June 4th -- Visit From Melanie

(day after the dreaded "Sheet Changing Incident")

(names changed, except Melanie's name)

I didn't know what time it was when I got up, so I had to guess when to get up, and I guessed pretty accurately. I packed my bag and took it downstairs to breakfast, a thing I've never done before. My room was unlocked for a surprisingly long time today; I was able to listen to music and dance in there till after half-past-ten and then I had a shower. I took my bag into the shower with me and it was a good thing I did because by the time I got out of the shower my room was locked. I slipped the soap under my bedroom door and left the shampoo outside, then went downstairs.

After eleven I worked intensively on yesterday's diary entry -- it sure was a long one, the longest yet I believe. So many things to report on, no way to condense them. Evil nurse Arleen came over some time in the afternoon to say a few words -- she said I ought to be worrying about what happens after my discharge. But I said I'm not worried because I don't care what happens to me. The best thing to do is not worry -- I've got to make a conscious effort not to worry. The conversation didn't last long 'cause Wally came over and started talking to Arleen, complementing her and patting her on the head. He's keen on her -- what a short-sighted guy. She may be pretty, but evidence of caring and sensitivity is always in absence. Wally spoke one of his ad-lib poems to her, he said it as if he had memorised it from somewhere else. Arleen went away saying she didn't believe he had written it himself. But I believe.

Soon afterwards there was a surprise visit from the parents -- they brought my socks and new earphones and sat talking with me about the discharge and everything. They were nice and kind but there was obviously a rift between my thinking and their thinking. Finally they offered to take me to Bundoora market to buy some shoes, so I said O.K.

They drove me in the chic new car to the Market, a big warehouse full of stalls... there was plenty of stuff there I would've like to have bought, but the quest was for shoes. I couldn't afford any of the runners with high sides, so I had to settle for the normal ones like I used to get before my foot injury. After a long and confusing selection process, I bought a pair for thirty-five dollars. Also while we were in Bundoora Market, the parents noticed my grazed knees and they dragged out the whole story about the Sheet Changing Incident. They were amazed that I still want to stay at the psychiatric hospital and endure such treatment from the nurses. I found myself running out of excuses. Anyway after that they dropped me off at the hospital -- I -- I think that must've been when I finished off the diary, read "Zero Hour" and had the talk with Arleen. Sorry, I got things in the wrong order.

As predicted by the parents, my sister Melanie visited this afternoon. Melanie has been distant for so long -- many years ago I used to be able to joke around with her like I can with Carolyn, but after she started having an active social life she became just another stranger and I treated her with the same quietness with which I treat everyone. Anyway today when she visited, she stopped being the stranger and started being the psychologist. We went for a walk, a long long walk around the hospital grounds and we had an in-depth discussion. We talked about my feelings, about what I enjoy, about the future and what I'd like it to be like -- she asked me what would be wrong with living independently, I said it would be too hard 'cause there are so many complicated things about it. She said name one. I could think of nothing to say except "Tax returns", and she went into a lengthy explanation about tax returns but I didn't really follow it. Later she had a look at my artwork and I explained it to her, on a seat outside Ward North 9. Later still she talked about her friend who's into making electronic music on his home studio just the way I've dreamt of doing. She said me 'n him seem really similar and she's going to take me over to meet him sometime.

We ambled back to North 6 and she gave me her address and noticed my grazed knees and I told her about the Sheet Changing Incident and the patient Joyce came over and talked to Melanie about her hallucinations which she thought were real. Melanie was very interested and pursued the conversation for a while. Then she got down to asking why I want to remain in hospital. I explained that I'm here to prove a point and to test a theory -- she argued with me and used logic and said I could improve my life if I get out. I felt that maybe she was winning the argument but my mind wasn't changed.

It was dinner time when she left. She'll visit again sometime. What a rad sister -- I can tell her anything, she'll always be there if I need help, she's full of practical solutions. All of a sudden my attitude towards life has been subtly changed, partly by her, partly by the violent incident of yesterday. Now suddenly I'm no longer thinking of depression as a good thing, I'm no longer wishing to live the life of an insane person and I'm thinking maybe life beyond hospital will be O.K. Likewise the appeal of suicide is lessened. Today a new thought entered my mind -- maybe the longer I stay here, the less morbid I get and the less I want to go downhill. It's suffering and hardship which changes my attitude. So if a violent bed-linen-related incident can do that to me, imagine what a period of homelessness can achieve. I'm going to stay here and punish myself -- it's the only way I'll learn.

This evening as I was writing in you the diary, the patient Jeff came over and said he wanted to do another picture in you; as I was showing him the place to draw, he suddenly ripped the place-marking ribbon out of your spine. As he was walking away in a huff I said "What's the big idea", but he didn't answer. It made me feel so helpless and violated. Hours later when I passed him in the corridor he said "Don't think I'm going to say sorry 'cause I'm not." What did I do wrong? It sure ruined my good mood. Once again I went to bed with the diary unfinished and the mattress uncovered. I have a feeling that the nightmare has just begun.

24/1Entry into psychiatric hospital
1/3Day Before Dreaded False Discharge Incident
13/4Night-time intruder incident
4/5Fire Alarm
4/6Visit From Melanie -- Day After the Dreaded Sheet Changing Incident
10/6Susan Turner
29/6 & 1/7Departure and Discharge from Hospital
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