During my second hospitalization I stayed in a glorified prison.
Groups were completely optional, and when I tried to go they were basically 3rd grade art classes.
I learned nothing, I gained nothing.
I didn’t heal.
They even gave me medication that made me manic with suicidal ideations at the same time, but that’s another story entirely.
Eventually I was reduced to isolation in my fluorescent green, two-bed jail cell they called a room.
The twin beds were made of nylon thinly disguised by papery sheets. The pillows were so flat they provided maybe two inches of elevation. When I asked for more I was told one per patient, so I folded mine over and tried to get comfortable.
Despite the many faults of my “room”, I stayed there for four days. Most of the time I tried to sleep, but the rest of the time I tried to read. The front desk had denied me any of my books except Harry Potter.
I read ferociously. When I finished, I had no idea what to do with myself.
Visiting hours were my grace period. My parents came, my sister came, my grandma came, even my best friend came.
They made me forget for a little while.
One day, I was curled up in bed during visiting hours, because everyone had already told me they couldn’t make it and I didn’t particularly feel like watching my fellow prisoners bask in the glow of their loved ones.
But I received an unexpected visitor.
The boy I had kissed a week ago, the boy I had been texting nonstop for that whole time, the boy I liked, the boy I had purposely kept in the dark about my illness and my current location, was in my doorway.
My best friend had told me where I was.
He had brought me a tiny adorable elephant I later named Peanut, but they wouldn’t let me have him yet in case he was full of drugs.
I hope it goes without saying that by this point I was a makeup-less, straggly haired swamp monster, resigned 24 hours a day to my pajamas.
He didn’t care.
We talked. He laid down on my bed and I curled up next to him, which was awkward at first on the twin bed.
To this day I don’t remember all of our conversation. I just remember that he was there.
To this day, three years later, that’s my boyfriend.