last to go. I walked up and griped the marker hard, trying to think of something to write. Nothing was positive. Tears began to well up in my eyes and I turned around, not knowing what to do. I felt so vulnerable. That girl Andy looked at me, smiled, then walked up and introduced me in front of everyone. They were all so nice… One of the guys was seventeen, eighteen in two months, and he walked up and hugged me, welcoming me to Aurora.
“I… I don’t know what to write…” I placed the marker down and went to go sit back down. There was a girl on the other side of the room. She was extremely beautiful with her long, straight blond hair and lean body. Walking up to me, she grabbed my hand and made me stand up. She looked at me from top to bottom, taking mental notes.
“You have beautiful eyes.” She smiled. I looked at Andy and she nodded, agreeing with the girl. She still had my hand, and she pulled me up to the whiteboard and handed me the marker again, taking the cap off for me. I wrote down that I have okay eyes, and the adult supervisor let it pass.
After our morning exercise, another different nurse brought breakfast up for us. We had eggs, an inedible looking fruit thing, sausage, and orange juice. I played around with it for a while, then went to the trashcan, threw it all away, and placed the plate on top of the stack.
The nurse stared at me. “What a waste,” she commented while shaking her head. I looked at my feet and sat back down. When everyone was done, we went to the gym downstairs. We played for a while, and then came back upstairs to take showers. I jumped in the shower, turning it on, just to get shot with a blast of 0 degree water. We met back in the room for a group counseling session, talking about our problems. After that, we went back down for lunch, came back upstairs, had meetings with our doctors, went through visiting hours, went downstairs for dinner, came back up, played games, then went to bed by ten. This is how it was every day.
As the days passed, they put me on two medications that I had to take every morning. I made friends with everyone and began to settle in. My doctor called me in one day. Her name was Andi. How ironic. She asked me all these questions about how I was and made small talk with me. In group counseling, I could finally open up to everyone about my story and what was going on, including to myself. I was beginning to accept that it was a mistake; that there are better ways to take care of things. For example, I could exercise. It clears out your mind, gives you a better perspective, and keeps you healthy and in shape. Or, I could talk it out. It didn’t matter if I talked to a person, a dog, my pillow, or even just wrote it down. It would help let it all out.
I went home a week after arriving. All of my friends that hadn’t already left said bye to me, then we exchanged emails and phone numbers. I went home to my family with open arms, and an open heart. I still take medication every day, I still see my doctor, Andi, but I don’t see Dotti anymore. I felt like she was a big part of my life, and that she was the one who sent me in the right direction. I just didn’t want to go back to her, back to my old life. I still struggle to this day with not harming myself, but I’ve made it this far, and I’m going to continue staying clean.
Although I went through everything I did, I don’t regret any of it. I wouldn’t be who I am today if that hadn’t happened, and I’m glad it did. Sure, I screwed up a few times with running away after Aurora, but that’s a story of its own. I can now talk to my friends and family about almost everything, and I trust them with my life. I’m happy now, and I’m enjoying life.