Where we last left off, I was being carted away from my home like a criminal in the back of a police car. I found myself in that predicament, despite not being a criminal, because I was suicidal. I was being taken to “see a doctor,” as the police officers put it.
The place they took me to was what a nurse referred to as a “wellness clinic.” That’s a fun term for psych ward. Upon entry, I was told to remove all jewelry. The garnet birthstone ring I had worn for years was put in a box and given to a stranger. I really hadn’t removed it from my finger in years, and just like that, it was gone. They asked me to removed my nose ring as well, but because I struggled with taking it out, they told me not to worry about it. The nose ring stayed. Next, I (a scared 22 year old girl who needed help) was asked to step into a small, cold room. In that room, I was strip searched. I don’t really know how to describe how horrid it was. Imagine feeling so awful that you have resolved to quit life. Then, imagine that instead of the intervention you desperately needed, coming in the form of a loved one’s hand or the kindness of stranger, it comes in the form of two apathetic police officers who put you in the back of the squad car and take you away against your will like you’ve done something wrong. But your only crime was a profound sadness. Imagine having what belongings you happened to have on your person taken away, and being asked to strip naked before the eyes of someone you’ve never met. I must have looked very bewildered and pathetic, because the woman conducting the search, who looked no older and no larger than me, stopped me at some point before I was entirely bare. “It’s ok,” she said, as though speaking to an injured, one-eyed kitten, “you can put your clothes back on.” I didn’t realize I had been sobbing until that moment. My eyes hurt. Everything hurt. The weight of existence was like a pile of lead blankets that had been heaped upon me.
When I stepped out of the strip search room, I was asked for my health insurance information. I responded by asking when I could go home. I was told, once again, that I had to see the doctor first. At that point, it hit me that “The Doctor” became either God or Satan in the strange purgatory that my helplessness had landed me in. I didn’t end up seeing this mythical deity until 2 days later, but I am getting way ahead of myself.
I was not in my right mind. I couldn’t stop crying, and I couldn’t remember who my health insurance provider was. I couldn’t sit down and fill out anyone’s medical f**king questionnaire on their stupid f**king clipboard. Eventually, with no thanks to me, someone was able to get a hold of my parents. I guess they got whatever information they needed from them. Nobody told me that I was going to be staying in this “wellness clinic” overnight, for multiple nights, as required by law. Nobody even told me where I was in terms of location or name, no matter how many times I asked, choking out the questions in between blubbering, snotty sobs. Instead, I was told I had to go sit in the waiting room while I was being, what the receptionist referred to as, “processed in”. The waiting room smelled like a filthy kennel. The chairs were horribly uncomfortable. I can still vividly recall the strange way that place assaulted my sense. I do not know why or how it managed to smell like a petting zoo. I do not know how they managed to find the world’s worst chairs. But I can still smell it, and I can still recall the physical discomfort. While I struggled in my chair, others began to trickle into the waiting room: a guy with a bandaged wrist that was visibly soaking through with blood, a guy who looked like a vagrant Santa Claus with his beard and shirt caked in partially dried vomit, and a girl who looked about my age and kept laughing to herself. The girl reminded me of a crocodile, and she terrified me. She had the swampy green eyes and her canine teeth, which I saw when she open her mouth to let out that insane laugh, were sharper than any I’d ever seen before. I was not in good company. Sometimes, people in scrubs would walk by. As the time passed, I would ask them when I could see the doctor and where I was. I was ignored, so I watched the waiting room clock for hours while crying to myself. Eventually, someone wordlessly dropped a box of tissues into the chair next to me.
I fell asleep sometime around 4 a.m. in one of the waiting room chairs. Around 6 a.m., someone else dropped a carton of breakfast food right next to my sleeping head, waking me up. After a moment of rubbing my eyes, I remembered where I was (as far as I knew where I was), and I started crying again. The crocodile girl asked me for the banana out of my breakfast carton, smiling as she spoke, ignoring my tears and looking eerily cheerful. I gave it to her because she scared the s**t out of me.
Soon, I would finally be “processed in,” and one step closer to meeting the doctor.
To be continued.
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