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The Green Light

A knock on my door. The nurse. There's a male visitor for me.
"What does he look like?" I ask.
"Brown hair.." She says.
I feel a shock through my body.
".. and glasses," she finishes. 
"Oh."
I'm trying to think, but I just woke up from my long afternoon-nap, so my brain is filled with clouds and fuzz. I look at the time on my phone. It's six in the evening. March 12. I'm trying to make sense of my room. I left the hospital and moved in here.. I'm at the hospital's hostel in the city. The hospital.. Nathan. Nathan was supposed to visit me today.
"Right, thank you. I'll go open the door myself," I tell the nurse.
I leave my room and walk through the hallway.
"You're barefoot," the nurse says. "Laurence is very strict about that. For once it's okay though, I don't mind."
I look at my feet, remember the floor in my nightmare vaguely, but try to get back to reality by walking on. The door. Nathan. Right.

When Nathan and I go to my room, I ask him what time he has to be back.
"Eight. You know that, you're from the same ward," he says.
"Well, sometimes they allowed me to come back at nine," I reply.
Nathan hasn't been my 'roommate' anymore for almost two weeks now. We spent two months together in the same open psychiatric ward, and I've gotten to know him pretty well. He's 27, still inside, and waiting for the green light for his next treatment: electroconvulsive therapy. There's a dark joke in there somewhere. The idea that Nathan has decided his next best option to fight his depression is -what I jokingly call- frying his brain, makes me both sad and scared. He's so young, has tried many different treatments, and this is the only reasonable one for him left. As far as brain damage as a cure is reasonable, that is. I've told him I support him, and try to be optimistic and hopeful about the procedure. It feels insane to me someone his age even has to consider this. I'm glad the medication has had a positive effect on me and that I'm slowly improving, but not everybody responds well to anti-depressives. Nathan sometimes wonders if he was born depressed. I wonder if he would've been in this place had he met different people, who had been a positive influence, and never betrayed his trust.

Nathan's humour is dark, but his heart is kind, even though his glass is always empty. Trying to help him fill his glass feels like pouring water in a bottle with no bottom. His kindness makes up for his pessimism, and I hate that I can't fix all his problems just like that. I wish I could. He is, like most patients I've met, a person who deserves to be happy, but can't find the light. Not right now, at least. Trying to find a hole in the darkness has been difficult for both of us, so now we gather around together, in the shade of life. Because that's what it feels like to us. We're outside, inside the system. Currently not functioning in society, but able to see the structure as a whole. How it functions, and where the biggest defects are. We see how they feed us, give us a bed, and allow us to sleep. We've been sleeping for months. Waiting for appointments. Waiting for doctors. Waiting for treatment, and in the meantime, we are, just, there. Here. The Dutch health care system is pretty good at turning us into breathing-bodies, with waiting minds. But, for what it's worth, it keeps us alive.

I'm out -almost completely- and Nathan is still in. We talk about what he does all week. Which isn't a lot.
"So no new medication?" I ask.
"Nope. I'm just waiting for the green light. But maybe they're not going to give it, and say I just have to hang out in the hospital for a few more months," Nathan shrugs, when we take a walk through the city later with Greg, who also lives at the hostel.
"Well, worst case scenario you can always become an organ donor," I reply.
Greg and Nathan laugh. They laugh harder then I expect they would. My joke wasn't that funny. I'm confused. When Greg and Nathan see my face, they laugh even louder. I reverse the conversation, listen to what I just said, and realise my mistake.
"Oh! I meant sperm donor. That was horrible, did I really say that?" I laugh. "A great thing to joke about with a severely depressed person!"
"An organ donor..." Nathan laughs. "Yes, sperm donor is way better.."
"Let's get you back to the hospital," I say, while we walk towards my car, the three of us smiling.

It's early in the morning when I sit behind my computer. I go through the video-diaries I've made these last few months. Almost a year ago I was documenting the life of a fellow youtuber, who was running an anonymous youtube channel. When shit went down, and everything went wrong, I ended up in the hospital, but I never truly stopped documenting things. I now have months of footage, video diaries, and conversations to look at.

I think about the accidental joke I made earlier. I'm glad Nathan found it funny. It was horribly dark, just like the night, but I saw my friend laugh, which made me feel like someone turned on a light for a second. A lot for me has changed these last few months. In March I started writing and organising things slowly again. I also look different now, compared to November, when I walked in looking like a ghost, and was 10 kilos lighter.

Stills taken from my video diaries. Left: November 2016, right: March 2017.

Stills taken from my video diaries. Left: November 2016, right: March 2017.

When I saw Nathan today, I realised he still looks the same as the first day I met him. Both inside and outside. I wonder where he will be in a couple of months. Is he going to get the green light? I do hope so, because he needs it so badly. I hope the doctors will see that too. I don't want him to consider his other option. I know the other solution that's on his mind. It's where he ends it all; his own life, his own fight. It's the one thing I don't want to support him in. Even though at times, I myself find it hard also, to see the light.

Written with permission of Nathan and Greg. Names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Inside the System: A blog series about mental health, being hospitalised, and pretty much everything I've experienced these last 6 months. From naked patients crawling through the hallway, to having your medication dose raised 4 times in 6 weeks due to your ex boyfriend threatening you. From being publicly shamed online for speaking out and being called a liar, to what actually happened, and how and when I will press charges against my ex. So, a lot of mental vomit will be thrown on my blog upcoming weeks.