I awake early and look over my bags. I packed last night, but I have no idea whether I’ve even brought the right stuff. I’ve never stayed in a hospital before. I’ve never known anyone who was in a psych ward. Sitting on my bed, I have a few silent tears. My room is a complete mess. It hasn’t been cleaned in weeks. There are takeaway cartons and dirty dishes lying around it. I’ve barely been able to get out of bed the last few days.
My Dad is on his way and I resist the urge to get back into bed, pull the duvet over my head and sob. I agonised over what to wear. I thought it was best to dress in jeans, a long top and a cardigan. The most casual outfit I own. I didn’t want to dress up and look like I wasn’t sick enough. I laugh at this thought now, but I really had no idea what to expect.
I’m way too thin. Thinner than I’ve been in years. I feel so delicate. Like the slightest thing could snap me in two. It’s not the best feeling when you’re going to a hospital. I haven’t been able to cook myself anything recently. If I don’t order myself takeaway, I starve. I’ve been a zombie the last few days. Lying in my bed staring at the ceiling, half-watching TV shows or sleeping.
Dad helps me bring my bag down to the van. Any trace of tears are gone now. I want to be strong for my family. I don’t want them to think I’m scared or that I have any doubts. Even though I am scared and I have lots of doubts. I want them to think I’m doing the right thing. And to be confident in my decisions. A few days ago, Dad and I were in A&E where I sobbed and begged the psychiatrist to refer me to a hospital. I told him I’d die if he didn’t. I’m sure that was an incredibly difficult thing for my Dad to hear. I don’t want him to have to suffer any more.
We stop at a deli for some food. I don’t want to eat, but I do. I’m incredibly nervous. I think my Dad is too. Everything he says to me is very reassuring. I’m glad he’s here. But I’m in my own foggy bubble. I feel completely alone in here. Trapped under the crushing weight of my emotions.
When we walk through the doors, I’m surprised. The hospital is modern and bright. Lots of people are walking around, some carrying folders, some holding coffee while they talk. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t this. I do what I always do when I feel threatened, I stand up tall and walk confidently towards the desk. A smiling woman points me towards admissions where my Dad and I take a seat. We’re brought coffees in large flowery mugs. I hold my mug tightly, savouring the feel of the smooth warmth in my hands.
I see a doctor and go over everything I’ve been through in the last few months. It’s standard practice for me at this point. I went to A&E four times prior to being admitted. I kept getting pawned off by professionals. They blamed my hormones and suggested I go to my gender specialist. The result was that my condition worsened until I became the shell of myself that stands here today. He brings my Dad in and asks him a couple of questions. After that, I urge my Dad to leave. I can take it from here. The child in me wants him to stay and hold my hand, but I haven’t allowed the child in me to make a decision in years.
I sit chewing my nails and anxiously glancing at my phone. I’m dreading the moment a nurse from my ward comes down to collect me, but I’m also dreading having to sit here for hours. It’s not long before a man who’s probably in his fifties comes along. He takes my bag and we get the lift, making polite conversation. My room is right beside the nurses station. He goes through my stuff, making a list of what’s there. I hand up my hormones, they’ll make sure I get the right medications every day.
As he sits with me and takes down some of my information, the fire alarm goes off. Everyone from the ward begins to head downstairs. I look around at the other patients. A lot of them look to be my age. I’m slightly relieved at that. One girl has a towel on her head, she was obviously mid-shower when the alarm went off. I smile at her and she smiles back. When the drill is over, we return to the ward. I sit with the nurse who continues taking my information and then it’s lunchtime.