The sun was setting over the small lake side town in which the hospital resided. I wasn’t sure of how much time had passed as the only clocks were located in the commons. I could tell evening was approaching because it was getting darker and I was getting anxious. I found the lights and turned them on. Looking around the room, I noticed peculiarities about the place. The mirror in the bathroom wasn’t glass, the toilet paper was placed in a hole in the wall, and every hook in the room collapsed with just a slight amount of pressure. “These people really think of everything,” I thought to myself as I settled back on my bed. My stomach was telling me it’s time to eat something. The man that was packing the hall seemed to have stopped, so I figured now was my chance.
Slowly, I crept out of my room as if I was in a horror film. I walked on the far left side of the hallway looking in to every room as I passed. I got to the front desk expecting to be greeted with a million questions, however, no one said a word. Relieved, I went into what Nancy referred to as the “Day Room” and looked around. There was a large TV that was sealed behind a plastic wall. It hosted some sort of game show at the far end of the room. To the right of the tv sat a small book case. Couches and chairs surrounded this small area to give it a living room appearance. Behind the couch was the table. It was long and stretched the rest of the length of the room. A couple people sat at the table either coloring or reading. There were games and puzzles along the wall to the right of me. Just above the games sat a large window that gave nurses and care providers a clear view of all of our movements. This made me feel like I was a child in a not so pleasant way. Behind me, stood a refrigerator. It stated that the contents were for patients only. I opened the fridge to ease my curiosity only to be disappointed by what I found. Cheese was my only food choice and it looks as if they had enough milk and juice boxes to start a school lunch program. I grabbed myself a chocolate milk and sat down at a secluded table that was separate from the main one. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone so I figured this solo table would be my best bet.
I continued to observe in silence all of those around me. The man previously seen pacing the halls now sat at the large table reading a newspaper. A smaller Latino woman sat kiddy corner to him. She was coloring some sort of adult coloring book page. At the opposite end of the large table sat a larger, unkempt, man that was mumbling something to himself. He frequently used hand gestures and threw his head on the table. At the time, I was more afraid of him than I was concerned for him as to what he might have been going through. The only other person left in the room was a man that was sitting in a chair near the television. Though he was near the tv, it was clear he wasn’t watching it. He was staring coldly at the floor. Sporting black hoodie with the hood up, he was puffing on his e-cigarette. Now, I don’t know if it was his sheer look of doom and dread or my growing curiosity, but suddenly I knew I was not the only one here that felt so alone.
Time seemed to stand still whenever I had a moment alone so I don’t know how long I was lost in my thoughts for, but eventually, the room started filling with more and more people. Barb and Nancy walked in, quickly spotting me. They sat at the only two seats left at my little table. I let them talk and ask questions. I had little interest in having a real conversation. I only paid attention when what they were talking was relevant to me, such as, what time meals come. I also quickly gained interest as they detailed out visiting hours and pointed out a wall phone I could utilize.
Our time talking was halted when a tall well dressed man with shaggy blond hair entered the room. I had remembered seeing him sitting behind the front desk earlier. He turned off all the lights and started talking about this thing called “mindfulness” and how we were about to practice it. I was skeptical of the whole ordeal. What made it even worse is he started the practice with a singing bowl. I was getting weird a voodoo vibe and I it made me super uncomfortable. The good thing was that during the practice, everything was quiet and still for once. The next good thing, was that after we were done, dinner was served.
Very slowly uncovered all my food. Bland chicken salad and wheat bread is what was on the menu for me tonight. I was definitely going to take Barb up on her offer of showing me the menu. I took a few bites but I just shoved the rest aside. I cleared my spot at the table and walked to my room.
I sat down on the bed, this time feeling a little lighter as I was growing more familiar with my surroundings. I looked out the window again to see the town alive. I watched out the window as if it was a blockbuster movie. I let my imagination drive the stories that popped into my head. From this high, I felt like this was the Sims in real life. The only thing is, out there– it was real life, but in this room, was some sort of nightmare.
The hours passed slowly and I was excited to see my parents during visiting hours that evening. We cried and laughed. I told them all the strange things I encountered. They told me they loved me and that this is the best way for me to get better. And after what felt like only a few minutes, the clock struck eight and visiting hours were over. I hugged them goodbye and they reassured me it was all going to be alright. I put my brave face on and watched them leave, the secured doors locking behind them.
My parents had pick up some cloths from my apartment so I went back to my room to make it feel just a slight bit homie. I wanted to shower and change out of my jeans. I felt gross on the outside which didn’t help my internal feelings any. I walked down towards the nurses station to ask about shower supplies. I was realizing that almost every patient was wearing the same blue colored scrub pants. As they walked past me in the hall, I wondered if I could have a pair. I asked the people at the desk and they handed me a small cup that I could dispense shampoo into, a small bar of soap, a pair of scrub pants, and another pair of sock. It was the little things that made me happy. A nurse walked me to the linen closet showing me where I can get towels or extra blankets at night. She pointed out the shower rooms were located across the hall from the patients rooms. She left me as I walked into one and shut the door. The door didn’t lock for my own safety they said, but I would have felt safer if no one could walk in on me naked. Regardless, I tossed the cloths aside and stepped under the warm stream of water. I was washing away everything that had happened today and I wanted to walk out of there with a new attitude.
After my shower I pulled on the scrubs and threw on a dirty t-shirt they must have grabbed off the floor. I walked into the calm day room and went straight for the bookshelf. I picked one out and brought it back to my room. If I had to be locked in here, I might as well make the best of it. I was on a mental vacation and this is exactly what I needed.
After a short time reading I drifted to sleep. I had shut the door when I came into my room and I remember waking up to find it halfway opened. Every 15 minutes or so shoes would squeak into my room and squeak right back out. They were like big brother, always watching.
Check out the first chapter HERE