"Alright. We'll keep you here for a time-out week," the psychiatrist says.
The absence of sound.
"A week?" my mother asks, creating sound.
"I don't think a week is enough for Pieke.."
A week, a month, what's it worth? Wake me up when it all ends, I think.
"You can't harm yourself while you're here," the psychiatrist says. "You're here voluntarily. If you self-harm, you have to go, instantly. We have to protect the other patients. Do you understand?"
"Yes," I reply. I know what the man really means, but I don't care.
"We can see if we can can maybe diagnose you," he continues.
"If you maybe are, autistic, for example," he says casually. A bit too casually.
"Or if there's something else going on."
I look at the man's face. What the fuck? Of all things I was expecting him to say, the last thing was autism. This psychiatrist has only known me for 15 minutes and he already wants to throw me on the spectrum. Not that there's anything wrong with being autistic, I mean, my own son has autism. Classic autism, with speech and language delay. I've just never looked at myself as being autistic. Only one person before ever mentioned they thought I had autistic traits. My ex-boyfriend and ex-coworker. But then again, he also said he thought he had figured out the answer to the universe and everything.
And that I wasn't listening, while I was. Still, he made me listen, extra hard.
Alex said a lot of things. People say a lot of things. The language of bullshit has many speakers. Some people love using it while others just believe it. For some people it's the language of their soul, or a fun game. And some people, like me, don't understand it. I need hard evidence against someone, before I can acknowledge and see they speak bullshit. Because naturally, I assume people speak the truth. Especially my friends and family. It's not a strength, I've found out. It's a weakness.
People say a lot of things. They say things to hurt, manipulate, control and use you. To blame you, so they don't have to face the truth. But what's the truth anyway?
I'm a mess, that's the truth. I wasn't a mess four months ago. That's how much I know.
Something fucked me up, and now I'm here. I'm here, because I'm weak.
This is the lowest point of my life.
"This way," the nurse says, "follow me."
Door, corridor, light, staircase. Light. A painting on the wall. More light. A door closes behind me.
They wear normal, casual clothing. Nothing white or clinical at all, that hints to where I am. Except for their shoes. They wear strong leather boots. All of them. And phones. One nurse has two, one attached to each boot.
I look up, and see an orchid on the counter in front of me.
I hear someone screaming, inside my own mind. I see dying orchids, and hear dramatic piano music. I remember a pink flower pot, and the last petal that fell.
Do I hate orchids now?
Why am I so weak?
People talk to me, but I can't keep up with what they're saying, so I just nod a lot. I feel my mother close to me, and then, suddenly, I'm on my own.
There's a board in front of me. Anxiety-, Depression- and Personality Disorders, is written at the top. There's a schedule below, and names of people I don't know. Except my own. On the table below the board, a fake pink orchid sits in a bowl.
I see his face close to mine. His mouth, spitting in my face, while he screams.
Why am I here? How did I get here?
I wish I could burn all orchids in this world.
I'm no longer in the corridor, but in what they call the living room. What time is it? When did my mum leave?
I don't know what to do, so I just stand still. There are lights with green plastic lamp shades, hanging from the ceiling. A tv and some couches. A long table.
In the corner, a young man who looks about my age, in front of the 'kitchen'. He's drawing on a piece of paper. Circles. Next to him, a piece of paper with only lines. More circles. Lines. The look and feel of it makes me fully realise, where we are.
I guess I am really committed.
The guy looks at me, drops his pencil, and stands up like he's made of wood.
"You're new," he states, like he's saluting me. "Let me introduce myself. My name is Michael Cook."
His hair is long and he wears a band-shirt. His voice is clear. He's not from the south; his accent is from Holland. Some would call his voice loud, but it's the perfect volume for me.
I shake his hand and tell my name. Birds fly outside, in the sky.
I wish I was gone. I wish I was, away. Why am I here? I need to end this all.
Then the images will stop. The memories will fade. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Have my brain, make it fall apart.
Michael says something I miss.
"I'm sorry?" I ask.
"I'm sorry?" he shouts back. "Black cats on safari! Have you seen them throwing a party?"
"Fart!" Michael shouts again. "Now take a warm bath, it's good for your heart!"
His face is friendly, and his eyes smile. I can tell he means no harm.
"It's what my grandmother used to say," he says.
Michael reminds me of my son. It's not his speech, but the way he moves, and looks around. I feel my son's hand tickle in mine, in a memory in my mind, and see his bright blue eyes looking up to me. I feel shame for being here, and not being home with him.
Then, I see two different blue eyes, look down on me.
Make it stop.
After spending a few minutes with Michael, I'm pretty sure he's on the autistic spectrum. I catch myself thinking about it, and feel like a hypocrite. Not that it matters. Nothing really matters anymore.
Timeline of Events Inside the System
Inside the System is a blog series about mental health, being hospitalised, fellow patients, and the things I've experienced last few months. I started to write because I had no idea how to deal with what was happening, and because I wanted something I could read back, that would remind me where I never want to be again in my life, emotionally.
The Inside The System series is part of Project Blue is a Wave.