Life Interrupted | Life in a psychiatric facility #5

I did not expect to feel unsafe in here but I did when Birdman arrived on the 2nd February 2018.

He wore a torn, black, Metallica t-shirt and carried a large tin with his tobacco, lighters and neatly folded poetry. The tin was covered in Marvel stickers and a collage of birds. All he talked about was birds. The way they flew, the way they behaved and how he liked to photograph them. I decided to call him Birdman.

Birdman’s behavior was erratic. He would split from pleasantries one minute, then become aggressive, and demanding medication the next. His energy was dark, twisted and I could tell he was dangerous. He couldn’t sit still. He was agitated and he scared me.

It was lunchtime and as I ate my sandwich, he sat next to me. I stopped breathing.

“Do you have Facebook?” he asked

“No” I replied.

“What about email?” He said.

“No” I lied.

“Do I scare you?” He asked smiling.

“A little,” I said.

Birdman wrote a phone number on a torn piece of paper from his tin, passed it across the table, and stood up with his empty plate.

“For when you want to fly,” he said as he walked away. I walked straight to my room and rolled the door closed. Leaning back on the wall, I stopped holding my breath.

As misfortune would have it, Birdman’s room was directly across from mine. That evening, after food and medication, I went back to my room and I couldn’t sleep. I sat up and drew as I would most nights. This image was a picture of a girl, huddled in the corner of a room, her head in hands. I could hear Birdman from across the corridor. Like a disgruntled budgie, his snoring could be heard throughout the whole facility. I wanted to leave but slowly I tired. Tomorrow, I said to myself. I switched the light off and watched the light from the corridor stream under my door.

Something was different. It was quiet.

The snoring had stopped.


I could see the shadow of his feet outside my door. I rose quickly and scattered across the room. Locking myself in the bathroom, I sat shaking on the floor.

The outside door began to bang and shake.

Terrified, I reached for the emergency bell and pressed it over, and over, and over.


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.


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