What I Deserve

I sat at the edge of my cot, staring blankly out of the tiny, reinforced window that lay just feet away. Without a thought, I began to pick and scratch at the layers of scabs and bandages that wound their way up my left arm.

So little harm had been done ­­to my body, yet I still sat in that tiny room, being monitored twenty-four seven.

The more I thought about that dark night, the cuts and the pills, the sicker I felt. I didn’t want to think about it, but the hospital I had been trapped in was a constant, disapproving reminder.

Day and night were virtually indistinguishable behind those white walls, so my every free hour was spent on that bed, watching the world crawl by. I’d never felt quite so alone in my entire life.

The days dragged on; group sessions, meals, and therapy were filled with my own silence. Visiting hours left me feeling empty, a stark reminder that I truly was alone, unwanted, and making the attempt feel more and more justified.

Mornings and nights, the nurse made her rounds, gently reminding everyone to sign the anti-self-harm contract, or face the padlocked hallway and tiny, padded rooms that lay beyond. I scrawled my empty promise at the bottom each and every time, for fear of an even smaller space.

Medication did nothing to dull the emotional pain of being abandoned once again. This time, at least, I’d tried to leave on my own terms. The few times I tried to explain it to the doctor, the more I would be monitored.

I learned to fake my happiness, to say that everything was ok, that I forgave everyone, including myself. The doctor could easily see through those lies. He threatened to keep me there even longer. I gave up. What else could I do?

What use was trying to avoid my problems, when I was trapped behind locked doors? Forced to face them, or dwell on it in silence. Before I’d been so sure that I deserved this, and now… I didn’t want it anymore. I didn’t want to be alone, or to push people away anymore. I wanted to know I was cared about.

The following week I forced myself to attend each group session that was offered, trying my hardest to swallow my pride and speak for myself. I was surprised when the doctors and fellow patients applauded me and offered actual advice, even hugging me and shaking my hand. I’d never felt so great about doing something that others would consider so simple.

Days flew by, growing brighter, and friendlier. I had hope again! I felt like I could be me, I could do great things with my life, and that it should never be taken for granted again. Overwhelmed with such a wonderful achievement, any lingering doubt vanished.

With a fresh outlook, I spoke to the doctor again. We had an extensive conversation about what I’d experienced in the hospital, and I confessed my initial feelings about being there. He nodded along, adding input here and there before congratulating me. He informed me that by working on being positive and taking my medication I could leave in a few days. I could finally go home.

On the final day I said my good byes, offering my hopes and support for everyone. After a few sniffling words and plenty of hugs, I was finally ushered out of the ward. I held my breath, nervous for my first interaction with my family since I’d been admitted.

My brother stood waiting in the doorway, talking to one of the nurses. He looked at me and smiled anxiously. Not knowing what to say, we walked to his car in silence. We sat there for a few minutes before he asked me if I was hungry, that he knew how bad the ward’s food was from experience. I agreed and we both laughed, making our way to the closest restaurant before starting the five hour trip home. I watched the scenery pass as we made jokes about everything, and I knew then that this is what I deserved.

Misty Daniels was born in Billings, Montana. She currently attends Fort Peck Community College majoring in computer technology. She has led an active student life at FPCC, serving in the Student Senate, various clubs, and spending a semester volunteering with AmeriCorps. Her interest in writing began early on, when she began writing short, fictional stories. The love was later reignited when she was published in a book of poetry.

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