The smell of stale cigarette permeates the area like a curtain of fog surrounding the entire common room. You can almost reach out and touch it. You cannot smoke anywhere on the hospital compound, but there is always a room in the mental ward where patients can smoke as often and as much as they want. Why is it that most mental patients are smokers? You see the same thing everywhere – I’ve been in numerous hospitals in numerous cities around the world, and it’s all the same old smell, the same old nicotine addicts and yellow finger tips. It’s amazing I haven’t caught on and got onto the bandwagon. Then again, as my mom used to tell me – I’m a stubborn old goat. I have my own addictions, and I have the same trouble quitting, so I am not criticising anyone here.
I spent my time staring at the little black box which was mounted high above a corner in the (non smoking) lounge. Since everyone is out smoking, I am usually alone. No one to fight with over which channel to watch, which suited me just dandy. After a while, it became “my place” and I resented anyone who intruded my space. Even the occasional smoker back briefly to breathe normal air, air not tinged with cigarette and the body odours of others who have not showered in about 3 months.
I asked myself – what am I doing here? How is it that I am here?
Isn’t it funny how everyone congregates at the eating area just before the dinner cart arrives? When did it become so important to fill out the menu for tomorrow’s meals? What a thrill to see the options, check the little check boxes on what you want, and I discovered you could ask for more than one option if you write “Please” next to your selections.
Isn’t it funny how the entire day is structured around the three main meals and the supper at 8pm?
I think sometimes when life gets too tough to handle, it’s good to revert back to just the basics. Breathing, eating, and sleeping. And watching TV, of course.
Don’t get me wrong, the last few weeks was not all butterflies and flowers and puffy dragons. It was tormenting to have those thoughts, to feel as though every inch of your skin is being peeled back to reveal wounds below which will never heal and which are rotting and disgusting. It’s not all buttercups and pink shiny things. It’s not like that at all. Nothing in a mental ward is made for enjoyment. Everything is functional and bare minimum. But there is a core believe that time heals. So it is merely sitting and waiting around (and smoking, for the smokers) for the soul to heal itself. Waiting for the medication to settle in and regulate your life once again. Medication which is like the defibrillator that shocks you back into life. It shocks you back into life whether you want to continue living or not.