This building looms over a small town in upstate NY, it’s windows resembling beedy little eyes that scrutinize your every move. It sits upon a hill, surrounded by dense woods on every side – the driveway encircling the whole length of the place before coming back out again. You come in the same way you leave. The halls smell of Lysol and ammonia, if possible, with a teencie weencie hint of death.
I hate it with every fiber of my being. Besides prison, it is the one place that truly scares me to the point of being on my best behavior.
“Jail was preferable. There they only limited you physically. In a mental ward they tampered with your soul and worldview and mind.”― John Kennedy Toole
I sat in the waiting room of ‘Bunner Street’, gripping my purse and Dunkin Donuts coffee in both hands. A death grip of sorts, if you will. I didn’t trust anyone who walked through those front doors and made their way down the puke green colored halls. Not one.
One thing that nut-jobs love more than money and random shit in a purse, is caffeine. It’s fuel for my crazy furnace. Er.. I mean, their. Their crazy furnace.
Okay, okay. Obviously, if I’m sitting here I am no better than the rest. I have a hideously tragic past that keeps poking its nose into my future business, and it’s really starting to piss me off. I have a MONTH left of going to The Anti-Drug Warehouse when my counseor tells me I need to have a mental evaluation before graduating… No ifs, and’s, or buts.
So there my butt sat. In an orange chair that has been carefully screwed to the tile floor, waiting for my 2nd day of probing and truly invasive question session to begin.
The first day was more panic stricken, to be honest. I wasn’t sure if they were going to admit me again to the ‘upstairs unit’. The one in which you cannot leave no matter how much you beg, bribe, or bat your lashes. The one where you are stripped of everything but clothes, and cannot touch anything remotely resembling a shiv.
Side note: The Hubbs reminded me (from what must have been my ramblings of the shittiest week of my life) that we did origami constantly – which could have resulted in some psychotic mastermind in creating a shank for pastel colored stabbings … But, fortunately for me, they had us all doped up to the point of barely remembering how to tie a shoe, let alone make an elaborate poker o’ death.
When I first walked in, the door that led to that particular special place in Hell was displayed right to the left of the entrance – a stairway laid out right below it. It was kind of like they dangled it in front of the people who went to outpatient. Kind of like a “Hey, shit could be worse. You could be locked in here.”
Huge 7 foot windows dragged down the rest of the hallway, just so you could see the poor soul’s socks, or bare feet slowly creeping along – no where to go, but wanting to find somewhere to hide so desperately.
To get away from the rest of the people in that hallway. That cold, locked hallway.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like they prodded us (all the time) and threw moldy pieces of meat or bread at us through bars. They gave it to us on plastic trays, at little round tables, while speaking to us ever so softly with rehearsed lines. Like, Siri on Xanax. Or, a female version of Ben Stein. Shrug. Either/or is an acceptable comparison.
Anyways, back to what I was saying – this was day 2, and I was 62% sure they weren’t going to try to keep me in there. So I sat waiting somewhat patiently, refraining from mapping out my escape route like I did the previous morning.
Doc calls me in, and off I went to be diagnosed and informed on whether or not I was going to be a patient of Hill House.
“You are being admitted. I will see you once every two weeks, and from there we will decide what medication to put you on, and if we need to increase or decrease our sessions.” Plastic smile ensues.
She was a cute, round little doctor who obviously had her own demons she had to deal with. Constantly fiddling with a yellow post-it pad by her keyboard, her other hand on the mouse as she looked up the next series of questions. She let “My therapist needs a therapist” slip in mid-conversation, and in turn, my spine went less rigid and I relaxed in the office chair.
It’s nice to know that I’m not alone when it comes to being a completely derailed individual. That everyone has their own little closet full of skeletons. That I was where I needed to be at that very moment. It showed me that not everyone is cookie-cutter perfect, that some are a bit fierce.
There’s a place where all writer’s get their inspiration from… No matter where it stems, I do know one thing.
We’re all mad here.