Almost six years ago I lived in a place that I never wish to visit again. Physically I lived within the secure walls of a psychiatric hospital but mentally I lived in a meaningless sad space. I never looked forward to the upcoming days because I was just in too much mental pain.
During that time, I watched my friends dissipate. One by one they either hot burned out or too busy to keep visiting my in the lifeless place in which I existed. I had very few friends and most were not healthy lasting friendships.
Being friends with people who also lived in a lifeless space is not the brightest idea. This is not to say that there are not exceptions to that rule. I do have a healthy friendship with a friend that I met early in my journey. But her and I have always connected on a different level.
I remember when I met her- well it was before I met her. I was waiting to get transported to a different hospital out of state and my Dad told me that there was going to be a girl that was around my age at the hospital I was being transported. My Dad said that her and I were going to be best friends. I was very nervous and the ambulance ride felt like an entirety. I got there and I was so afraid. I’m not sure if I was afraid of the unknown but it’s safe to say that I knew that there was no way I could fall into a worse mental space.
As I got walked into the unit- I developed this intense fear. I think that my newfound friend understood and could feel that fear. After my Dad left and I was there all alone- it set in that I couldn’t leave. My memories are quite fuzzy of that time but I can’t forget the sounds. There is a particular sound of the doors locking that echoed in my head for quite a while.
The first time I heard that sound in the new unit- I left trapped and I panicked. I felt very alone during those minutes which seemed to feel like hours. But then I heard someone speak, she asked me if I wanted to go draw with her. It was such a small thing but at that moment it meant the world to me. Now that I understand academically about why that connection was so meaningful I realize that I needed that social support. I needed to connect with another human being who knew about the lifeless place that I existed within.
As the days past, we became fast friends. She helped bring light into a very dark time. During my time on the unit I developed a level of hope that I never had before. My friend also was hurt but she showed an extreme amount of resilience that shaped my journey for the better. We spend the weeks together drawing until our fingers got blisters, we ate Ben and Jerry’s icecream every night and most of the time we just enjoyed each others company.
There was a moment that still brings me to tears- my friend was the first person I let physically connect with me. I had an intense first week and I had one day when my flashbacks lasted for hours- I was afraid and again she could feel it. My friend came into the quiet room which every inch was carpeted and she just held me. That was the first time that touch did not feel bad, instead I felt comfort.
I am so very thankful for my friend then and now in my present life. Her and I connect when we can- she is still the resilient strong girl that changed the course of my journey. And I’m so glad that we were in the same place at the same time.