Suicide attempt, I presume they assumed.
The fifth-floor drop resulted in two fractured shoulders, a shattered pelvis, several broken bones in the spine, and a nasty foot-long gash running along the left bicep. The appeal to stop my screaming was stronger than the appeal to determine the motivation behind the action. Hence, the narcotic sedation that rendered me mostly silent.
Major depressive, they concluded … if not, bipolar. Schizophrenic.
Without more than a few mumbled words, I was quickly shipped off to heal for the next few months on the psych floor. Apparently, the law requires a binding analysis by two psychiatrists in order to commit someone. I just got the one blurry analysis, though. Honestly, I don’t blame them. I wasn’t exactly in the right frame of mind to explain that the substance use fueled psychotic reaction. I get it. What stable-minded individual jumps through a window that high?
At first, psych didn’t seem that bad. Well, I wasn’t allowed a phone, a television, or any relatively sharp objects, but I did have a rare privilege in the hospital: a room to myself. The uncommonness of this type of privacy made the honor truly delectable. And, having spent the past few days on medical floors, rooming with a groaning stab-wound victim and an amputee with a broken “I-need-a-nurse” button, I understood the misfortune of the alternative. So, when they presented me with the option to leave the floor after they officially deemed me psychologically stable, I chose to stay.
The next three months of healing on the psych floor were the hardest days of my life.
I didn’t know if I wanted my sexuality to be known there. It was the psych floor. I don’t think it was ignorant or impolite to have expected reactions that weren’t exactly typical.
“I’m actually gay,” I heard myself blurt out after my nurse technician asked if I had a girlfriend. He was one of my regular aides, tasked with watching me 24 hours aday. I figured he wouldn’t mind. He didn’t. He spent the next six hours explaining to me in detail all of his sexual preferences.
After a chat with my disgruntled father, the nurse was banned from my room.
I didn’t want him fired. But I also didn’t want to hear an account of the length and girth of all of his past suitors.
I kept my gayness mostly to myself from then on out. It wasn’t hard.
The only inkling of my sexuality was the dozens of drawings of muscular torsos that I kept hidden in my journal. Most of the staff had no clue why I was constantly reading Men’s Health magazines.
It was like I went back inside the closet. Not because of shame this time, but because of safety. Comfort.
I did tell one patient. Her name was Shineigh. My stable but schizophrenic neighbor.
It’s tough to think of myself as appealing during that time. I lost 20 pounds as my muscles atrophied. My hair was thick and poofy with no barber available. I wore glasses as my contacts were deemed contraband. My facial hair grew in patchy and uneven. Razors were contraband too.
“Yeah, actually I like men,” I told Shineigh as we played Go Fish one day.
She rolled her eyes. ”Oh honey, I’m so sorry.”