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I’m in the bathroom corner crouched like a scared monkey between the toilet and the bathtub. Nooooo….this can’t be good. Should I be here? Do people actually crouch, quiver, and hide when they’re feeling this awful inside? rockingrockingrockingrockingrockingrockingrocking And are they rocking and crying while they are crouching? No---no,no,no,no this isn’t fitting. This picture doesn’t mesh with what I view normal people doing on a daily basis. It’s so God-damned dark and ominous here where I live inside myself; dark and lonely as hell. Nothing but me—but not me, and a repulsive place to reside. I’m not what the mirror says I am. Knock. Knock. Knock. I hear the knocking, but continue to ignore the pleas to open the door. Fuck this shit--I’m too paralyzed to move and I just want to be invisible right now. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. That incessant fucking knocking! SHUT THE FUCK UP BEFORE I RIP A FUCKING HOLE IN THE DOOR AND DRAG YOU THROUGH IT!!!!! “WHAT!” I chokingly scream through my tears. “Just talk to the doctor. He wants you to talk to him for just a minute so he can tell you something.” “Tell him to go to hell. I’m not talking to ANY doctor and that includes HIM.” There’s nothing wrong with me. I stay icy still and hear the mumbling outside of the door. She’s telling them what I’m doing in here. I know she is. She’s telling them I’ve completely lost every microscopic scrap of sanity I had left. Crawling to the sink I turn on the faucet and splash the initial tepid water onto my face and let it trickle down the front of my clothes. Stay on knees. Rinse,repeat,rinse,repeat,rinse,repeat,rinse,repeat,rinse,repeat,rinse,repeat,rinse,repeat. Now the water is frigid, my clothes are soaked and I look even more disheveled than before. Turning the water off I take a deep breath and for the first time, and am aware

that I have become nothing but a nightmarish zombie, in an eternal trance. The frigid water was just enough to give me that last semblance of reality. Knock.Knock.Knock. ‘Yes’ I answer meekly. ‘Do you want to go to the hospital?’ I try to think. Try to come up with a plan, but my mind is mush. There are no options left for me. ‘Yes….I’ll go.” The car, the ride, the walk to the hospital, the waiting room, the questions, the incoherent answers. Everything is numb and bleak…….I finally get a question right on their mini oral psych test and I smile imperceptivity. The robotic movement through a process that is cold, menacing, and meaningless to me. I am a ‘widget’ on the manufacturing line being forced through each step without so much as a whimper or any human emotion. I don’t care what you do to me. I’m just here. I’m just existing, nothing else. ‘How about a nice relaxing stay?’ ‘Wha….a stay? Why?’ ‘Well, I think you could use some rest.’ ‘Yes… I’m….so….tired.’ ‘Good!’ He claps his hands together. ‘Then we’ll be taking you up to your room shortly okay?’ Big smile. ‘Okay…whatever.’ There’s a muscular black guy pushing me from behind and the hallway seems as if it could go forever and ever with no ending in sight. Whoosh.Whoosh.Whoosh.Whoosh.Whoosh. I look down and realize I’m in a wheelchair. What the fuck you dumbasses, I can WALK still. This hallway is strangely long and I’m feeling like I’m doped up on heroin. Everything is blurry and seemingly innocuous. Holy shit, I just want to go to sleep right here in this wheelchair. I’m at a sterile looking steel double door and Mr. Black Bodybuilder punches in a code. We enter. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I wake up in the wee hours of the morning to find myself in a dimly lit strange room. Wait…where?....everything flashes in rewind through my brain. OH SHITTTTTTTT…….what was I thinking! I’m in a fucking MENTAL WARD!!!!! Fuckme.Fuckme.Fuckme.Fuckme.Fuckme.Fuckme. Getclotheson.Getclotheson.Getclotheson.Getclotheson.Getclotheson.Getclotheson.

I run to the nurse’s station to find people that I know are credentialed and more than likely, not drooling, talking to themselves, semi-comatose, or TOO unstable. ‘Okay…I’m ready to go home now!’ I say with a smile. ‘Well, Good Morning Mr. Hunt(wasn’t what they called me then but for the sake of this story and my sanity for that matter; that’s what I’m putting down. I will further be referred to as Josh although my name was Sandy at the time.) How was your night?’ ‘It SUCKED! There seems to be a terrible misunderstanding here. I’m sure there’s been a mistake and I’d like to leave now.’ The older nurse smiles, ‘Okay Mr. Hunt. The doctors make their rounds at 8 AM, so you can talk to them about this then.’ I puff out my chest. Well, I got THAT settled and under control! AND I only have to wait until 8 AM. It’s 5 AM now soooooooo………I’ll take a shower and watch a little TV. Then, before I know it the, oh so magical, 8 AM will be here and I can go home to curl up once again in my room. Even though that room is my own personal hell I’d rather be there than in ‘whacko hospital’ hell; looking right into the face of the severely mentally disturbed. I take my shower and get dressed into the faded green hospital scrubs provided for me. They look tattered and depressed. No shoes…so socks…no cigarettes; no nothing. Okay…to be safe, I’ll just stay in this room and not even go into the hallway where I see people, or the shells of people, milling about. They scare me right to the very marrow of my bones. I wish I could leave the door to my room closed but the nurses keep opening it back up again. There’s no way I’m in the same category as those…things….in the hallway. Am I that? No, I’m not that at all. No fucking way! I’m on the Dean’s List in college by God, I volunteer at the Holocaust Museum, I’m (usually) nice to people, I don’t go around muttering to objects and I’m not some schizoid socio-path! I’m just a guy who’s sobbing and rocking in bathrooms. For fuck’s sake, I’m just a person who had a monumentally bad day! Around 7 am, while I watch IMUS in the Morning on TV, a dietary aide comes in with a tray of what seems to be my breakfast. Oh I guess she wasn’t aware that I’ve been on the ‘Karen Carpenter’ regiment lately. The smell is noxious to me and I deduce that there is some kind of meat product underneath that lid oozing that abominable smell. I pick up the lid out of curiosities sake and place it quickly back on with a bang before the stench can start to escape and ‘live’ in my room. I instead choose the incredibly healthy breakfast of ‘jailhouse/hospital’ coffee and apple juice. After a few sips I wonder if these have been tainted with mind altering drugs that will turn me into THOSE people and I try to just minimally quench my thirst. I need a Mountain Dew and a cigarette. I’d sell my soul right now for just one pack of cigarettes and a partially frozen two liter of Mountain Dew. Stupid fucking backwards ass hospital. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------‘Mr. Hunt? Mr. Hunt?’

I wake up with an electrifying jolt and a sense of impending doom. I realize it’s just the doctors that are here to do their rounds. Being that this is a teaching hospital, my bed was surrounded by 8 or more doctors all smiling at me. I make a mental note of how fake they look with their painted on smiles. ‘Are you tired Mr. Hunt?’ ‘Just taking a nap is all.’ ‘So how are you feeling this morning? I heard you had a rough night.’ ‘I’m fine now.’ I say in what I realize is a robotic, monotonous voice. I’ll have to try to perk up a little here….come on Josh, get it together. They’re all staring at me I know they’re looking a the dark circles under my eyes, my baseball cap that I wear to bed and my food that hasn’t been touched. I glance at the clock; it’s 11 am. ‘You’re late with your rounds.’ ‘Excuse me?’ I speak up a little more, ‘I SAID you’re late.’ ‘Yes…well….it sounds like you were having some difficulties last night and you came in for our help and we would like to help you to feel better.’ ‘Yeahhhhhhhhhh………but I feel much better!’ Come on Joshhhhhhhhh……….look lively buddy…look lively. ‘I think I can go home and then just go see my regular psychiatrist when I leave. That probably would be best for me.’ ‘Are you eating? Because it looks like you didn’t eat your breakfast?’ ‘SO..maybe I wasn’t hungry?!’ There’s a long pause and everyone is scribbling in their note pads. Scribble.Scribble.Scribble.Scribble.Scribble.Scribble. ‘Mr. Hunt I think the best thing for you to do is to stay a day or two and let us change some medications around to see if we can get you back to feeling better again.’ I’m panicking now….hold it together Josh…but I can’t. ‘I can do that OUT of here!’ ‘Just take a rest and let us at least try. People can visit you if you would like and the phone is there to use any time you want. We’ll just see how the new medications work and then you can go home!’ She’s an older woman with frameless round glasses and short graying hair. She’s waiting for an answer, staring at me. All of them are staring at me. She’s hard for me to read and now I’m confused. ‘A day or two, just while you change the meds up.’ I’m in control here you gay, grey-headed bitch. ‘Great Mr. Hunt! We’ll start today with a few new meds and you just try to get a little rest.’ She picks up the lid of my breakfast tray and places it back, ‘Don’t forget to eat some of your breakfast.’ ‘Okay I will.’ Get the fuck out…every one of you ignorant motherfuckers. I’ll eat when I WANT to eat fuckwad.

After they left I lay there thinking. Thoughts of being completely fucked are whirling around in my head and I’ve got to get out of here NOW. A nurse comes sauntering in, interrupting my scheming, with a little white paper cup in her hand. ‘We have your medsssssssssss Mr. Hunt!’ I look into the paper cup at the beautiful multi-colored pills and turn my head and stare at the news on CNN. ‘What is it.’ ‘Pardon?’ ‘I said, what ARE they?’ ‘These are what the doctor ordered for you to take.’ No shit pill pusher. Your job is nothing but a drug dealer and maybe you should be working out on Jeff. Davis Hwy at 5 in the morning. You might make better money! ‘Yes but what KIND of medications are in there?!’, I say poking at the white paper cup. It dents under the force of my poking. She sighs and tells me the name of each medication. I am aware of most of them, one being an anti-psychotic, but a few I’m going to have to research. But because I’m feeling oh so compliant at that moment in time, I take them. Very soon after the pills have moved their way through my gullet I am floating off into a downreaching sleep. I wake again with a start; only this time it’s deep in the night, my room is dark and ominous and I see a figure standing by my nightstand. I surmise it must be the graveyard shift nurse. I watch her moving things on the nightstand. Maybe they finally want to let me out of here. I continue to watch her jostle around and am perplexed by her lack of professionalism; you’d think she’d turn the damn light on. She finally leans over very close to me and speaks. ‘Have you seen my deer?’ ‘Ummmm….huh?’ Maybe I’m still half asleep and misunderstood. ‘My deer came in here and I’m trying to find him. Have you seen him?’ I jump the FUCK up out of bed and run my ass out of the room, heart beating like a snare drum, and into the hall. Fuckkkkkkkkkk……what is THAT!!!!!!!! I run to the nurse’s station for the second time. ‘Ummmmmmm……look….there’s someone or SOMETHING in my room!!!!’ The nurse stands up and walks around the counter to place a hand on my shoulder. ‘It’s okay Mr. Hunt that’s just Margaret (making up name here to protect the innocent..or guilty however you look at it) ‘She said there was a DEER IN THE ROOM!!!!!’ ‘Yes hon..I’ll get her and take her back to her room.’ We reach the room and turn on the light. Margaret is looking under my bed and I can now see that she looks like an amiable, little old grandma. Crazy as bat shit…but

probably very sweet nonetheless Definitely not the psycho serial killer lady I initially had her pegged for. ‘Miss Margaret I think your deer is in your room honey! Can we go check?’ The nurse winks at me and starts to walk Margaret out of my room. She whispers, ‘Mr. Hunt it’s okay she won’t bother you and you can go back to sleep. I’ll even close your door okay?’ ‘Alright’ Fuck me what the fucking hell was that!!!!! Go to sleep! Go to sleep!??? You must really have concluded that I have lost my mind if you are thinking I’M going back to sleep. I turn all the lights on, including the bathroom light, get back in bed and turn on the TV. Great…home shopping network is what I have to choose from. Should they really have this channel on here if there are people with OCD up in this place? Just a thought. I’m determined to stay up all night. Don’t want anymore deer sightings to take place! Unfortunately, I succumb to the medications and fall asleep. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------‘I WANT TO SEE MYYYYYYYY DOCTOR…..MY PERSONAL PSYCHIATRIST. SO CALL HER AND GET HER HERE!!!! AND I WANT TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW!!!! THIS INSTANT!!! SO GET SOMEONE WHO CAN LET ME OUT!!! YOU GUYS THINK I’M SOME KIND OF DUMBASS DON’T YOU! I’M SMARTER THAN ALL YOU FUCKING PEOPLE AND I WANT TO GO HOME; THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME.; I’M JUST A LITTLE DEPRESSED IS ALL! AND BESIDES THAT IT’S BEEN TWO DAYS ALREADY!’ The nurse clinches her lips as tight and listens until I am finished with my tirade. ‘Look…I’ll page the doctor right now and you can see her when she gets here.’ ‘FINE. PAGE HER RIGHT NOW WHILE I’M STANDING HERE.’ She dials a number, waits, punches in a number and then hangs up the phone. ‘SHE HAD BETTER FUCKING BE HERE SOON IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY!!!’ I storm back to my room passing the guy who shuffles up and down the hall mumbling to himself, the lady with the pet deer and some cutter who is crying in the hallway. I slam my door shut of all of them. Fucking certifiably crazy and I’m not so I should at least be on a different floor. What is that awful smell? Oh yeah..the dinner tray. I pick it up, open the door and slam it down in hallway. Nasty crap stinking up my room. I don’t know why they bring me this shit to eat. All I want is some Mountain Dew damn it. I throw my body down onto the bed. I’m so mad and tired I can’t even think. And I’m starting to cry. Great…now I’m crying. I curl up into a fetal position and lay there until my episode has subsided somewhat. This doctor is never coming. They faked that phone call and she’s not coming. They just want to keep me locked in this godforsaken place forever. What if they don’t let me out? I can’t stop thinking and it makes the cloud of depression worsen until I’m encompassed into the heavy grey, fog. Tired. Just want to

go home and sleep. I start making deals with God. Please God if you let me out of here I swear I’ll start a neighborhood welcome wagon, go to church every Sunday, stop drinking and driving, never ever throw shrimp from a balcony at crackheads to make them think their tweaking out again, go to every doctors appointment, call my mom everyday, never steal street signs or sing karaoke while drunk again, stop looking up female to male websites, stop making fun of the art students on the commons at VCU, I’ll be somewhat cordial to my girlfriend whom I really don’t like right now, never play the Sims game again for days at a time, never charge people an exorbitant amount of shipping and handling to gain that 300% mark up profit on eBAY…none of that stuff I swear!!! Just………let……….me………..get…..the……fu…oops, I mean,…….crap… out……..of………here. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The doctors come striding in quickly and they all take their places as the gay, grey headed bitch says, ‘So I hear you want to go home?’ ‘Hell yeah I wanna go home. The meds are working fine and I don’t belong in here. I’m perfectly fine and would like to have my paperwork to go home!!’ She clears her throat and those damn students are scribbling again. One looks at my uneaten food and starts writing. WRITE IT DOWN BITCH!!! ‘Mr. Hunt I just have a few questions for you before we start doing anything okay?’ ‘Fine….shoot.’ ‘Are you feeling sad or anxious at all?’ ‘No.’ ‘Have you been eating?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Mr. Hunt we weighed you yesterday and do you realize you weigh 95 pounds?’ ‘I KNOW HOW MUCH I WEIGH. I’M A SMALL GUY!!! I’M IN NORMAL RANGE!!’ ‘That’s not normal range.’ ‘The hell it isn’t! That’s fucking normal range for a guy my size.’ I almost choke from trying not to cry. ‘Let me ask you something Mr. Hunt. How are you doing in school?’ ‘I do great in school!’ Beaming. ‘You go to class?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then how can you be doing great?’ ‘I don’t NEED to go to class.’ ‘Okay well let me ask you this. Would you say you could be anything you wanted to be?’ ‘What? What do you mean by that question?’ ‘I’m saying, let’s say you wanted to be an Astronaut. Could you be an Astronaut?’ ‘IF I WANTED TO FUCKING BE THAT THEN YES. I COULD BE AN ASTRONAUT!’ ‘So you think you could do that.’ ‘IF I SO DESIRED TO DO SO. NOT THAT I WANT TO!!!’ ‘Mr. Hunt you’re also not going to any activities we have on the ward.’

‘Andddddddddddd this is important becauseeeeeee……????’ ‘Well, we would like you to go and I hear you have been refusing.’ ‘I don’t want to fucking color a picture. That’s not what I’m here for. And it’s stupid!’ The students have stopped their ever present scribbling and are all staring at me again. ‘Well, what we think is that you need to stay because the medications are not working.’ ‘WHA..!!! HELL NO, I’M NOT FUCKING STAYING HERE. THE MEDS ARE FINE…..I FEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLL BETTER!!!!’ ‘Mr. Hunt have you ever heard of ECT?’ ‘ECT…..ECT. Yes I DO know what it is.’ ‘I’d like to try to go that route with you due to the unresponsiveness to medication.’ ‘YOU CRAZY BITCH! I’M NOT DOING THAT! I’LL CALL MY MOM. SHE’LL GET ME OUT OF HERE. THERE’S NO WAY YOU ARE DOING THAT TO ME. I’LL GET OUT OF HERE TODAY …YOU HEAR ME TODAY!!!’ She gets up and starts walking away to the door; the students follow. ‘I’LL BE OUT TODAY DAMN IT!’ ‘We’ll see about that Mr. Hunt. I can keep you in here by judicial order.’ ‘NOOOOOOOOOOO……..TRY IT MOTHERFUCKER!! JUST TRY IT!!! I’M CALLING MY MOM RIGHT NOWWWWWWW.’, I scream as they turn and all walk out of the door. My head feels like it’s on fire and my body is not moving on its own. Oh my god, oh my god, they can’t do this too me. I picture laying on the table, the paste being slathered onto my temples, the tongue depressor being put into my mouth, the electrodes being placed….and being shocked into oblivion. The phone, the phone, just get to the phone. I grab it and dial the long distance number. It rings forever before anyone picks up. ‘Hello?’ I’m sobbing. ‘Hello?!!!!! Josh??!!’ ‘Mom I need you to come and get me. They are trying to do electroshock therapy on me. Please hurryyyyyy!’ ‘Honey honey..calm down now. What the doctors name and give me the number to the nurses’ station!!! Now!!!’ I choke out the name and the number. ‘Mom please hurry and come and get me.’ ‘Okay okay!!! I’ll be on my way just let me call first okay?’ I hang up the phone and sit in terror on my bed. Crying and sobbing I start that damn rocking again, but I can’t stop myself. I realize my door is open and jump up to close it off to the world. No….that doctor’s tricking me. They can’t do this to me without my consent. There’s no way this can happen. Even after trying to self-soothe I am still terrified and crying. Am I that sick? Am I truly that sick? Maybe this grey fog will never dissipate. Maybe I AM that sick. I shuffle to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror, but there is none.

Not even a mirror to be had. I turn the TV off and look into the blackness at myself standing there. My faded green scrubs are falling off of me. I grab the back of the shirt and wrench my neck around to look at the size; it says X-Small. I look back into the TV again and finally see the train wreck. In the middle of my seeing the carcass that is my body, the phone rings. I walk over slowly and answer on the third ring. ‘’s Mom!’ My voice comes out robotic and emotionless. ‘Can you still come get me?’ ‘I’ll be there as soon as I can to see you but I want you to listen to me okay? I TALKED to that so called doctor and they will NOT be doing anything to you without your consent! So honey don’t be scared…nothing is going to happen and I’m on my way.’ I start to cry and can’t speak for a few minutes. ‘Maybe I should stay but can you come anyway in case I change my mind?’ ‘I’m hanging up the phone right now and I’m on my way. They told me when the visiting hours were so I’ll go to your house first and then I’ll see you first thing in the morning. I love you honey.’ ‘Love you too mom.’ I slowly place the phone back on the cradle; not wanting to let go of the connection. Please hurry.

I hear a knock and the door opening, just knowing that any second I’ll see my mother’s face, but instead I am confronted with the regular psychiatrist I see through the counseling center at the University. She’s wearing a huge smile and I know she’s sincere when she says, ‘JOSH!!! I’m so happy to see you; not here, of course, but happy nonetheless!’ My day has just been made. ‘Dr. Lall! Hey!!!’ Dr. Lall is a young, beautiful Pakistani woman that stands about 4 foot 8 inches tall and I seriously have a monumentally massive crush on her. Her brown eyes sparkle as she walks across the room in a red flowing skirt with her hair bobbing just slightly from the wavy curls in her silky dark hair. No matter how depressed I am we somehow always end up laughing about the darkness of it and I love her for it. I need the humor; I need the love and affection she gives. The sad part of this is that she gave me her home phone number and crossed wayyyy too many boundaries to be of help to me. I called that number EVERY day in the silence of the night to hear a comforting voice and to be assured that I wasn’t crazy. Someone to tell me that I was normal; one person who actually liked me for me. She liked me. ‘How are you doing?’ ‘I want out. This place is sucking ass and I want out. Do you KNOW that doctor that sees me?’ ‘Mmmmhhhmmmm…’

‘We’ll that crazy bitch wants to give me electroshock therapy!!!’ She looks surprised and says, ‘Noooooo…..really?’ ‘YES REALLY! They’re out of their minds here!!’ ‘Josh..’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Listen to me for a second, just stay a few days, eat, rest, go to the activities and I will come by and see you.’ ‘You’ll come see me????!!!!’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Everyday?’ ‘Not everyday…I’ll see you again the day after tomorrow. I promise.’ ‘Okay…I’ll stay in this hell hole but you had better make good on the promise or I’m out of here for good AND that means I’m not coming back to see YOU again either after I get out!’ ‘Calm downnnn…I promise. Now..I gotta go but can I give you a quick hug before I leave?’ ‘Sure’ She leans in to hug me and whispers very low and insistently into my ear, ‘Do what you have to do to get OUT of this place!!’ She walks out, leaving me stunned. In fact, it was chilling the way she relayed that message to me. That’s it……..I have got to suck up everything that is making me lose my fucking mind. No more sadness, no more anxiety, no more thinking about a sex change, no more ANYTHING but happy, smiling, jolly, joking Josh! I have to get better gradually though so it doesn’t look too suspicious. Another night of fitful sleep and I wake to find my breakfast waiting for me on the cart by my bed. Okay…I can do this, I can do this. I reach over and slide the cart so that the covered meal is right in front of me. Instead of taking the lid off of my meal though; I fix my coffee and poke the straw through the foil on my orange juice. I reach for the lid cautiously, take it off, and place it to the side on my tray. Well, there it is…breakfast. I feel my stomach start to lurch but I ignore the queasy feeling and stare at my food. The toast I think I can handle, but seeing the eggs and sausage make me want to vomit until the only thing left to come out is my organs. ohmygodohmygodohmygod!!!!! Why didn’t I think of this before!!!!! I push the tray away, run up to my doorway and check the hallway;’s quiet. I close the door and run back to where my food lays in the tray. I take the toast and the brownie from the tray and set them aside. Oh my God, I’m so happy I could just do a jig right now!!! I take the fork and cut up the sausage on my tray and then pick up the whole plate. Picking up the plate I start walking towards the bathroom with a satisfied smile on my face. I look into the toilet and with my fork start scraping the contents of the plate into it. Wait…leave a little on the plate dumbass!!! I run back to where my tray is and place the plate back into its original position. It’s the first time I feel good since I’ve been here. Clicking the TV on I flip to the news channel and nibble on my packaged brownie; which I’m figuring is the only safe piece of food. Yes, I grin, this can work I believe.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The day nurse comes into my room. I like her; she’s an older black lady and she makes me feel comforted. ‘Mr. Hunt!!! You ate some of your breakfast today! Are you feeling a little better?’ ‘Yeahhhhhhhh…….maybe a little. I was hungrier than I thought I was. It’s not the greatest food, but it worked.’ ‘Well gooooddddddddd. I’m really glad to hear that. Oh yeah..the food leaves much to be desired doesn’t it? But you did good!’ She takes the tray and leaves the room. I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I’m feeling quite empowered now; I turn my attention back to the TV and I happily wait for my mother to arrive this morning. I glance at the clock. Oh fuck me it’s 10 am and that means if I am staying on this ‘I’M WELL!!!’ kick then I have to go to Art Therapy. Nooooooooooooooooooo………….all these people are nuts!!! I don’t want to go and make some stupid crafty piece of shit. Well, even if I DID try hard it would come out looking like shit because I am no where nearrrrrrrr being artistic in any way. So the doctor should have asked me that, ‘Could you be an Artist if you want to?’ ‘Well, no, because I KNOW I suck at that. It’s plain to see!’ I get out of bed and wander down the hall to the nurses' station. ‘Where’s Art Therapy supposed to be at?’ They looked surprised and stumble over their words while telling me which room it will be held in. I thank them and ever so slowly make my way towards the door to hell on earth. I stop at the threshold. ‘Hi! Mr. Hunt….right?’ ‘Yeah…that’s me.’ ‘Well come in and take a seat. I’m so happy you’re here!’ She’s an older woman who definitely does look like she’s happy I’m there; ecstatic as a matter of fact. I study the room and the table. There’s five people sitting there already working on their ‘masterpieces’. I notice one guy there who looks to be halfway sane though so I decide to sit about two seats away from him. I’m a people watcher; and I realize he could be a possible person of interest. He looks…well…normal! And he’s only talking to the therapist but talking as if he has a BRAIN. Hmmm…..I’ll have to continue to watch this one closely. After taking my seat the therapist goes through a myriad of things I can do while I’m there and it’s just all so annoying and I really don’t want to do any of the suggestions; but I know I have to. So, I tell her I want to color. She gives me a sheet of paper with an intricate mandala on it and I start to slowly shade in the shapes. The more I color the madder I get though. I have an hour of this bullshit!!! How the hell is this helping me get better? Oh sure, it’s better than ECT, but what the fuck! Instead of picking up another crayon I grab a pencil. On the edges of the mandala I start to write. ‘This place is stupid. You’re supposed to be helping me get better and I’m doing this crap. I want a cigarette! I want a Mountain Dew! I want my computer access! This

hospital is hypocritical! You won’t let people go to smoke because it is unhealthy and yet you have a fucking McDonald’s right down on the first floor! There’s a heart attack waiting to happen! Dumbasses!’ There, done with Art Therapy…time is up. I put the pencil down, leave the paper on the table and head back to my room. Mental note to self: The ‘normal’ guy’s name is Steven and his therapist is also Dr. Lall.

When I get back to my room Mom is sitting there in the chair waiting for me. ‘MOM!’ ‘Honeyyyyyy…….how are you?’, she says while giving me a big hug and kiss. I start to cry and tell her everything that has transpired while I’d been there for three days; chocking back the tears through my sentences. She sits beside me and listens with her arm around me. I feel so helpless, but now not so alone anymore. We get through my initial upset in about 15 minutes and we start to talk about other things that are going on outside of the hospital; my family, how her trip was, did she sleep well at my house, just everything we could think of that didn’t have to do with this brackish mental ward. She stays the whole time allotted for visiting; comforting me and assuring me she would be back that evening. She’s brought me some clothes from home which I am oh so thankful for and I put them on; but she said that they wouldn’t let me have my shoes back yet and that they are holding them at the nurse’s station. She’s also brought me a book, candy, a magazine, and a beautiful card. I walk her to the door and tell her I love her as she persuades me not to forget to eat my lunch because it looked good. I assure her I will and she leaves. Walking back into the room I turn on the TV and stare at the tray with my food on it again. What kind of mystery meat do we have for today that I will undoubtedly not eat? I pick up the lid and am ecstatic to discover that it is soup and a sandwich!!!! They finally got my order right!!! Wooohooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! That means the soup is easily flushed!!!!! I take it to the toilet, dump it, and flush the commode. Now, for the sandwich. What to do. What to do. What to do. What to do. My brain is empty. It will definitely cause a possible toilet clog if I try to flush the sandwich…even in little pieces…too much flushing involved in that. I’m going to have to eat a few bites. ARGGGHHHHHHH. The best thing to do is to eat it like ripping off a band aid. I pick up the ham sandwich and take three huge bites. chewchewchewchewchewchewchew swallow…….swallow……swallow…..swallow

Oh man….I did it. I down the apple juice to make sure the sandwich doesn’t get stuck in my throat and I gag it back up. It worked. Okay… save the brownie because I DO like those and will eat it. There….lunch is over and I repeat this process at dinner time because I always order the same thing; sandwich, soup, and a brownie. Luckily, for breakfast I ordered flushable cereal and fruit! ‘Mr. Hunttttttttt! How are you today!’, asks the Spanish male nurse who is apparently responsible for me in the afternoons. ‘I’m fine!! Feel good.’ ‘Great great great..that is good to hear. I need to take your blood pressure and get your vitals today okay?’ I hold my arm out and say, ‘Sure…why not?’ He gently places the cuff on my arm, pushes the button on the BP machine and it starts to whir. ‘Good…good. Your blood pressure is in a good range. Now just let me get your temp and we’ll be almost done here.’ Almost done? That’s usually it isn’t it? He finishes taking my temperature and asks me to walk with him to another room so he can get the rest of my vitals. ‘Okayyyyyyyyyyyy……..’ Weird, but I comply. When we get to the room it looks like an abandoned gym. ‘Mr. Hunt would you step up on scale for me?’ ‘HEY!!! WHY ARE YOU WEIGHING ME???!!! DID THAT DOCTOR TELL YOU TO DO THAT!!!!’. I start to sob like a little girl. ‘Mrrrrrrrrr. Huntttttttttttt……’, he puts a hand on my back and rubs in circles, ‘Please don’t be upset. We don’t like to see you like that……..comeeeee onnnnnnn. Let’s just get your weight and we’ll be done. No more vitals and you can go back to your room.’ I step on the scale sobbing my ass off. ‘Mr. Hunt…it’s okay…you can step off now. Come on let’s just go back to your room and you can watch some TV .’ , and with a flash of brilliance says, ‘Heyyyy maybe you could read that book your mom brought you. She should be here shortly to see you… right?’ ‘yes….’ We walk back to my room and I flop down in the chair. The scale read 93 pounds. My lunch has already arrived and I stare at it from the worn, ugly blue, vinyl chair. I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t. I get up, pull my cart over to the chair, sit down, and pull the lid off. A sandwich, soup, pudding, banana, brownie, milk, and apple juice. For the first time in three months, I eat a normal meal and I eat it all. I take a shower, get dressed into my jeans, t-shirt, hiking boots (they finally gave me back my shoelaces today), get my book out to read, and wait for my mother to arrive. As is usual for my mother she is right on time; early in fact. She spots the lunch tray, smiles at me before we say our greetings, and she tells me how much she loves me and how much better I look today. I feel a true smile come from deep within my soul. I shyly look down and thank her. She has come bearing gifts as is the other typical thing with my mother. I got another magazine, a new baseball cap, a bag of ChexMix and

Reese’s cups. She also comes bearing another gift I was not expecting and that is a cheeseburger from the McDonald’s on the 1st floor. Ohhhhhhhhhhh mom… ironic. I tell her I have to save that for later because my stomach already feels a little nauseous from eating all of my meal today. She’s happy just to hear that. We have a fantastic visit, and before she leaves, assures me that she will call me tonight.

The next morning I awake at 6 am shower, dress into my khakis, polo shirt, and hiking boots, and settle down to watch IMUS until breakfast arrives. As scheduled, at around 7, my tray is delivered. Alright Josh, just do this like you did yesterday. There’s nothing to it. Actually, the Raisin Bran looks good and I commence to eating everything except the apple. After that horrible razor in the apple scare at Halloween when I was 5; I’ve never eaten another apple. No, not that I MYSELF got the razor in the apple, but the point is that several poor little bastards did; therefore apples are considered highly dangerous and deadly in my book. I can’t say that it isn’t highly probable that my over protective parents instilled this fear in me. We’ll blame the eccentricities and paranoid tendencies on them. I hear a knock on the door and assume it’s the nurse so I don’t even tear my eyes away from the cowboy hat donned IMUS who’s right in the middle of ripping someone a new one over the phone. ‘Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo………..woooooooooooooo ooooooooooo’ I quickly turn towards the door and see Dr. Lall, hands in the air, hunched over and lurching slowly towards me. ‘Boooooooooooo….wooooooooooooooooooooooooo……..I’m crazyyyyyyyy deeerrrrrrrrrrrrr ladyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!’ ‘That’s NOT fucking funny!!!’ It really did send me back into panic mode! ‘Okay okay…I’m just kidding with you!’ ‘I know, but let’s leave these nuts out of it shall we?’ ‘How ya doing? Heyyyyyyyy……you ate good!’ ‘I’m actually not too bad! Maybe it’s the new baseball cap.’ ‘I see that! Where’d you get it from…your girlfriend?’ ‘Pssshhhtttt…no way…came from mom.’ ‘She’s here!’

‘Yeah…she came in town the other day and is staying at my house right now until I get out of here. Pretty cool huh?’, I smile again for the second time. ‘Well yeahhhhhhh…….way cool. I like it. The color is great.’ ‘Oh lord…it’s not about the color; it’s about the team.’ ‘Team..shmeem.’ ‘So when am I getting out of here? And who’s that guy that’s in the other room. He said you were his doctor too.’ ‘Can’t say that I know when you are getting out because I, unfortunately, don’t have anything to do with that. Oh yeah…that’s Steven….you met him?’ ‘Well I knowwwwwww he’s ‘Steven’. I really haven’t met him but he’s in the classes they have here so I’ve seen him around.’, I really want to know more because, strangely, I feel as if he is so much like myself. ‘He’s a good guy.’ She slaps me on my arm. ‘Heyyyy you should introduce yourself.’ ‘Fuck that.’ She leans her head to the side and wears a sad smile. ‘You need friends Josh. Maybe it would at least be a start.’ ‘We’ll see. Hey you know you’re interrupting my damn news program!’ ‘I see that..and yet…you are still talking to me.’ I laugh slightly. ‘Yeahhhhhhhhhhh…….I wouldn’t toss you to the side for IMUS that’s for sure. But don’t ever pull that ‘crazy deer lady’ scene on me again. That’s freaky! You weren’t here!’ ‘I’m sorryyyyyyyyyyyyyy. I thought it would make you laugh!’ ‘It’s alright…..I’m sure I’ll laugh about it in oh say 20 years.’ She slaps her tiny hands on her thighs and says, ‘Well…gotta go! You know the life of a resident right?’ ‘I know.’ I’m depressed that she has to go so soon and play with the brim of my hat. ‘I’ll see YOU when you get out of here SOON!’ ‘They said maybe in the next couple of days. They haven’t told me when so I don’t know when I’ll see you.’ ‘Well..tell you what. Just call me as soon as you get out and we’ll set up an appointment for the next day. How’s that sound to ya?’ ‘Yeah…….that would be good.’ ‘Bye Josh’, she smiles that huge smile and walks out of the door towards Stevens’ room. Ten o’clock, that means Art Therapy time. I saunter down the hall towards the therapy room and pleasantly great the therapist there. She then asks me if I’d like to try something different and I shrug my shoulders, ‘Sure…I’ll try it.’ As I’m not an artist I can only tell you that I have a plain piece of copper and I get to choose a stencil to hammer out in it. It’s actually really cool. I choose a bull, since I’m a Taurus, and start painstakingly tapping away….not wanting to mess this up like I usually fuck up every craft I try to do. Curly headed Steven finally walks in about ten minutes later. He takes a seat right by me, says ‘Hi’, and then watches what I’m doing for a while. ‘I’ll do that.’, he tells the therapist.

She’s again THRILLED that we’re actually doing something and I am embarrassed about my former actions towards her. Sorry…it was the depression talking. That really isn’t me. I’m really not this person anyway. I’m sorry. I’m so very deeply sorry. While were working on our copper reliefs, Steven strikes up a conversation with me. Actually, it wasn’t a normal conversation, it was more of an ‘I’m checking you out.’ kind of conversation between the two of us. We asked benign things and answered benign questions. By the end of the class; I think we’ve decided we definitely like each other. I think I may have an actual, real life, not on the computer, friend!

Two days and many meals, classes, books, and IMUS in the MORNING shows later the armed band of doctors return to my room. I’m lying on the bed, dressed, and eating my lunch. I’m now up to trying different items on the menu and today I have turkey with dressing. The old, grey headed bitch is followed by her entourage as she strides towards my bed with her horrid expressionless face. I cringe, but nod a hello as I finish chewing my food. ‘Wellllll…Mr. Hunt…the man of many hats!’ I say nothing, but nod again as I place more food on my fork. ‘I hear you’ve been doing very well…very well indeed….and it looks as if you’ve finally found your ‘taste’ for food again.’ ‘Yeah…I’m not doing too bad I guess. Ready to go home.’ ‘Yes..indeed….I’m sure you are. That’s what we came to talk with you about. I think you can be released tomorrow by at least 11 am…of course, paperwork takes some time so it may be later. Definitely tomorrow though.’ ‘Really??!!!!!’ ‘Yes….so…’, she stands, ‘go out to eat with your mother and girlfriend to celebrate tomorrow night. Take care Mr. Hunt.’ She exits as quickly as she entered and I sit there holding my fork with the food on it. WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I’M OUT OF THIS FUCKING HELL HOLE FUCKED UP BULLSHIT PLACEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! I MADE IT I MADE IT I MADE IT I MADE IT!!!!!!!!!! Wait a minute? Go home and ‘celebrate’ getting ‘released’? It’s more like celebrating the fact that I didn’t get the living shit shocked out of me by that crazy bitch! Now THAT I’ll fucking celebrate! I push my food out of the way and walk my way towards Steven’s room. He’s lying on his bed, looking strangely comatose, and staring at the TV. ‘Hey man!!!’ ‘Hey…what’s up?’ ‘They’re letting me go tomorrow!!!!’ ‘Wow! That’s really great Josh…I hope you do okay….ya look a little better man.’ ‘Yeah you too.’, I stare shyly towards the ground, ‘So…..did they say when you can go yet? ‘Nahhhhhhhh……….not yet. Guess I’m here for a little while longer.’

‘Shit…they’ll let you out soon. Anyway…’s my number if ya wanna call if you get bored or something up in this…..,’ I look around incredulously, ‘ PLACE.’ He takes the napkin I wrote the number on and it looks as if he’s studying the numbers. He reaches over to his tray and picks up a pen. ‘Here.’, he gives me the other half of the napkin I had wrote my number on, ‘here’s my number. Hit me up okay?’ ‘Sure man. No doubt…..I’ll see ya..’

The next morning I’m up eagerly greeting the dawn! The nurses will no doubt be in soon with my paperwork, prescriptions and appointments. I’m anxiously awaiting their arrival and gobble down my breakfast. Shit…..I’m so damn excited to actually be able to smoke a cigarette I can barely contain myself. There’s no way I can concentrate on TV right now to entertain myself until it’s time to go; so, I just get dressed and ready to go as fast as I can and click the TV off. I look around the room and then focus my attention back on the TV. I see myself sitting in that faded blue vinyl chair. The TV is not like the mirror. What I see is a fuzzy, blackish, distorted view of myself. I decide I like looking into the TV better. And I wish that I could look into the mirror with the same comfort and confidence.

'Bits And Pieces' Chapter 10  

Chapter 10 of 'Bits and Pieces'---the memoir of a female to male transguy

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