(Part of) Chapter One

The crisp, fall air was palpable. The sunlight poured in; the hard, metal benches we sat on were cold and unforgiving to my frail frame. She sat me down, slowly pushing a pile of papers my way.

“We will need you to sign these,” she started, her brown eyes languishing over my sorry state. I looked down at the papers. My heart had already plummeted to my stomach the night before… but this stack of papers did not do much to bring it back up or to bring it together. 

The papers were legal in nature, as cold and uncaring as the bench I was sitting on. But, like this bench, these pieces of paper were real; what they stated, though cold, was reality– even if I didn’t quite believe its words yet.

“This patient is very psychotic,” it read. “She was fasting due to delusions. She lacks capacity to adhere to treatment and supervision at this time. She is gravely disabled due to Mental Illness.”

Four sentences. Four sentences to explain what had been going on inside of me for several months: Every convoluted thought pattern; every sleepless, incoherent night; every hour spent delusionally trying to please what I thought was “God,” turning fasting into a sick game that wore on my body…

Every absurd hope and dream; every lofty, conceited perception of myself came face to face with this flimsy, final sheet of paper. The words were stabs to my ego– though I, at least partially, agreed with them.

She stared at me, then glanced at another piece of paper, pushing it into my view, to sign.
“Signing here will signify that you understand what you have read,” she uttered.

In what felt like both defeat and surrender, my unsure, shaky hand reached for the pen. In only a few minutes, the paperwork was complete. I was a bonafide patient, scrubs and all.

As we went inside, I could not help but tremble and shake. Reality had set in. I thought I was all alone, with what felt like no one to come and care for me; no one to give me shelter.

Only, I was not alone. I was in the most sheltered place I could possibly be. Quaking across the room, my bony frame sat down in a chair, smack in the middle of our ward: the ward with the highest security, containing some of the most severe of the Mentally Ill Colorado could gather. 

But this is not the only thing that made me “not alone.” I had Jesus. Throughout everything, I always had Jesus (even if I was unsure about who He really was, at the moment).

(c) Annalee Hoover, 2019

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