I missed a week of school. I was dizzy. Everything spun. Inner ear infection. It didn’t seem like a good idea to go to campus. So I didn’t. As each day passed, I freaked out a little more. By Monday, I was feeling less spinny, but I was so freaked out I couldn’t go to class. I can’t remember exactly when I started cutting again. I just used my scissors. They weren’t very sharp, so no matter what I did, there wasn’t much damage. I don’t know if that was good or bad. Over the course of a couple of days –and nights—I did a fair amount of carving. I want to say there were over three hundred cuts nearly covering my left forearm. Only one or two were even remotely deep. I put Neosporin on them and wrapped them in gauze. But I still felt like killing myself.
Since I know there is such a thing as life after death, suicide would be pointless. The idea of suicide is to escape. If you know you’re going to go on living in some form or another with your current personality and set of issues, death is just less appealing than if it were a viable means to an ultimate end. So I couldn’t kill myself. But the cutting wasn’t taking away the pain like it was supposed to. I was stuck. Unable to live, unwilling to die.
So over the course of several hours and a good long texted conversation with a trusted friend, I talked myself into going to the hospital to get help. I don’t know where the idea came from (God), but I somehow knew it was about my only viable option. So I turned off Netflix and drove myself right down to the ER. At four in the morning.
The kid at the desk was really kind. He asked what I needed and I said I wanted and didn’t want to kill myself. So he took my insurance card and ID and made me a hospital bracelet. The machine that made it sounded like the MRI I once had. Once he put the bracelet on me, it was all real. Then he turned me over to another male nurse (no jokes please-- they were both great) who asked me questions and took a look at my arm. I was wearing a white long sleeved shirt under a bright yellow t-shirt that loudly “I <3 my crazy friends.” After I unwrapped my arm for him, one of the cuts bled a tiny bead of blood onto my white shirt. I am not accustomed to showing off my battle wounds, so I had pulled the sleeve back down. I had heard that saliva gets rid of blood stains if you get it fast enough. I awkwardly sucked on my shirt. The stain is still visible as a minor discoloration.
Then we went through the door. The one from which there would be no return. I was put in a room and met with a doctor. Since I had no pressing physical complaints, it was a brief meeting. If I ran into him on the street today, I wouldn’t know him. He said he’d send in a nurse to re-wrap my arm. Then the social worker came in. He asked questions. I answered. The last question he asked I didn’t get. I don’t remember what it was. I just remember he was trying to figure out if I’d cut or not if I left. I told him of course I would; that’s why I was there. That was the right answer to get me admitted.
I was up all night before I went to the hospital. At 4:00 am. But the social worker came back and said he wasn’t sure if they worked with my insurance company. I panicked. He said they’d have to call the insurance company, but they didn’t open until 7:00 am. So I waited. A nurse came in to check my vitals. He also wrapped my arm. The poor kid didn’t know what to do with himself. I was decidedly abnormal. Also, I brought my laptop and my recently acquired Stargate SG-1 DVD’s. So I avoided eye contact and watched special features while my 300+ cuts were tended to.
7:00 came and went. My door was mostly closed. I didn’t think this was a good idea. I was not currently a danger to myself, but others in my position could have been. I think the morning shift change is what threw them off. A new social worker eventually came to talk to me. He had left a message but hadn’t heard back. So I waited. Breakfast came. A huge blueberry muffin. Oatmeal. Yogurt. It hit the spot. I was so tired. But sleeping in the ER is not really an option.
Moans and death rattles came and went from nearby rooms. I think I may have heard someone die. It sounded like it. I was a little freaked out. But I also envied them. Even though I knew it wasn’t “over” over. I peeked out into the ER. You see, perhaps in order to give me privacy, I had been placed in a room with four walls and a door. Others had to live with curtains surrounding their beds. Quarantine the freak. I stood at the door and minutes ticked by. Nobody paused to see what I needed. Finally I left my doorway and found the social worker. Still no word. When would we hear? Who knows.
It’s 9:00 am before I hear anything. Still haven’t slept. I’m so agitated not even Stargate holds my attention. Word on the street is insurance will cover it. I’m being transferred upstairs. I have to go by wheelchair. With two armed guards. If they make the arrangements by 10:00, I get to go up. If they miss it even by a few minutes, I have to wait until 11:00. Remember, I got there at 4:00. They made it. I got to sit in my wheelchair with my escort.
As we rolled into the unit (through several locked doors), I noticed clichés and inspirational quotes all over the walls. And each bedroom was labeled with a word like “hope” or “love.” I thought to myself, “What is this place, a psych ward?” Immediately I remembered that yes, this was a psyche ward. And I was about to be admitted. I’ll never forget that moment.