We talked this morning about how powerful it is to be vulnerable and how it’s sometimes difficult. I felt a bit disconnected from the conversation because I’m usually able to be vulnerable very easily. At least with other people. I’m good at relating to other people. I’m an open book, I know that I’m worthy of love and kindness, and like…all the stuff we spoke about in regards to sharing excited me. Some others were excited too. Some weren’t. But I really am looking forward to the next few classe.
Anyway, I’ve been reviewing a few pieces of my writing so that I can read one out loud while I share my narrative. I think I’m gonna go with something that I’ve already written and rework it a little. But as I was figuring that out, I smashed the keyboard and something fun appeared on the screen. Something about me walking into the unit at the psych hospital for the first time, being emotional and overall just scared as shit. It isn’t finished, but I’m eager to share it with the interwebs…
They took my elephant. Sickness swirled in my stomach. I looked again, pushing everything else around frantically. I swallowed hard, hoping to suppress the rising panic at the fact that my elephant wasn’t in the brown paper bag that held (most of) the other belongings I’d brought with me. Leggings, shirts, hoodie. No notebook. No stuffed elephant. Why was I frantic? Why was I starting this whole process by having a meltdown, why was I panicking over a stuffed elephant?
I was sitting in a chair like the ones behind the desks in my old high school. I was wearing something that was basically paper. I was cold. I was grossly depressed, exhausted from weeks of it, no– years of it. And my goddamn fucking elephant wasn’t in the piece of fucking shit bag.
A yell across the unfamiliar hallway broke me from my sad-angry mixture as I helplessly stared into that stupid brown bag. I inhaled deeply, unsteadily. But before I could exhale there were more yells from the same general area, way down the hallway of the unit that looked pretty much what you would’ve expected it to look like.
I brought my hands together with stiff arms, fingers laced, thumbs alternately massaging the opposite palm: a visible representation of my twisting, writhing anxiety.
The screaming got closer, along with banging and stomping and other voices arguing. Something happened to my right, and, oh god what was this place? What did I do to myself? Were they going to–
“Sweetie, are you okay?” said the guy who’d minutes earlier been screaming violently about the staff being idiots. He put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, although I had a hunch that he was harmless. Regardless, I didn’t have to ponder too long because two men in blue scrubs jumped on him to pull him off of me in a manner that was incongruent with the tiny interaction I’d just had with him.
I rocked back and forth as the scene unfolded in front of me and they pulled the man somewhere around the corner, and I didn’t realize I was sobbing until a nurse came over to the little chair where I was folded into myself, crouched down on the floor in front of me, and asked me if I was okay. I looked at her quickly and concluded that she was trustworthy (I’m good at those kinds of determinations).
“It’s so stupid,” I gasped. “I’m 28 years old and it should matter.” I wiped my nose on the sleeve of the paper scrubs they’d given me to wear. “They didn’t give me my stuffed animal, I brought him, I packed a whole bag knowing what was going to happen to me, I knew I’d come here, I need this, but my elephant…” I sobbed in one long exasperated breath.
I don’t remember how she answered. But I remember going into a little room with a table and absurdly heavy chairs with her and explaining a bit about my history for her charts while I calmed down. And I remember when we walked out of that room she handed me a blank marble notebook that she’d grabbed from the closet. I knew she’d just given me one of the most important tools I’d get in that place.