12. The healing begins

My pastor and his wife were around when I got transferred. It was cathartic talking to them as well, and my pastor prayed for me as they both prayed with me. Their care meant a lot at that time, as I know my pastor is really busy. They were full of concern, and listened to me. They were with me as I got transferred, and saw me settled in before they took their leave.

The ward that I was transferred to, was at ground level, and more open to natural light, facing a garden. Dedicated to mood disorders, patients generally suffer from the same sort of illnesses, and the overall environment is quieter. I felt myself relaxing a bit more, even as I struggled to talk to others. I simply wasn’t ready for conversation with strangers, and I couldn’t speak much above a soft whisper. I settled into the activity area, and shied away from human contact or speech in general. Considering it was a Friday, the next time I would see the ward doctors would be Monday. I prepared myself to be discharged on Friday next at the earliest.

That night, I slept well despite the heat and the unfamiliar surroundings. I felt much more comfortable, and the ward was a lot quieter. I also had been given the chance to shower, which was finally welcome in this new ward.

I woke up at 2 am that night. I was suddenly filled with a totally new feeling, one I’d not felt for a long time. I felt light. A great weight seemed to have been taken off my shoulders, and I felt myself breathing freely. I smiled to myself, and it felt right. I couldn’t get back to sleep though. Words were coursing through my head. The words were back, and I got up, to ask the nurses for paper and pen. I wrote a letter to my wife, celebrating the fact that I could write again, and apologising for considering suicide and hiding the truth from her.

Then I went back to bed.

The ward was a huge blessing. Activity timings were regulated, but there was a lot of spare time as well, which I used to catch up on reading. My brother, my parents-in-law, my wife and my friends were free to visit me, and the nurses gave visits priority over a lot of other activities, except for therapy times. There were group therapy activities, and patients were also not discouraged from interacting otherwise, under the nurses’ watchful eyes. The mood disorder unit also allowed patients access to cards and other games, which we could play with one another to while the time away, and also chat over. With patients of the same background, the ward was a lot more peaceful and quiet than the ward I had been in earlier.

The quiet surroundings were critical for recovery in my case. I had time to think over some things, participated in the group therapy and responded well to the medication. I was also allowed access to the garden for walks unsupervised, when the doctors were certain that the suicidal tendencies had receded. By Wednesday of the week, the doctors felt that I was ready to be discharged.

I was heading home, after an eventful week at IMH.

A friend accompanied me most of the way. The discharge was unexpected, but she had been visiting at the time. We took the shuttle out to the MRT, and I marvelled at how I had managed to shuffle my way into the hospital on that rainy Thursday night. I really understood God’s grace at that moment, and I was glued to the windows as the shuttle pulled out of the hospital.

The MRT ride was a challenge. After that long week, I realised that I’d been so used to the institutional colours that we wore in the hospital, and the nurse uniforms, that even the colours of the clothing worn by the passengers on the MRT were a riot to my eyes. I spent a while musing over all the colours and how different life seemed over a few short days. I was more able to take in details, and stand straight. I was able to breathe more easily, and I had a good conversation with my friend, who saw me all the way to Clementi, near my home. From there, I took a short bus ride home alone, and I messaged my wife and our friend in Malaysia, and all those who had been asking after me.

I got home, unlocked the door, and hugged my wife. My boys were still in school at the time.

But I was alive. I was home.

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