It only took me two years to update this story! I just want to say that I am both amazed and proud that people are still reading and reviewing this. Thank you very much to everyone who has taken the time out to read this little fanfiction of mine. Your everlasting support and encouragement is what randomly prompted me to start My Innocent Bystander again.
With that being said, I would also like to point out a few things about the quality of this work. I was 15 years old when I began this story. I am now 20. I am a college junior with a major in Criminal Justice and minors in Psychology and Technical Writing. I am substantially more aware about psychology now, and writing is no longer just a hobby of mine. It is a career.
I hope that my refined skills and knowledge can contribute to this story, and I hope the quality of my work is substantively better than it was 5 years ago.
Thank you for taking the time out to read this very delayed AN. On with the story!
As time passes, my moods fluctuate from happy to sad to angry, and ricochete back through the cycle at least 4 times a day. I refuse to accept visits from Carla, Turk and Elliot, partially because I don't want to be a burden to them, but mostly because I know they don't actually want to be stuck in here with me.
My former friends don't know how to visit a hospital room without being in what I like to call "doctor mode." If they do, I've decided, they chose not to do so, even if it would benefit me. Though strong friendships and support are what I really crave right now, my friends refuse to offer that to me. Turk doesn't want to be my best friend anymore. He has no desire to make jokes or discuss Sanford and Sons or just watch a movie together, like we used to do. He would never dream of sitting down with me and just listening to all of the hefty emotions that I can't seem to control.
Carla and Elliot are closed off to me as well; full of both pity and disdain at the way my life is tumbling downward. The once loving nurse feels like it was not in her capacity to love and nurture me. "He is grown," she thinks, "he can comfort himself." Of course, if Carla was in the same situation, she would have Turk and Elliot and me by her side. She would have support from everyone. Unfortunately for me, my support system is nothing like Carla's. In fact, it is nonexistent.
Well, I suppose that isn't exactly fair. I do have Dr. Cox, whom I cannot seem to get rid of. He is always around, always stopping by on his breaks, trying to talk to me and sending in visitors all day. It's sad really. Dr. Cox is probably the best friend I have in the entire world now. You know that your life sucks when the man who made it Hell once is now the only person you have. I won't complain though. It's what I always wanted from Dr. Cox, even though this is not the context in which I wanted it.
I also have Nurse Lily, who seems to visit me a lot more than standard procedure. The old me would probably assume that she has a little crush, but I know that isn't the case. Why would a beautiful girl like that want to talk to a complete psychopath? I'm sure Cox is paying her to visit me, but it's alright. When I get to look at her pretty smile and hear her laugh and listen to the crazy stories she has from all around the hospital, I forget where I am for a while. How could I turn that away? She's the perfect companion: funny, smart, sexy and sweet.
I sound like a complete creep.
Anyway, it's been three weeks since I took the pills. The days all seem to take 6 times longer than they used to. I spend most of the day staring out my window, which apparently concerns my shrink. He thinks my suicidal ideations are worsened when I'm staring out a 4-story window. He's probably right.
Dr. Cox kept them from moving me into a windowless room. I was so grateful to him that I could have cried, but I managed to keep it inside until he left. Though I've shown him almost more vulnerability than a normal man would show in an entire lifetime, I really don't want to push it by crying at every miniscule gesture that the man makes. I don't want to give him some sort of material to use against me if I ever recover.
I'm not seeing that as a very likely scenario, so I shouldn't worry about it. I'm sure I'm going to feel like this for the rest of my life. If that is the case, I will make sure it is a very short life.
You are probably wondering why I am so openly speaking about suicide. I would have wondered the same thing a few years ago. How can someone regard their life so nonchalantly? It's the feelings inside of me that make is so easy. It's a lack of feelings and an abundance of feeling in the same tight bundle. It makes no sense to anybody who hasn't experienced it. I am so depressed, and no matter how hard I try to see some form of happiness in this dark world, more darkness plagues me and I am lower than before. I am constantly sinking in some perpetual mud puddle of sadness. Call me melodramatic, if you will.
Oh, speaking of ill moods, Dr. Cox just walked in, and he looks pretty grim.
"Newbie, we need to have a serious talk."
He sits down at the edge of my bed and looks me up and down a few times, surely assessing my condition as well as he can.
"You've lost thirty-five pounds. As the chief-of-medicine, it is my job to assess if your condition is being properly treated here. I was asked by the Psychiatric head to make a decision by Friday." He shakes his head at me and sighs, "newbie, they want you moved out of Sacred Heart."
My heart sinks in my chest. As much as I hate it here, I really don't want to be somewhere else. I want to stay with Dr. Cox and Nurse Lily. I don't want to be even more alone than I already am. How am I supposed to hold on to the few remaining shreds of my happiness if I'm surrounded by white walls and strangers?
"Newbie, I'm not going to move you, but I need you to give me something to work with. I need you to put on a few pounds. I need to document that you are thriving here, or the Psychiatric head will have reason to go to the Board of Directors about you. They can override my decision in a moment, JD. You know they have the power. Jordan can only do so much on the board. Just… start eating your meals. I know it's going to be hard, but you have to try. Newbie, I need you to eat."
He walks to the door and waves somebody in. Nurse Lily comes into the room, a tray of food in her hands and a smile on her face. I can't help but appreciate the whiteness of her teeth and the sincerity in her eyes. She sets the tray in front of me and sits down in a nearby chair.
"So…", she starts off, looking from the tray to me, "Dr. Cox told me of our situation. We've got 6 days to put some weight on you. I'm not going to lose my favorite patient!" She gives a laugh and pulls a chocolate muffin from behind her back. "I smuggled this in here, too. Extra calories." She sets the treat down on my tray, and I hold back fresh vomit that is threatening to make its way onto my food tray. For some reason, food just repulses me lately.
Unfortunately for me, I know that I have little choice in the matter. If I don't eat and continue to lose weight, my ass is getting shipped out of here and to the nearest mental hospital. I know that I will lose whatever is left of my mind if I'm sent somewhere else.
I assess the tray of food in front of my emphatically. There is a slab of meatloaf with a serving of mashed potatoes. Gravy swims around in the middle of it all. It's a greyish color, and wouldn't look appetizing to me under normal circumstances either. On the side of the tray is a bowl of chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream. Next to that, a bowl of baked beans sits, steam coming out of it and greeting my face with an almost foreign aroma. Food and eating are such strange concepts to me now.
"Well, are you just going to stare at it?" Dr. Cox asks me. He doesn't sound angry about it. I think he is genuinely curious if I am just going to stare at the food.
"I don't think I'll be okay if I'm sent somewhere else." I tell him, looking straight into his eyes as I speak, so he knows exactly what I am trying to get across to him. Sacred Heart is my only hope. The two people in front of me are my only hope. I pick up the spoon and scoop up some of the whipped cream from my pudding. Before I can overthink it, I stick it in my mouth and immediately swallow. I don't let my doubts get to me as I take another bite.
I have to do this. I have to gain weight. I have to be healthy. I have to heal. I have to move on.
All of these thoughts threaten to overwhelm me, but I can't let them. I won't let them take over. I pile bite after bite of pudding into my mouth until there is none left. I move from dish to dish, taking bites until my stomach is full, and I continue even after my stomach threatens to explodes. I won't let myself throw it up either. This food will stay inside of me. It will make me strong.
It has to.
When the tray is empty, I look outside. It's dark outside now. I look at the clock on the wall. It's 7:30pm. It took me an hour and a half to empty my tray.
Nurse Lily is no longer in the room, but Dr. Cox is sitting next to me, watching my every move.
"Your stomach probably hurts, huh?" He asks me.
I nod at him, and turn to stare out the window. The lights of the Sacred Heart parking lot cast a magical glow over everything I can see. It's moments like these that I would freeze if I could.
"I feel like we've reached a turning point tonight, JD."
I look up at him and nod. I feel that way too. If I can eat, I'm sure I can do other stuff too. It'll take some time, but I bet I can.
Something inside of me says no, though. Something inside tells me that it's too late to work my way back to that place. It's much too late to look on the brighter side of things. Even if I heal, I've ruined my name in medicine, I realize. I attempted suicide. Can I even go back to being a doctor if I heal? I'm sure I can, but I wonder if I would even want to go back to the life I had before.
Maybe I would go back to school and pursue something else. Maybe I would learn a trade.
No, I realize. I would be a doctor. That's what I would do. Even if I didn't want to do it, I still would. I've invested too much of my life into medicine to leave it. The only thing that will ever separate me from this is death. And it nearly came to that.
"Maybe eating will make me feel better." I say. It sounds logical. If I eat, I will get stronger, and I will probably feel better overall.
"I know it will." Dr. Cox says. He sounds proud of me. I'm probably reading into it too much. "Do you want to talk?"
I shake my head. As extroverted as I used to be, my social skills have taken a major dump. I wouldn't know what to say, even if I wanted to talk. There is a lot I could discuss. I could tell Dr. Cox about my childhood; a subject that plagues me so deeply that I'm sure it has something to do with how ridiculously shitty I feel now. I could tell him about my son and how I feel like I've been cheated out of fatherhood. But what good would it do to bring everything to the surface? I'm sure it would make me more depressed.
I could tell Dr. Cox how lonely I feel, and maybe I wouldn't feel lonely anymore. But I'd sure as Hell feel vulnerable and I'm not sure which is worse.
Dr. Cox sighs at my refusal and stretches his feet out in front of him.
"Fine, if you won't talk, I will."
My ears perk up at this. Dr. Cox is going to talk?
"So, Jack has been constipated the past few days. Jordan was worried, so she made me give him a chocolate laxative last night. Well, that did the trick. The boy finally pooped… all over the living room, all over his bed, all over my clean laundry and all over the toilet seat." Dr. Cox looks up at me with a grim smile. "I should be happy that my kid isn't constipated, but it's hard to find a silver lining here."
Dr. Cox continues to tell me about his family life. It helps and hurts to hear about. It's hard to hear about his son and how he gets to be a father, but it helps to listen to things that sound normal. Dr. Cox, though he and Jordan are unconventional people, has a normal life. I like the thought of just getting to be myself. I like the idea that I could go through the motions of my life again and do the little things that used to make me happy.
I want what he has. I want a family and a life that I can talk about in passing. I want a wife and children. Not like Sammy, who I only get to see on Kim's timing. I want a child who I can tuck into bed at night and be woken up by in the morning. I want a wife who I can share my life with. I'm not sure if it was unintentional or not, but Dr. Cox's two hour spiel about his life has renewed my interest in my own. Part of it may have been the meal I just ate, but I'm starting to feel like I can do this.
Listening to my mentor tell me about life makes me want to live.
Well, there it is! Starting next chapter, JD gets back into life. And things will get better from there. He's not out of it yet though, folks! Stay tuned for another update soon! And please, review if you would!