Please be aware, that if you have a trigger for suicide do not read further.
This piece is written in the hopes that someone who feels the same way might think twice and realize that they are not alone. I’m not looking for sympathy or pity.
It is now Wednesday, my first full day at the facility. Breakfast is at 7:00 for our group. If you’re not already up they wake you about 6:30. I was already up since I didn’t sleep very well. An uncomfortable bed, too much noise, and too much light made it hard to get a decent night’s sleep. Anxiety didn’t help either. The enormity of what I had almost done and where I was, began to set in.
I was dressed and out in the common area watching the news before my roommate even got up. His name was Sal and he was leaving that day anyway. I didn’t get to know much about him except that he was 19, had a son, and was a Meth addict. My jeans and t-shirt were nicer than what most of the patients were wearing and most of them were wearing yesterday’s attire.
People slowly streamed down the hall and the common area filled up with hungry folks, some of whom were impatient. A new patient asked when smoke break was then all the smokers started to chime in. First smoke break was after breakfast at 8:15, and they all knew it.
Breakfast was uneventful except it was my first coffee in two days. Also orange juice. It was delicious. I don’t know why I craved it when I saw it but it tasted amazing. 30 minutes later with bacon, eggs, and sausage in my belly, we proceeded back upstairs. I took a coffee with me upstairs. It felt good flowing down my throat, it felt normal in a place that felt like a cross between summer camp and prison.
I went downstairs with the smokers to get some fresh air while it was still cool, It was supposed to be in the high 90s, and even at 8:15, it was almost 80. It was nice to be outside even though it was a small courtyard with 12-foot brick walls. It was clear and sunny. I walked around the courtyard half a dozen times and then sat in the limited shade. The smokers were given only one butt each, which they had to provide, by the aide who held their packs. They went out five times a day regardless of the weather.
I got my first meds today, Prozac and blood pressure med. This would be 8ish every day. I would see a psychiatrist, social worker, and medical doctor
Group at 9:00 was on stress. Always the same format. A quick lecture where they make the participants read, I can’t stand that. It’s what I have my students do, which makes sense for their age, but for adults it’s insulting. I always volunteer to read just to make it go faster. After the lecture, there are three questions. What’s your favorite whatever the variable is that day, What’s your goal for today, and what is your stress level today. It felt like just going through the motions. This would go for most of the morning sessions.
The next group was at 10:15. My roommate left a book so i was able to read a bit in between Jay telling me tall tales. Tommy was another one. He had several mental disorders along with being addicted. He was the best at everything. No matter what you’ve done he’s done it better and first. Even professionals. He was the first to run a four-minute mile. He was the first to dunk a basketball, his I.Q. was over 300. He was a hoot. I felt sorry for him though. He had nowhere to go when he got out and the staff didn’t seem to help much. To be fair I only saw and heard his end.
I got called for the medical doctor before the second-morning group. He went over all my blood tests and was only worried about my blood pressure.
10:30 rolled around and we had Frank for group, Today he was decked out in all yellow. Today’s subject was on depression. This was good since I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and borderline Bipolar Disorder. The best thing was having other people there who understood. As they were talking and describing their feelings I felt like they were talking about me. It was incredible to not be alone in my feelings. I knew there were other people out there but to be sitting with them, hearing them, and knowing they were skin, bone, and flesh just like me was a huge burden lifted, Feeling alone was like dragging Marley’s chains around in life instead of in death.
Lunch came and went. First-afternoon group was much like the morning but with different questions. Afternoon group was art therapy which was a fancy name for playing with clay and coloring. There were so many times I thought, “I don’t belong here,” and then I’d think we all have many of the same issues maybe I’m just being snobby. I made a turtle whistle for my wife because she likes turtles. I’d paint it later in the week. The art teacher was wonderful. He helped everybody with such patience he must have taught kindergarten sometime in his life. More people went to art than other group activity.
After Art, I saw the psychiatrist and Social worker. The psychiatrist thought I’d be out in 7 days and said I was a good patient because I was aware and wanted to get better. The social worker asked if I had a place to go and with whom, She was also making arrangements for me to see local doctors when I got back home.
Dinner came and went. I found a puzzle to do. I always thought they were kind of boring but the kids got me a Star Wars puzzle for Christmas and I loved it. I read, I watched TV, I listened to Jay, Tommy, and Helen. A couple of others got around to introducing themselves. Everybody was very nice. There wasn’t one person I was afraid of.
That would change in a few days.
End day 2