Painting by Owen Gent

Painting by Owen Gent

Summer that year had been more brutal and exhausting than usual, the constant heat and humidity making us all a restless, sweaty mess searching for an elusive spot to cool off, and I was feeling trapped in my 8th floor rented studio, with no AC and full blown agoraphobia. With several types of medication in my system, carelessly prescribed by a psychiatrist who was pretty much the definition of the disinterested, talk less prescribe more doctor we so often hear about, my moods had been escalating in a chaotic, drugged up haze. Mood swings were a constant throughout the day, as was the paralyzing anxiety which prevented me from going out, sleeping, functioning. My energy levels were sometimes off the roof, as I chugged enormous amounts of coffee, chain smoked and wrote incessantly. Later, I would re-read some of these attempts at making sense of all that was happening, my fear and confusion emanating from the scrambled snapshots of those times.

The day that put an end to this seems blurry, just like the others, as benzodiazepines morph everything together in a formless, insipid fog. But what happened that day was so extraordinary, it still seems disconcerting I can only remember stills, like short movie montages, the rest of the pieces put together by the ones who were there. My mortified family told me all about it. The phone call to my dad in which I made no sense, alarming him so much that he rushed over, thinking I had overdosed.

My rush to the ER, where I got aggressive with the staff and hit the nurses, the bodyguards and my father, yelling at everyone. The next thing I remember is waking up in a room with a locked door and a small window through which I could peek and see a hospital corridor. I had roommates – an old lady tied to the bed who yelled obscenities and a constantly dozed off young girl. I did not know where I was, or how I got there. I had no cell phone.

No one was there to answer my questions. Some flashbacks kept appearing in my head: I’m crying and shouting, desperately hitting the door; I’m yelling at my mom over the phone, finishing it all off with some swearing. Nothing made sense, it wouldn’t as the nurses kept giving me potent sedatives so I spent about three days falling in and out of consciousness with a lock on the door, as I had been deemed a danger to others.

When I finally escaped the sad life of confinement and was moved in an overcrowded room where I was sharing the bed with two women in their 50’s, I created a schedule to keep myself sane. I wrote and read a lot, took walks in the yard and got visits from my then boyfriend – the routine was refreshing in a place where I had no real anchor. It was soul crushing, as mental institutions so often are. The diagnosis was given, one of many until then: borderline personality disorder.

Part 2 

Ana Moca-Grama is a writer, photographer and nature lover. She writes short fiction and introspective poems, draws when lost for words and actively supports the movement for acceptance and eradication of taboos around mental disorders.