a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
[Content warning: depression, suicide ideation]
i'm counting the ceiling lights of my therapist's waiting room until my eyes hurt.
37. who even puts an odd number of lights on the ceiling?
oh. 3 of them don't work anymore.
40 ceiling lights is too many.
it's as if they're there to pierce through the bodies of the clinically depressed 19 year old, the PTSD-struggling 10 year old who can't talk about anything but the evening someone set his house on fire, the 37 year old who just found out her husband of 10 years was cheating on her, the 14 year old with anger management issues who tears the catalogues about mental health to pieces in front of everyone, the 48 year old man who always sits there pretending he's there to pick someone up & not here to talk about his pattern of either loving weak women or weakening the women he loved & the 24 year old woman who was caught kissing someone & is here to be 'talked' into 'maintaining' her 'chastity'.
everyone in the waiting room is different in so many ways yet alike in many more.
everyone has lengthy names comprised of unchanging syllables in this room. everyone knows about the sticky, obligatory slumber after medication in this room. everyone knows about locking yourself in the public bathroom and crying, then dropping 4 drops of tetrahydrozoline in your eyes & walking out with a smile in this room. everyone understands how sadness settles in without any palpable reason in this room. everyone knows how the chairs hurt our bottoms in this room. everyone knows what it's like when you're showering before your appointment & suddenly see your body as the ugliest creation of God.
my hands are wrapped in cheap drugstore bandage & clutching on to the essays my therapist assigned me to write in our last session. i take out a stick of gum from my pocket & pop it in my mouth. silence must be overtaken by mint flavored gum when you can't find the correct words. the 24 year old woman who was caught kissing someone asks me if i have another. i tell her i don't. i do have another, in fact, my left pocket is filled with gum. i just don't want to give it to her. i don't want to give it to anyone. last night was a narrow escape from suicide & 9 hours later i don't want to be happily passing gum to anyone. she smiles at me & says it's okay. why would she say it's okay? i didn't tell her I'm sorry. people say it's okay when you say you're sorry. why would she say it's okay when i wasn't sorry about not giving her gum?
lunatics. all of them.
an instant surge of guilt takes over me; i shouldn't be calling them lunatics in my head when i'm the one with a crayon drawing of kites with multihued ribbons at the bottom of my 14th suicide note.
i always wonder why everyone arrives here way before their assigned appointment time. including me. we all are always in a hurry to get our appointment over with & in that eagerness we all arrive here too early. the clamour that one would expect from a group of 6 people who see each other after every 2 days isn't found here. nobody talks here. no small talk. sometimes a hi, sometimes not. sometimes a simple nod to acknowledge that hey, you're still not fixed, but don't worry, i am not either.
to avoid making the atmosphere any more maladroit than it is, we all avoid eye contact. objects like paintings, the floor, even plain walls, & the flashy shoes i wear are of great help. the woman who was caught kissing someone & the 10 year old with PTSD always stare at my shoes. the 48 year old man who pretends he's not one of us & the 37 year old wife who found out about her cheating husband look at the wall paintings that are works from other emotionally & mentally challenged patients. the 14 year old with anger management issues & me, the clinically depressed 19 year old just look at the floor.
if you ask me, the floor is a very entertaining object. not more of an object than a support. it's always decorated with embellishments like scattered cigarette stubs that i try guessing the brands of, candy wrappers, receipts of antidepressants, more receipts from shopping centres & grocery stores; all taken out from the purse of the 37 year old wife (because she likes to clean out her purse here & the dustbin is just too much of an effort).
i wonder why the staff doesn't clean the floor up. they don't eve stop anyone from littering. maybe they know it serves as a huge masterpiece for some of us, maybe they're just lazy, maybe they don't realise that hygiene matters to mentally challenged people as well, or maybe they know we were on the verge of ending our lives 9 hours ago & don't need to be told not to litter.
during this long wait for my appointment when the floor starts boring me, i bob my right leg up & down, like a chart for anxiety. i couple this habit with chewing bits of my chapped lips & biting my nails. & as soon as these bad habits simultaneously take place, everything else in the room vanishes. there is just me, clutching my essays, pocket filled with gum, bobbing my right leg, biting the dead skin of my brown lips, then pausing to bite my nails. nobody else is there in that moment. just me, behaving in all the ways normal humans don't.
i snap out of it as soon as the attendant calls for the aggressive 14 year old. the attendant has a husky voice that, if we could visibly see, would be like an envelope filled with words.
i don't mind it, any of it. but today was an exhausting day. like I mentioned before, last night wasn't easy. maybe their last nights weren't easy as well.
at 10:19am, the 37 year old woman's husband calls her. she looks at the screen, scowls, and leaves it ringing. that's when the 24 year old girl who was caught kissing someone passes her a knowing look & assures her. i don't know if we all know why we're here. but i think the air is so thick with unsaid words that they just diffuse into our skin.
in a way, this group of 6 people doesn't need words to communicate.
when the attendant calls for my name, i abruptly stand up & the essays fall down. i stoop to pick them & so does the 48 year old man who pretends he's not a part of us. 4 sticks of gum drop out of my pocket in the same second. he hands me the essays & the gum. on my way to the white door with a label that says "Doctor XYZ", i hand the 24 year old woman who was caught kissing someone the gum & smile. indeed, silence must be overtaken by mint flavored gum when you can't find the correct words.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.