The Beginning (Kind Of)

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, outrageous 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.

Still trembling, I tried to control myself. It was no use. “It’s time to line up for breakfast,” a nurse declared, though I decided against going. I could not stop shaking.

The verse from the radio, the night before, rang in my head. “I am your Shield; your very great Reward.”

“Okay,” I thought in reply to the verse, expiring a shaky breath. Peace fell upon me.I flipped open my small Gideon’s International Bible and buried my nose in it. Little did I know, I was going to cling to this Bible for dear life on this journey, inside this hospital.

A man, who looked either extremely hipster or extremely homeless (or both), spoke to me from across the room. “What’s your name?” He asked, tying up his brown, wild hair into a bun on the top of his head, staring at me through thick-rimmed glasses.

“Annalee,” I replied, clutching my Bible close.

I never, in a million years, imagined I would be here. Yet, here I was.
But this was not the beginning. And though “the beginning” is hard to actually pinpoint, one day does ring clear. It was another day, a year before this one. A day when the crisp, fall air was palpable, and the sunlight poured in.

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