Day 803 imprisoned. Still forcing the tablets inside me; no headway. Possible good news though: new doctor being transferred here. No name, not even a gender. Praying for a woman; compassionate is what I need. No words from Dad; well, no words for him.
Day 807 imprisoned. There is still no God. Another burly man, no heart to be seen. Been hiding under the cot several hours. Want to die again, will drown in the unholy suffering.
Lord forgive me for I have sinned. It has been 809 days since my last entry. During that time I confess I lost all faith because I saw no candle in the darkness. I was taken to Connecticut, I think. I remember being rushed to the ER because Dad didn’t know how to handle an anxiety attack. Nine days later I was taken to some kind of asylum and subjected to ECT, known among inpatients there exclusively as Shock Torture. There are other things I think, but I can’t know. I kept a log there, every day. I have a feeling I shouldn’t let myself block out the trauma.
Day 1 imprisoned. I’m scared. There was someone in my room today. Then more people.
Guy: Subject is awake, Dr.
“Dr.”: Thank you, Nurse. You can go now.
Nurse: You sure? I can help, if you want.
Dr.: I don’t want. Don’t you have rounds to make?
Nurse: No, I finished my last ones hours ago; there won’t be more until next shift.
Dr: *scary glare*
Nurse: *shuffles out*
Me: Where am I? What is this place?
Doc: Don’t worry about it. We’re going to help you.
Me: Where am I?
Doc: A hospital.
Me: Which hospital? What is this place?
Doc: When did your medication wear off?
Doc: Ah, I see.
Me: What is that? Let me see it.
Doc: It’s your chart. I’m taking it with me. Someone will be in soon.
Me: What? Come back, I’m not done!
I’m scared of this place. Not that anyone will me tell me anymore than ‘hospital’. Where am I?
Day 7 imprisoned. And so it continues. No one here is acting like a real doctor and no part of this is legitimately okay. Hospitals have to have standard procedures, some regulations…right? Not this place. What are they doing? There are men coming in my room in the middle of the night to watch me sleep. They have me tied to the cot almost round the clock. I made friends with a girl here purely out of necessity. She undoes my restraints so I can eat- they’ve been putting drugs in my food and water- and then leaves them loose enough to slip out of. She won’t tell me what this place or what they’re going to do to me. I want to know how I got here, but I can’t think of anyone who hates me that much. Who are these people and why are they doing this to me?
I’m told my name is Mia and I was born upstate New York, which is where I am now. I remember having a Dad but no mom. He never told me about her. Well, wherever she is, it hasn’t been here for a long time. I’m fine with that. You know what I’m not fine with? A lot of memories have been erased from my mind and I’m totally lost now. Also, I seem to recall my own father letting me be committed after one anxiety attack and outrageously “treated”. I asked Dr. Matthis not to make me see my father again for awhile so I can learn to cope with what he did. Doc, who says I should start calling her Liz, is trying to tell me he may not have known exactly what kind of monsters he was surrendering his only child to.
Doc decided I need to ‘confront my anger head on and burn through it’. So Dad is coming over tonight and I am expected to endure a meal with him. A real one. Yeah right. That’s going to happen and I’m sure it’ll fix everything.
By the way, I’m staying with Liz right now. My dad wanted to take me, but the men who came to liberate me from my imprisonment had questions about something they called his “fitness to parent a child” and eventually sent me home with Liz instead. She’s supposed to be my therapist- a real one, she assures me- but now she’s my temporary guardian as well. And some job she’s doing. My dad is coming for me. And she’s not even trying to stop all of this. I might have to go back to calling her Dr. Matthis; or I might go back to not speaking at all.
Day 100 imprisoned. The doctor who came in today did bad things to me. He ripped my hospital gown off. I didn’t see it again until hours later when T heard me crying and came in. She must have known as soon as she saw me what he did because she immediately went to the cabinet, all the way on the top shelf I couldn’t reach to get that terrible garment, which now I guess is better than nothing. Then she helped me into it, wrapped some blankets around me, and held my hands until they stopped trembling. Only then did she speak. She told me the following:
My name is Tatiana. Call me Tati.
Let me know if you need anything, anytime.
My room is right down the hall. You can’t miss it; it’s the only one that doesn’t have a padlock. Like I said, anytime you need.
Ask me anything you want, but I can’t promise I’ll answer. Most people just ask because I’ve been here the longest. Longer than I can remember.
And if you want someone to talk to, there’s no one better than me. Except maybe my mom.
And that’s when I tried to speak. Mia. I didn’t even know anyone named Mia but I just had a feeling that I was supposed to say it. Only… my mouth didn’t share that feeling. It refused to open. I tried to tell Tati, who had only introduced herself as T before that day, what the man had done to me. I felt air touch the roof of my mouth, my nasty tongue, my dirty teeth. It tackled me, drenching me in itself just like he had. And that’s when I knew my mouth wouldn’t be opening any time soon. I pointed to all the places the man had hurt me. Tati nodded, a sorrow icing her hazel eyes.
Now that I think about it, I am so angry my insides are ablaze. How could she know… if I was the only one suffering this way? Who else has been hurt this way? She knows.
I’m thinking about Tati as I recall all the ways I was hurt in all those days I spent languishing in that hellhole. Tati. She was tall and extremely thin- for good reason. I never once saw her eat and on more than one occasion she fainted because the doctors weren’t letting her eat. But I didn’t know that was; they all seemed to treat her like a princess but then would make her the worst-treated prisoner of all. Speaking of which….
It was the evening of Day 305 when an orderly, as they were called, came to untie me. It was two orderlies, a short time later, that lifted me up and guided me by the arms for the first time since my anxiety attack that I used my feet. They led me into a big room with high windows that were small and enforced the prison-feel of our humble abode. Our. This room was the “lounge”, a reward for long-term good behavior- in my case: silence. There were a couple big chairs and an array of couches, all a smooth charcoal gray. The walls were white. We spent a lot of time in there, which is how we got to know each other and forged the secret bond. There were no more than three girls in the room at a time, but I soon learned that a total of at least 29 girls were on our floor and visited the lounge weekly. One of us. Faye, had counted 50 doors on our floor and two staircases. I never did know how many of us there were, but I learned a lot from my fellow inmates. And one of those things was the discussion of my impromptu therapy tonight.
Dr. Matthis asked about my ways to cope with my anxiety. I told her about the techniques I learned from Faye. From Tati. From the others. Some of them were angels to me, and still are, even though they were my contemporaries. I hope to find them again one day, get the gang back together. Liz (she insists but we’ll see if it lasts. Easier to write.) thinks that could harm my “journey of healing, the process of recovery”. I think they would help me. And I think they’re my friends family. And family means noone gets left behind, no one gets forgotten. That’s why “Dad” isn’t my family.
Anyway, I told her about the techniques they taught me. Faye: the Japanese relaxation method, she had called it. Tati: mindfulness meditation, a daily must she had told us. Emme: harm to heal, her motto had been.
Liz asked about the Japanese method first. I told her the way Faye taught me and then how I do it. Each finger is one emotion (worry, fear, anger, sadness, self-respect) and you hold the finger contemplating what gives you that emotion. One minute each. Repeat. Repeat. Five minutes, and you’re relaxed, floating through a cloud where you are shielded from any touch. Except the gentle ones maybe. But are touches ever gentle? Anyway, I digress. The Japanese method is my escape. How I do it, I simply name the emotion over and over and subconsciously release the energy as I go. At first I actually had to will myself to let that flame go, but now it naturally slips away like a whisper of hope into the night.
Then she asked me how meditating affected me, how did I do it, how often, what makes me turn to that, on and on with questions. She was probing the depths of my emotions, exploring all my motivation like she had to study the map of my head so we could properly have a conversation.
She was making me feel crazy. She was making me feel like she was crazy. I wasn’t some program for her to analyze until she resolved the bugs.
“Hope is a funny thing,” I told her when she asked how meditating made me feel. “It’s like a loved one dying, only it’s you. And the thing is you think it’s gone. Long gone and never coming back. But it can come back, and then you feel like it never really left you. And I guess that’s it.”
Hope is a funny thing.
Thank you very, very much for reading this story. I hope you liked it.
If you want another story to read, here’s the last one I published. It’s about a young woman’s tumultuous tale.