in a strange room, and slowly realize that you are restrained to a bed, there is a window devoid of drapery, but has bars. You can not see a door, and the only thing in the room besides you is the bed you are on. The room is the color of vomit, pale greenish-yellow, there are scuff marks on the wall. You can hear noises coming from outside the room but you hesitate to scream for help. You try to remember how you got here. Where…is…here, exactly? The window is just a dim gray, which appears lighter than it actually is next to the black bars and the dim light of the single bulb above the bed. The paint on the bars is chipped…go beyond the bars, back to the pane of glass. The glass has an opaque film on it, so you can’t make out what is beyond the window. You only have the dim gray with two darker gray blobs. It could be dawn, dusk, the middle of a rainy or snowy day…but…that doesn’t seem correct. Why?
You…were…on vacation…Goa! You were in Goa. December…in Goa. Sun, sand, sea and skinny, brown Santa’s. Beers at the beach shack…Panic rises. Where are you? How did you get here? Think, think, think, think, THINK! Observe the room. The light above you seems brighter, the window darker, there are no longer two dark blobs in the opaque gray. It is now all the same shade…dusk…it was dusk then. It is nighttime…now? Stay calm. Observe. Think! Figure this out and stay calm. The room…the far corners of the room are receding into darkness. There are still indiscernible noises coming from outside the room. Listen. The noises…come and go…not machinery, not traffic…no horns, NO HORNS…not in an Indian city or village…out in the country or out of the country? maybe? Breathe! Breathe deep. It doesn’t smell like India. The noises? Voices? Too low to tell.
Go back to the Room. It reminds you of something. What? There is nothing but a bed. The room looks as though it has been stripped of everything. No table, no chairs, no television, no mirror, no pictures, the door is obstructed…by…a…wall…motel…hotel…hospital… room? A stripped out hospital room. Why? Not a working hospital? Oh God! Where am I? Don’t panic. Go back to the room. Light…bright; corners…just as indiscernible as the noises outside. Outside. The window…dark as the bars. Definitely night time. Focus on the bed. Does it feel like a hospital bed? Come on…remember. You’ve been in the hospital before. Think! Could be? It isn’t comfortable, but not hard like a table or the floor. Restraints…not metal. Bulky. Wrists and ankles. I am clothed. that’s a relief…no shoes. What happened to my shoes?
I feel like I have been hit by a truck. Was I in an accident? Think…what is the last thing you remember? I thought as hard as I could but things were fragmented. I closed my eyes when I heard someone enter the room, feigning sleep was the safest option. I felt a pinch on my upper arm. I had received my fair share of injections in my life so there was no mistaking what was happening. The door closed and I kept my eyes shut, they felt heavy…I felt heavy…the last thing I remembered before fading out was an emergency room.
These, I was to find out, were my first lucid thoughts since arriving at a mental health facility. I was to find out later that I had been there 3 days…3 days that I still, 12 years later, have no recollection of. The injections were an antibiotic for a bladder infection, the least of all the issues I had going for me. The stripped out room and restraints…well, for my protection as well as the staff’s, which makes sense. I am not, in the near future, going to bore you with all the nitty -gritty details of my experience but I will share with you the hi-lights. I do this for two reasons: I think a little back story is needed to understand how I ended up where I am at today and because I feel that no matter what we, dear reader, are struggling with, knowing that someone else has struggled also, somewhat, gives us hope to persevere.