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Stories from the Psych Ward

By Ruby Williams -


It's 2a.m. and I can hear the nurses' footsteps down the corridors,
with pools of light streaming out of their torches like car headlights in the rain.
Tonight is long and lonely, and voices wash over me in the dark.

Night checks, and rays of light pour over the sleepy shadowed forms of us,
into our eyes. Each black silhouette,
the shape of a patient in the middle of a dream.

I can feel insects crawling under my hands
but I can never dig them out.

Early morning cups of sweet black tea bring
a sense of comfort and normality to being an
involuntary psychiatric patient locked up in solitary.

Sleepless nights lying with outward eyes
at the disembodied hands pushing through the ceiling.
I curl around myself and wish I could disappear.

My hands are red and raw from trying to scratch
out the bugs that crawl underneath. I try to show
the insects to the staff, but none of the nurses believe.

One of the humanless spirits holds my spine
while the disembodied voices whisper "stay as low as you can."
And I scream and cry, and I'm taken into HDU.

Kita and Keely visit me in HDU. We sit outside
in the chill air of the courtyard and I try to tear the bugs out of my hands.

I sit with Alexa and Skyelee, threading glass beads on silver wire;
we tear letters from magazines like ransom notes, and talk, talk, talk.

We hoard bread rolls in our bedrooms between meal times
and talk endlessly about food and calories and getting out.

I'm taken to a conference room to talk
with a hospital psychiatrist and training nurses
about hallucinations and psychosis.
And I cry and cry about the horror of it all,
and feel as though I'll never stop.
The tears are endless, but there are other patients to see.

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