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Mentally Unfit

by Shayne Holzman

Joey was the guy who lied about every piece of his life just to get by. He looked like a guy, but he really wasn’t. That’s what got me into the psychiatric ward.

As I entered 2 South on the second floor of the hospital, tears ran down my face and my knees buckled as the metal door detached my self from reality into mentality.

A nurse sat me down. His long black hair and sleeve tattoos made me think I was in for a scary ride. He asked my dad to sign an admission form. I wouldn’t budge, nor listen to his sudden tone.

There were two halls. The left hallway was for girls. I assumed there were different halls so patients wouldn’t get raped or have too much sex intentionally while the nurses weren’t looking. As I crawled under the thin sheets another nurse, plump and old, sat next to me trying to calm me down. She said if I didn’t shut my mouth the doctors would restrain me. So I shut up.

The food didn’t look very good, and the eggs in the morning weren’t nourishing; apparently there wasn’t any milk in the ingredients. I met patients with scars on their arms. One girl had 21 scars because voices in her head told her to cut herself. I wanted to emulate her pain because I was really depressed.

My roommate Daisy was on the pudgy side. Her dark brown hair used to be down to her shoulders, but then she cut it off. I hoped she would not catch me in the nude but she barged in while I took off my bra. She said she didn’t care.

A girl named Lizzie had sex 24/7. She said she was bisexual, so that must have meant she had more sex than usual. When people had too much sex it annoyed the hell out of me.

Some of the patients were abused and they felt really comfortable at the ward, as though it was a cozy hotel. I liked it too. I got a lot of attention. The attention was nurturing because it gave the patient a chance to calm down and behave. I felt alone, and that felt good because I could stay to myself and not be bothered if I was in a rough patch. I cried myself to sleep, weeping within my sweaty clothes. Everyone in my hospital heard me but they didn’t care because they probably did the same.

Daisy had a bad dream. I thought she would kill me. It was the way she yelled and shrieked her voice up high. Her white hands pounded and pushed on the glass door and the nurses had to restrain her.

I felt cold chills run up my spine until they surrounded my shoulders.

“I’m Alison and you can call me Dr. Alison. I’m your therapist.”

I was not amused, but after I saw her body movements I was. Her blonde layered hair draped down to her shoulders.

“Let’s go into the dining room and chat, is that okay with you?”

“Sure,” I would do anything for her. The dining room was the place where absurd people played piano in the back and where patients nearly stuck forks in their arms and burned their skin with ice and salt. It was dirty and the vents made the room stuffy.

“Why were you admitted to the hospital, Jane?”

“I am clinically insane.”

She looked at me like the phrase I just used was funny or something.

I decided to get to the point. “So, there was a guy named Joey...” I was so ashamed to move onto the next sentence.

“Joey flirted with me. He lied and he said he was a dancer and from Britain and that he was a surfer. I was so happy that I fell in love with a guy, but then my friends told me he was a girl and that changed the way I thought about myself. I remember the time when we went to lunch. All my friends were there and he never went to the bathroom because he had to use the women’s room, but he didn’t look like a woman. My friend finally told me that Joey was a girl.”

“Did that change your sexuality at all?”

“No, I’m totally straight.”

“He was a girl, you know.”


“That means you are a lesbian.”

“I told you already, I’m straight.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“What do you want me to do then? How can I show you that I am attracted to men?”

“Don’t show me, just tell me... that you are straight.”

“But I already did.”

“Do you have feelings for me?”


“You’re a lesbian.”

“No, I’m not.” I became wary of myself, like something huge was going to happen that I wouldn’t have been aware of.

“If you loved Joey and he was a girl, then you are gay.”


“Wow, I’m so proud of you.”

I could feel Joey there. His mouth touching mine, but in my head he was a girl and not a guy. That was the first time I ever felt slight attractions to someone. To someone that wasn’t the correct gender and to someone I was quite depressed about.

“Jane, do you know what Asperger’s is?”


“Do you ever obsess over things?”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

She was furious. “Be serious and don’t lie.”

“Do you socialize a lot?”

“That I don’t do. Does that mean I am retarded?”

“No, it is just a different part of you that you have to figure out, that’s all. You should be proud of yourself.”

“What does she have?” my dad asked.

“Asperger’s and she is a lesbian,” Dr. Alison said.

While I transitioned into my daily skills I got ready to go back home. It was like I was starting my life over again with a new beginning. The gloomy stage of depression, anxiety and being a lesbian was too much too handle. Whenever I heard the word “lesbian” my throat froze up and I could barely breathe. I tried to look like more of a soft butch than feminine and that’s how I accepted myself.

I let people know that I was a lesbian. I went to a hospital at age sixteen, came back clean. I walked through my neighborhood and the trees grew taller. My feet felt jelly-like creating steps that bounced up and down. I touched a tree. The flesh on my bones tore in and out, to the point where I could have sworn that knives clung to my skin.

My focus was set on tomorrow’s school day. Anxiety bled though my bare skin. Masculine and feminine thoughts about Joey consumed my system. Nothing could ever change the way I thought about myself. Raw thoughts settled around in, out and through. I held my temper tight and wouldn’t let go. Joey’s lies were over. I was thankful for that. The thought of being a lesbian didn’t sink in.

The noise. The loud knocking resonant tone lingered in my head and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, nor did I notice where my life fit in. The streets that I walked on created specks, grains and rocky cement on my feet.

While kicking that black solid pebble, time moved faster for me and I wondered about myself. What purpose did I have in life? I felt the way that most people felt when they’d just got back from a mental hospitalization. I ran out of mentality into reality, but not the kind of reality that you would expect. I wasn’t who I was, and I wasn’t the same ever again.

Copyright © 2009 by Shayne Holzman

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