Northwestern Hospital Patients [[An excerpt from a larger story]]

I took a shower every morning as soon as I woke up.

Showers are for normal every day people.

I was always sure to wear fashionably conscious outfits. Black flats, dark blue skinny jeans, a flowy blouse, and a clean black blazer.  There was, however, not much I could do about my hair. My products and accessories were on the outside. My hair would be just like the worst of them. A frizzy and dishoveled disappointment despite my best attempt at taming it.

The depression down-do.

Getting through the door was always the hardest part. The room itself was an open space. Cold and uninviting save the pretty view of Chicago through the window.

It’s not about leaving the comfort of the room. There was no comfort there. 

It’s about leaving the cold to enter the freezing. Passing by the unfamiliar to enter the completely foreign.

 Leaving my last shred of sanity to plunge into a collective madness.

  Dionne Little was a successful journalist from DC. It is quite amazing how accomplished she is at 24. She sported what looked like expensive clothing, natural hair, braided and fastened in place, and a small silver septum ring that moved with her nose in unison as she ate or spoke.

Though I didn’t have a desire to live, I desired greatly to be her friend.

I remember Lilian Moto’s hair. Long, black, straight. She was warm, but a bit off-putting. She had a daughter and a family on the outside, but she mostly talked about her tiny dog, Bowzer.

“I don’t like that he’s out there thinking his mommy left him all alone. But when he sees me I’m sure he’ll be giddy!”

She shrieked with unnecessary laughter, and often. She seemed to be manic all the time, which was the opposite of Guy Alonzo. He was almost always calm. Maybe it was the artist in him. Maybe it was this place. It’s hard to be yourself here.

No matter what yourself is.

Ed Whittaker was – for lack of a better word – creepy.

But not by choice.

He was sick. He never knew where he was or who he was speaking to. He often stared at me like he recognized me, and called me Loretta. He had a pair of glasses with only one cracked lens intact. His hair sat in patches atop his head. Whether it grew that way or he pulled it out I don’t know. He talked about how the nurses were keeping him here and making him think he was crazy.

He was crazy. He just didn’t comprehend it.

Maybe that was better than the alternative. At least when you don’t know what your mental state is you don’t feel guilty for being who you are, or how you smell, or what you say.

I didn’t have that luxury. 

Neither did most of these people. 

Sometimes we could get out of our heads. We’d watch the big bang theory as a group, play speed and other card games, eat meals together and talk about outside things.

 Sometimes we’d do things that used our minds’ capacities like playing chess. I liked letting my head wander to another world through a book. I was desperate to cling on to every single word in fear that I’d get my mind back.

I didn’t want to get my mind back.

I didn’t want to get my life back.

But maybe that’s what this place is about. No matter how much you don’t want to continue your life in the real world, you’d rather do that than stay in the hospital.

It wasn’t because it was dirty. It wasn’t dirty. It wasn’t because the nurses were mean. They weren’t.

It was because being there was a constant reminder that you – like the others who sleep in beds that aren’t theirs in rooms that have no pipes to hang themselves from or razor blades to cut themselves with staring away from the large wooden door that has an even smaller door in the middle of it that allows nurses to turn a key and check on them every hour at night – aren’t well.

None of us were well, and not being able to escape that fact…

That was worse than being alive. 

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