15 People, just like me
“What are you here for?”
I watched his oval fingernails tap in a small, dull melody on his tin table. This was the only sound in the room.
But in my head…. well, that was a different story.
The man with the oval nails and stubbled chin cleared his throat, impatiently waiting for me to answer his “simple” question. I’d be impatient too, if I were waiting for a teenager to answer a question at two in the morning.
I felt guilty now, and embarrassed.
“Suicidal,” my mom answered for me. “Significantly depressed,” she continued. It was as if the list of what was wrong with me never ended.
Finally setting the pen down after minutes of scratching his pen against paper, the man stood up from his chair – the wood screeching against the tiled floors – and nodded his head towards the open door.
They assumed she would harm others or herself. I just couldn’t wrap my head around everything; she was harmless to everyone. But I unfortunately knew my sweet, harmless, and caring daughter was in fact extremely harmful to herself, leaving marks she intended to end her life with.
The nurse looked at me now and nodded, and I knew it was time for me to go.
I didn’t want to. I hugged her and she whispered in my ear, “It’s okay, Momma. I’m going to get better. Don’t worry about me.” I couldn’t help the tears anymore. They would not stop.
My daughter – who was at this terrible place because she was so weak inside – was telling me to be strong.
I stayed at the mental hospital for four days, and then discharged when my temporary psychiatrist decided I was “stable” enough to come home.
Little did they know, I’d get worse than ever before.
She developed severe twitching within a day of taking the new medicine the doctor prescribed her. We were told for her to stop taking it; we were not given a plan to slowly taper off or anything.
The side effects with her when she stopped the medicine were the most terrifying thing I had ever seen.
Times got hard.
“Three months at the most,” my mom assured me two months later, petting my cropped hair in a way that was suppose to be comforting. But instead, I was stiff. I was in the car with my grandpa and mother on a silent joyride, to a place I asked to go to for the sake of my life.
A “residential treatment center,” they called it, like I understood exactly what it was going to be like living away from everything I had ever known. The best part? One household full of 15 other girls I knew nothing about – 15 strangers; 15 people just. like. me.
“What are you here for?” one of the girls asked as I sat down in a pleated chair in the unit, moments after parting with the only familiar people within the gates of this place.
I looked her straight in the eyes, and through a scratchy voice I whispered, “Suicide.”
She smiled at me a sad smile, and nodded. Everyone nodded. “Me too.”
I wasn’t alone.
I was never alone.