The following is a free verse poem, a work of creativity, about an incident that is all too common for autistic people, based on a real event.
Three rooms behind a heavy door
with an electronic sensor
like anti-theft devices,
in case you try to steal yourself.
There's another patient and
he's not doing too well.
Can't keep his story straight,
muttering something about drugs.
Each room with their own heavy door,
gray cinder-block walls and
a bed in the middle —
very Cuckoo's Nest.
The bed has spots for
tie down straps,
and there's a pillow and blanket;
TV high up behind plexiglass.
Two cameras in diagonal
to get a full 360 —
no one asked because
they don't have to.
I'm glad I'm not a
paranoid schizophrenic or
anyone experiencing psychosis —
can you imagine, with the cameras?
Nurse arrives with hospital gowns
and a bag for my stuff.
They already took my comfort person;
she lets me keep my comfort stuffie.
please pee in this cup,
we just need to draw some blood;
I'm thirsty but can't ask for water.
They bring a tray for lunch —
teriyaki chicken — I refuse
because my husband is allergic;
try to drink the hot water for tea.
There's nothing to do so
I try to nap.
I manage to slip the bracelet off —
just wanted to see — put it back on.
Nurse finally asks me if I'm thirsty
and offers water — I can make choices.
The social worker has no idea
how to talk to autistics,
She keeps telling me to look at her
and is asking leading questions.
I wish she'd offer a pen and paper,
like I found out my husband told her to.
There's another patient now,
a woman in her 80's who just wanted
medical marijuana for her
When a doctor asks if you're
having suicidal thoughts,
it's best not to tell them
to avoid the psych ward.
The drug addict is mostly asleep
so the counselor can't even
talk to him;
he got methadone though.
I'm really glad I have my watch —
it's easy to lose track of time.
I've measured the room using my feet,
I'm pacing and calculating how much I've walked.
Every two hours the check my vitals,
and every tech sends a message
from my husband;
I actually thought I'd work today.
They've brought dinner now —
Something I don't like, but
I eat the carrots —
I'm so hungry.
The old woman is crying a lot —
she's been depressed for years.
Her insurance approved a three day voluntary admission.
The social worker is back —
I'm being released —
this allistic ignoramus thinks that
I'm in an abusive relationship.
They give me back my clothing —
I'm allowed to be a person again.
The nurse brings me to my husband —
he has requested a secondary screener.
He's going under "voluntary commitment"
because it's easier to get out
when you've coercively agreed to go in;
awaiting insurance approval.
Insurance approves up to 6 days.
He gives me his wallet and phone
My Lyft arrives around 2 A.M.
and I'm asleep by 3.
Just five sleepies;
it's the first we've been apart.