As Long As It Has Nothing to Do With My Vagina

In the psychiatric ward, they take your shoelaces.  They took mine anyway.  They took my black winter coat, my cell phone, my charger, my purple college back sack and they took my shoelaces.  In a small and drafty off-white examination room I took off my shirt, my pants, and my undergarments.  I got to wear my socks, though.  I was allowed to do that.  The nurse whose name I can’t remember called my underwear “chonies” and I scoffed at her strange slang and asked her wear she got that word from anyway.  She said she was from California; I thought she was from Jupiter.  Me, I could have cared less.  I simply did not want to be there.  That nurse from Cali with her too too big glasses and her tiny frame asked if the woman with me was my mother.  I scoffed at that statement too and declared with great sarcasm, “Obviously.”  Donna, the office manager of Psychological and Health Services is White and not my mother.  Then, the nurse began to go through the numerous and unlikely ways that this White woman could be the mother of me, a Black teenage girl on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

In the hospital I was given my own room and lots of nurses with different names and similar accents came to check my vitals, take my temperature, check my blood pressure, and take my blood, etcetera and so forth.  “Have you ever had an EKG?” one of the nurses asked.  “No,” I replied, “Does it hurt?”  The nurse assured me that it didn’t.  “As long as it has nothing to do with my vagina,” I replied flatly.  And the nurses chuckled.  “I like this one,” one nurse said to the other.  “I don’t like you,” I replied to the nurse.  My statement didn’t phase her one way or the other and I was annoyed that no one was annoyed with me or annoyed with the fact that I was annoyed.

I didn’t like anybody who tended to me, except for Elizabeth whose voice like wrinkled suede.  Elizabeth was kind to me and she didn’t talk to me as if I were a toddler; she wasn’t patronizing or condescending or aloof.  She talked to me as if I were a teenager and she told me about her own son who was my age.  I imagined a young man-boy with shaggy hair, brown, nothing special, eyes covered, and a posture of slouch.  I imagined a young man-boy who was free unlike me at home in his room with his music and posters and cell phone and shoe laces.  I was obsessed with getting back shoe laces.  All I wanted was to have my shoe laces.  Shoe laces.  I asked Elizabeth what the oldest weapon in the world was and she stayed with me until I fell asleep and I forgot to tell her the answer to my question and then I never saw her again.

In the hospital, I ate crackers and cried Sprite.  I talked to a man named Craig who tried to commit suicide by sitting in a car garage with the car engine turned on, waited for someone, anyone to call me, stared blankly at a Bible that I swore was missing a couple of chapters (it was missing the Old Testament), ate more crackers and cried until my eyes swelled up dry and red and then I cried some more.

In the hospital I waited all night for my mother to come for me and in the morning I waited all day.  When she came she crooned me in her arms and I cried little girl toddler tears and I begged to go home.  In the psychiatric ward, they gave me my black winter coat, my cell phone, my charger, my purple college back sack and they gave back my shoelaces. 

brujis brujis
18-21, F
5 Responses Jul 19, 2007

So, what is the latest on this story ?How are you now, did you get medication to help with your bi-polar ?

After several years have past by I do hope you found balance in your life and that you are living a happy wonderful life. Mental illness doesn't mean we have to be mixed up and in turmoil. We just need to understand what works for us.

Wow - what a raw and heartfelt piece. Thank you for sharing.<br />
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It was just about a year ago I started working in the Adolescent Ward of our state run psychiatric hospital; night shift. You describe the scene to a tea, especially how some of the staff treat the patients - invisible and abnormal (don't get too close).<br />
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I like to think of myself as nurse Elizabeth. At least I think I get her, cuz during that brief time I worked there, my own son was in a residental psyc facility 200 miles away for 4 whole months. It was a scary but life saving.<br />
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So, I am also the mom, crooning my little baby.<br />
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~ so bitter sweet ~<br />
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I hope you are doing better now...

This is so well written. It reminds me of my couple stays in mental hospitals. A voice like wrinkled suede...you could definitely be a writer.

Very touching story...