In mid August I spent some time in a local Behavioral Health Hospital due to the sudden onset of severe panic attacks. I continue to write about it as a way of processing the experience.
arrival receives the same tour –
here’s your room, your room mate.
This is the
nurses’ station, the meds window;
here’s the bathroom and shower,
a towel and
washcloth, a blanket,
all bleached white.
is heavyset, balding,
with stringy dark hair.
He wears jeans
hospital-issue paper top,
the kind they hand out in the ER
clothes you wore upon arrival
were torn or bloodstained.
the rest of his belongings
in a brown paper bag tucked under
A shower is
the first order of business
for every new arrival, then meds.
behind him at the window
I notice the band aids on his wrists.
No one is
ready for eye contact
on their first day, each one jittery
like a wild animal, trapped and
But on the
day I will be discharged
he shows up
in Group and tells us all his name.
words come slow like his
voice has gotten lost
somewhere deep within his body, a small sound that
deep into a chasm of fear or pain or despair, but now
sitting at the end of the table,
every syllable a step toward resurrection.
He is Lazarus,
we all are, here in this tomb
of dying and learning to live again,
therapist at the opposite end
of the table calls us out each by name.