For Kristina, who will always be my saving grace.
In all honesty, I wasn't trying to kill myself. I was just trying to escape the prison of my brain, and for once it was nice to finally feel truly carefree.
If escaping the prison meant leaving my physical body, then so be it.
Paperwork. Check. Blood pressure. Check. All other vitals. Check.
Hours went by as I laid in the ER bed in an ever-so-chic hospital gown, branded with a repeating pattern of the medical supply company’s logo. All-over prints wouldn't start trending until 2012, but let's face it. I've always been fashion forward. By the time the doctors had fully assessed my status, the sun was no longer shining. The Xanax had worn off, and I was completely coherent. I was growing impatient, restless, and scared. I wasn't hooked up to an IV. They didn't pump my stomach. Why was I still in the hospital? It was all a blur of tears, goodbyes, and reassurances from my friends. They were crying. I was crying. Did I miss something? Was I filming a bad episode of Grey’s Anatomy? Where was the hot doctor?
The nurse reappeared and spit out some hasty words free of any bedside manner. Before I knew it, I was being carted off into a dark, ominous automobile about as charming as a rapist’s van. Over the river, through the woods, and to the Santa Barbara Psychiatric Hospital I went. I hardly remember any lights on the street, but then again, I'm not sure my memory is to be trusted, given that my eyes were the embodiment of Justin Timberlake's hit, "Cry Me A River." After half an hour we had arrived. Midnight. I was escorted by an attendant to my room. The sounds of our footsteps sent echoes down the hallway, and goosebumps blistered my skin. It was exactly like the movies, and I was living a nightmare. Forced into the loony bin against my will, completely sane. Four bare, cool-toned white walls. Fluorescent lighting. I recounted the events of the day until my mind grew tired. Everything was out of my control, and there was nothing I could do until the next day. I hadn’t been trying to commit suicide, but if I had, I sure as hell would make sure I finished the job now because there was no way in hell I would let myself end up back in this place. Fuck you, 5150.
The next morning, I awoke at 6am to the sound of fellow patients pacing up and down the hallway repeating eery mantras. Yup. Living the dream. I was not allowed to close the door, so I was resolved to the soundtrack of this particular moment of my life. Since brunch plans had been thwarted the day before by my hospital visit, all I could think of was food. Burrito. Yes. Taco. Yes. Anything. Yes! My stomach rumbled and I would soon turn into the Hulk if I didn't get my hands on some nom noms. An attendant escorted me down several creepy hallways, past the schizophrenics, and deep into a dungeon, where ten strangers could approve or deny my sanity, and therefore my exit. I sat at the end of the table with ten pairs of eyes judging my every movement. My heart was heavily palpitating in my chest, and I answered each question to the best of my ability. The difference between my freedom and indefinite incarceration depended on these answers. This verbal Q and A was not nearly as difficult as any standardized test I had ever taken. After some deliberation among the jury and lots of shaky nerves, I was voted "SANE."
I ran out of that damned placed without looking back. Emma was already waiting for me in her silver Tacoma. I opened the door and collapsed into the passenger seat. She looked over and tossed me a paper bag. "Here, I have a surprise for you." I opened the bag and discovered what I could only identify as pure love — one hash brown and one sausage-and-egg McMuffin. I will never forget that McDonald's breakfast.