You can’t get out. You signed yourself in and you signed away your rights. An argument can be made in hindsight that a suicidal person probably shouldn’t be signing anything, but the goal was to get therapeutic assistance, so it loses importance in comparison to the urgent reason you are there.
They took your belt and shoelaces, of course. You didn’t expect to end up here (though you should have factored it in if your attempt was unsuccessful), so not being dressed for the occasion is a drawback. No stretchy pants and comfortable slippers. No hospital-approved toiletries. You’ll pack an asylum bag next time, you think. Like a deeply depressed Boy Scout.
The smell is appropriate: faint bleach mixed with hand sanitizer, buffered by sweat and despair. The whiteboard lists everyone on my wing. First name, last initial, room number and doctor. Next to it, the schedule for each day and hours of the week. Your run book for however long you are deemed a danger to yourself. Crafts and group therapy interspersed with carbohydrates and breaks. Breaks where you do nothing but watch the clock and wonder how you will ever get out. Maybe you think a bit about how you ended up in here, but mostly you count minutes.
You pray the ones worse off than you- the schizophrenics who shift imperceptibly between reality and their delusions-don’t sit down next to you on the vinyl couches. You hope the television will miraculously offer up a movie all of the angry inmates can agree on. Just for a distraction. If only to quiet the loud ones who are intent on letting everyone know that they shouldn’t be in here. They never seem to realize that the more they go on, the nurses take notes and their temporary fate is sealed. It is the ammo they need to max out their stay for the insurance money.
Because it’s not really about stabilizing you or helping you. Some of the staff do want to help, but they put you on a few meds and you say the right things enough times to the psychiatrist you see for five minutes every other day, and then you hit your week and freedom awaits. You’re not better. You just get to leave.
© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.