As its Thanksgiving, I thought I would share the journal entry I wrote on the day I returned home from the hospital in 2013, after a week in the mental health unit (3NC). Why you may ask? Well, you will see I was very thankful that day. 🙂
Awake all night. Tossing and turning. Not in a bad way…it’s like Christmas eve. I finally succumbed to the fact that sleep and I would not be friends, so I sat up and opened my curtains to a dark hospital parking lot, and looked….I had time…more time…to just be, to just sit, to just accept, to just breathe. I noticed that the spiders were gone. In every room I had stayed in, there was always one spinning a web in the corner of the window. Maybe they are gone because it looks chilly outside, (I could tell by the steam leaving the rooftop pipes). But I wouldn’t know… I haven’t felt the temperature outside for a week. Or maybe they are gone because they didn’t need to be there anymore… I was going home, and the home I watched them spin for days didn’t need to be watched anymore.
After a while of just looking outside, I got up and walked down the quiet night time hall to find the clock at the nurse’s station. Careful not to wake up Mary* who was asleep in a chair, for fear that she may begin her sad, relentless pay phone calls too early. I walked in my socked feet and looked at the time that was hard for me to keep track of for the last seven days. 5:45 am…OK, more time to go. Getting a bit restless I took down the poster on my wall by carefully peeling off the hospital stickers I used to adhere it. I rolled it up and wondered if I would ever look at it again?…probably not; too many memories. Then I walked back and forth in my room, a place that in a matter of days went from jail, to freedom, and I appreciated every step. In fact, I appreciated everything. My bed, my washroom, my window and a few books…I didn’t need much to be ok.
With my mind too busy, I decided to read for a while, but I still couldn’t focus. Was that the sun finally starting to rise? Or still the streetlight’s glow, and me willing it to be daytime? Finally, I hear a knock at the door. A new smiling face introduces himself as my nurse. This was wonderful! In my clockless room I knew now that it was almost 8 am! Time for my medications, and almost time to go home. He asked me, “Do you have anything in the hospital safe?” I reply, “I don’t know”. Then, “Do you have belongings at the nurse’s station?” Once again I reply, “I don’t know.” A loud reminder that I couldn’t recall my first two days here. It stung a bit…I’m not going to lie. But as time went on I had started to get used to saying why I was here…’overdose’ sadly now rolled off my tongue.
I brushed my teeth, and decided to treat myself to one last fresh face cloth that was waiting for me in the hall, and not waiting for me to be cleaned at home. I started to pack… it didn’t take long. One Zehrs bag and I was done. And I was finally able to trade my pajamas for jeans!.
My nurse peeked his head in the door, “Do you want to have your breakfast?”… The floor was slowly waking. I walked down the hall to lots of good morning’s from now familiar faces. I found my tray on the table in the dining room which was odd. I usually found it on the tall rack with everyone else’s. Hmmmmm… Maybe this is what they did on the day you were going home? Like a special celebration…probably not. More likely my place on the rack had been replaced. Replaced by another new face that would most likely be scared and wary to walk into the dining room, just as I was. Days ago, I didn’t want anyone to recognize me. I’m a professional. I don’t belong here! They have made a horrible mistake! But now the room was so easy for me to enter, because after a lot of soul searching and slowly swallowing my pride, I realized with all my heart and soul that I DID belong there.
I contemplated high-fiving or hugging every patient when I left. I hoped that they could feel in my farewells my gratitude for their nonjudgemental acceptance of me. For becoming my intriguing, entertaining and caring family for the past week. I wondered when they would be going home? Or if they ever would? Or if they even had one?
So, now as I wait to go home, I am going to look out the window and enjoy my cheerios and shot of apple juice, and be grateful. The web that was so beautifully weaved for me, caught me. I love you.
PS. I am leaving this pen on the side table as it was given to me by a fellow patient. An object that was once viewed as dangerous, and not allowed to be in my possession only days ago…how’s that for a reality check.
*Patient’s name changed to Mary for confidentiality.