I noticed by week five in the facility I started to do odd things. I was moulding into the beige, peeling walls. Everyone knew me and I was forming some attachments. I longed for progress but honestly felt like I was drifting more into insanity.
I would circle the hospital, pace and critique every artwork and ensure it was straight. There were endless prints of Monet. Those damn water lilies. Sometimes I would make each piece crooked and straighten them again on my next lap, just for something to do. I was bored. I’d wave at the cameras. I knew I must look insane. Was I?
Life in the facility had become monotonous. Wake, eat, medication, eat, group therapy, eat, pace, eat and then again after more medication, eat. I was getting fat. I would wobble more as I paced. And, every day was the same. Every day was vanilla.
I would sort through the health brochures and chuck those that were out of date, just to be helpful. I would change signs that were spelt wrong, just to be helpful. I would take my blood pressure and that of other patients, just to be helpful. I sorted through DVD collections, and placed them all in genre and alphabetical order. I was aware I was losing my mind. My mask was dropping. I started not to care.
One night I watched a couple of patients play Chess in the dining room. I had no idea what was happening, I didn’t know the rules but just sat and stared. It was something to do. One of the men looked rough, upkept, dangerous. He smelt of stale whiskey and smoke. He carried a tin, I didn’t know what was in it. I asked him where he learnt to play.
“In jail”, he replied.
I didn’t bat an eye lid. I picked up my ham and cheese sandwich and waddled to my room.
What was in his tin? It didn’t matter. I realised I had reached the point. I was desensitised.
I am currently working on a book regarding this topic. Any comments on this piece would be greatly appreciated. I’d love to hear from you.