The hall of my mental health facility smells like a mix of powder, industrial strength cleaner and floor wax. Each step I take on that baby blue floor toward the elevator is a step further away from myself. By the time I reach the end of the hall where a print of Picasso’s “The Dreamer” hangs outside the elevator door, I’m somewhere else entirely. That same print hung in the Art room at my Junior High and High School. Looking at it makes my stomach drop, as though I’m an awkward and sometimes obnoxious 12 year old girl all over again. I prefer when I have the elevator ride upstairs alone but occasionally there’s someone else getting on who always seems to make comments about the weather. For years…it’s always about the weather.
I reach my floor, sign in and sit down to wait to see my shrink. It’s a people watchers paradise. There’s everyone from a Schizophrenic mumbling in the corner, a bus load of people from a homeless shelter, people discussing where they’re going after their appointment to sell their meds to score some crack, a mother and her children, a senior citizen who seems so confused and lonely, a middle age couple, a teen with their parent to whatever I would be classified as. The two things we all have in common is mental illness and a low income. Psychiatric care and medications in the U.S. is fucking expensive. I’m lucky enough to have gotten into an income based program for my medications about 14 years ago.
By the time I reach my seat, I’m almost completely disassociated from myself and always feel like I don’t belong there…but I do. My madness and episodes of internal stark raving lunacy are no different from theirs. I simply function differently on the outside and make some different choices for various reasons that really don’t matter.
To be continued…