My mind is a bit scattered as I sit to write this – perhaps too many topics, perhaps a lack of, – but I know that by writing this, whatever this is, it may help you.
Do you know how good a Starbucks Frappuccino blended and topped with whipped cream in all its glory is when it is brought to you in a psych ward? They weren’t supposed to allow it. We weren’t allowed caffeine, but my cunning fox of a mom slipped it right under their radar. “Nope. It is decaf. Can she please have it?” Well, I’ll tell you. It tasted like little sips of heaven. The sugar! (also not allowed) The caffeine! (not allowed) Oh, how I relished that drink. Starbucks will always hold a place in my hospitalized-heart.
Do you know how sweet it is for your sister’s best friend to bake you brownies because you nearly offed yourself? I’ve heard it said that bipolar disorder is not a “casserole” illness – no one brings you supper because you’re sick (I think I should credit that line of thought to Andy Behrman of Electroboy). But maybe it is a brownie business. Maybe no one was going to make me or my family a lasagna when I was released from the psych ward, but by God, I had brownies “on the inside,” which I shared with my favorite sad-crazy-friend.
Do you know how beautiful flowers are inside a psych ward, even if you have to place them in a plastic cup because you can’t be trusted with glass? I do. They are magnificent. The perfect shade of pale pink roses. I may never see any as perfect.
Do you know how a heart feels when you see the hoodie your boyfriend promised to buy you if you ever went into treatment again? It is the only piece of clothing he has ever bought me in the years we have been together. It hangs now in my closest in all its defiant pink glory.
Do you know how much hope a few photographs your sister brings will give you? Familiar faces. Smiling faces. Reminding me that this was just a bump, a glitch in my road. I’ll never know or remember where she got these photos but these are the ones that, to this day, nearly 6 years later, I have atop my desk.
It is the little things and the mundane – a pair of sweatpants, clean underwear so you aren’t the “crazy” girl running around in a hospital gown. (Though I have been her and may well one day be again). It’s the sandwich brought during visiting hours because the menu was not vegetarian-friendly. It’s the phone calls – never with the right words, but words brought to your ears nonetheless. Phone calls that are never long enough, that are perfect because the phone rang for YOU.
I have never appreciated the small things in life – like a long hot shower or coffee with cream or my dog’s enthusiasm at the mere sight of me – as much as I do because I have been in a psych ward. (Before I get the disgruntled comments – No, you don’t have to be in a psych ward to enjoy these things, but spend a few days in there and you will understand my sentiment).
So know that visiting hours are opportunities, if for nothing else than for the afflicted to see a familiar face. That face reminds us that there is more to life than the sterile walls in which we may live from time to time, that we are cared for, that we are loved.