I could not go home.
I signed a bunch of papers, trying to be as cooperative and composed as possible. I’d called the ambulance myself. The medics escorted me out of my office building, but I walked on my own two feet. I answered their questions coherently. Drank the thick activated charcoal to clear my system of the painkillers. Rested quietly in my hospital room. When I was told I’d be transferred to another facility, no one told me I didn’t have a choice in the matter. That I would not be able to walk out when I was ready to leave. But that’s where I was. In the psychiatric ward of Akron General Hospital. Despite my tear-filled request to go home, I was forced to stay pending “further evaluation.” No matter what I said, or how calmly I said it, in the eyes of this staff, I was crazy.
I didn’t have a roommate, thank God. The wails of angry patients roaming the dark halls were bad enough. I cursed myself for not taking a pen, notebook, or something to read to work. How could I have known that Friday morning when I woke up in my home that I’d end my day in a mental institution? Still. The company of a book or an outlet for the noise in my head would have been much appreciated. They’d taken my cell phone. I needed to talk to someone. Him. I just needed to call Him. He could convince me that I’d be okay. But that wasn’t an option. All I had was the stiff bed and the turquoise Akron General sign outside of my window.
I still had on the tweed pants I wore to work that morning. Couldn’t put on that hospital gown. That gown meant I was sick. I wasn’t one of the people screaming in the hall. I’d had a bad day. I wasn’t sick. But the tweed made my legs itch, standing between me and the sleep I desperately needed to end my nightmare of a day. I sighed. Removed my clothes. Carefully folded my pants and sweater. Staring at the turquoise Akron General sign from my bed, I recalled my last night like this.
2003. My sophomore years of college. Alone in my dorm room, I stared at a bottle of Vodka and a bottle of Motrin. The two bottles sat on the sink, welcoming me with open arms. I sat on the bed, holding my knees, wondering if I really had the balls to end my life. Eventually, I backed down. To make sure I didn’t change my mind, I poured the Vodka into the sink, walked the Motrin to a garbage can at the end of the hall and emptied the bottle. Before crawling into bed, I set my computer to play Mary Mary’s “I Can’t Give Up” on repeat through the night. The song lyrics wrapped around the room, protecting me from harm. Protecting me from myself.
I snapped back to the present. “Even when I can’t see clearly, I know that You are with me…” I sang in my head. Over and over, like counting sheep.
A voice whispered “Trust me. Everything will be okay.” My mind fell silent. Somehow, I drifted off.