Thursday, October 29, 2009

"I look at his eyes and wonder what he sees. Is it obvious that I'm sick?"

Lyn, age 29. Virginia.

"The words below are, for the most part, an excerpt from my journal. I wrote it more than a year after it happened, but even now I remember like it was yesterday. In May of 2007, I had an anxiety attack that lasted three days. I hadn't slept. By day three, I had reached a state of psychosis. This isn't my first "episode." I have post-traumatic stress disorder. All it takes for me to "lose it" is a great amount of stress and something that triggers a new traumatic memory. What happens next feels like a tornado in my mind. The tornado only lasts three days before I end up in the psych ward, sedated out of consciousness. The following excerpt is after waking from the sedatives to wander the halls of my new temporary home. This is my first time at this particular psych ward.

Mercy Hospital, May 2007:

"Is this your first time here?" he asks.

My groggy eyes feel heavy and dysfunctional as they scan my surroundings. Long, bare hallway. Doors to patients' rooms lining either side. Fishbowl-like window at the end for nurses to keep a watch on us, safe behind the glass. Locked doors that have labels: Linens, Court Room, Meeting Room 1, Meeting Room 2, Activities Room, Isolation. A locked display case on one wall lists the daily schedule:
7:30 - 8 am: Vitals
8 - 8:30 am: Morning Group Meeting
8:30 - 9 am: Breakfast
9 - 9:30 am: Meds
9:30 - 10 am: Group Therapy
12 - 12:30 pm: Lunch
...and so on.

My eyes veer back to the attending nurse. I look at his eyes and wonder what he sees. Is it obvious that I'm sick? Can he tell how sick I am? Do I look like I've been here before?
It must be a trick question.
"You mean here?" I ask as I point to the floor of the psych ward, "or here?" and I point toward the tornado still whirling in my brain."