Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1789167-Off-the-Deep-End
Rated: 18+ · Non-fiction · Experience · #1789167
An account of my stay in a mental institute told from my own hindsight.
          I know this feeling. It is the same feeling I had when I was nine, living with my
mother for the summer in Arizona. I cooked spaghetti for dinner and sat the sauce,
noodles, and garlic toast on our plate glass dining room table. As I turned on my heels
with determination and purpose to get dinner on the table by five pm, I heard a pop. I
then heard a crackle. My jaw hung open while in slow motion I watched an eight person
dining room table holding spaghetti, noodles, my mother's cosmetology textbooks, and
eight years of tax returns, crack into thousands of pieces and land on the snow white
carpet of the dining room. "FUCK," not even fudge was the first word that entered my
nine year old brain. Should I put on a new pot of water for more noodles while I
cleaned? Should I pick up the glass first? What about the spaghetti sauce seeping into
the carpet? I stared at the mess blinking, just waiting for it to disappear. I ignored my
first instinct which was to pick up a shard of glass slit my wrists and fill the bathtub. The
sinking feeling, the use of the four letter word, and disbelief is exactly how I feel right
now. Except instead of a dinner, a piece furniture, and a cluttered mess of paperwork,
my life is now what is spilt on the floor, ruined in front of me.
         Often times people do not compare their life trials to spaghetti sauce and dripping
tax returns covered is glass, but I see it very fitting for my circumstances. I landed
myself in a mental hospital three weeks ago and uprooted my life along with it. At first,
living in the Ohara Street Hotel, or Western Psychiatric Clinic and Institute was an
adventure. Despite hearing voices due to a bad medication reaction and spending
twenty hours in a holding room, (which is enough to make a person crazy, let alone a
person with a real mental illness,) I was getting ready to write my memoir, Girl
Interrupted style. Would they really peek into my room and do "checks"? Would they
really give me Colace and watch me poop? Would Whoopi Goldberg be my orderly?
Would I have sex with a draft dodger in my bedroom? Probably not, since any Vietnam
draft dodger is now receiving social security checks, but I did not discount the idea.
Most poignantly inspired by the film, not the book, was the idea I could meet a psychotic
friend and possibly run away from the institute and listen to The Band in the back of a
shag van with my best friend, the psychotic woman that has not been out of the Ohara
Street Hotel since ninety five. I was almost spot on with ideas of psych ward grandeur.
While Whoopi never made an appearance, I never got my Colace, and the draft dodger
did not grope me, I did have a run with a psychotic woman. In my nineteenth hour of
waiting for my admittance into the Ohara Street Hotel, I broke down. I can only imagine
that what I went through was comparable to waiting for a pelvic exam at some free clinic
like Planned Parenthood while having a festering burning infection, and the receptionist
takes every person back before you, closes down the clinic, hands you an ice pack,
some Monistat and asks when you can reschedule. When I tiptoed up to Nadine, the
Ohara Street Hotel holding deck receptionist and inquired about when I would be
actually entering the hospital, she told me she was unsure. I quietly said, "Okay, thank
you." I was actually thinking, "LET'S BURN THIS MOTHERFUCKER DOWN." I skipped
oh fiddlesticks! and jumped straight to the dirty words once again. I sat down quietly,
perhaps a little too quietly, reminiscent of those kids in high school that turn out to be
serial killers, taking their seats in the back of the class. The breakdown began. I was
convinced I would never leave this waiting room with the dry turkey sandwiches and
cardboard flavored orange juice containers. Just as I was beginning to shake and mass
produce tears, a large black woman approached me. She was too, waiting to be
admitted. Before I knew what was happening, my face was ensconced in her breasts.
So much for an introductory greeting. After being smothered in her breasts, she
introduced herself to me. "Baby girl, I'm D'nelle. You'll be okay, this place is scary at first
and I know it! I've been here eight times." D'nelle sat beside me for fifteen minutes
holding my hand until a doctor finally gave me a shot of Ativan in my butt. No more
psych ward grandeur. This place was quickly shaping up to be more like a penitentiary
than a hospital.
          I fell asleep almost immediately after my shot of Ativan. When I opened my eyes,
Nadine was gently shaking me, as if nudging a rabid animal on the side of the road just
to double check to see if she needed to back her car over it to make sure the animal
was in fact dead.There was fear lurking behind Nadine's cheerful facade. I could tell she
thought I could possibly bite her ankles or gauge out her eyes. I initially thought Nadine
brought security with her incase I did turn on her. Two burly men in matching suits stood
behind her. They were my escorts to my penthouse suite well, more like my fifth floor
walk in closet sized prison cell with safety features and a view. The view was of a
parking garage and a pigeon nest. Nevertheless, it could still be considered a
juxtaposed view of nature and the urban jungle by a savvy real estate agent. Upon my
arrival, a seedy young man in pajamas and a church retreat shirt whispered in my ear,
"Welcome to hell."
© Copyright 2011 Arlene Anderson (arlenesaraand at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1789167-Off-the-Deep-End