Hospitals can be good hiding places, especially if you're sick and don't want to see anyone. Some people bemoan confinement but when I finally arrived, I felt safe. The doors were locked, the windows were barred, I was supervised day and night. I felt assured I couldn't hurt myself or anyone else: a different experience for me. Planning to jump off bridges, starving myself, defending myself from a drug-dealing boyfriend had been my modus operandi for so many, long months. And I was sick of it! Literally!
When the hospital welcomed me in, it was like coming home. And my doctor was the kind, responsible parent I had been looking for.
Dr. Wang was a Southern Baptist Chinese gentleman about five feet tall, middle aged, and unflappable. When I yelled about the Big Dipper turning upside down, he assured me all would be OK. And I believed him. He listened patiently to my craziness, encouraged me to tone down my screaming, and acted like I needed help without condescension. I learned later he was one of the best psychiatrists in San Francisco: an artist and healer who knew how to let their patients become themselves again, using remarkable listening and learning skills to discover how to help.
Hospitals can be places that let you see yourself and learn to be yourself even when you're not. But without doctors, like Dr. Wang, they can only keep you behind the safety of walls and barred windows. They can never set you free.