It's been 16 years. 16 years since I've seen the inside of a psychiatric hospital. Tomorrow marks the 16 year anniversary of my voluntary check-in to the world's worst hotel. I had forgotten until right now. At some point, (soon I hope), I'll get around to writing the memoir where I go into it all in minor detail. But suffice it to say, 16 years ago tomorrow, I just was too tired to figure anything out anymore. My brain wasn't working right and my friends weren't able to handle me anymore, and I felt so very, very alone. I needed to get somewhere where I could feel safe and have time to get straightened out.
I can say with all certainty that had that not happened, and had all the subsequent set of events not been set into motion, I would not be 15 years sober today. So, it truly ended up to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I can also say with equal certainty, I have made it my true mission to never grace the inside of a psych ward again.
There is a strange, quiet, internal manic desperation about the idea of not being able to leave somewhere of your own volition. I have never been arrested or in jail/prison, but I can say that I know what it is like to be truly paranoid about how people are perceiving you at the same time it's not all that paranoid to be very particular about how people are perceiving you when they are the ones who are in control of how and when you leave the building that is not your home.
Granted, these days, that is also largely determined by how well your insurance is going to pay/cover the number of days, but still. If you come off as a raving psychotic (and I mean that literally), you're not going to be getting your walking papers.
It's a weird thing -- having that in my past. At one level, I own it. It's something that happened to me and from which I have largely recovered. I am not solely my manic-depression. I am not solely someone who has spent some time in a psych ward. Yet, with every post I write about these things, here, in public, with my name attached, I wonder how many times a potential employer or lover or friend reads them and decides I am not worth the trouble. That I will be a liability rather than an asset. That my interesting and my amazing does not outweigh the potential for depressing or deconstructed.
I don't know. What I know is that some people live with diabetes, others with cancer, some with physical handicaps. This is mine. And sometimes it can be hard. But sometimes, it can be brilliant. I have this sharp memory of some music therapy group thing during my stay, and Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" was playing. I thought it was pretty ironic, given our present circumstances. But, maybe it was a future trip, because every time I hear it, I think of that time, and how in fact, I can see clearly now, and that by and large, the rain is gone.
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