Disclaimer: Twilight and all characters belong to S.M.
This story will be dark and may not be for everyone.
Thanks to PTB for great beta work.
I close my eyes as I feel the slide of the needle beneath my skin. Once terrified of even the sight of them, I've grown accustomed and indifferent to the entire two-second procedure. I don't fight it anymore. I've learned that it doesn't accomplish anything; it only makes it worse. You fight them and they increase your dosage before you even realize it. Instead of a hazy 12 hours, it's a hazy 48. Those 12 hours of barely- coherent thought are about as much as I can take. I live for those other 12 hours during the day when I'm more in charge of my brain, my thoughts, my actions.
I know why they do it, why they drug me. The sedation is a poorly executed and last-ditch effort to keep me, Bella, here. They think that when sedated, my mind won't have the capacity to lose its grasp on reality and disappear, only to be replaced by an irrational stranger.
My body is no longer my own. Bella floats away somewhere and comes back hours, days, sometimes weeks later with no memory of the mayhem that has gone on in her absence, or the damage left in its wake. I cherish the moments I'm sane and whole, and I know this isn't normal it's not something I do on purpose. I would give anything to be a normal person.
Apparently that's what they want too – that's why they keep me drugged. It doesn't work. I still end up losing my grasp. I'm still forcefully yanked away from conscious awareness.
I've been Bella for the past three weeks. The longer I go in between episodes, the more on edge I become. It's like watching a scary movie and waiting for the bad guy to pop out, only my mind is the bad guy and it's not some movie I can shut off.
"How are you today, Isabella?" The nurse who gave me my shot is starting in on her list of routine questions to help determine my current mental state. In the beginning, I insisted they call me Bella, but no one ever listened. So, like so many other things, I gave up on that, too.
"Fine." One-word answers are best. They lead to fewer questions by the nurses, orderlies, or whomever the fuck is ordered to poke you next.
"Are you having any thoughts about harming yourself or others?" That question still catches me off guard. Would I really answer truthfully if I were?
"Do you know what day it is?"
Satisfied with my answers, the nurse leaves and locks my door behind her. I'm in a secure ward due to the nature of my condition. When I'm… not me, I've been told my actions are unpredictable and often harmful to myself. I would imagine that's why I've come back to find myself covered in bruises, or with unfamiliar bandages covering some part of me.
I don't know why I'm like this. I can't even remember when it started. Renee, my late mother, though flighty and immature, wasn't the least bit psychotic. Nor was my father, Charlie. It looks like I'm the odd one out.
It's not from drugs or a blow to the head. It's uncontrollable, no matter how much I try to fight it. It's tearing me apart. It's ruined my relationship with Charlie. He hasn't visited in months. I can still remember the hurt and pain in his eyes the last time he was here.
But what about me? I'm the one stuck in this hellhole. I'm the one stabbed with a needle every day and drugged within an inch of her consciousness. This may be a legitimate psychiatric hospital, but it's far from glamorous.
I spend my days locked away unless I'm being escorted to eat in the dining hall to eat with the other patients. Not like they'll sit with me. You don't really come to a psychiatric hospital to make friends.
There's also my twice-weekly trips to the rec. room to get exercise. I don't know how they can expect me to be capable of any sort of physical activity when the sedatives in my mind are overpowering my ability to put one foot in front of the other.
So I spend most of my time curled up on my lumpy and uncomfortable bed, in my generic blue, jersey pants and blue t-shirt. I stare at the same wall in my white cinderblock room that contains – besides my bed – a small side table. Clothing is handed out each day, so there's no need for a dresser. I'm too incapacitated to write, or paint, or do anything remotely productive, so a desk was unnecessary.
My room does, however, contain a small window, barred of course, in the upper right hand corner of the far wall. That is how I keep track of the days. It isn't as easy as it could have been considering that this is Washington and we don't get much sun.
I can feel the drugs coursing through my bloodstream now. My body feels heavy, my mind lethargic and slow. Being this way makes it easier to pass the day. I don't have to occupy my mind; I don't have to feel. It's unfortunate that not having the one thing I want – the ability to feel – is what is making living here easier. I'm angry with Charlie for throwing me in here without so much as a warning. I'm angry that he's too much of a coward to face the daughter he abandoned in a mental institution.
I'm terrified of the doctors and nurses with their needles and empty promises, their false glances of comfort as I go weeks without an episode only to break days later. I'm terrified of myself. I'm not normal. I'm not in control. I can't even predict when I'll be ripped from my body next.
The longer I'm here, the more and more I become unfamiliar with myself. Each time I come back from an episode, I recognize less and less the body I inhabit. My fingers look thinner, my skin too pasty, my hair too limp. But it is me.
I'm never hungry because of the constant influx of chemicals into my system. I know I've lost weight. Where healthy curves used to be are angular bones or flat plains.
I never see the sun, not directly at least. The small window only lets in the smallest of rays, just enough to give me the general time of day.
I can't remember the last time I washed my hair. Every time I need to go to the bathroom I have to call for a nurse or orderly. They not only escort me there, but chaperone me as I use the bathroom or stand under the never-hot-enough stream of water. It should be embarrassing and shameful but I can't bring myself to feel either of those emotions. At this point, I have no dignity left. There is no part of my body they haven't seen, no area that's gone unsearched or untouched.
My body shudders on my bed as I recall stumpy, clammy fingers roaming my legs, my mouth – everywhere – upon admission. For days afterward I wouldn't let anyone touch me. Now, partially due to the medication, I don't even flinch if they feel the need to search me.
Today is Monday. Tomorrow is my weekly appointment with Smith. Dr. Paul Smith is the psychiatrist in charge of my case. He calls me difficult, but assures me, and Charlie the few times he's visited, that there hasn't yet been a case he hasn't resolved. He believes that the right combination of therapy and medication will fix me right up.
What if I can't be fixed?
I can't even tell you how long I've been here, but I can tell you it's been long enough for me to loose track of time. In here, time only moves in smaller increments: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks. The longest I've ever kept track of was a month. And then I fell apart; Bella was gone for a full two weeks.
I've been told that Dr. Smith kept me locked in my room, sedated or restrained most of the time. When I wasn't sedated, I was screaming. When I wasn't restrained, I was clawing at myself.
Looking down at my wrists, I can vividly see the still-healing scars, a permanent reminder of my absence from my body.
My episodes are like a reset button on my internal clock. Every time I have one, I set my counting of days, sometimes minutes, back to one.
Dr. Smith calls what I am suffering from Dissociative Fugue, with depersonalization from reality being my major symptom. He likes to think I have borderline personality disorder, but what I really want to tell him is that the only people with personality disorders around here are him and his fucking grubby handed nurses and orderlies who get way too much satisfaction from sticking me with a needle.
The squeaking of wheels from a wheelchair or a gurney, I'm unsure which, barely permeate the fog of my mind. But it does. It's rhythmic, and I can't keep myself from repeating the pattern in my head. I wish it were me in that wheelchair, or better yet, on a gurney headed to the morgue.
I guess you could call me suicidal. Who wouldn't be depressed stuck in a place like this. I don't socialize. I don't have hobbies. I lie around passing my time by either talking about my feelings with Smith or waiting for my next episode.
I'm done. I'm sick and tired of this unchanging style of life that I didn't even ask for. If I could slit my wrists, or hang myself, or overdose on my medication and slip into a peaceful oblivion, never to wake up, I would, without a second thought. I doubt Charlie would be upset, he'd probably be relieved that his dark secret, Chief Swan's crazy daughter, was finally gone.
But this is a psychiatric hospital. How I'm supposed to find some extra meds or something sharp or even a plastic bag is beyond me.
I'm scared. I can feel my grasp on reality slipping, like fatigued muscles that shake as you push them to work just a little bit longer. It's almost a suffocating feeling. This terror blankets me and I can't breath. It would be easier to let go. But to let go is to lose Bella. To let go is to be pushed far away until I'm released back into my body. My body that is somehow no longer my own.
I can feel the battle brewing between the sedatives and the psychosis. It's an ugly feeling – a fight between two things that shouldn't be in my body, yet are. The fight for control is gruesome. I feel dizzy, like I'm floating back and forth on a seesaw thanks to the medication. There's a noiseless pounding in my head as whatever lies dormant within me struggles to break free.
My breathing picks up as I walk the tenuous edge between psychosis and a medicated stupor. I can feel every fiber of the rough sheet covering my bed as my hands grasp at something, anything, to keep me grounded to reality. I can feel the bed trembling beneath me as my legs and arms shake. I'm cold and hot at the same time. It's a war in my mind, a war of temperatures.
"Please." It comes out in a garbled whisper, a plea to myself to end this madness, to stay as Bella for just a little while longer.
I can feel it happening. I'm slipping away. I'm not strong enough to fight it. I'll never be strong enough. This vicious cycle has to end.
The last thing I'm aware of is the piercing scream that tears through my throat as I'm thrust outward, a vagrant in my own life.
Thanks for reading! Depending on the response I get with this chapter, the next one should be up on Saturday. I'd like to stick with a Saturday update schedule. This story has really become my project so I'd love to hear your thoughts. Review!