Only parts of my mother’s house are still a shrine. Mostly I find little school photos, smaller than passport photos, tucked into the corners of photo frames around the house. A photo of the grandmother I didn’t like much, it’s one of these re-colourised photos with rose red cheeks and lips.
My old bedroom isn’t much of a shrine anymore. There’s a double bed now and my desk’s been removed but the corner bookshelf’s still there with my first and only Encyclopedia – not the Britannica – we didn’t value that sort of quality, that was for the rich kids who didn’t make it to uni anyway. I don’t even know what mine are called, but before Google, before Altavista, Before Hotbot, Before Asking Jeeves, the Encyclopedia is how dad and I settled arguments. Oh, and every year’s edition of the Guinness Book of Records.
“Look it up in the books, you’ll see.” Between those books, we settled a lot of arguments.
I’m being checked into the psych hospital.
Standing BP 100/60
The nurse tells me to be careful when I stand up, to hold onto the arms of my chairs. It certainly explains why I fall, I say and laugh.
We tell mum and dad about it after the BBQ (my last meal) and during coffee and cannoli. On reflection, I should have waited until I’d finished my cannoli, because I don’t get to enjoy it this time but I tell mum it’s beautiful before we start getting into it. I finished the cannoli after the talk, after the tears.
I tell them I’m going to hospital for three weeks. We were going to tell them it was just for a meds change. But I break down and cry and tell them I’m depressed and need help.
“Pensa cosi buoni,” mum says, sounding like every shrink ever.
“Speak in English,” I warn her, because I want Jeff to know, I want him to experience what I experience. I want him to know the shit they’re saying to me, have been saying to me forever. Dad just rests his head in his hands and I don’t know if he feels bad or sad.
They mean well, of course.
“What did we did wrong?” dad asks, finally, genuinely burdened, because he knows what he did.
“Nothing,” I assure him, because I’m just about to be admitted into a psychiatric hospital and don’t want to get into it. “It’s not about you or mum. Some of us are diabetic, some of us have depression and want to kill ourselves.”
“Great, brava, well done.” He’s ashamed at me for trying to kill myself.
So am I, I guess. This is why I don’t tell them things. This is why I want them to speak in English, so Jeff can hear the shame my father feels.
“Say it in English,” I say, a hint of a sneer.
I guess I want my father to feel some shame.
“Have you self-harmed?” the nurse says during admission after we leave the BBQ. Except that’s not wha he says. He says something I don’t understand, something that I have to repeat, like I do when I need to understand something. “Hav you participated in non-accidental body injury.”
What the fuck does that even mean?
Jeff explains it to me. I say no.
It’s awkward having Jeff there while I talk to the nurse. There are things he doesn’t know, like the secret packets of Valium, the number of Valium I take a day (he said 6, I tell the truth). I ask if he wants to leave and he asks if I want him to leave and I say no, because I’ve hurt him enough.
The nurse asks if I participate in any other body harm.
“Like tattoos and piercings?” I wonder aloud, because I honestly don’t know.
“Yes,” I laugh because I just realised. Of course I fucking have.
I cut my laugh short because I don’t want him to thing I’m McMurphy crazy, you know, big, loud, sexual, dirty, and outrageous, an anarchist, a trouble-maker.
Anyway, self-harming is lame. That’s why you get artists to harm you instead. In the last month alone I have been arted 4 times. My harming is pretty.
There’s a woman here called Jo, not me, another Jo. She talks a lot and it shits me a bit. It’s not her first admission. Troppo conferenza and all that. Jeff’ll understand this.
I wonder if this admission won’t work. I wonder if I need another admission. So I ask for more Valium, but I’ve already had my allotment for the afternoon and I have to wait til later.
I also have this fear that I won’t want to leave here. It seems safe anyway. It seems that I won’t be able to disappoint anyone here.
I go for some water. We’re not allowed glass so everything is plastic. There are red ones and blue ones and I take blue because red is supposed to mean aggression, and it makes you hungry.
There’s woman next to Jo who’s crying and talking. I just want to go to my room and sleep but it’s discouraged. It’s better to be in public.
I didn’t expect it to be co-ed. Not sure why. But it’s nice and clean and private and I have my own room and my own shower and my own toilet and I got to bring my own Lush soap and Nespresso Machine that they’ll bring out in the morning when I need it and then they’ll put it away on account of the cords.
At the moment I’m not allowed any cords or cables in my room – no chargers, no headphones. But they let me keep my octopus charger because it’s so small that I probably can’t hang myself with it anyway, even if I wanted to.
I wonder if Jeff is as okay as I think he’ll be. He said he cried last night and I wonder who it was for.
Tonnes of posters on the walls in the common areas that have been coloured by patients, I assume. There’s one that’s a mindmap with the word “Mindfulness” in the middle, surrounded by a bunch of words I can’t read from this distance.. And this pretty one that says “Take a moment to Breathe” and I realise that I regularly forget to breathe and I gasp
Ritz crackers, Waterthins, Anzac cookies, a bock of Cadbury chocolate. I avoid them all and want to go to my room and read or watch a movie tonight.
I want to ask for my Valium again but it’s only been 45 minutes since I asked last and I’m ashamed like they’ll tell me off “tutt, tutt, try some mindfulness instead.”
I want to yell out that they have no idea, that two 5mg diazepam is hardly enough and that some of us need more and to just fucking give it to me. I think they’re wrong about addiction and that’s it’s my business. “What do YOU care if I take too many? I’m the one paying for it anyway.”
Now I’m angry because I can’t control my own delivery of fucking Valium and I wonder if being here is worth all of the angst. When I could take Valium when I wanted to, things were better.
Should I go and ask. I had asked at 5.45pm and it’ 6.45pm. Maybe I’ll ask again at 7pm.
But they’ll only give me 10mg. I want to fade away to nothing.
The man in the room next door is sitting at his desk IN THE DARK with his door open. I don’t know what to make of this.