Day Four

Day four was on a Monday. During my intake, which was a Thursday night, I was told they can only legally hold me for 72 hours. So on Monday, I knew that they couldn’t keep me any longer. The doctors had barely spoken to me over the weekend. I met with the psychiatrist on Friday morning for about five minutes and that was it. But the staff told me that was a good thing, they even told me they are pretty sure I should be going home after the weekend. I was the only patient not on any medication. On Sunday evening, my I spoke to my dad and he told me a staff member called him and said a caseworker will contact him in the morning regarding my discharge. I was supposed to go home on day four. I slept really good the night before and woke up with lots of energy. Despite making friends over the weekend, I was still apprehensive about speaking to some folks on the unit. But on Monday morning, I greeted everyone. Every client, every nurse, even the doctors that didn’t know my name. I was in a great mood. By noon, my father hadn’t heard from any caseworker and I hadn’t spoken to anyone about going home. I was growing impatient but I knew I was going home – they said 72 hours and at that point we were going on hour 85. There was another woman on the unit, a beautiful strong black woman who’s story I was moved by (you’ll learn more about her in another blog – keep reading). Her and I were in the same predicament. Our families couldn’t get a hold of any doctors or caseworkers no matter how many times they called. We both were under the impression that we would be discharged on Monday. We were standing by the nurses station, waiting for our fifteen minutes under the sun, openly discussing how the 72 hour policy we were told upon intake. When a nurse interrupts us and says “You know it’s 72 business hours, right? Sorry, they should have explained that to you when you got here.” Now, if you know me, you know I am not the type to be able to control my facial expressions. My mouth, I got a leash on her sometimes but my face – she has a mind of her own. There is no controlling my face, especially when I’m upset. So when the nurse said what she said, my eyebrows furrowed. My mouth tightened. My teeth clenched. Blood began racing to my face and because I’m light skinned, my face took on the shade of rose but there was nothing delicate about me. My breaths were shorter and came faster. My hands balled into fists. My legs were beginning to shake. The second a tear tried to escape my eyes I rushed into the bathroom. I needed a space to cry alone. I couldn’t cry in front of anyone. Crying means something is wrong with me. Means I am depressed. Means they have reason to keep me longer. So I stepped back into the hallway and tried to hold my head. But every single nurse, staff and client kept asking “ArE yOu OkAy?! ArE yOu OkAy?!” I wanted to scream “OBVIOUSLY FUCKING NOT I WANT TO GO HOME!” but I couldn’t have any outbursts. If I did, they could say I’m not being safe and could give me a shot to calm me down (that actually happened to a friend that was in there). The beautiful strong black woman that was pretty much going through the same thing (shes a super hero) saw my face and knew I was about to lose it. So she put her arm around my shoulders and walked me down the other end of the hallway, away from all the traffic. She told me that it’s going to be okay, that I’m strong too just like I think she is. She reminded me of the previous day, when I got to shine during the writing workshop. She said “you’re going to get out of here, they can’t keep you. Lets just enjoy this fifteen minutes we get outside though, come on” After that I wasn’t fucking with any of the staff nurses or doctors. They hadn’t helped me much anyways, it was the other “sick” people that did. After the fifteen minutes in the sun, I spent the rest of that day requesting to see every single document they had me sign upon intake and reading over their policies. That 72 business hour loophole really pissed me off but regardless, I learned they still had to release me on Tuesday or Wednesday at the very latest. After I got all of that settled, I took time by myself and wrote a little. This poem is a very rough, first draft of Day Four. It is a personification piece written in the voice of the psych ward, speaking to myself. Keep following my blog to see the progress with this poem.

Oh, you thought you were getting out?

You thought your bid would be that easy, huh?

No life lesson has ever come without a test

Did you really think

You’d pass this course

With smooth sailing?

Thought you could climb a mountain

And avoid rough terrain?

Girl, don’t you know

You are here for a reason?

This ain’t no writing retreat

Just because you retreat to your room to write

Whenever things get tough

This ain’t no weekend get away

This is a psych ward

The far wing of the hospital

And you are sick

Until we say otherwise

Or for at least 72 business hours

Or until we can find a loophole

To drag you through

These doctors ain’t here for you

They’re here for everybody

And you are just a patient

A paycheck

An insurance collection

“You don’t need any meds”

“You don’t cause any trouble”

“You have a good head on your shoulders”

And we are going to try and knock it off

Or at least loosen it a bit

If we keep you long enough

Maybe you’ll start to fit in

Which is to say

Maybe if we keep you locked up

You’ll eventually act out

And we will be right here

Waiting to prescribe you something

To label you with a diagnosis

I told you

You are sick until we say otherwise

So sit back, relax

Enjoy the plastic furniture

There is a t.v. with limited channels 

For your leisure

Radios with no antennas

And coloring books 

For ages three and up

If you don’t believe you’re crazy when you get here

I promise we’ll drive you there before we let you go

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