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.


Every new
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.  

The newest
is heavyset, balding, 

with stringy dark hair. 
He wears jeans

hospital-issue paper top, 

the kind they hand out in the ER

when the
clothes you wore upon arrival 

were torn or bloodstained. 

He carries
the rest of his belongings 

in a brown paper bag tucked under
one arm. 

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 

he speaks,
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,

and the
therapist at the opposite end 

of the table calls us out each by name. 

This post is linked with Playdates With God  and Unforced Rhythms.

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