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Leaving the Mental Hospital

The sun sets on this chapter of my life.

I was going home right away. At least that what I had allowed myself to believe. I began smiling, so much so that it made my cheeks hurt. That was my first true blue, ear to ear smile since arriving at this facility three days prior. I had walked out of the doctor's office, followed the tech back through the double doors, and into the common room. I walked over to my friends, and I began to cry. The same friend who cried on my shoulder because she couldn’t go home became the same friend whose shoulder I cried on because I could go home. That is true friendship.

After my tears dried, I stood up and made my way to the nurse's station. I wanted more information on when I would be going home, and when I should tell my husband to arrive. I was still smiling when I reached the nurse's station, and I was trembling with excitement. I was told there were a lot of other people going home that day, and it would be a few hours to get all the paperwork together. Although I understood that I had to be patient, I was also aggravated that they had no system to discharge people in the order they came, it was simply whoever got the paperwork done first. I walked away, barely able to keep that ear-splitting grin, and called my husband.

The phone call with my husband was emotional. I told him I was coming home, and again my tears began to flow. I asked him to come to get me, and to bring our toddler because I missed him so much. I asked him to not pick up our five-year-old from Kindergarten because I wanted to surprise him, something I rarely get to do. I was ready to go home, and hug my family, and just be there in our small, third-floor apartment together.

Since I was being discharged, I was instructed by the staff to strip my bed of the uncomfortable and itchy sheets, and the one pillowcase, that was too small for my pillow. I was told to put them in the bins that sat along the hallway, but each one was full, so I placed it on top. At this point, I realized this place didn’t care how I did things, so rules were pointless. I walked back down the hallway, to gather my belongings and bring them to the nurse's station. They already had my discharge "Patient Belongings" bag from when I first got admitted, and they added everything I handed them to it and told me to have a seat.

I sat with my friends, and it felt like we were all saying our goodbyes. We spoke of seeing each other one day, just not under these circumstances. I watched 11 people get called to the nurse's desk, and I saw the process of getting discharged unfold. I decided I couldn’t sit still any longer and decided to pace around the room and hallways. Making the occasional call to my husband, to see if he had left the house yet or not. I was terrified he was going to be late, and I would have to wait for him.

While pacing the halls, I heard my friend's name get called. The same friend who taught me a magic trick, and had dreams of being a chef. I felt a tug in my chest, and again there was a burning sensation in my eyes and nose. I walked up to him, told him to take care of himself, and to keep on with that dream of being a chef because it was never too late. We shook hands, and he strapped his book bag on his back and walked out the door. Back onto the streets, with a bus pass in hand. I haven’t seen him since, but every homeless person I see, I wonder if he is nearby.

The next name called was the young girl in the group. She got to go home to her parent’s and I back to my husband. I gave her my number to keep in touch, and if she ever needed anything to reach out to me, and I would be there for her. I haven't heard from her since.

Other names got called in between, and eventually, the common room became quiet. So quiet you could hear a pin drop. The television was on low, people were sleeping on the open couches, and some were pacing waiting for their name to be called. I was sitting, staring into space, listening intently for my name. Then, it happened. Rachel. I heard them call for Rachel. I don’t remember getting to the nurse's station, only standing, and moving incredibly fast, at least that’s how I envisioned it. The nurse asked me “are you ready to go home?” and I said “yes.” She asked for my wrist, and I reached my right arm over the nurse's station that I could barely reach. With scissors, she cut my armband off, and I was no longer a patient in a Mental Hospital. I was just Rachel, free to go through those double doors, free to go home.