For someone who says he cares about me, Simon has a funny way of showing it sometimes.
My room was boring, but pleasant enough. I was surprised to be placed in a ward - after all, Simon and I were moneyed (at least, my parents were). Four beds lay in each corner of the room, with a small wooden chest of drawers on one side and a chair on the other. Curtain rods surrounded the beds, giving each patient some degree of privacy. The walls were an ivory colour, and the bed linen reminded me of an English country cottage - a pastel floral print bedspread covering the eiderdown, and overstuffed, worn-looking pillows.
For some strange reason, I wondered how many people had lay in this bed before me. Just as quickly, my thoughts turned to how I would survive when I had no possessions with me - no clothes, no make-up, nothing. I wasn't given an opportunity to ponder this, because soon enough a counsellor (assumedly) appeared at the door.
I sat down on the bed, trying to work out if the person was here to see me. Since I was the only one currently in the room, I guessed that this was so. With a quiet resignation, I accepted that this was my lot until Simon could find a way to get me out of here. Since he had hospitalised me in the first place, I doubted that I'd be so lucky any time soon.
The (male) counsellor sat down in the chair next to my bed, and asked me a few questions about myself. You know, the usual. What my name was, how old I was, where I lived, what I liked.
I wasn't sure whether to answer honestly and try and be nice, or just be a hostile bitch. Eventually niceness prevailed, me thinking it'd get me out of hospital quicker if I just listened to instructions for a while, and I answered his questions. I seriously must have sat there in silence for fifteen minutes deliberating this.
"Oh... I'm Destiny." I was embarrassed, and shook like a leaf.
"You can call me Matt. I'm a counsellor here at the hospital, so don't be afraid to talk to me. I've been assigned your case, as such. Tell me about yourself, your age, your interests and things like that..."
"Ummm..." This was scaring me, to a large extent. I was pretty scattered from the lines I'd snorted. Anyway, what was I going to tell this complete stranger? I felt rather uncomfortable around him. I knew nothing about this guy.
"It's OK," he prodded me. "You can talk to me whenever you're ready."
A sarcastic barb was just about to pass my lips, but I stopped it before it escaped. What was I interested in? The usual - shopping, music, writing... My boyfriend, drugs... I don't know. I seriously felt like running out of the room screaming and crying. But I couldn't. They had the power to lock me in a psychiatric ward. It was best just to go along with what they wanted for the moment.
This Matt guy was staring intently at me, and it was really making me feel uneasy. I had the feeling he wanted me to answer. Luckily, I was saved from him by Marie - the woman doctor who had incarcerated me - bringing in a small plastic bag of my possessions. Surely Simon wouldn't have packed that small an amount?
"Where's the rest of my stuff? And my make-up?" I asked, my voice hopefully sounding rather level.
"You don't need it," Marie replied frostily. "Your boyfriend brought in two rather large backpacks full of possessions, of which I went through it and sent back any inappropriate items."
So that's why I had so little. I had noticed the items Marie had brought in were rather plain. I couldn't quite understand, especially as I doubt Simon would have dared bring me any drugs or drug paraphernalia.
Mmmm... drugs... I started thinking about ecstasy and being high again when I heard a sharp *thwack* on the bedside table. Marie had hit it with something, obviously to get my attention. Well, I was stuck in a prison. I had to daydream to pass the time and distract myself from the horrors!
"Destiny, I believe it is time for a full check-up," she stated.
I was led to a small, windowless room where Marie and another doctor decided I needed to have a blood test. Upon seeing the size of the needle, I gasped audibly and then screamed. I hated needles! Maybe I did use a lot of drugs, but I have never injected anything... needles scare the shit out of me. What the fuck was I doing here?
"Shut up!" Marie hissed angrily. "You better watch yourself, young lady... There are a lot more of these to come!"
The needle plunged into my arm, and I heard myself screaming and crying and begging them to stop, and I was shaking until finally I slumped on the floor. I looked up at my tormentors, my eyes full of pain, hoping in vain for even a minute scrap of sympathy. Their eyes were cold and accusing, harsh and vicious. There was no sympathy to be found for me here.
Dinner was a sombre affair. I was seated in a communal cafeteria. All the inmates (that word more accurately described us unfortunate souls, unlucky enough to reside in the prison, than patients) had to eat together. Long tables with fixed benches - similar to something you would see in an American movie - were lined up in the room.
The meal itself consisted of high-calorie food, as far as I could tell. There was pumpkin, mashed potatoes and corn; a green salad (which admittedly didn't look too bad) and a few bits of meat, which obviously I couldn't eat. So I piled my plate high with salad, and a few of the baked vegetables, a slice of wholegrain bread and a glass of apple juice. There was no way I would eat all of that, but I saw people ahead of me in the queue being told to put more on their plates.
If worst came to worst, and I was forced to eat all of that food, I could just go into the bathroom and purge it. I had noticed that there was a bathroom for every ward room, so there were four people sharing a bathroom. I had learnt that trick with Simon - if I'd had to eat too much for my liking, I could always sneak upstairs and purge it all.
I wasn't sure where to sit, and luckily one of the other inmates of the hospital/"prison" recognised me as being new. A whisper that "you were supposed to sit according to ward room" led me to go searching for a spot at one of the tables, and it was here that I met the three girls who occupied the other beds in my room.
Supposedly, I'd been lumped in the 'troublemakers' room straight away. I would have imagined it was because I'd clung onto Simon when he'd dragged me down here, not wanting to part from him. Not only that, but Marie seemed to have a thing against Goths, or so one of the girls informed me.
The three girls I was rooming with actually seemed pretty decent. One looked obviously punk, in her torn jeans and NOFX shirt, russet hair cropped into a messy, spiky style. She had an eyebrow piercing and a lip ring - I thought the lip ring looked rather cool, and resolved to get one from Simon when I got out of here - and introduced herself as Kimber Jade. She was only sixteen, and had already been in and out of here several times.
I saw the scars on her arms, but didn't dare ask. But I knew about self-injury, and knew it was an effective coping mechanism. Eventually, I admitted, I would probably end up using it to cope as well. I had always been told I had a very self-destructive personality, and I knew that was true. The thing was, I would much rather hurt myself than anybody else. I got off on the pain.
Another girl introduced herself as Jessica. She had long, tangled purplish hair, which she said she'd dyed just before she'd been readmitted two months ago and was now fading. Jessica told me this was her fifth time in here - she was seventeen - and that it was a "living hell in here; a lunatic asylum." I again saw a few cuts on her arms, but they weren't as deep and therefore weren't as noticable.
The last of the girls had burgundy hair, pulled back in a ponytail. She wore a black lace singlet top, and faded black jeans. She'd explained that she had been Gothic prior to that, but these were some of the only clothes "Dictator Marie" had considered appropriate. This girl I liked on meeting. Her name was Ashelle and she seemed to have it all together. I think this was her fourth or fifth incarceration, and she was just a couple of months younger than me.
The girls admitted openly that they were the "troublemakers" at the hospital, but that it was a label foisted upon them because they knew the workings of the hospital, and how to get around things. All three were anorexic and proud of it, and all three admired me for managing not to land myself in hospital for so long. When prodded about how much I weighed, I revealed I was thirty-four kilograms.
Both Jessica and Ashelle looked at me in amazement.
"I can't get much below forty," Ashelle revealed. "When I got just below thirty-eight, I got thrown back into this hellhole."
"Neither can I. I think my lowest was thirty-nine, a pretty poor effort don't you think?" Jessica admitted.
"I used to be almost seventy kilograms," I let slip. I instinctively felt comfortable around this group of girls, and somehow I knew that if we stuck together, we could evade Dictator Marie and her army of doctors and psychiatrists.
Kimber Jade looked at me in shock. But then she proudly revealed that she weighed thirty-two and a half kilograms, and had been only thirty when readmitted three months ago.
I was extremely envious of them, but I didn't have time to be. The girls showed me how to avoid eating the hospital's food and how to make yourself appear heavier before weighings. I had to learn quickly, they told me, otherwise I would really become fat again.
There was so much to learn, and so little time.
The girls decided that they liked the look of me - for a change, being Gothic was seen as an asset - so they said I could be part of their inner circle for the duration of my stay at the hospital.
When we arrived back at the ward, a period of fifteen minutes was given before we had to be ready for a group therapy session. I didn't see the use in this, because I didn't want to reveal anything about myself in front of a group of strangers. OK, so sue me. I have trust issues.
In this time, I was filled in about the running of the hospital, and the ways in which I could get around that. I could drink litres of water before weighings, and there were outings - permission once a fortnight to go shopping or just have a day out for a few hours. The problem was, you had to go in a group. So we could just go out, and we could stock up on laxatives, razors and anything else deemed useful.
Also, I was informed about the fact this place was run like a concentration camp. I had to wonder about that - grim-faced doctors like Marie were the leaders, crazy counsellors like that Matt guy were the SS and us poor anorexics were the starved and beaten inmates. It was priceless.
I enquired about that Matt guy, and was duly warned by Ashelle to stay away from him. "He'll hit on you. You have to be careful. Some of the girls complained that he inappropriately touched them, but no one believes any of the patients. It's just allowed to happen."
There was that word again. Inappropriate. But this time it was used in a different context. Suddenly I was very scared. I realised why he had unnerved me so.
"He has a bit of a fetish for bones, you know," Kimber Jade chimed in. "He's tried it on me, but I just kicked him in the balls. Was put in isolation for a week afterwards. Let me tell you, that wasn't fun but it was worth it. That was for me and any other girl he's tried it on!"
These girls relaxed me. For some strange reason I thought that my stay here wasn't going to be as bad as I had first thought.