God Spoke to Me
Right before I wrote this, I was thinking of the reason why I have only talked about this twice in almost fifty years, and never written anything about it. It’s because of the setting in which it happened to me. I was involuntarily committed to a short stay at a state mental hospital in my early twenties. Surely a personal account of anything that anyone experienced while in the kind of mental and emotional state he would likely be in to be put into one of those places would be doubted or even ridiculed. How could he be sure that what is retelling was real, or the product of his putative mental illness? How could anyone reading this not dismiss it as just the crazy, mixed-up memories of a chaotic young-adulthood?
Well, I don’t know — and that’s why I have just kept it to myself all these years. But I’m at an age now that I feel like I have to tell whatever stories I have, to whoever will hear them. Maybe this is a story that could mean something to someone else, and maybe not. But it’s a story about an experience I had that made me believe in a God that cares about me.
My early adulthood — what I’m calling my life from the age of 18 to 29 — was troubled. My dad died at 17, and that marked the start of a spiral that began with me dropping out of college, and ending with me in and out of jails, mental hospitals, and various states of homelessness.
It was in one of the last short stays at a state mental hospital that this occurred. The sequence of events was simple and quick. From start to end, it was maybe only an hour out of my life. I was in the ‘day room’ — the big space where patients in these places spent most of their time. It had a tv, several chairs, tables with old assorted board games and jigsaw puzzles on them, and was monitored by staff through a big plexiglass window in one of the walls that connected the day room with the hospital staff.
I had gotten into a petty dispute with another patient over a preferred chair. One of the technicians who was watching the dispute unfold must have decided that I was the instigator, so him and another technician (I’m a large person who can be intimidating when I’m angry, I’ve been told) confronted me and told me to find another place to sit, or get put into the “quiet room” — which was a little place that was exactly like the image that probably popped into mind when you read the term “quiet room”. My reaction was loud, sarcastic , and defiant— “Thanks guys! Thanks a lot!”