There seemed, in this place, the normal cliques of society working, only in standards no one normal could possibly recognize.
Riley hadn’t quite figured out the hierarchy, having kept to herself as much as possible since arriving. She studied groups intently however during meals and other chances to be social, to see if she could figure it all out.
It wasn’t so much in an effort to see where she could fit in when she decided she needed company, just curiosity. She never much cared for the way people divided themselves, one group looking down on another for perceived flaws while avoiding dealing with their own.
The fact the division occurred by whatever means in this place, highlighted the ridiculous nature of humans to divide and conquer and how desperately they wanted to deny their own insecurities.
From what she could tell of the 50 or so current patients, only 3 had committed themselves voluntarily, being seasoned nutcases and aware they were headed for disaster. Instead of waiting for it, they each in their own way and time had come here and requested to be admitted.
One other had done the same but with no available beds, he had left the ER and been found later in a hotel room unconscious, and been brought back to the ER. Within 24 hours a bed had opened up. Hard to tell if it would be the same outcome had he just waited it out. She thought not but didn’t see why someone walking in or being brought in near dead should change the priority. The latter would cost more money and man hours but maybe that was part of it too. The money aspect.
So far, from the time they were allowed outside to enjoy the sunshine and have a smoke after breakfast, she had gleaned this was where the ones with good insurance stayed while the ones who did not have it, carted off to the county hospital, a fate she recalled had almost befallen her as there had been a mix up with her insurance. She was a little foggy on that considering the state she was in when they admitted her. Some had said there were certain things needed to get the insurance companies to even authorize staying here, such as a suicide attempt.
There were the ones who were regulars, all chummy with the staff and pushing the rules as far as they could, feeling their here all the time status granted them special privileges. Like to the cool kids in highschool, and probably here the only place they ever felt cool, they weren’t bullies or anything but could cut a newbie down to nothing by laughing at their apparent ignorance of this place. By far the worst offenders of the cliquishness, but not as cruel as the cool kids and kids in general in high school could be to each other. Most were adults of course, the age range was from 18 through almost 50.
Being a regular, from what she could tell at least once a month admittance, was an all-inclusive group and as the hierarchy trickled down to the less often but still semi-regular patients, they seem to divide by diagnosis, and method of suicide attempt. The violent method ones vs the nonviolent method ones.
When she first had been able to go out for a cigarette, a woman older than her by maybe ten years had given her a smoke as she had yet to have her own, and chatted her up, kind of pointing out who was who and how things went. Lydia was a bipolar suicide failure, just like Riley apparently, and she had used pills too.
She joked that they should start their own Facebook Group of Suicide Failures, tagline -just not enough pills in the world, and the ease and joviality of her tone shocked Riley deeply.
She wanted to deny she was here for suicide, she wanted to come here, but deep down she knew the only reason she had made the choice was because Simon had thwarted her. Choice or no, she would be here either way, unless he found her too late, then it wouldn’t matter at all.
When Lydia couldn’t illicit a laugh from Riley she moved on to another one of her peers, more regular but not enough for the in crowd, and Riley had pretty much been to herself for two days after. Riley for sure didn’t want put in that circle of suicide failures, learning only later it didn’t matter, they all were in one form or another, at some point in their disordered mixed up lives.
Now one of the nurses was kind enough to let her have a cigarette after breakfast, and she would sit and soak up the sun, like it was her very power of life, for the 10 minutes they were allowed outside before group session started. She wished she could shake this foggy, groggy, echoey feeling in her head.
The cigarette smoke, still comforting in its familiarity, left her feeling a little sick and dizzy this morning and she briefly wondered if something of the pills they gave her morning and night didn’t go well with the habit. She probably should ask what she was taking she thought, losing the thought almost the next second as the chatter of other patients invaded her fog.
Watching the in crowd laugh and socialize as if they were out on the commons at school, not locked up in the psych ward of a hospital, she felt the familiar urge to belong and wondered if being a regular here would be so bad.
She was a loner mostly floating around, getting along with everyone because she didn’t believe in judging people, especially for shit they couldn’t help, and in that way belonged everywhere, but without exclusive membership to one group or another, she really belonged nowhere.
Life doesn’t really imitate art, Riley thought as she put her face to the sun, life imitates highschool.
Just then the bell, to signal end of outside time, rang.
Time for class.