I was 15 the first time I was screened in the Emergency Room.
The psych tech on staff, exhausted
As the girl in the room next to me
Pounded upon her door
“God, let me the fuck out of here.”
Then suddenly singing… or sing/screaming,
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
I wanted to crawl under my hospital bench
And hide and cry.
I don’t belong here.
Let me die, so that I don’t have to stay here.
Fear streamlined through my veins,
It traveled like hot water in pipes.
And I looked into my father’s eyes,
Only to see pain and worry,
Covered by the strong reassurance that I would be okay.
After hours of waiting and questioning,
I was cleared –
Not suicidal enough.
How is it determined?
Is there an index to which we measure the suicidality of our youths?
My dad and I left relieved,
We laughed – we joked.
We went to the Windmill
And over foot-long hot dogs,
We talked about what was going on
And what we could do to make things better.
So I continued with therapy.
I went to a psychiatrist.
And 7 months later,
I returned for psychiatric screening.
But this time, I was admitted.
At 2 in the morning, I sat with the intake nurse
And answered question after question.
I stood in a room,
Stark naked –
While Rebecca scanned my body.
Commenting on my cuts.
When she asked me why,
I couldn’t answer.
Shame chokes you,
It shakes your body
Dries your mouth out more than a desert.
For a week, I was in the hospital.
I met kids with whom I’d form relationships –
Breaking the rules to hold hands while I waited for meds with one boy –
While arranging a room switch with another girl so that we could spend more time together.
Coloring with a six year-old,
Learning card games with a twelve year old,
Eating breakfast with a run-away eleven year-old,
Talking in group with a fourteen year-old about the prospects of a group home,
At the end of the day…
We were all just kids.
Looking back, I don’t know what that stay did for me.
It kept me safe, that’s for sure.
It opened up my eyes to the fact that, I wasn’t alone.
Other people exist, and other people have baggage.
But it didn’t get me to where I needed to be,
Because my illness was just starting.
My illness was a preschooler,
My brain was his classroom.
First, sad that he had to go to school – depression.
But with time he developed a sense of creativity
As my illness grew into its awkward years –
I would learn about my bipolar disorder.
And as he continued through school, my illness –
He would go to college and find himself overwhelmed.
And the only way he could cope was to dig deep within my brain
And find friends.
And those friends became my DID.
I was 20 the second time I was admitted to the hospital.
I was 21 the third time.
And the fourth time.
And the fifth time
And the sixth time.
And for the seventh and eighth.
Within that time period, I learned more about my self
Than in my 22 years of life.
I’m not proud,
That this is my record.
I’d much rather be Usain Bolt,
I think his record holds much more prestige.
But I am proud,
That in spite of all of these hardships –
I have not given up.
Any mental illness.
Is exactly that:
It is a constant sprint,
A constant thirst,
It eats at you
That you lose your hunger.
When I look at my dad now,
I don’t see that determination and reassurance I once saw.
I now see disappointment and loss of hope.
But I will not let his choice to give up,
influence my choice to fight.
if the sun can rise everyday,
if winter eventually ends – and the snow melts,
if the moon cycles in all its parts,
and mandalas are blown away just to be recreated.
Then it is possible,
To win that fight.