January 24th -- Entry Into Psychiatric Hospital(excerpt) __________________(names changed, except Carolyn and Tonya)
Today was the most important day of my life. It started off normally enough – I got up around nine, mucked about in my room for a little while ('cause I didn't want Carolyn to know I was up so early), then I had breakfast and had a shower. After that I packaged my video tapes, clipped my nails, took down my posters, arranged the keyboard-case, and unplugged everything. I also took the name label off my door and the nails out of the walls. I did all this so as to make the statement "This is not Stephen's room anymore".
As time went by I became more and more fearful that Carolyn would see into the room and start to ask questions. I had a bit of time to burn so I sat in the dining-room and read an "Asterix" book nervously. I stayed out of Carolyn's way because I was so nervous she was sure to notice. Near the end I sat reading an "Australian Geographic", just looking at it without registering the words – then finally two-thirty rolled around and I departed. I said goodbye to Carolyn – she told me to say hello to Tonya from her, and I joked that I would. Off I went into the heat, with my heavy bag. I looked back at Carolyn as I left – I wonder if she will remember it.
I kept walking all the way to the plaza and in the newsagency I bought a glue stick. In Tuckerbag I bought soap and five six-packs of chewing gum. There was a lot of trouble with the chewing gum as I'd bought more than I could afford and the cashier had to delete some. I was getting rid of a lot of small change – what a panic. In the post office (I was sweating like crazy as I walked from shop to shop) I got Tonya's letter photocopied. Then I went to the station and eventually I caught the three twenty-eight train to Heidelberg.
I was listening to new music as I walked into the hospital. I was very tense and I didn't really get a chance to relax until four twenty-five when I arrived at the Marian Drummond Building. I played my new Single Gun Theory tape to try and relax myself, but my heart kept pumping double-time.
Finally Tonya arrived and she thought it was a usual session and she apologized for not being there last time. She read my letter as normal and, when she got to the suicide bit, she paused and said "I have a habit of reading ahead." Without any emotion in her voice, she read the rest of the letter. Then, picking her words carefully, she tried to persuade me to consider other options before taking the plunge. But I refused. So she tried to instill in me the fear that my suicide would fail and that my life would be messed up. But I stuck by my decision. Then she tried to persuade me to stay at the hospital for a while, an option which she said I "probably hadn't thought of before." At first I thought this was just what I'd been waiting for, but then I remembered my resolve to stick by the suicide story, and I said no. She spoke more about the incorrectness of my plan, growing more desperate as she went along. For a while I was afraid that she really wouldn't be able to stop me, and that I'd go ahead and do it, but I quenched my fears. This wasn't the way I'd expected it -- I thought she'd be able to see through me like glass, guessing my true intentions, but she seemed to believe I was truly suicidal. I hated to see her so despairing -- I wanted to tell her what was really on my mind, but I stuck by my plan.
After what seemed like an eternity of her trying to get through to me, she asked me if I would at least talk to someone else about it first. I said "O.K., if you like", and she went out. A while later a couple of people came in, they were the dark-haired ugly types and I had a directionless discussion with them. The woman did most of the talking, and the man asked stupid questions occasionally. They didn't delve very far into the question of WHY I told Tonya about it -- I just stuck to the phrase "I just thought it would be something she'd want to know and that she had the right to know." There were a lot of long silences. Eventually Tonya came back and so did a lady psychiatrist who was the childlike-beauty type. They explained that I would have to be taken to a psychiatric hospital -- at last. Tonya had to go home and feed her baby and then a man and a woman came in who were from the Crisis Assessment Team. I had to explain to them one more time the reasons for my intended suicide. Their names were Krista and Gary and they were very friendly. After a long talk with them Tonya came back. She said she'd done what she had to do, and expressed her fear that I was angry with her and that I might never speak to her again. Her words were so absurd and untrue that for the first time I felt like smiling, and I looked forward to the day when could tell her that I had never been angry at her.
Next came the moment I had been dreading -- my parents visited. I hadn't counted on playing the part of the suicidal person to them. Ma gave a speech about how important I was to them. I said "I don't want us to talk here for too long", but they talked a bit longer. It was about seven p.m. when the time came for me to be taken to the psychiatric hospital -- there was a moment of fear when Ma asked me if I wanted her to bring me a toothbrush, and I said I already had one in my bag, and she asked if I always carried one with me, and I had to lie and say yes. This exchange led Krista the Crisis Assessment lady to ask if I'd been expecting to go to hospital, and I said it had crossed my mind. There were no further questions.
We departed from the Austin Hospital Child and Adolescent Mental Health Department, and Krista and Gary took me to the psychiatric hospital in their car. On the way Krista asked me questions about myself, some of them were obviously routine questions to find out if I had any psychosis. We arrived at the legendary psychiatric hospital. I had to wait in the reception area for a long time. I sat down and listened to my personal stereo for a short time then a pretty nurse took me to the kitchen and gave me some sandwiches for dinner. After that my bag was in the office and I asked for it but they wouldn't let me have it and I didn't think to ask if I could take anything from it so for a long time I had nothing to do but read a few leaflets. My parents, regretfully, arrived with my clothes. I was dead sure that after seeing how neatly my bedroom at home was arranged, they would guess that I'd been expecting to go to psychiatric hospital. But instead Mum thought it was something I'd done in preparation for suicide, and I left her with that misconception. We watched the mental patients go by -- there was one foreign lady who was on the phone, speaking in distressed emotional terms to her estranged loved one. Mum whispered to me: "I think you'll have an interesting time here."
After an interview with the doctor, Ma and Pa finally left and I had my bags searched by nurse Martha. She said I must be pretty unimpressed by all this, but I said I was fine with it. The best thing was, she didn't find any dangerous items in my bag, not even the pens or scissors. She told me my room number and I went up to my room in an excited mood. I was hyperactive in the empty room. I jumped up and touched the ceiling. I put my things away at lightning speed. The name on the door announced that my room-mate was named Donald. I was confident about meeting Donald at first, but as I settled down to write my diary I figured I wouldn't say much to him. I was hot after all my furious activity.
Much later, Donald came in. He was a fat middle aged man, not at all what I expected. All we said to eachother was "Hello". Inevitably the time came when he got into bed and said "Are you going to be writing for long there mate?". I said "Yes, I..." and went out and turned off the light.
Outside in the corridor I sat and wrote you the diary but then a nurse said "Are you going to bed soon", so eventually I had to leave you unfinished. I still had to clean my teeth but I was afraid to turn the light on in my room so I searched around in the dark for my brush and the paste and the floss and that took a long time. I went to the bathroom and cleaned my teeth and then went back into the dark room and went to bed.
So there I was lying awake in a psychiatric hospital. There was a power point, at least on Donald's side, and the room was comfortable, everything was good, if not better, than I'd expected. So why did I feel a horrid sickly feeling deep down inside my gut? It was there when I remembered the method by which I'd got to this place, and the intense feelings which I'd caused everyone. Maybe it was because it had been too easy -- they had been too nice about it. On this side of it, I didn't feel excited -- I felt like I was going to throw up. And Donald was snoring at times.