I am very excited to share part two of my short story entitled Angel on the Ward. I broke it into pieces because it is a very long story.
The story is set in November of 2007 during my first suicide attempt and diagnosis. The story covers the entire week of Thanksgiving, almost six days, in which I spent my first time in the psych ward. The parts of the story will be released over the course of the next week in honor of my ten-year diagnosis/suicide anniversary, I made it!
This short story is still a raw piece and it will eventually make its way into my memoir once I finish editing. Its written in a short story format with some dialogue. It is far from perfect written and I post it here on my blog to gauge if this story is any good. I wrote this piece ages ago for a short story class and it just evolved over the years. I spent the last week adding to it and I am hoping the end piece will be good enough for my memoir.
Angela doesn’t feature much but she is such an important part of this story. I promise.
It was just before lunch when I made the effort to finally call my girlfriend, she was on my mind since my parents had left. Almost as much as Angela. My life was starting to get messy, and I wondered if it would be so much easier for my girlfriend if I just left her alone. The last thing I needed was to drag her along on wherever this journey was taking me on. My girlfriend had been there for me every step for the last few months. I already put her through so much, yet she stays committed to me for reasons I never understood.
Why continue to make her go through this? I couldn’t keep these thoughts at bay.
What made the whole situation worse was that she was going to school almost eight hours away in Southern California It pained her to be far away from me, and it was painful for me. It hurt not to just be able to see her every day. When we were together my depression leave me for a time, even if it was just in the small moments. We constantly text and talk on the phone but the distance thing always got to me, but I knew in my heart that I was in love with her. In all honesty, it would be selfish to keep seeing her, but she was the one positive thing left in my life. Could I just let her go?
I sat on the couch closest to the phone for a good long moment. It really pained me to just think about my girlfriend, but it had been at least twenty-four hours since we last had a conversation, and I owed it to her to at least call.
The conversation was as I expected. My girlfriend cried the entire call because of how close I came to taking my life. I could feel her emotions and what she was going through. How could I do something so heartless to someone I love? I really was a monster. I was an asshole making her cry for my stupidity.
She was young like me, but she really didn’t need someone who was so unstable in her life. She told me that she was just a few hours away and was trying to make the nighttime visiting hours. It took all my strength for me not to break down right then. I wanted her to stay far away from me, but at the same time, life was so much better when we were together. It would be wrong for me to end things not, at least that is what I convened myself as I put the phone back in its place. I figured something like this must happen face to face.
I found myself stuck to the couch lost in my thoughts as lunch arrived. My life was going downhill for months and there was no end in sight. I had a strange feeling that this month, November, would always be tough. If I lived to see another one. My thoughts quickly moved to the last night. What was it that caused me to be alive? I knew what I felt in that moment. Real peace. I was making the right decision. How did it even get to the point where they could pump my stomach? My plan was perfect. I thought I executed it well. At least in my mind. I couldn’t help but think that I was just bad at killing myself now, and the next time I would do it right.
I made my way to the roundtables from lunch. Angela was already there sitting at a table alone. She was no longer in her wheelchair, and she barely looked up as I sat down next to her. A nurse once again puts a tray in front of me. As it was at breakfast I just poked at my food no interest in eating.
A different nurse made her way to the table, “James, you are going to see the doctor after lunch.”
“Okay,” I answered.
My mind began to race again as I followed the nurse down a small corridor to an office. Maybe I could convince him to let me leave. That night would be the preference. I made my way to the small office of the psychiatrist with the nurse. She knocked on the door and left me. Then the door swung open to reveal a doctor in front of me, and he motioned me in.
“Hello, James. Come in we have much to discuss.”
I sat in the chair closest to the desk. My first thought was that this space was much too small for an office. I felt claustrophobic a feeling that I was not used to. It took me a long moment to adjust.
“How are we today. You gave your family quite a scare last night,” the doctor asked. I was unready to get into this subject but I figured the quicker I answered the better chance I had to get out.
“I was really depressed. I got bad. I had a temporary moment of weakness and I tried to end my life. I obviously was not very good at it because here I am. Talking about a subject I hate,” I responded.
“Why do you hate the subject,” he asked in earnest. I really could not believe this question. It is one that I always refrain from answering because doctors never like the answer.
I gave him the best answer that always came to mind, “You doctors. You never actually listen to what we say. The answer is always just more pills. My previous doctor listening to me for about five minutes and then gave me antidepressants and sleeping medication like it was the simple cure. Instead actually listening you think these magic pills are always the answer. Am I wrong?”
The doctor smiled at me before responding, “It is a common response. Medication is not a cure exactly but it helps. It is all about finding the right balance. Your situation was very troubling. Your family members said that you were hearing voices was this true?”
This made me pause for a moment before answering, “Does it make a difference?”
“It does James. Your diagnosis right now is that you are schizoaffective, it is a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” his face was serious with his answer that almost floored me.
I thought treading lightly might be the best course of action. It was a tricky situation. It was not exactly voices I hear. It is more of my voice. The voice that is always there in my head. Telling me what is right, what to think and what to worry about at any given moment and time. It is the voice that always overthinks situations and keeps my confidence at its lowest. I never occurred that a voice in my head could mean I was schizophrenic. I had no idea how that part had even gotten out.
“It was a side effect of taking my Ambien. It did funny things to me. I would sleepwalk all the time, and once I even went through a glass table. It is what I took to an overdose of the medication, so it is possible it was just a side effects of the drugs. I really don’t know what I am doing when I am on the stuff,” I said.
It was the best explanation I could come up with.
There was no way I was telling him about that voice. It was hard enough to explain it in my head, let alone to a stranger. I did my best to lie and say that everything okay. It was just a temporary setback, a moment of weakness on my part.
It was obvious that the doctor knew better because he immediately made the decision me on a dose of lithium and some different antidepressants.
“Let’s try something new. I know you are on Zoloft so let us keep you on that but up the dosage. I think you should try a mood-stabilizer, have you ever tried lithium?” he asked.
“No, I have not,” I responded through clenched teeth.
“Well let’s try that and for the sleep, we will try something else. There is this medication called Seroquel, we will start this new medication at night. I will have the nurse administer your new medication, okay. You try and relax.” He said with a tone of finalization. He hardly looked up from what he was writing.
I still had one more question. “Is there any way that I can leave today? Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.”
“I was wondering if you would mention this. The nurses said that is what you have been asking. I am sorry but no. You are on a seventy-two-hour hold, James. With the holidays, it will be next week before you see the actual doctor that can release you,” he said in a tone that made it final.
I sat there stunned but I knew this was coming.
I left the doctor’s office with a sense of defeat. My thoughts were consuming. Why did I need to take this lithium? My hope was to say the right thing would mean they would release me from this hell. But it was no use I was stuck here for the foreseeable future. Would I ever leave this hell?
When it came time to take my new pills I asked the nurse for the truth and got very little. My diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. She told me I was Bipolar but I was on the edge of schizophrenia. That was a mood killer. I had a feeling it would be a while before I would leave this place. I decided right then and there if I were to get out of this place, I had to pretend that I was on the mend.
Please Help me Publish my Memoir
I am almost done editing my memoir “The Bipolar Writer,” and I have decided to go down the self-publishing route. If you can donate anything towards my goal, it would mean the world to me. I am still working towards enough to pay an artist for a good cover. Those that donate will get a special mention in my memoir on a page dedicated to those that made my memoir possible. Thank you in advance!
Photo Credit: Hoshino Ai