Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Hospital

By eighth grade, my depression had taken such a turn that I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. I was thirteen years old. My mom drove three hours, since this was the nearest hospital admitting people my age. It's a day I will never forget.

I walked into the hospital waiting room, my suitcase dragging on the tiled floor. My mom, close by, spoke with the secretary about my appointment.After a few minutes, a nurse called me into a small room. He was very friendly, but my anxiety was grasping tightly around my neck, my body trembling. I learned I would be admitted shortly after the meeting ended. 

I was lead into an even smaller room just past the adolescent wing, where a small woman with dark hair explained the rules of the hospital. No touching. No exchanging contact information. One dessert per meal. After what seemed like eternity, I was guided out of the doorway where I said goodbye. Heat rose to my face and I didn't want to let go. In the group therapy room nearby, about twenty teens looked at me, some looking unfriendly.

After being told to join the patients, I tried to explain to a nurse that my anxiety was bothering me and I didn't want to participate. I ended up having to go anyway. 

Everyone began working on our "road to recovery" drawing, mine being crude, orange scribbles. I looked up for a split second to see a strawberry-blond girl, Emma, nearby. She'd serve as eye-candy for the next few days. I remember as I explained my project, the heat rose once more to my face. We're then dismissed and before I know it, I'm walking down the hallway, to my room. A fifteen-looking boy walks by my side and explains kindly that he's my roommate, bordering on patronizing. 

I'm unpacking and he strikes up a conversation. He asks why I'm here, and I explain everything except for leaving out the big detail - that I was an in-the-closet bisexual with little self acceptance. "I cut too," he says, eyeing the red marks visible on my body. I peer over to see deep purple scars lining his arms

I met with my psychiatrist, who I nicknamed "Doctor Weirdie." She was tall and skinny, around fifty with slightly protruding teeth. At the end of the session,  I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, due to the uncontrollable thoughts  I'd have that would torment me. She also said I seemed "a little bipolar," but they don't diagnose until in the twenties.

The group heads for the gymnasium after everyone has met with their assigned psychiatrist. The counselors wave their ID's over a sensor in front of every doorway, to verify that they aren't a runaway patient or an unauthorized visitor.

Inside, the floor is covered in carpet and worn down exercise machines line the walls. A few kids play basketball while others are at the far end, on the exercise bikes. The counselors then gather everyone at one wall, saying the group will be playing some sort of tag. By the second round, I'm it.

Amazingly, my anxiety evaporated into thin air. I was actually happy for the first time in three years. As a boy in his early teens, speed was on my side. I remember snagging Emma, "you're fast!" she exclaims. I'm sure most of the other patients agreed.

We settled down afterwards by watching Patch Adams starring Robin Williams. Midway through, the television is turned off and everyone scrambles for the phones. I'm able to talk with my mom who is staying at a nearby hotel, where I explain I'm doing better than I thought.

When it's time for bed, after a patient was discharged, I learned I'd get a room to myself. I was disappointed, as I had become comfortable with my roommate. The night was hard, as I thought a lot about my family.

The next morning, I wake up to see a few more patients, a boy with black hair and a lip ring along with a girl in blue scrubs. The nurses and counselors take our vitals and then lead us to the cafeteria. In line, I see only one thing that looks good. A cinnamon roll is all that I have on my tray when I sit down. A counselor walks over to me and sternly tells me to get something else besides "this dessert." I glumly walk back to the food and grab a box of cereal.

Group therapy comes next where a tall man with glasses leads. He isn't afraid to use profane language as he speaks with every individual. I'm surprised when I hear stories of sex, drug use and other things the patients speak about. 

Throughout my five days there, we watched movies, excersised and did artwork. My favorite was still group therapy, where I received input on my problems.