When you are submitted into a psychiatric ward in America, a nurse straps you onto a stretcher the second you are ready to leave the hospital and transports you over via ambulance. The nurse apologizes repeatedly for doing so, but this is simply the official procedure that they must follow, and can't be helped.
At the ward I was submitted into, I wasn't able to dismount the stretcher until after a few minutes of waiting in the corridor. There, some of the other patients would pass by and leave a flirty glance much to the evening caretaker's chagrin. Interestingly, these charges had obviously done so in order to comfort myself. I suppose that they had succeeded before, otherwise I could not imagine why they would waste their time on someone they weren't inclined to know if not for being caught.
Yes, they were caught -- we were all caught. This ward in particular held underaged girls who had attempted suicide and only showed mild mental disorders. They didn't scream when someone whisked them away to the hospital, and some had even called for the help themselves. They could still answer questions when conscious without showing abnormalities and were, for the most part, perfectly capable of social interaction.
My case was nothing unusual in this aspect. Once I was unstrapped, I followed a woman with a white coat to a side room that was completely empty save for a couple of chairs and a simple patient's bed. She checked my scalp and skin for any injuries, bruising and the like, and found nothing besides my nasty head-itching habits. No words were exchanged in the process besides a few attempts at questioning in the beginning, none of which I bothered to answer.
Like this, I was sent into another colorless room where a social worker waited.
If you've ever taken a mental disorder diagnosis test, you could easily imagine the questions that she asked.
I had taken an AP Psychology course two years before this, so I habitually catergorized each question to pass time while mindlessly shaking my head yes or no; Most were concerned with anxiety and depression, a few aimed at OCD, and only one hinted at schitzophrenia. I know that there were also some that probed one's homicidal tendencies, but those questions, for whatever reason, I am unable to recall.
My consciousness flew back into the room when the woman sighed with an especially heavy breath.
The questions were over, I realized, but the woman remained silent. You should know that her face was jolly, full of laugh lines and sun spots, obviously a person who chased after the simpler pleasures in life. It was uniquely unnerving to see such a person with a serious frown, whose originally glamorous makeup now appeared to be painted with plaster.
She sighed once more, then handed me off to another caretaker with a sincere, pitying smile.
I am used to the silence and the embarassed laughs after any conversation with myself, but the pity in that smile was strange. I didn't think that I had shown anything worthy of pity. You may hear things such as, 'Well, it is very pitiful to want to die at such a young age,' but I didn't want to die, you see.
I just didn't want to live.
This sort of ungrateful mindset, would you give it your pity?
The caretaker -- she must've modeled on the side, for she was tall and stunning with rich black skin and high cheekbones -- led me to one of the rooms where four twin-sized beds stood at every corner. Two cubbies that couldn't even reach my shoulders seperated the beds into twos, and a doorframe with a silvery shower curtain waited by the entrance, behind which I assumed was a bathroom.
This was already much more than I expected. While it certainly couldn't compare to a waiting room at the hospital, it was much more spacious than a collage dorm. The private bathroom was also a plus.
I realized that as I was assessing my assigned living quarters, the caretaker had been explaining something to me. I couldn't look anywhere near her afterall, beautiful people intimidate me and I knew that my behavior was crucial to their assessment of myself. As the saying goes, looking directly at the sun is harmful for both parties: your eyes are blinded while the sun wonders why you cry every time you look at it.
Very stressful, very stressful.
"The girls already ate dinner, so we don't have any food for you right now. We are given food based off of the blood samples we submit, and you will have to wait until breakfast to eat, is that alright?" The caretaker's voice was soft when she asked this, and I could only blink and nod twice to show that I was fine either way. She pursed her lips into a smile, then ushered me into the activity room to join the other girls, where a small, wall-mounted television blared a Nickelodeon cartoon's theme.
Like entering a classroom ten minutes after the bell, the room seemed to turn as dozens of heads spun to watch me walk in. I couldn't help but straighten my back even further to the point where I could feel my spine strain to meet my expectations.
Even if I didn't want to, I humored the urge to show the best side of myself to these strangers who couldn't be older than fifteen.