I walked alongside Ric to 2-May just like the day I was admitted to NJH/NAC on January 9, 1985, but only this time without mom at my side. I was holding onto one side of my packed trunk, and he the other. I was exhausted, and concentrated on holding back the tears.
He opened the door to 2-May revealing a long hallway with doors on either side all the way down, with the exception of the middle of the hall where there was a nurses station on the left side -- the North side. There were no kids roaming the halls because Ric took me out of school so I could have some time alone in my new room. I felt like I was walking through a fog.
After heaving the trunk down the long hall, we set it down in the middle of the hall by the nurses station. “Hi, Mary,” he said to a nurse who was standing behind the nurses station. She said, “Hey, Ric. Who do you have with you?”
“This is Rick. I’m showing him to his new room.”
“Hey, Rick,” she smiled, “Welcome to 2-May.”
I looked at the carpet, which had a pale yellow and red pattern, and it was worn and tattered, like carpet from the 1930s when the May building was constructed.
“John is a good kid,” Ric said, “I think you’ll enjoy having him. Right Rick?”
“John, are you okay?” Ric said, touching my shoulder.
“I’m fine,” I mumbled. I looked up at Mary, a short, dark haired lady with a huge smile. Behind her, to the left of the nurses station, was a door with a thick, square glass window near the top of it.
Mary touched the door, and said, "That’s the quiet room,” she said. “I’m sure you won’t have a need for that.”
I’d rather sit in there than room with Eric, I thought.
“Here,” Ric said. He turned, took a few steps to the other side of the hall, and opened a door. “This is your new room.” Ric bent and picked his end of the trunk. I did the same.
The room is trashed as I expected. Rick acted as though he didn't notice. We trudged through the trash and set the trunk down by the bed near the window. There's barely enough room for me to get out of bed, I thought. I stood there, mouth agape. I didn’t look up at poor Ric who was stuck with the unfortunate job of showing me this room, but I imagine he was in equal dismay.
You want to talk trash. This place was more than just clothing and books, crinkled papers, ripped up books, GARBAGE, was askew. Several large dressers were lined up against the left wall, two large wardrobes were set right in the middle of the room lengthwise so I could barely see the window from the door. To my right was his bed, unmade of course. I could barely see the floor, as it was covered with dirty clothes and anything else Eric owned.
“I told him to clean this before you got here. I guess this is as good as it gets. I’m sorry about this.”
Well then put me in a different room!
“You okay, Ric.”
“Where’s my closet?”
He backed up, nearly tripped on a shoebox, and worked his way back to the door. “Right here is your closet.” Behind the door were two parallel closet doors that extended nearly the height of the wall. He opened the one on the left, and half the contents rattled onto the floor. “Well, this one is obviously not yours. I hope this other one,” he opened the other door, which made a metallic clang, revealing an empty closet. “Whew! I almost thought I was going to have to hunt Eric down.”
He paused while I made my way through the clutter so I was standing next to him. “I promise you we’ll have Eric clean this room better than this. I promise, Ric.”
I shrugged. I didn’t know what to say -- or do. Your not going to make me stay in here, are you? I looked up at Ric. I sighed. I could feel my eyes burning. I could feel my heart pounding. Are you? Ric?
“I’m going to leave you now, Ric." My heart rate increased. My head suddenly felt like it might explode. "You should have at least an hour before Eric and the rest of the clan gets back from school.”
He disappeared, and the door clicked behind him. I sat down on the floor next to my trunk and opened it. I took out my clothes and hung them up neatly in my closet. The tears fell free yet again.
I cried when I unpacked my things on 2-May. I cried myself to sleep that night. I cried the next day in school. That was perhaps the worse day of my life, because my peers mocked me, and Mr. Rose joined in. I stormed from the room and ran, and one of the big kids chased me down and dragged me back to class. I kicked and screamed, and all the other kids were surrounding me.
Back on 2-May I paced up and down the hall bawling. It was in this state of mind I met with my new psychologist. He described me this way:
"Rick appears anxious and speaks in a somewhat whiny voice. He often holds his shoulders in a hunched position and seems to become tight relatively easily. "
This was his attempt to claim my asthma was triggered by my anxiety. I think he was right on here. However, as psychologists have a tendency to do, he may have over-analyzed the rest:
Rick stated angrily and defiantly he was only here to work on his asthma and did not understand why he needed to meet with a psychologist. He expressed his opposition to working on any of the interpersonal or personal goals which had been developed for him. He fidgeted nervously in his chair. His flow of speech was often pressured. At times he seemed to lose his train of thought and forget what he had been discussing. He exhibited limited capacity for insight and generally appeared to be confused and extremely anxious in his interaction."
That's because I hated that guy. It was because I was pissed. I liked 7-Goodman and the psychologist up there. I didn't want anything to do with 2-May, let alone this stupid guy. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, I felt nervous around psychologists.
I refused to take my meds. I refused to call my parents. I refused to talk to my stupid psychologist. I sat in his office and fidgeted with my fingers, and stared at the floor. When I looked at him, tried to correspond what he was saying, he was in a fog, and the words he said were muffled.
He kept tossing me a basketball, and I'd hold it, fumble it on my lap. He wanted me to throw it back to him, but I didn't want to. I knew what he was trying to do, and it wasn't going to work. I didn't want to talk to him, and none of his silly games were going to work on me. Honestly, it wasn't that I didn't like talking to psychologists, because I did talk to Linda on 7-Goodman, it was that I was tired of it all. I wanted to go home.
I even refused to take a bath. The boy's shower room on 2-May was cold and about 100 years old. Beside, the bullies were always in there and I wanted to avoid them best I could. And, as a result, I was placed on level one with no privileges and I was often thrown into the solitary room with padded walls where I felt safe. I got to the point I didn't care I was in there. To be quite honest, this was the first time in my life (and perhaps only time) I didn't care much about anything. I may have been depressed a day or two before and after, but never like this -- never!
And, worse of all, they made me sit in Adolescent boy's group. I knew some of the kids, four of whom were the bullies I feared. They were quick to put me on the spot because I sat there crying. I refused to talk. I pleaded with my counselor, Wally, to let me into the other group where the bullies weren't, but he insisted this was my group, and he was my counselor. He was awesome, but his group was not -- at least at this point.
The next day I refused to go to school. I didn't want a repeat of the day before. Instead I paced the halls crying. As I did this, something amazing happened. A girl of whom I hardly had any contact with came to me and said, "Rick, you are making a fool of yourself."
She was right. I went to school. I concentrated hard, and prevented myself from crying that day. The kids left me alone. I prayed the depression, the emotions, the tears would stay hidden. The day before I couldn't stop crying, and I prayed that wouldn't happen again. I literally concentrated on not letting myself fall into that mode again. Damn I hated that feeling.
The next day was a Saturday and we went on a field trip to a store where we had to go on a scavenger hunt. I got very nauseous and didn't feel like helping my team. The cool thing was, nobody bothered me.
That night, after taking a xanax, I went to my room. I prayed -- literally -- nobody would make me sit in the 2-May lobby where all the kids were gathered to watch a movie called Stripes that one of the bullies requested. I just wanted to be alone. I lied there staring at the ceiling. And, suddenly, l felt a feeling of joy rush up my veins.
After lying in my bed for over an hour, the nauseous feeling let go too, and I felt like I might like to try sitting in group. I said a quick prayer that I wouldn't cry while there, and I prayed the bullies would leave me alone, and I prayed no one would make fun of me for my behavior.
I went to the nurses station. I gathered my meds from my nurse, and took them with a cool cup of water. I walked ever so slowly to the lobby. It was dark. Every seat in the place except one was taken, and it was the one next to Wally. I watched the movie. No one bothered me. "We're glad you could make it," my new counselor whispered into my ear.
The movie was great. And that was the end of my depression. But I still had these "goals" Ric and the psychologist set for me to meat before I could go home. Yet it was not the end of my bully troubles.
On my medical records my psychologist wrote, "Estimated length of stay: 5 months."
To be continued tomorrow...