I walk into the office and look around. Lined up against one wall are chairs where people like me are obviously supposed to sit. Their cloth covering trying to hide the fact there’s little to no padding on the hard seat beneath. The metal frame and fake wood arms give nothing to dispel this idea. Sitting in the chair, I attempt to curl up, but give up when I realize it’s too small, even for my thin frame. I glance across the desk at the man sitting there. My eyes slide from his face to the windows behind him. All I can see is a view of another hallway.
That was weird. Giving a doctor an office in the middle like that. My eyes continue to move around the room and I take in the bookcase running the length of another wall. Reading a few of the titles, they sound impressive. My eyes linger on the largest book on the shelves. Squinting, I can make out the DSM IV on the spine.
“Hello, Georgia. My name is Dr. Blake.”
I look back at the man behind the desk. “Hello,” I say, his name already slipping from my mind. It wasn’t important. Not really.
“Do you know why you’re here?”
“It’s because I tried to kill myself,” I reply, my hands rubbing over my stomach that was still upset from the emergency room staff.
“That’s right. Why did you try to do that?”
I see him start to go over a few folded pieces of paper. I recognize my handwriting and flinch. I knew what he had there. They were the notes I’d written before I started swallowing pills. I rub my stomach again.
“Because,” I pause. “I thought it would be better if I was gone.”
“Why did you believe that?”
“Everything got to be too much. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
“What made you change your mind?”
“I realized it would hurt my family.” I wasn’t about to tell him the real reason I stopped and sought help. It was obvious he thought I was crazy enough already. As if anyone would believe me if I said Jesus appeared before me. That he looked all sad and laid his hand on my head and said, “It’s not your time. Your friends are down the hall. Go get help.” If Jesus says that to you, you listen and obey. So I did.
“Well, I’ve been going over your letters and talked to the emergency room staff. I believe you have bipolar disorder. Do you know what that is?”
I look at his gray hair and shake my head.
“It’s where you can’t control your moods. Some days you’re really happy and other days you’re down and depressed. In this case, obviously depressed enough to attempt suicide.”
My mouth formed an O and I feel my eyebrows raise. So it had a name. Lucky me.
“Your life will change now. I’m going to put you on a medication. You need to be sure to take it twice a day and be sure to take it at the same time every day, okay? The nurses will help you remember for now, but when you leave, you need to remember to take it.”
“Okay. When can I leave, anyway?”
“We called your mom. She’s on her way.”
My eyes start to fill with tears. My poor mom. She shouldn’t have to see me like this. I never should have done this to her. She never deserved it.
“When she arrives and can take responsibility for you, then we will let you go. Until then, why don’t you head on out. Go to the common room and watch some TV. Talk to some people. It will be good for you.”
I nod and stand up, my entire body aching and feeling as if I’d just been in a car accident. I was in a rollover the night I graduated from high school, so I knew what that felt like. Now that I think about it, I feel even worse.
I walk out the door and head down the hall towards my room. I have no desire to spend any time with anyone right now. Besides, who would want to mess with someone who just tried to kill herself? I’m a pathetic waste of life, even if I did change my mind and get help.
Sinking on to my bed, I sit and stare at the wall for a while.
A light knock on the door brought me around. Looking at the nurse, I waited.
“Georgia, the doctor thinks it would be a good idea for you to attend music therapy with the group. I’m here to take you.”
I nod and stand up. Not like I have a choice, really. I’m in the lock down ward of a mental hospital for crying out loud. I didn’t have any fight in me anyway. I was tired and wanted to be left alone, but that wasn’t my choice.
I pad down the hall after the nurse in my stocking feet. They’d taken my shoes when I was checked in. I guess it was easier than removing the laces in case I wanted to try again. They didn’t understand I wasn’t interested in taking my life any longer. That moment had passed. I shrug and follow her through a door.
“Evan? This is Georgia Walker. Dr. Blake wanted her to join your group today.”
“Welcome, Georgia! My name is Evan and I come to the hospital once a week to conduct music therapy. Why don’t you have a seat and take a look at the song list.”
I sit in another of those uncomfortable institutional chairs and take the stapled papers from him.
“All of those songs are what I have with me. I’ll play my guitar for a bit for everyone and then you can tell me which song you would like to hear, okay?”
I nod and begin scanning the list. What a waste of time. However, as I listen to the guitar washing over me, I do feel my mood begin to lift a bit. At least enough to really read the list and choose a song.
“Did you decide, Georgia?” At my nod, he continued, “Which one is it?”
“Excellent choice. Everyone, I don’t think you’ve heard any by Enya before. Have you, Georgia?”
I nod and duck my head.
“Well, Enya is what we call New Age. I think you’ll enjoy this.” Evan put the CD into the player and set the song to playing.
I sat back in my chair as the music flowed around the room. As the song continued, my mood began to change. Right then, I realize music had the power to control and change my mood. In its own way, it was magic. I always knew I was touched by music, but this was something entirely different. When the song came to an end, Evan stood up.
“That’s all for today, everyone. I’ll see you all next week.”
That was odd. Having me brought in for the end of the therapy session, but I had to admit it was nice. I head back to my room and settle back on my bed to wait for dinner.
After the bland food, which was good since my stomach was still messed up, the nurse came in with a small pink pill. “Dr. Blake prescribed this for you.” I took the pill from her and the small cup of water. Without hesitation, I swallow the pill. It never crossed my mind to do otherwise.
The days began to bleed together. They were all the same. I just want to go back to school. Forget this ever happened and move forward with my life. Finally, that day came.
“Mom?” I run to her and throw my arms around her, tears falling down my cheeks. “I’m so sorry, Mom,” I say, my words muffled by her hair. I am a head taller than her, but it doesn’t matter. She is my mom. I always feel like a small child when she is near.
She held me tight and asks, “Where’s your room?”
I take her to the small room I called my own while I was here. We sat down on the bed together.
“I talked to Dr. Blake. He gave me a prescription we need to fill for you. But he said that now I’m here, you can leave. Would you like that?”
I nod and begin crying harder.
“Okay. Let me go find a nurse and we’ll get everything sorted out.”
While she’s gone, I grab the few things I have and shove them into a plastic bag. I wasn’t exactly brought here under the best circumstances. It felt like forever, but before too long, she was back, paperwork in hand.
“If you’re ready, we can leave.”
I smile my first real smile in days, slip on my newly returned shoes and follow my mom out of the lock down ward and back into freedom.
As we leave the hospital, I turn my face to the sun and stop walking. She stops with me as I enjoy the warmth on my skin. “It’s felt like it’s been forever, Mom.”
She slips her arm around my shoulders and guides me to where the car is parked. Sliding into the passenger seat, I revel in the fact I’m heading back to where I belong. Maybe changed, but it will be good to go back to my original routine.
“The college gave me an apartment for a month so I can spend some time with you. They are worried about you.”
“Great,” I say. Of course the college would know that one of their students tried to commit suicide. The campus police dragged me back to mental health jail after the hospital pumped my stomach after all. Sometimes the banging of the officer’s fists on the door haunted my dreams.
“Did you want to stay with me for a while? Or did you want to return to the dorm?”
“I think I’d rather go back to the dorm. That’s where my friends are and all of my things.” I catch the hurt look on my mother’s face. “But of course I’ll visit you, Mom. I’m so glad that you’re here.”
I was rewarded with a smile returning to her face as she drove the car from the parking lot. Before long, we were in the parking lot at my dorm. I sat staring at the three-story building for a moment.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“I believe so. No time like the present, right?” I open the door and feel dread flood my body. By now the entire dorm must know about the crazy girl who tried to kill herself and yet, here I was. Maybe this wasn’t such a grand idea after all. But I had to face the music at some point, right? Besides, all of my things were in there.