I lay there; alone on the stretcher in the hallway of the ER. No recollection of how I got there. My body aches, my head is pounding.
How did I get here?
The fluorescent lights above beaming directly in my eyes.
I can move my neck – I look to the left, to the right.
I see no one that I recognize.
I’m alone besides the doctors and nurses rushing past – the hustle and bustle that is the ER.
I hear a familiar voice, and look up to see a worried face.
They come rushing to my side.
As if I have no control over myself, my body, or my emotions – the tears begin to fall, on both of our faces.
Sitting by my side cradling my tiny hand in theirs, they wipe the tears from my cheek.
Staring at me, they just kept asking me, “Why?”
Over, and over, and over.
It was more like they were pleading with me to open up, to finally open up – than it was they questioning me.
Finally I looked, and said, “I just don’t want to live anymore.”
The pain and sadness on their face is a look I will never forget.
It broke my heart that I was inflicting this much pain on someone I loved.
I turned away, crying to myself.
Eventually the doctors and nurses moved me into a small room.
So small that literally only two or three people would fit around my bed.
Just like in the movies – the walls were padded and the room made me feel even more claustrophobic than I already felt.
…my wrists being restrained probably didn’t help either.
The doctors would come and go, talking more to my family members who had arrived than me – because I was in no shape or form to make my own decisions.
Clearly, as I had just drove my car into a pole.
I didn’t care what happened.
“They’re putting you on a Form 1,” a vlice said, sitting by my side.
My family told the doctors that I was depressed. That I had been depressed.
They told them that my “car accident” wasn’t really an accident and it was me attempting to take my own life.
That I had drove myself into that pole hoping the immense sadness and neverending pain I felt would finally stop.
“Everyone just wants to help you feel better,” they said, attempting to sound reassuring but I could hear the fear in their voice. “we all love you deeply.”
Again I just stared out to the distance.
I stared at the padded walls, at the even brighter fluorescent lights above my head.
I stared at the restraints around my wrists.
I stared at the security guard who was positioned outside my door…as if I could run away when I couldn’t even lift my own arms.
But – apparently I had to be guarded.
I didn’t even acknowledge what they were saying to me.
I didn’t care.
I didn’t care if I lived or died.
I didn’t care about anything anymore.
Apparently, a Form 1 meant they were holding me under a psychiatric watch for up to 72 hours.
I was not legally allowed to leave.
Apparently, this was common practice after a suicide attempt.
Now the guard outside my door made a little more sense.
“I’m just so sad,” I whispered. “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to.”
More family came to see me, and I could see the fear in their eyes.
No one expected this.
No one knew what was going on.
Everyone was so confused as to why I didn’t mention anything before.
Why hadn’t I told them what I was going through?
How could I be expected to explain what I was feeling – when I didn’t even understand it myself?
Moving from my padded room – thankfully the restraints were removed – I was put in a semi-private room with a young lady who was adamant that she was being followed.
She screamed all day and night.
She screamed at the walls, the curtains, the nurses, the windows, the other patients, the people she believed she saw but were not actually there – but never me.
I still wonder why.
Could she sense that I was already broken enough, that she didn’t need to break me further?
Eventually – her incessant screaming got to be too much for those around us and they moved her. I personally didn’t care…her screams helped silence the boogeyman in my head…even if just briefly.
I’d see her again, eventually – but not over the next 60 hours.
The doctors and nurses would come and check on me every 20 minutes of so over the next couple of days.
I’d be asked how I was feeling and no matter what I said – they would force me to take different medications.
Those first 72 hours were mostly spent crying and staring at the walls.
I’d lose myself in my thoughts as I followed the cracks with my eyes for hours on end.
No phone, no TV – no distractions.
I had attempted to take my life, and now I was forced to sit there alone with my thoughts for 72 hours.
My eyes were swollen from the endless crying.
My entire body wouldn’t stop shaking.
I felt utterly alone.
That was a common feeling in my life.
I felt stripped…stripped of my dignity, my pride, my everything.
Being alone with my thoughts made me miss my old, loud roommate.
I missed her irrational yelling and screaming.
Her raised voice filling my ears was so much better than being alone with the thoughts that were running through my mind.
Eventually, the 72 hours came to an end and the doctors came to my room.
“Jennifer – you are not ready to leave. You are not healthy enough, mentally or emotionally, to leave. We’re suggesting you stay in the psychiatric ward and get some much needed help.”
My family pleaded with me to stay – they wanted me to finally get this help that was being offered.
Every ounce of my being said run.
Run away as far away as possible.
That was my go-to, my escape.
Run from my problems.
Run from the pain.
When things got tough – I ran.
But where had that gotten me?
It got me to here. It got me restrained to a bed in a padded room.
Eventually – I agreed to accept the help.
“I’ll stay,” I whispered, staring at the cracks in the wall, hoping that my family and the doctors couldn’t hear the overwhelming fear in my crackling voice.
…and thus began my month-long stay in a psychiatric ward.