Thursday, May 19, 2016

"My Day in a Mental Hospital" by Jane Doe

There is turmoil in my dreams and my mind is soon astir. The cool touch of metal singes my arm and I jolt up, only to be barred down at the collar. My familiar bedroom has been replaced by darkness and a stiff metal bed. Something beeps twice and I am suddenly engulfed in the glaring light of fluorescent bulbs, as if my movement has awaken a beast. Once my eyes adjust, I survey my surroundings to find that I am in a hospital room. The ropes around my body seem to slither and constrict, drawing out my breath and squeezing the air out of my lungs. It's a python, coiling and hissing with an evil snicker. I look down to see that there are two needles pricked in my arm. like fangs, they inject venom into my veins. My eyes slide up to where the needles meet a machine. It's a familiar apparatus, but replacing the normally clear and sterile IV liquid is a thick black concoction that drops, ever so slowly, down the length of a slender tube until it ultimately meets my flesh. I watch as it pours into me and circulates in my veins. I don't feel like myself.

My mind is spinning and something churns deep in the pit of my stomach. My heart is suddenly louder in my chest; nerves send signals of alert down my spine and I shudder with an unconscious panic. The sounds of all things mush together and radiate in my ear drums to form an incessant static noise. My discomfort has pushed past the point of the drugs effects and I am suddenly overwhelmed with the reality of my dire state. My first instinct is to call for help. I go to open my mouth and must fight to pry open my dry and cracked lips. It burns as the brittle skin rips and crumbles. My voice croaks inside my throat, weak and crippled. I look around.

I remember back to when I broke my arm in junior high; there was a call button on my bed that I pressed to summon a nurse when I wanted another popsicle. I scan the various machines that surround me and cock my head unnaturally to check the bed for any hidden controls. I find no such luck. I do see a plethora of shiny metal surgical tools on a tray to the right of my bed. I cannot reach them from where I lay, but I begin to thrash violently, hoping to shift my bed towards the tray. Rusted wheels screech and shutter beneath where I lay. I take breaks in between my spasms. My usual endurance is stripped and replaced only by fatigue. The bed inches closer to the tray. Still, my trapped hands cannot reach out to grasp the tools. A little more power and I'll be there. Finally, with one final jolt of energy, the corner of my bed reaches the tray. The stool the tools sit on tilts violently with the weight of my bed. I clench my jaw, begging myself not to breathe, not to move another muscle. I’m so exhausted and I know I can’t flex my core much longer. I let out my breath and relax slowly. It seems as though the tray is stable, but just as I sink back onto the bed, the tray clashes to the floor. Metal clashes against metal and the sound is angry and piercing. I wince and stare at the door to my room. It must have been loud enough for someone to hear. Just as I expected, a nurse comes rushing in and stares from the floor to me and back again with bewilderment. I look wide eyed at her. My voice rises in my throat, and I hoarsely call out to her for help. She rolls her eyes and hastily picks the tools up. All the while, my voice is cracking in my throat and I try to reach out to her. She slides my bed back to its original position and starts flipping through a clipboard. The drugs make my eyes feel fuzzy, but I blink and readjust to try and read what the file says. I see a name that is not my own.

“Who is that?” I grumble.

The nurse stares down her nose through her wire-rimmed glasses at me like I am speaking a foreign language: “That’s you honey, you were admitted here a few days ago and we found your ID on you”.

I wrack my brain to try and remember what happened in the days leading up to my being here, but nothing comes to me. She must see my look of confusion because she sighs and digs through a drawer to pull out a wallet. It's a wallet I have never seen before, so I know that this must be some sort of mistake. She draws out an ID and holds it up to the light. She brings it close to my eyes and I see myself. Smiling with my hair curled, there I am in the left hand corner beside someone else's name. I look closer. I am wearing a shirt I have never seen before and I have no memory of this photo being taken. Everything is a blur. I feel inside out and upside down but I decide not to protest for fear that they will put me on more drugs or keep me locked in here for a longer time. I wonder if my days here will all be spent like this, immobile in my bed. The nurse says I will be here for five more days, at least. Everything feels wrong, but there is that ID card with my picture on it that proves what the doctors suspect of me. Here I am, locked in a mental hospital under someone else’s name.

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