My first day in a Mental Health Clinic.
I’m in the waiting room of a mental health establishment called Daymark, before that I am sitting in my car full of anxiety and feeling like I’m having a heart attack. It is nearly 8:00a.m. I can’t breathe; I want to drive away and forget I ever called them or drove there. They’ll think I am crazy. They’ll come out in white coats and drag me to a padded cell and throw away the key. In reality, I’m already locked in my own prison and the key is somewhere, but I have no idea where. Maybe I’ll find it here.
In the waiting room there are already people here, just a few, but it makes my heart pound, clammy hands and I am about to spaz out. Everyone is wearing white behind the help desk. I can’t tell who is who. I have to check in and I want to put on my sunglasses that sit on top of my hat to induce some special power like; invisibility, because I hate looking into people’s eyes. So I sit instead in a soft padded chair and stare at some kind of magazines next to me on different tables that I’ve never seen before and one sports magazine among them.
Oddly, I’m thinking about counting them. Sometimes I count when I am having anxiety. There are forty one. I hate odd numbers. A man comes out of a locked glass door with another hand full of magazines. I pretend I’m not there. I count them again and another odd number adds up.
Then I count the ceiling tiles and try to count the floor tiles covered up by a long piece of carpet at the check in/check out desk. The whole floor is carpeted with a darkish kind of gray, except that particular place. It kind of bugs me.
There are several pictures on the walls in the room. There is a model lighthouse on a small shelf in the corner by the locked glass door and I gaze at it. A lighthouse. “Is there light for me?” I think. “Probably not.” I answer my own question. There is a bookshelf and many pamphlets and books. There is a playroom for children and it has no light on with a large glass window. I want to run in there, lay down and hide for the rest of my life in the dark where I feel the most comfortable, alone. I feel my ever changing moods coming on. I am a burden, I think who are they to want to help such a fragile being?
I finally get up the nerve to check in. I feel stupid because I am there. I shouldn’t be here, I think. I could leave and no one would know or care, but I do not leave because I am here and I need desperate help. You see, I’ve gone my whole life living in depression, anxiety, having racing thoughts, sadness, suicidal thoughts, and sleeplessness and tried to cover it up with drugs and alcohol and never got a grip on it. I want help, I want to live and not die because all of these things are already a walking death. I am dead already. I am numb. I feel I have slowly disappeared from the world from the person I could’ve been, or should’ve been, which wasn’t ever much in the first place. I’ve forgotten who I once was. The child turned into a man and the reflection in the mirror is now a disgrace.
Time passes and I hear my name called. I follow a Therapist past the locked glass door and through a maze of hallways. It feels like Alice in Wonderland, only it’s John in Wonderland. I feel as though I am growing smaller as we stroll down this hall that feels like a mile. She is very gentle, kind, soft spoken and confident as we go to her office. The first question” How are you feeling?” “I’m okay.” I answer in a monotone quivering voice and not staring into her eyes. She smiles. “What brought you here today?”
In an instant my mind wanders to me adrift on the open sea being tossed to and fro like a broken piece of wood.
“Depressed, racing thoughts, sadness, but I’m not bipolar.” I reassure her.
“What do you think bipolar is? Tell me” She is curious to my answer.
“I’m not manic. I’m sort of normal or I’m way down here at the bottom.”
She doesn’t really answer and smiles. She types on her computer.
“Do you sleep at all?” she asks
“I sleep around two to three hours a night. I can’t stop racing thoughts. I lay around all day and sometimes I sleep all day long. The racing thoughts are worse at night.”
“What are they of? What are they like?” she types as I answer.
It is everything from the past to the future and of today. It is like a radio going station to station or a TV constantly flipping. Sometimes songs get stuck on repeat in my head. But I don’t hear voices.”
This last part peaks her interest. “You don’t hear voices?” She wants detail, she is trying to diagnose me, I believe. I am feeling like I don’t belong here. I feel judged all of a sudden, but she isn’t judging me and yet I feel under a magnifying glass like an ant being burnt by the sun. At times during this assessment I fade out. I can’t concentrate. I can’t focus which is a normal thing in my life. I haven’t been able to since the fourth grade.
I tell her this and tell her I can never finish things. I start this quit that and quit that and and I’m over here and there, and everywhere. She says you could possibly have some adult ADD too. I tune this out because I do not need another label. My mind wanders aimlessly to; I have too many, but I do want one label. What is wrong with me? I know I have an illness but what is it? I’ll never be better I think. I’ll just get worse and worse until I go mad. I am of great fear that I’ll be told I have bipolar. I have no idea why, but that is my fear. I fear it worse than darkness, or spiders and heights.
I tell her I have no interest anymore in anything. I don’t want to be around people or talk. Music was my passion and I can’t even do that anymore. I play guitar, but don’t do it much any longer. She says that is normal with depression. She asks me about music. I tell her I write my feelings and she says that is very good to do to get it out. I tell her I've documented my depression and anxiety for a long time because I am trying to write a memoir. She says that is good because it helps to heal.
I tell her I have aches and pains that I hurt in my mind. "Your body is under stress now because your mind is sick." She states.
She asks me how long have I felt depressed. "Since I was five years old." I say. She smiles and looks at me like a mother with concern for a child would or should and I know she is sincere in helping me. I have dealt with this for 34 years and now today I make a step toward tranquility no matter how long it takes.