Writing in the Midst of a Flashback

6 A.M.

A nurse disturbs my nightmares, and temporarily prevents me from my ritual of staring at the wall upon sweating myself awake, to take my vitals. She wants to make sure I’m still alive, even though, by virtue of this place, I am considered one of the walking dead.

7 A.M.

I try to go back to sleep, let the darkness overtake me, and not concentrate on the light coming in through the partially closed door because breakfast is in an hour and I don’t wanna wake up yet.

8 A.M.

We line up for breakfast like kindergarteners. Like follow the leader. Grainy grits and eggs, scrambled hard; they taste more like yellow plastic than something resembling food. At least here we have our choice of apple or orange juice. I get apple juice; orange juice would just upset my stomach and I don’t have time to deal with that and the panic attack(s) that come later.

~Free time until noon. Noon is Group Therapy. I don’t participate; I’m too busy trying not to fall asleep everywhere, still getting used to the mood stabilizer they forced me to take yesterday morning. Time is spent watching old soap operas and westerns on the TV in the Rec room by the nurses’ station.

8 P.M.

A conversation between myself and two staff members:

“…you’ve been wearing the same clothes for 3 days?” he asks. His eyebrows shoot up so high they almost touch his hairline.

“Yea. What of it?” I ask.

“That’s a homeless mentality.”

“Yea, you should take a shower. It’ll help you feel better,” the female staffer says. “I’ll wash your clothes for you, get you some scrubs to wear in the meantime.”

I reluctantly agree. Taking this shower is the hardest thing I do, which surprised me because it is such a normal activity. It’s nice, though, soothing. I forget for a moment that I am a mental patient but that reality hits me as soon as I put the scrubs on. An hour later and I am back in my regular clothes. Human again. Still institutionalized, but at least I can keep my jeans on.

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