The third time I went to A&E to insist that something was wrong with my mental state, I went alone. It was a Monday, I had spent the weekend sobbing feeling overwhelmed at the thought of leaving my bed and I’d had enough. I’d been accompanied the last two times I went to A&E and having other opinions in the mix made me ignore my instincts and back down from what I was certain that I needed-to be hospitalised.
I don’t know where that certainty arose from. I’d never known anyone who went to a psychiatric hospital before, but I knew I wouldn’t make it through if I tried to heal myself on my own.
When a friend discovered where I was, she came to see me. I appreciated her being there as I lay on a hospital bed surrounded by physically wounded people, but when it began to get late, I insisted she go home. I’d arrived at the A&E in the afternoon, but when night began, I still han’t been seen to.
I lay in bed trying to get some well needed rest, but I could not bring myself to drift off with all the bustling noise around me. I looked around at everyone else, none of whom happened to be alone like me and I felt incredibly lonely. I lay my head on my pillow and I sobbed. I’d probably never felt such despair in my life.
A kind nurse brought me a tea full of sugar and milk, the kind which I would never, ever touch usually. But I gratefully gulped it down. A woman who I’d estimate was around forty years my senior watched me from her bed with kind eyes. I’d usually be embarassed about this. I’d usually smile and reassure anyone around me that I was okay. But all I could do was gaze back at her helplessly as the crying continued.
She eventually got out of her bed and hobbled over to sit on a chair next to me. I can’t remember exactly what her injury was but it was evident that it wasn’t easy for her to do so. She took my hand and I poured my heart out to her about the pain I’d been suffering from over the previous months.
She told me stories about her family and reassured me that I’d be okay, something I struggled to believe. She talked and talked until my heaving sobs turned to heavy sighs and I began to drift off to sleep. She repeatedly told me her name and asked me to look her up in the phonebook. I gave her my card and told her to text me instead.
A week or so later, I sat on the bed of my new room in the hospital and thought of her again. I took out my phone and texted her informing her of where I was and that I was okay. She responded warmly and asked me to keep in touch.
My life became stranger than I ever could have imagined in the coming weeks which meant I never kept in touch with her. However, I do think of her often. I think of how much her kindness meant to me at such a difficult time. I think of how many people walked awkwardly past me on that bed, unable or unwilling to console me. I think about how comforted I was by being shown such compassion.
Sometimes we shy away from comforting people because we worry about their reaction, but if there’s one thing that really stays with us, it’s empathy shown by people we barely know. I don’t know what compelled her to behave so kindly towards me that day, but I’m incredibly grateful to her and I wish her only the best. She’ll probably forever be in my thoughts as a person whose small action eased my burden a tiny bit.
Read my thoughts on gaining weight here.