Deacon Tim nodded silently along during my retelling. When I finished, he carried on as if he grasped what was plaguing me. He gets none of it. “Friends, yes, friends are important. My daughter, her college friends were like a second family to her. She’s still in touch with many of them now.” He stopped when it was apparent that he was just validating my regrets. “But, um, you mentioned you’re in a relationship now, yes? Is he good to you?”I nodded. Well, at least, I figured I must be happy. Because things felt so different—so liberating—being apart from my ex. But perhaps it was less that Charlie made me happy and more that, for the first time in my life, I was free from an emotionally abusive attachment.
“Maybe you’re feeling guilty because you’re finally happy, and you’ve never known what real happiness feels like,” Deacon Tim theorized. I smiled politely. He meant well, but he wasn’t helping at all. All he did was remind me that Charlie—as great as I was portraying him in my mind—still hadn’t called me since leaving the hospital last night. So Deacon Tim said a prayer with me, said he would continue to keep me in his prayers, and he said his goodbye. As unhelpful as he was, I was surprised at how increasingly easy it was becoming to talk about my problems.
I never saw Deacon Tim again.
“Phone call for Anna Bugle! Who’s Anna Bubble? Anna Bubble!” The large woman’s voice carried across the corridor. Once I realized it wasn’t just random, insane screaming, I jumped from my bed and hustled down the hall. As I approached the patient lounge area, a nurse yelled, “Rhonda, no yelling!” Rhonda let the phone hang from the cord as she waddled away. I picked up the heavy, black receiver. “Hello?”
“Hey kiddo, it’s Mom.”
I swallowed back tears of relief. “Hey,” I squeaked. Keep it together, man.
“Do you want me to bring you lunch?” Mom asked. “I was thinking of bringing you Wendy’s or a sub.”
“Yes, please,” I replied eagerly. Finally, some real food.
“Okay, I plan to head out within the hour. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Are they being nice to you?”
“There’s no clock in my room. I have no idea what’s going on or what I’m supposed to do.” The tears were pouring now, but I managed to keep them silent.
“What the heck? Well, I’ll be there soon. Hang in there, kiddo!” We said our goodbyes and I felt a little better, knowing Mommy was coming.
After what I could only assume was a painfully long hour sitting alone with nothing to do in my room, I once again had to undergo the embarrassment of a stranger witnessing my gross appearance. The psychiatrist—a tall man of Indian descent—came striding in, pulling up the chair and sitting down in one swift motion, as if making a quick stop on a conveyor belt.
“Hello, how are you doing today?” His Indian accent was thick and the concern in his voice was mechanical. He was clearly experienced and immune to empathy.
“Okay, considering,” I cynically replied. He just nodded at me, staring blankly with a pasted smile for a moment. Finally, he said, “And why would you say you are here?”
I did a mental eye-roll as I once again told the story. “I don’t feel that way anymore, I won’t hurt myself, I just want to stop obsessing.” Blah, blah, blah.
The psychiatrist nodded again. “Would you say you have drastic mood changes?”
“Um no, not really. Mainly I just obsess.”
“So your mood drastically changes, yes?”
“No, it’s the obsessing I want to stop.”
“Would you say you’re not eating?”
“Quite the contrary. I eat quite a lot. I just don’t like the food here.”
He scribbled some notes on a yellow legal pad with no acknowledgment to my response. “I’m going to prescribe mirtazapine, which is an antidepressant and will also increase your appetite since you’re having trouble eating. Also, lamotrigine, which will decrease your mood swings. Both should help you sleep, so I’ll have you take them at bedtime. Sound good?”
Sure, except you got everything completely wrong and ignored everything I just said, but okay.
“When can I go home? They told me it should just be a night or two.”
“I’d like to keep you here a week, just to observe how you react to the new medication.”
I swallowed hard. “I’d stay with my family. I know I won’t try it again, I promise.”
The psychiatrist nodded, not really hearing what I said. “Let’s keep you here the weekend, and if you seem to respond well, you can go home Monday. Okay?”
Before I could respond, he was up and out in one swift motion.
Again, I was left alone with my mind.