I knew at about thirteen years old that I’d spend more time in this life writing, than I would not writing.
At approximately 2:00 am one morning, I sat cross-legged on the top bunk of a wooden bunk-bed I was sharing with a young lady name Elda. She’s the woman… the woman behind the madness. She too, was thirteen. I was peering over the bed, hesitantly, as Elda had just informed me that the blue speckled, white tile floor before us was being flooded by blood. Leaning over, I come to terms with two things: 1.the floor was just as I’d seen before crawling the ladder to the top bunk… a plain ‘ol once-a-week buffered, scuffed, blue-speckled, white tile floor and 2. Elda was not going to accept that notion. She stared wide-eyed at the floor and her eyes began to tear. She looked to me, and then to the third girl we were sharing a room with (who was too, now sitting up in her bed that was just across from us peering into the dark room.) “They’re coming.” I wasn’t exactly sure who or what was coming but I didn’t intend on waiting to find out. I began to climb reluctantly down from the top bunk and was met with a screech. “Don’t go, you’ll drown.” In typical defiant, pre-teen fashion I continued to make my way down and as I got to the bottom, landed on two feet, making a ‘splash’ noise with my mouth. I laid flat on my stomach, spread out my arms, and began kicking my feet. Elda, now experiencing a practically, full-on panic attack, being to squawl. “Please, you’ll drown…”
I grinned up at her, still swimming my way through the non-existent blood and giggled. “Elda, I’m not going to drown. I can swim. It’s just a little blood.” Her breathing slowed and she cracked what I’d like to imagine was at least half of a smile. I stood up, wiped the imaginary blood from my face with the corner of a white sheet hanging from my designated bed, and sat down beside her.
The next thirty minutes were spent in calm conversation. Conversation which the third of us girls (the ‘new’ girl) couldn’t resist joining in on. Elda had been a patient of Popular Springs mental hospital for what she said was an eternity. She’d arrived almost two months before I did and in the three days we’d known one another, she’d taken me on quite the adventure. I’d killed giant bugs crawling from the cracks in the brick walls surrounding out room, I’d began a pillow fight with a tree-like being that was apparently wandering our room, and now… I’d swam in a flood of blood. Elda never did put her feet on the floor that night and when I made my way back up to the bunk above her she insisted I take my ‘bloody’ socks off and throw them in the sink adjacent the beds so she could wash them out in the morning. I’m assuming at some point the blood stopped flowing, as she never did appear to be drowning. She lay beneath me, drawing a picture out of what she’d just seen; a picture I’d see in the morning; a picture that would bring what I thought was just a silly imagination to life. I wouldn’t understand schizophrenia until many, many years later. To me, she was just another person; another girl. And for the 7 days I’d spend in the hospital, she was a distraction. With each outburst and irrational fear, she’d remind me that the ‘depression’ I was in was less than that. With every picture she drew, I found myself slightly less ‘depressed.’ I began to belittle what I thought were significant problems. I found it comforting that this lost, little girl, much like what I had become, was able to take such pain and confusion and fear and turn it into art.
I’d written since I was able to do so. I’d started with poems, or something of the sort. I’d written stories. I had at least three journals all hidden obscurely around my room at home. I wrote ‘quotes.’ I found comfort in putting my (what I assumed then were tragic) thoughts into words. I wrote then, just for myself. It was a secret world I could keep from everyone. It was a part of me that I didn’t think was worth sharing. I wrote then to find reason or peace or sanity among what I thought was madness. I wrote then, because I was a young girl, with smeared eye-liner eyes and greasy-black hair, and I thought… this is what girls like me should do. Then I went to Popular Springs. I was treated, and conseled, and medicated, and lectured; and none of it changed a thing. Elda did. In meeting Elda, I gained perspective. Somewhere in the middle of mine and Elda’s late night adventures, I came to see that the oh so dreadful events that had lead me into such a depression, truly weren’t so unfortunate. I had pimples – she saw bugs coming from the walls… if you catch my drift. As if it wasn’t enough that her insanity single-handily pulled me from the midst of depression… she gave me something more. Meeting Elda gave me hope. Maybe… just maybe… all that stuff I’d been writing would be as beautiful to someone else as those pictures she was drawing were to me.
So… I wrote.
And I wrote.
And I’m still writing..
But… I’m not that same thirteen year old girl I was then. She’s still in there somewhere. As my mother would assure you, I am still a daughter. Only now, I am now also a mother (to an amazing 4 year old little boy.) I’ve yet to be titled “wife,” nevertheless, I have quite the amazing man by my side. I’m a still student and now I am a professional. I have responsibilities like the majority of the world’s adult population. And then there is this… at night, when things calm or in the middle of the day when I’m given just a moment… I write. I write to inspire, to encourage, to connect, and to emote. I write for moms, and daughters, and girlfriends, and students, and professionals, and even occasionally for those emotionally distraught, terribly misunderstood preteens that like me, just need an Elda. I hope for someone, somewhere, I’m an Elda.