The rain pelted down heavily as I searched for the entrance, damn I must have missed it. I kept driving straight for a while squinting through the twighlight and fog on my windscreen for a safe place to turn around. I hate driving in unfamiliar areas, particularly in these conditions and even more so for the reasons I was going there.
I found my turn and proceeded to work my way through the maze of cars until I found a car park comfortably close to the building but solitary all the same.
I put on the hand brake and reviewed the text message sitting open on my phone for a minute, ‘Hey, don’t freak out but I’m in the hospital...’ I closed my eyes for a second took a deep breath and got out of the car.
I was prepared to make the mad dash through the rain, but it forgivingly turned to drizzle as I headed towards the big red EMERGANCY sign appearing to flash in the halo of glare that had formed around it. I entered the door to the right, as I had been instructed and was greeted by a labyrinth of shiny corridors.
I approached a desk towards the end with a middle aged blonde women sitting behind it, ‘2N?’ I enquired nervously ‘Through those doors love’ she smiled back warmly. The heavy double wooden doors loomed ominously ahead, the words ‘Mental Health’ written in a matter of fact manner on the front. Another deep breath.
The world through those wooden doors was a busy one, it was dinner time and the clanking of the trays on metal carts an ever present reminder of your surroundings, any thoughts that it could be a regular hospital ward were slightly overshadowed by the people.
They looked lost, the people- it struck me that most of them were men. One was sitting against a wall staring into space, another walking around talking and laughing to people only he could see. It felt very revealing being there, like I was exposed somehow, intruding into their secret pain.
A nurse found my friend for me, she was sitting in the courtyard smoking, looking weary, but kind of peaceful and a damn sight better than the last time this had happened that’s for sure. We made our pleasantries as we do when we don’t know quite what to say to each other. She motioned me to sit in the covered area and she went to get us coffee.
The setting was very different to inside, calm, healing – fitting, I suppose. I could see why she preferred it.
Wind chimes and mosaic sculptures hung from the trees twirling hypnotically in the breeze, the small garden beds filled with lavender and herbs mixed aromatically with the smell of the rain. Bamboo screens sheltered the area from the visual noise of the car park but the streetlights still shone down, bright yet peaceful, their light reflecting gently off the leaves of Large Japanese Maples.
My friend returned with the coffee, and some biscuits, we talked about how she had come here, what had happened, and what should happen next. I felt a lot more hope this time, and so did she.
Unlike last time, her arrival had not been a traumatic ride in the back of an ambulance fighting for the life she didn’t want to have, but instead holding the hands of her mother and her boyfriend with a referral from the doctor. This time, it seems her pleas for help may have been answered.