[Almost done! If you're jumping in in the middle of the series, we started with Post #1 and you can follow the links from there.]
As I said in an earlier post in this series, feeling as bad as I was for those last few days – or, more accurately, feeling as numb as I was for those last few days – felt very strange. It was just so unlike me, so unlike what I was used to experiencing. And when I was actually in the hospital, I had many moments where I had to look at myself and think, “Is this me? Is this what I’ve become?” But every once in a while, I had a moment where I remembered who I used to be when I was “on the outside,” and I thought, “Oh, right, that’s who I am.”
For one thing, my maternal instincts seemed to still be calling out to those around me. Once I decided to actually start speaking to the other patients, I quickly noticed a remarkable proportion of them were coming to me to talk about their problems. Especially my poor roommate, whose mother is just about the MEANEST woman on earth. I had to forcibly hold myself back from going over there, stepping between them, and saying, “Stop yelling at my roommate! She’s a good person and you’re not helping her by blaming her for all of this!” And poor D. was going through horrible uncertainty about her living situation, and she came to me in tears first to lay out her problems, then came to me later to celebrate when it looked like things were going to work out after all. But in those times, when I was taking care of the other patients in some way, I thought to myself, “Yeah, I remember how to be this person.”
There was also my continued attention to the more superficial side of life. We've already discussed the fashionable sleepwear ensemble I put together for myself, which really ought to be evidence enough. But if not, I can also hold up the fact that I made J. bring me new shirts because I didn't have enough shirts to match the pants he'd brought me, and I refused to wear anything that didn't match. And, even worse, as soon as he brought my flip-flops for me to wear around the ward, I realized how badly I needed a pedicure, and I immediately had him bring me everything to do my toes (though, as we've already established, this meant bringing me some contraband). Crazies or not, there was no way I was walking around with such obviously chipped polish on my toes. I know, it's silly and completely trivial, but it's soooo me.
I think, though, that the simultaneously best and worst moment of self-recognition came when I rediscovered my competitive nature. I compete and compare and measure myself up to others fairly regularly (which is probably why I'm such a comment whore - it's blogger rivalry). In occupational therapy one afternoon, we were playing Pictionary, and I was glad to see that everyone quickly acknowledged my vast superiority in the fields of both drawing and guessing. I was just sitting there, looking around at the other inmates - did I say inmates? I meant patients - and thinking, "I’m sooo much better at Pictionary than you." But that’s pretty normal, right? I mean, maybe it was a little mean, but I didn’t say it out loud, and it is a game, so competition makes sense.
Then one day we were in group therapy. We were doing an exercise on the board as a large group, sort of taking turns helping to talk through bits of the exercise and explain why we thought what we thought and etc. I was talking to the doctor about one section of it, relating it actually to some reading I’d done for a class about adolescent egocentrism, and the sorts of myths that arise from that (e.g. the imaginary audience). Then this other guy raised his hand and started talking about something completely unrelated that made no sense and was not helpful at all. And (here’s the awful part), completely without considering how much of an asshole I was being, I scoffed inwardly and thought, “I’m sooo much better at therapy than you.”
And then I shook my head, tsk’d myself, and thought, “That was horrible. I can’t believe I just thought that.”
And then I shrugged and thought, “Well, at least I remember how to be that person, too.”
In the next - and final! - post: What next?