I sit in class, amongst people, most younger than myself by at least half a decade.

What was I doing when I was their age?

Oh, yeah that’s right, I almost forgot.

I almost forgot the reason I didn’t graduate on time. Why it will be more than 10 years after high school graduation when I receive my college degree.

Almost.

I was in college at their age.

I was in college, part-time with an entire continent separating myself from the rest of my family.

My family who sent me to the first program.

I was excited at first when I heard I may be going to California.

It was two weeks after I was discharged from my first psychiatric hospital stay.

The stay that according to Conroy, the social worker who admitted me was supposed to last between 3-10 days.

I stayed 18 days.

No outdoors. No light aside from the fluorescent ones beating down on me in the halls, in the rooms, in the showers.

After discharge, no one knew where to put me. They said it would only be once that I’d be in the hospital for things like this, that I was just going through a “transition”.

I guess I have a lot of “transitions”… 8 hospitalizations, 3 residential treatment centers totaling 2 and a half years and half a dozen IOP/PHP and 3 attempts later.

I remember sitting in class half a decade ago wondering if I’d make it to college graduation.

I remember thinking that I would get in trouble if I was seen chewing gum, not by the professor but from someone also in program going to school seeing me. We weren’t allowed to chew gum in the lower levels.

I remember not being able to accept rides from friends at school, even from my professor the night that it was pouring rain, pitch black, and I was all alone at the school bus stop with nothing or no one around late on a Friday night after class finished.

I remember begging my parents to get me out of the first place, saying, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.” They told me it was either the program or the streets.

I didn’t even do anything wrong to deserve long-term residential “treatment”.

I was severely depressed, I needed love.

Love is not what I received.

I received way more fake hugs than I’ll ever get in my life real hugs.

I saw people try to kill one another.

I saw other people struggling, constantly talking about suicide and the next attempt.

I saw people attempt.

I saw people relapse.

I got abused, mostly verbal and emotional abuse.

I thought that was in the past. I thought the abuse was done.

It was thrown in my face constantly.

My current classmates have an average age of 20.

At the age of 20, I was taking 20 prescribed pills a day.

Once, someone from the program had to call my professor prior to the school year beginning to let him know that I was heavily medicated and may fall asleep in class.

My classroom experiences at a traditional college age are skewed.

So, when I sit in class, a bit ashamed that during the working hours I’m in a classroom at a desk, I wonder what happened, I almost forget what went on.

I know others wonder why I’m in class at the ripe old age I am.

If they ask, I tell them, usually surface-level things.

Usually, I just say I did the college route backwards, went to work first after high school and now I’m in school.

If only they knew the real story, the fucked up shit that I was locked away for, years of my young adulthood taken from me, because of depression stemming from abuse, neglect, and in-affectionate beginnings.

When I sit in class, I start to think of all these things. I think about what I was doing when I was their age, what I was exposed to, what was going on in my life.

Absolute madness.

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