So the state hospital was an objectively awful experience. There really was no point at which I abandoned myself to a reappropriation of my careless youth, there were no moments when laughter or love took over and successfully obscured the institutional walls in the background. There was no "learning to live again" that was not sublimated by the noxious smell of stale piss, and even the stench did not curb hunger left by the state's subsistence meal trays. It was impossible to forget that I had found myself locked up behind two steel doors amidst an army of wailing, cackling, incontinent/violent social throwaways and that- apparently- I belonged there.
I think that was the worst part. Not endless unsatisfying starchy dinners or being denied medical care, nor the knowledge that this was an alternative to prison for some and homelessness for most others, not even the fear of being held there month after month, year after year, forgotten and with no chance for appeal. . . No, the most horrific thing about living in this nightmare was the constant consciousness of the fact that it was real and I wasn't going to wake up.
I fucked up big time and had proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed my freedom taken from me lest I use it to hurt myself. There was nobody there to help me confront this stunning fact. So I, like all the other patients not fully occupied by their delusions, pressed through the days seeking to drown in sleep whenever we could grab 20 uninterrupted minutes. The line for night meds was always the longest and most quickly formed. Nevermind the sunset, all that mattered was obtaining 8 or 9 hours of oblivion and putting another day in "treatment" behind us.