The unit was unremarkable save for one feature: the common room where patients ate and met in groups had an enormous window that opened to a spectacular view of the bay in Greenport. I did not stay in the hospital for long. Without insurance, the term of my stay would last only until immediate danger passed, which was only a few nights. The doctor prognosticated that I would recover the ability to keep a job and handle the most rudimentary facets of self care. His language carried the soul deadening weight of a life sentence. For my illness, there was “no cure,” it was “costly and debilitating,” and indicated a “high risk of suicide.” While treatable, among sufferers there was a “preponderance of poor outcomes” due to “noncompliance,” meaning that bipolar people were bad patients notorious for stopping their medication.
I sat on the chair, docked boats bobbing on the bay blurred by my tears. I recalled a time before I started school, perhaps before I’d taken my first step, when I was whole. In adulthood, I moved toward wholeness only to be taken out by the tremendous tides of my illness. A raging current impossible to swim against, my will succumbed to greater forces, carrying me to where depths were unfathomable. All rivers empty into the sea. Left with no choice, I surrendered to the deep.
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