I had a hard time the first few days I was inpatient. The first day, Mom had brought a suitcase full of my clothes, including a couple of books, my sketchbook and a journal for me to write in. Then, I said goodbye to my mom with tears in both our eyes and I was escorted up to the fifth floor of the hospital by a few nurses.
I wasn't allowed to bring anything else when I was brought up to the psychiatric unit that morning. I wasn't allowed my phone, nor any other electronics, and I wasn't allowed anything that could have been used to harm myself or others. Because of that, I couldn't bring pencils with me. They were provided by the people on the psychiatric unit and only used where they could see the people using them, in case something happened.
The room I was put in looked like a single room in a college dorm. There was a made bed, and a dresser, a window, and a chair, but that was about it. I also had my own private bathroom in the room, which was a bonus I guess. At least I didn't have to share with anyone else.
I spent that first day unpacking my clothes and putting them away into the dresser with the help of a nurse, considering my wrists were still a bit sore to use. I was able to change out of the hospital gown I was in, so I changed into a baggy hoodie and a pair of lounge pants. That same day, I also met with the team of people that would be working with me for the next ten days: Katelin, the psychologist I've already met, as well as a psychiatrist who will prescribe my meds, a physician for my wounds and pain management, a nurse, and an art therapist. Mom had told Katelin that I was into art, so she thought it would be beneficial for me to attend the art therapy group meetings.
They fed me lunch and dinner, as well as a couple of snacks in between meals. Preston visited me that evening, and as he had promised, he brought me a vanilla cupcake from my favourite bakery. We didn't talk much at first, and mostly just sat in silence in my room, but we talked some. After an hour went by, he had to leave. Something about his Dad grounding him because of the suspension he got. The first night I spent there, I cried in my room under the covers. I knew I was there for my own good, but that didn't mean that I wanted to be here. I just wanted to go home.
On the second day and third day, I had my first therapy sessions with Katelin. The first session was more of an introduction, where she talked about what we would be doing in therapy, and she gave me insight into depression, anxiety, and trauma as a whole. I didn't do much talking that day. The second session was more about me. She asked about my childhood, and what my life was like growing up. Still, I didn't say much and only gave her bits and pieces. We also dived into a bit of my relationship with Preston, and with my other friends. But still, I didn't give too much detail. I just felt so low in mood, that I didn't want to talk. I barely wanted to get out of bed still and do anything, but because I was inpatient now, they made sure that I was up and moving around as much as possible. Which meant that I spent a lot of my time in the common room when I wasn't in therapy.
Katelin got the psychiatrist to prescribe me antidepressants on my second day of inpatient. It was supposed to help not only my mood but she said it would help my anxiety as well. That afternoon, the nurse gave me my first dose with my lunch. I didn't want to take it, but I took it anyway.
I also had my first group therapy session with the art therapist on my third day of inpatient. The art therapist's name was Whitney, and they were pretty nice. There were about seven other people in the group session, and they were all teens roughly around my age, some older and some younger. But I didn't mind the group therapy session, mostly because I got to paint how I felt, and to me, that seemed like the easier way to reflect on what I was feeling, rather than expressing it out loud.
Now, it was the fourth day. I was currently sitting in Katelin's office for my daily therapy session with her. I sat on the couch across from her chair where she sat, my legs pulled up against my chest with my arms resting over the top of my knees.
"How was your first art therapy session?" Katelin asked me from her seat, her one leg crossed over the other.
"It was fine," I shrugged.
"Just fine?" Katelin asked, head tilted to one side, "Was there anything you liked or disliked about the group session?"
"I...I didn't mind it. I liked that we got to paint. I didn't have to do much talking."
"Mhmm...that's what I like about art therapy. For people who can't talk or have trouble expressing how they are feeling, sometimes drawing it or expressing it in a different way without words is a lot easier," Katelin nodded, "plus, art is fun and therapeutic all on its own. You and your mom also mentioned that art is a passion of yours. You got accepted into art school, right?"
"Uhm, yeah. I got accepted into Faith University."
"Are you excited to attend in the fall?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"You guess so?" Katelin raised a brow, and I nodded, "what do you mean by that?"
"I mean...I am glad that I got in, but..." I sighed, shrugging, "I don't know if I'll benefit much from it. Yeah, it's fun, and I love it, but art isn't exactly an easy career to fall into."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because...because it's hard to be successful in it. It's hard to get recognition. Plus, if you ever tell someone that you want to do some form of art as a career, like writing, or painting, people usually look at you weird or laugh in your face. I mean, they don't see it as a real career you can make money in."
"Hm...so do you think you're not capable of turning your passion into a career?"
"I...I don't know."
"Has someone ever told you that you were weird for wanting to be an artist?"
I fell silent. I brought my legs tighter against my chest, lowering my gaze elsewhere. I rubbed my eyes with the back of my hand, before resting my chin onto my knees.
"Marci? What did she say to you? Do you remember?"
"She told me that art wasn't a career, and compared me to Preston. She said what he wanted to do after graduation was more realistic and a better type of career to chase than the one I wanted."
"Hmm, I see...and what does Preston want to do after graduation?"
"He wants to go to school to become a doctor," I said quietly.
Katelin nodded, "so...do you think Preston is better than you, in that, he is achieving a so-called 'realistic' career choice, and you aren't?"
I fell silent again. I didn't say anything, but after a minute of not speaking, I nodded my head. I still didn't look at her. Katelin didn't say anything for a moment either. Instead, I heard the scribbling of her pen on paper, before she spoke up again.
"Tell me more about Marci. Was that the only time she put you down like that?"
I hesitated, then shook my head, my breathing becoming a little shaky, "uhm...no...she had a crush on Preston, but when I started dating him after Halloween, she...called me a slut and stopped talking to me."
Katelin nodded her head intently, "so I'm hearing that this Marci girl wasn't a very good friend to you. It seems like that when you strive toward something you want, she's always there to put you down right away."
"I-...y-yeah...." I said softly, biting my lower lip, "but...that wasn't the worst of what she's done to me."
"Care to explain that a bit more?" Katelin asked. I nodded, hesitantly, trying to gather up the words in my head before I tried to speak it out.
"There was this guy...Carter. This started back in February. He came to my locker to talk to me, and at that time I didn't think anything of it. But...Preston got suspicious of him and we fought over it. But the week after my birthday, we went to this party...a-and..."
I had to stop briefly as tears filled my eyes, blurring my vision. There was a lump in my throat that I swallowed down, but it felt impossible not to start crying when the memories started playing themselves in my head again. The moment Carter kissed me to now, me sitting in a psychiatric unit because of what he and Marci did to me.
"H-he trapped me against the wall on the backyard patio and kissed me. I-I tried to push him off, and I panicked when I couldn't...and then...Preston saw and he broke up with me after that. T-the following Monday...a video went out of me kissing Carter, so everyone thought that I cheated on Preston...a-and then the bullying started."
"I-I only found out Marci was the one who spread the video...s-she told me that one day at school a-and was also threatening to spread a rumour that I w-was pregnant...t-that was also the day I started to h-harm myself...and then you know, here I am..."
I started crying while frantically trying to wipe away the tears from my face. Katelin let me cry, and then she handed me a box of tissues, and she also asked if she could give me a hug, but I shook my head. So she just patiently waited until I calmed myself down until the tears lessened.
The rest of the session went by, and after the two hours were up, I got up and left her office.
The next couple of days went by slowly. Every morning, I would wake up, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, get dressed, and then I would have my sessions with Katelin for two hours. Then, I would have a couple of hours to spare so I spent it in the common room reading. Then I would have lunch, and the nurse would give me my antidepressants to take with my food. Then I would have my group therapy which was only about an hour.
By 4:00 pm, I would have visiting hours. Either Mom would visit me, but if she was working later, then Preston would be the one to visit me. Mom had visited me on the fourth and fifth day, and we spent an hour or so catching up, but on the sixth day, Preston was the one to visit me. Our conversations had been awkward at first, considering we didn't speak for an entire month, and after everything that happened we both struggled to make sense of everything, but it was slowly starting to get easier to talk to him again.
I did miss talking to him. I didn't really blame him for what happened either. He wasn't the one who caused this. It had been Marci and Carter who had decided they wanted to ruin our relationship and ruin my friendships and my life in general. Plus, I knew Preston wasn't a bad person. He's been my best friend for over ten years now, and I knew he wasn't a bad person.
He was kind and genuine, and I knew he cared about me and respected me, and I cared about him and respected him just as much. We had small arguments here and there, as everyone does, but this was the first time we ever had a falling out over something, and I feel like a part of it was because we decided to shift from being friends and step into a relationship. We stepped into new territory that we have never been in with each other, or with other people, and so while we knew each other for a long time, being in a romantic relationship with each other was still new. There's more pressure, more risk, and more insecurities. That's what I think at least.
"So...how's therapy going so far?" Preston asked. We were sitting in the common room on one of the couches with my head laying on Preston's shoulder as we sat side by side. My back was pressed against his arm as I slightly laid against him with my knees pulled up.
"It's going fine..." I shrugged, "I mean...the group therapy isn't bad, and my sessions with Katelin... they have been pretty helpful."
"Well, that's good. If it's helping you," Preston nodded, "have the meds kicked in yet?"
"Not really. I mean, I feel kind of bleh, but Katelin said some people tend to feel numb or restless before they start feeling better..." I sighed, "plus they don't usually kick in fully until after two weeks."
"Yeah, that's true," Preston said, "have you talked to Asher?"
I bit my lip, nodding my head, "yeah...I called him a couple of days ago using the phone here. I told him that I was okay and that he could visit me once I get to go home. I feel like it would be too stressful for him to come to visit while I'm inpatient, just because he's pregnant and I don't want him to worry more than he already is."
"Knowing him, he'll be waiting at your front doorstep by the time you get to go home," Preston chuckled. I hummed at that.
"Probably, yeah," I laughed softly, shaking my head with a heavy sigh. I closed my eyes briefly, "I can't wait to go home..."
"Me too," Preston murmured. I felt him reach over to drape his arm around me, and so I shifted closer against his side, his arm now holding me against him, "only four more days."
"Four days feels like a century."
Preston laughed, "four days will be over before you know it, don't worry."
"Mmm...perhaps," I shrugged, opening my eyes again as I looked down at the ground, "how's being grounded going for you?"
"Ugh," Preston groaned, "It's so boring. I'm lucky enough that my dad agreed to let me visit you because otherwise, I'm not allowed to see any of our friends. I'm not allowed to play video games or watch tv. Basically, the only thing he lets me do is play my guitar and my homework."
"I guess that's what happens when you get yourself suspended," I teased lightly, lifting my head to glance up at him. Preston rolled his eyes playfully and scoffed.
"Oh well, Dad knows the guy deserved it."
"Mhmm, he really did," I nodded. I rested my head back down on Preston's shoulder, the both of us falling into a comfortable silence. A few minutes passed, and the two of us just sat there in each other's company, until Preston spoke up again.
"Are you going to tell the principal about what Marci and Carter did to you? I mean...Carter is already suspended because of the fight we got in, but I think you should tell the school so that they can get the punishment they deserve," Preston said. I frowned.
"I don't know...do we even have proof? The video was only online for so long, so I pretty much only have my experience to fall back on...." I murmured.
"Not exactly," Preston replied, "Asher, Daniel, Me, and the rest of our friends saw the video. That's enough witnesses. I even saw Carter kiss you, even if I...thought wrong about it at first. I still witnessed it. I'm not gonna let them get away with what they did to you."
"Yeah...maybe," I nodded but said nothing more.
I knew I should go to the principal about it, but I was so tired of having to deal with it I almost didn't want to cause any more trouble. Would the principal even believe me? I mean...he probably would, given the entire school was in a way a witness. But...I still wasn't sure. It was something I would have to think about at some point, but right now, I didn't want to think about it. I would think about it when the time comes, but for now, I would keep myself focused on my therapy, and getting back home.
I couldn't wait to go back home.
"Only two more days and then you'll be discharged," Katelin said, sitting back in her chair with her leg crossed over the other, pen and paper sitting on her lap, "how do you feel about that?"
"Like it's not coming fast enough," I sighed. I sat cross-legged on the couch, fiddling with my fingers in my lap, "though...I'm also nervous."
"Why are you nervous?" Katelin asked.
"I don't know...I guess going home means I have to face what I tried to do. I have to face reality, my friends...school," I hesitated on the last bit because just thinking about going back to school was dreadful, "leaving here means stepping back out into the world I tried to escape in the first place."
"The thing about anxiety...is that the more you avoid it, the worse it will get," Katelin explained, "avoidance is a vicious cycle. I know going back to school is terrifying, especially in your instance because of the bullying you faced by your peers. This is why you'll be having therapy with me twice a week once you go back, and why we're learning different coping mechanisms. But you got this, Adrien. You've made a lot of progress these last eight days."
"Doesn't feel like it."
"Why do you say that?" Katelin asked, "are you still feeling suicidal?"
"Not necessarily...I just still feel like crap. My mood is low, like I'm numb."
"That's probably a side effect of your medications, but you should see an improvement in your mood soon. Another thing is that depression doesn't go away overnight. These last eight days weren't meant to cure you, they were meant to lower your risk of suicide so that you're safe enough to go home. And if you aren't feeling suicidal, that's major progress, compared to how you were when you first came to the hospital," Katelin said. I grimaced at the memory.
"Yeah...I guess so," I sighed, lowering my gaze.
Katelin tilted her head at me, "...is there something else on your mind?"
"I don't know...I just...I don't know what to do," I said, shaking my head, "everything is different now. How can I ever go back to how I was before everything happened? How can I be happy again? How can I be close to my friends again? Nothing is the same anymore, and it sucks."
"We're never the same after a traumatic experience," Katelin explained, "and I know it sucks, but you're a different person now, compared to then. People always try to go back to how they used to be, and it never works out, because who they were back then didn't go through the trauma they did."
"Does that mean I can never be truly happy again?"
Katelin shook her head, "You can find contentment again, you just gotta keep moving forward, Adrien. You can't look back before the trauma and wish for things to be the same. If you keep looking back and wishing, it won't bring back your happiness. It will only make you depressed. Things are always changing, good and bad, and so we have to learn to adapt to these changes."
"So..." I frowned, "what do I do?"
"I can't tell you exactly what to do," Katelin smiled softly, "but I can be here to support you and help you find your way. The past is done and the future can wait. Focus on you and your present self. One day at a time."
When my session with Katelin was finished, and I walked out of her office, I was left with a million thoughts that swam around in my head. The road in front of me seemed so blurry. It had never been fully clear before the trauma, but now, it left me even more uncertain with myself.
I lost myself. All my life, I had been unsure of myself and who I was, and what I wanted to do. I was always unsure of what I should do, and what was the right choice, because what I wanted always clashed with other people's beliefs. I fought between wanting to do what made me happy and yet wanting to keep the people around me happy, even if it meant sacrificing what I wanted. But now, after all that happened, I felt like I lost myself completely like I was standing in the middle of a big dark forest, with no directions on where to go.
It seemed like to me, no matter what I wanted to do, I had to sacrifice something. How do I choose what to sacrifice and what to not? How do I know what will bring me contentment? How do I find myself again, after the old me died and got buried beneath all the trauma? What was I supposed to do now?
I spent the rest of the day with these thoughts in my head. In group therapy, I expressed these confusions with my painting. During lunch, as I ate the food they gave me and swallowed down my meds, the thoughts were still there. As I went back to my room for the night, showered, brushed my teeth, and laid into bed that night, I stared up at the ceiling, wondering what the hell I should do.
But I guess it was just as Katelin said to me—one step at a time, and one day at a time.