Can You Handle It?

Lauren is going through some serious stuff right now. She is battling many demons and is forced to stay in Pine Springs as a result. Pine Springs is one of the finest mental hospitals in the country run by Doctor Vercelli. Over the course of her stay, she meets many interesting people and makes a few friends for the first time. She has a lot of demons though and she's not so sure she can get rid of them.

This story has a touch of realism. Depression, self harm and suicide are very real topics right now. Mental health is so often viewed in a negative light but they are people too. They are just going through a tough period in their lives. They didn't choose this. I wanted to bring a close topic to light in a fun way. Hope you enjoy it.

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2. People Like Me

Waking up in an unfamiliar room that smells of antiseptic while you have a banging headache is not how you want your morning to start. The smell bounced around my nostrils and I was unable to avoid it. It invaded the whole space. The clothes I was wearing yesterday were still on me, thank God. You never know with these kinds of places, they could take you out of your clothes and put you in scratchy hospital gowns for the rest of your life. Which is how long you are likely to be staying there. Once they get you, they never let go. Doctor Vercelli can put on a good show for my mother but I don’t buy it. What does she possibly gain from helping me? Plus she has this ultra-patronizing stare that creeps me out to no end. I can’t stand the woman. Even her voice grates my nerves.

I hope to find the door open and I am right. The corridor is empty and smells of antiseptic also. I’d have to get used to the smell since it clearly wasn’t going anywhere. The whole place screamed hospital and I had an itching to get out of there as soon as possible. Hospitals were where people went to die and I didn’t want to die. Every person I loved who ever went into a hospital died. My grandfather went in for a pacemaker and came out in a coffin. My father’s sister complained of stomach pains and ten days later there was no one to complain of stomach pains anymore. I could tell you about my step-grandmother and my many failed attempts at pets as well but it’s all a bit depressing.

 

I walked down to the nurse’s station which was relatively quiet and waiting at the desk for someone to see me. I rested my chin on my arms and tapped a tune out on the counter. One of the nurses slowly made her way over with a false smile plastered on her face.

“Hello dear. How are you? You must be Lauren Lewis. It’s lovely to meet you.” She was full of cheer. I was saved responding with my usual dark remarks by Doctor Vercelli who had just spotted me. She rushed over in her clickity-clacks (what I called her outrageously high heels) and gave me a firm handshake.

“Lauren, good to see you’re up. I heard we had a bit of a ‘moment’ back at the house. Perfectly normal reaction, nothing to worry about. We’ll have to bring it up in the next session of course…” She went on like that for some time while I nodded and pretended to be listening.

“Where do I go now?” I ask, interrupting her speech where she was quoting Nelson Mandela for some reason.

“Here’s Jacob. He’s an orderly here, lovely chap. Jacob! Come and give Ms Lewis a tour of the establishment. Make sure she gets a schedule and finds her room.” Vercelli said and clicked off to annoy someone else. Jacob smiled warmly at me, the first real smile I had seen in a long time. Usually people didn’t take the time out to smile at me. Instead I was showered with dirty looks and shady glances. They all looked at me and thought, ‘there’s the girl with no friends’, ‘that’s Lauren Lewis. She’s got depression. Don’t go too near her or you’ll catch it!’ Some people could be so infantile I wanted to punch them. Jacob noticed my clenched fists and grinding teeth and laughed uneasily. I quickly relaxed myself and followed him, nodding occasionally when he pointed something out.

I was shown the television room (a few seats facing an ancient set with only a VCR), the canteen (huge might I add), the recreation room (there was arts and crafts on at the moment), the library and the therapy rooms. This Pine Springs place was huge. I was staying in the teen block but there was an adult block right through a pair of double doors and a gym on the other side of that. The rooms for sleeping in were doubles so I had to share. None of the doors locked and mostly everything was made out of squeaky plastic. Even the cutlery in the canteen was plastic and flimsy.

Jacob left me at the canteen and said lunch was about to start so he would see me in an hour. I was the first person there and I had no idea what to do.

“Here honey, come up to the line and grab a tray. You must be new.” An elderly canteen lady peered out from the kitchen window. I did as I was told and took an empty tray. The woman piled food onto it. She gave me a flimsy cheese sandwich, a yoghurt, some fruit segments and a huge glass of teeth-rotting coke.

“Let me see your arm hon.” She asked. I showed her my right arm where a green band had been placed on it without me realising.

“That’s fine hon. Go ahead.” The woman smiled. I nodded and gave her a small smile then turned to find a seat. A few people had piled in while I was getting my food. Some were nurses assigned to watch over lunch I’m guessing. Other’s looked like Doctor’s like Vercelli. I could immediately tell who was a patient. Not just because they were teenagers but some wore pyjamas and nightgowns. Believe me, there was a few guys who were clearly old enough to shave here. I jumped slightly when a boy slammed his tray down across from me. He laughed as if this was the reaction he had been looking for.

“What’s it to you? I’m Dex. Short for Dexter but only my mom calls me that. What’s your story kid?” He asked, though he couldn’t have been much older than me.

“I’m Lauren Lewis. I’m fifteen.” I said quietly. I didn’t like new people and I was afraid of what this boy might do. He seemed volatile.

“What you got? You a muncher?” He asked with his mouth full of half chewed apple.

“What’s a muncher?” I asked curiously.

“Person who makes up being sick.”

“No way! Why would someone want to purposely be here?” I asked in disbelief. Dex simply shrugged.

“You’d be surprised. That kid over there,” He pointed to a young boy eating on his own, “He’s a muncher if I ever saw one.” He said solemnly. I smiled a little at his joke then immediately went stone faced. This was not a place to make friends. It would really say something about me if the only place I could find a friend was in a mental hospital.

“So? You gonna frickin’ spill? I got hypermania. I’m bat shit crazy. I’d chop my finger off right now if these knives weren’t so damn flimsy.” He demonstrated by bending the knife backwards.

“They diagnose me with a lot of things and tell me there’s all this stuff wrong with me but I’m fine. Vercelli says I got substance related disorder, social anxiety disorder and depression. That woman’s got problems.” I said the doctor’s name as if it was a dirty word. All Dex could say was, ‘could you get me drugs.’ I was spared responding by some other kids joining us.

“Who’s got drugs now? Don’t you get enough of them here? They give you enough to keep a horse incompetent for a week. I hide ‘em in my makeup bag.” A pretty but very thin brunette girl says quietly so the nurse passing by won’t hear.

“Meet the newbie, her names Lauren Lewis and she says she was mistakenly put here.” Dex introduced me.

“Weren’t we all? I’m Lexi, this is Ryan and that is Miguel. He doesn’t talk much.” Lexi offered her hand to me and I saw a red band creep out from under her sleeve.

“Why do you have a red band and I have a green one?” I asked. Lexi blushed brightly an Dex revelled in the awkwardness at the table.

“Red means you have an eating disorder. Lexi’s got anorexia.” Dex explained.

“Yeah well what are those on your arm?” Lexi refuted, pulling my sleeves up to reveal some of my scars. It was my turn to blush and the table went quiet.

“Too far Lex. Hey chillax Lauren, I’m a red band too. I got bulimia nervosa. It just means the dinner ladies give you extra food and the nurses keep an extra eye that you eat it.” Ryan said softly. I nodded and turned my food over on my plate, suddenly not hungry anymore.

“Miguel hand it over.” A nurse scolded the silent boy at the end of the table. He sheepishly handed her a handful of gravel and sand which she took over to the bin. Miguel picked up his sandwich and started slowly eating it.

“Miguel has Pica disorder. It means he’ll eat anything and everything. He even eats cigarette butts! The nurses always catch him bringing dirt in from outside.” Dex explained. So my choices in acquaintances were a boy who eats dirt, a girl who hates me already and a boy who can’t seem to shut up. At least Ryan seemed nice but he mostly talked to Lexi.  I just hoped there was more normal people around or I might go crazy. 

 

 

***AUTHOR'S NOTE***

All the disorder's mentioned here are real and affect lots of people around the world. A 'muncher' is actually a person with Munchausen syndrome. They pretend they are sick to gain sympathy off of others. 

I hope you guys like it so far. :) Thanks for getting this far if you are reading!

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