As much as I am all for achieving mental wellness, I also believe it is important to not forget the past. It helps us compare where we are now to where we once were, so we can fully applaud ourselves and our newly embraced bacon. Since I’m promoting mental health through this blog, I figured I should probably share my personal, come-to-Jesus story that led me leaps-and-bounds to where I am today. (And also to show you that I’m not just blowing hot air out of my ass… Only my cat gets to smell that side of me.) I wrote this memoir shortly after my experience (which occurred three years ago) so that I could remind myself how I went from floppy, uncooked bacon to thick, crispy, full-of-greasy-goodness bacon, and that there’s always more bacon to look forward to. While it may not seem like it has a happy ending, it was the moment I really began to heal (or, to keep the bacon analogy going, “cook”).
While I kept my name in the following account, I did change the names of most of the individuals I refer to. This is an “R-rated” post, as there is a lot of swearing. I did not censor the language so as to accurately convey how I felt throughout the experience. The following account deals with suicidal thoughts and depression. It is written as honestly and accurately as possible to help empower others facing similar challenges. However, it may trigger those who are struggling with their own mental health. Please exercise caution if you should choose to read on. Be safe, take care of yourself, and love the one you is.
As Bad As You Think
“Hm, ah, um, yeah, that’s good, yes.” The plump, round-faced patient compadre straightened her giant glasses on the bridge of her nose whilst hungrily examining her tray of oatmeal, toast, fruit, and orange juice. She held her fork and spoon at the ready, unsure of where to begin her eating pleasure. “You going to eat that?” She pointed at my fruit cup.
I gladly surrendered the cup of dried up apple and melon slices to the hungry fanatic sitting across from me. Nothing on my tray appealed to me. I had only nibbled the corners of my toasted bread. “You can have it all if you like.” I nudged my tray towards the woman, whose magnified eyes doubled in circumference as she sized up the offer of additional portions.
“Hm, ah, thank you, I would like that indeed, yes.”
The only item I kept for myself was the chocolate breakfast shake. I would also snag a ginger ale before heading back to my room. I always preferred a filling drink over a mediocre meal. Especially those with bubbles.
I glanced around the crowded community room being utilized as a dining space. I had noticed the staff also used it as an arts and crafts room for the other patients throughout the day. As patients filed in with their meals, I observed the queer individuals with whom I would be residing. Over the next few days, hours or weeks, depending on the final verdict. A large woman took up two chairs at one table; her hospital gown was clearly not large enough to close at the back, but she was likely too large for any of the scrubs on hand. One of the hospital workers was passing behind the woman’s table and inevitably caught a glimpse of what was back there. He did not mask his disturbed shudder.
Another patient—a man bearing an eerie resemblance to Bill Cosby, only of smaller stature—weaved between the tables and chairs, but never actually sat down. He maintained an angry expression. Another man, who was quite ancient, napped in a chair in the back corner of the room. His hands were still clasped to his walker and his head hung midair. His legs were spread apart, revealing a tad too much thigh. Medical technicians monitored the room, differentiated from the rest of the floor’s staff by their dark blue scrubs. They all looked so young; not much older than myself at 23 years old. I stuck around just long enough for the techs notice I wasn’t isolating myself from the group during breakfast. I then quietly made an exit.
“Diane, you’re not allowed to eat extras,” a tech scolded the woman to whom I had just given my meal. I quickened my pace down the hallway.
The bubble of composure I somehow maintained whenever others were around—a sensation of suspended clarity at the very top of my head—popped as soon as I sat down on the bed in my “room.”
My room was one of the last in the corridor, so I had plenty of sights along the way. I passed one tall, thick-set patient with dark disheveled hair and brown scrubs. He stared at the ceiling in bewilderment as he walked from one end of the hall before turning around and retracing his steps precisely. I peered into the room next to mine. A middle-aged woman was lying on her back in bed, hands stretched straight upward. This floor apparently had a fascination with ceilings. The bubble of composure I somehow maintained whenever others were around—a sensation of suspended clarity at the very top of my head—popped as soon as I sat down on the bed in my “room.” My oversized blue scrubs pressed against my frail frame, the pockets of air puffing out at the legs and the sleeves. Tears burned my eyes once again as I allowed my mind to resume its torturous race.
I just wanted to go home.