Friday, July 09, 2010

Tales of the Mental Unit

Sitting in an uncomfortable chair
I look out at the falling snow.
I’ve found this is my reprieve from
those kept with me. Kept like prisoners.
The others, those like me, they talk in group
therapy, some crying, some making accusations.
I say nothing. What is there to say?
“Hello, I’m mad - nice to meet you.”
I think not. One day we all decided
we wanted to go outside. There were
outdoor areas for us to explore (be
them small). We asked the head nurse.
“No,” she replied, “There is ice out
there, you could get hurt.”
A girl who had schizophrenia spoke angrily.
“How fucking disabled do you think we are!
We’d have to try to get hurt.” The nurse merely
shook her head. “It’s too dangerous,”
she repeated. So much for fresh air.
One day we were introduced to a new girl
who had come in the middle of the night.
She had tried to commit suicide. That next day
the schizophrenic, the new girl
and I sat down to talk. We inquired
about her suicide attempt and she proudly
revealed a wound across her wrist. It had been
stitched up. She seemed to wear it as a badge
of honor; to prove that she was truly mad now.
As if she hadn’t known before.
Another boy in the group was a musician.
He would play his guitar, sitting on the window
seat next to my room. It calmed me.
One group he stopped and accused,
“You’re all fucking mad!” The nurse tried to calm him
and he sat down on the ground near the door.
“How are you feeling?” the instructor asked.
“Fucking annoyed!” The instructor rephrased her
question. “On a scale of ‘frustrated, angry and furious
what are you?” “Fucking angry!” he answered.
he sat in silence for the rest of the group.
Out of all of us he was the sanest, though that
didn’t make him wholly sane. None of us were.
We would never be. Lucid, yes. Alive, yes.
From time to time. But eventually it would happen.
We would snap. I had always waited for this
to happen; and it did. My life spun out of control.
Since then I’ve grasped it once more. And I’ll
hold onto it waiting – just waiting – until I fall again.

by Mary Ramsey


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