i spent my valentine’s day in a mental hospital.

wednesday night, i wanted to die again.

it sounds like a broken record whenever i talk about wanting to die, but i suppose i catch that desire a little more often than most people. when my thoughts start to form their own little oppressive landscape in my head, the conventional wisdom of there being people who care about me and need me completely leaves my head and i feel so useless to everyone i know. i start to feel like a destructive force in everyone’s lives. i start to feel that the world would be better off without martin douglas or “martin douglas.”

i don’t know if i was seeking help or just making peace with friends when i sent out the texts before calmly preparing my car to poison myself with carbon monoxide. i didn’t want to tell my parents; you never want to tell your parents that you’re going to kill yourself. worrying my parents is something i feel extraordinarily guilty about, so i figured someone would tell them i was dead and i wouldn’t have to relive those times where my parents were crying and yelling in fear for my life.

as i was preparing to die, two police officers — one i had known for years through my job at the store — knocked on my door. we sat down and had a chat about what i was going to do, and then they took me to the hospital. and i cried and i cried and i cried, because the only thing i wanted to do was die.

i spent most of the night in the hospital crying and having nurses ask if they could do anything for me. i was asked if i wanted to check into a mental facility, and after being too exhausted to cry anymore, i said yes. we waited most of the night for space to be freed up — the psych ward of the hospital in tacoma was full, so they were waiting for a spot in a place in kirkland. i was told at about 4:30am i’d be going to kirkland.

the ladies who ran the ambulance were friendly, and i remember the nurse telling them i was “an extremely pleasant, extremely nice guy” before they took me away. i wished the nurse a happy valentine’s day and we made our way to the mental hospital, which would have been an hour away even without the early-morning rush-hour traffic.

they checked me into the rehab wing of the hospital — because the place where they put all of the suicidal patients was full — and i just lay in bed and slept and read and cried all day. whenever i’m in the throes of my depression, i always feel so alone, like i’m a burden to everyone around me and i deserve to be as lonely as i always feel. lying in that bed, i realized i really was all alone there.

the nurses were very nice, but for the most part, their job is to be nice to the people who aren’t causing all that much trouble. i was alone.

but a girl in the rehab ward told me she liked my shirt.

after spending a good twelve hours in bed, i went with everyone to the cafeteria. i wasn’t hungry — even though i hadn’t eaten anything since wednesday, and even that was just half a bowl of frosted flakes — so i bought a soda and some cheetos from the vending machine with all the cash i had on me. for obvious purposes, my wallet and belt were with the rest of my belongings, everything except my magazines and my copy of telegraph avenue being considered contraband.

at dinner, there were a handful of really cool dudes who introduced themselves to me and included me in their conversations. they talked about everything from the united states drone strike campaign to what it’s like to be on heroin to their jobs (one was a graphic designer who got fired because of his drug addiction). some of the guys were sedate, others were sedate with sleep marks on their necks. i stayed quiet, like i normally do around people i don’t know very well. one of the guys — the nicest one, the one i could see myself talking to more often — was going home right after dinner.

i went back to my room and read for a while, and then was finally transferred to the high-risk wing of the hospital. already in the room was a quiet asian-american guy reading a book. we’ll call him “jack.” i continued reading telegraph avenue and he struck a conversation with me. after we talked about our respective reading (he was reading a science fiction book with a really creative plot), he asked me if i was a voluntary patient. i told him i was. he told me he wasn’t. he told me he was going to court to decide how long he’d be staying there. some people had been there for weeks. one person i met had been there for three months.

it struck me as really peculiar, because “jack” was quiet and studious and really friendly, not the type that would be involuntary admitted into a psych ward. but i guess people could have thought the same about me.

a few dozen minutes later, our third roommate (let’s call him “shooter”) came into the room and quickly introduced himself. he was an older guy (i would say in his mid-fifties), kind of down on his luck but very, very talkative. i don’t even remember all of the things we talked about, but we got along very well. there was an air about him that made him kind of unpredictable, but he was almost overwhelmingly likable. he apologized for constantly interrupting my reading, and i told him it was totally okay and meant it.

i had trouble sleeping that night and pretty sure i heard “shooter” masturbating.

early yesterday morning, i was gathered out of bed in order to get my blood drawn. the girl was in her mid- to late-twenties, blue eyes, red hair, stocky build. she was a chronic oversharer, but i know a few chronic oversharers, so that didn’t make things less pleasant. she told me she had been in a psych ward before for attempting suicide and that she was currently an alcoholic. she was extremely sympathetic, but it was also pretty obvious that she had a crush on me. “i only have one more of these encouraging band-aids — they have inspirational messages on them and stuff,” she told me, “but because i like you, you can have the last one.”

i still have it. never took it out of the wrapper. a keepsake for how good she made me feel. getting hit on as a psych patient works wonders for one’s vanity. i highly recommend the experience.

a second time i was jostled out of my sleep — lights out was at 9:30pm, and i’m pretty sure i didn’t get to sleep until at least 4am — this time by the psychiatrist, who told me i’d be going home that day. he said that i could expect to leave at about noon at our 9am meeting. for the next eight hours or so, i read telegraph avenue and was repeatedly questioned — by nurses, by the head nurse of the entire hospital — if i thought leaving the next day was a good idea. i told them all i was ready to start the rest of my life. new anti-depressants. a new therapist. not exactly a new life, but a new way to combat my demons.

sometime that day, “shooter” and i were talking, and it came up that i’m a freelance music journalist. he went into a passionate diatribe about the terrible state of caption writing in journalism, and i told him he was preaching to the choir, but that i wasn’t good at it myself. he told me to practice, to look at a few photos, make captions for them, and come back to them in a week to see if they were any good.

as he shook my hand and i told him it was a genuine pleasure to meet him, i told him i would try my hand at practicing my caption writing as a personal favor to him.

Notes

  1. craigz said: hang in there martin douglas. you don’t want your unfinished novel edited by a creep and released half assed and nor do i.
  2. katherinestasaph reblogged this from douglasmartini and added:
    Read this; it’s important and brave. (content note: post discusses suicide.)
  3. alliegators said: <3
  4. allthewhiskeyinheaven said: The world would be a colder, darker place without Martin Douglas in it and I’m glad you’re still here. I hope you get the help you need and that you know that, if you need anything, you know where to find me.