BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Patient Number 20

(an interview in the psychiatric ward of a government-run hospital)

For three hours she waited for her turn. There was no turning back. She had put off this day for years. She would have all kinds of excuses -- no time, no money, no reason at all. She wasn't scared that she'd be diagnosed with a mental disorder. The thing that scared her most was the possibility that the psychiatrist would find nothing wrong with her.

That being the case, how could she then explain those days of total madness when all she wanted to do was to be alone, away from everything? No mother, no father, no daughter, no husband. Just alone. In the dark. Not the please-save-me-from hell kind of shutting down. Just total silence, away from the chaos, far from the wild rumpus.

But she didn't have much choice. Her husband dragged her to the hospital. The night before, she lost it again, even if she promised herself and him that she wouldn't snap again. But she did, as she did before and the nights before that.

So she went to see the psychiatrist. After more than an hour, the doctor, he with several letters after his name -- indicating perhaps that he is one of the best in his field -- is staring blankly at his computer. He does not know what to tell her. As she knew deep down before she stepped inside the clinic, the doctor would dismiss her case.

"There's nothing wrong with you. The symptoms you have are not enough," he tells her.

But cautions, in the same breath that the signs could lead to a bigger problem if ignored -- bipolar, anger impulse disorder or depression.

Patient number 20 is not surprised. She knew the doctor would dismiss her case. Hell, yeah, maybe, as the doctor says, she just had a bad week. He could be right. She has it once a month, for more than a year now.

But deep inside, she knows what's wrong. A therapist before him had told her before: "You're stuck, somewhere in your childhood years and you handle life as such."

Patient number 20 left the psychiatric ward knowing she would be skipping her next appointment. It's the same old story.

She just doesn't want to cross the desert as Hagar did, or gather bones like La Loba, the Wolf Woman.

That, little does she know, or is probably too proud to admit, is the only work that she has to do. No more lining up in psychiatric clinics.