The morning everything would change was clear and bright. It was mid summer, and everyone was glad of the nice weather. Most people were out making plans, but one person remained closed in the small guest house he lived in. Giorno Giovanna woke this day with a bit of a headache and feeling inexplicably sad. Of course, that sadness was an old companion, and he was used to it; today was different, though.
Immediately upon waking, he was struck by how fake the world around him felt. It was almost like he was outside the world watching. The sensation was surreal in the extreme and scary. He struggled daily with the monster that slept beneath his skin, but today it felt like that monster was going to consume him from the inside out. His eyes settled on a DVD as he left his room. His mind, unbidden, decided that if he broke that DVD in half, he could use it to cut open his wrists. He furiously shook that thought away. Where did that come from? He didn’t usually think of killing himself, well not all the time.
He found himself in the kitchen, holding one of the knives from the butcher block and staring at it. His mind again wandered into that place where he didn’t want it to go. How easy it would be to just cut… No, he thought as he sheathed the knife back in the block. This wasn’t good; he couldn’t stop these thoughts today. He shook it away again and sat down on the sofa, his brain shutting down for a little while and spacing out. Today was bad; he hadn’t had a day where he disassociated so badly in a very long time. That combined with his mind coming up with ways to kill himself made him worry.
He found himself in the garden and he felt like he was watching his body move on its own with no thought. He was holding the small rake and staring at the points on the prongs. It would be so easy to just fall… He put it down and swallowed against the building ball in his throat. It wasn’t stopping, and he was going to do something to make his adopted parents sad; he couldn’t do that. He made his way up to the main house to find Erina and Jonathan in the kitchen.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong?” Erina asked immediately, seeing the distraught look on Giorno’s face.
“I think I need to check myself into the hospital. I’m having a hard day and I don’t think I can handle it on my own anymore,” he answered and smiled sadly at her.
She nodded and looked at Jonathan. “Will you drive him?”
“Of course,” the other man answered. “Come, son, I’ll take you there.”
“Thank you,” Giorno answered flatly. He was feeling that unreal sensation again. It was so strong today for some reason. He guessed it wasn’t being weak to ask for help when he needed it; and he needed it today. “Please take care of the plants while I’m gone.”
“Of course, dear,” Erina said before she gave him a tight hug and let him go.
Giorno quietly followed Jonathan to their car and got into the passenger seat. He buckled himself in mechanically and then stared out the window as his adopted father drove him to the main hospital in their town. He didn’t notice the passage of time, or the passage of the world around him. He was jostled out of his headspace when Jonathan shook his shoulder.
“We’re here. Do you want me to go in with you?” Jonathan asked.
“No, I’m fine from here. I’ll go in the ER and tell them what’s wrong. I’ll call you when I know what they’re going to do with me.” He felt strange talking about himself. It was as if he didn’t exist and he was talking about someone else.
He got out of the car and waved as Jonathan drove off. For a moment, he rethought what he was doing. Would checking himself into a psych ward really do something to help stop these intrusive thoughts he kept having? They would put him on medicine, which he had long avoided. He needed help, though. He didn’t want to make Erina cry. She had been so kind to take him in when he was in such a bad place with his mother and step-father. He rubbed his jaw in remembered pain and shuddered. He hated to imagine where he’d be if it wasn’t for Erina and Jonathan Joestar. He swallowed hard and walked through the doors.
He approached the front desk and saw several nurses sitting there. He hadn’t thought about what he was supposed to say to them. What sort of thing did one tell someone when they came in like this? He was willingly putting himself here, after all, but he knew they had to have a reason to admit him.
“What can we do for you?” one of the nurses, a woman with gray hair tied in a bun and clear bright blue eyes behind glasses, asked him.
“Um, I think I need to be checked into the psychiatric ward. I’ve been struggling with depression and today all I can think about is ways to kill myself,” he said with a detachment to the statement. Again, it was like he was talking about a different person.
“Okay, fill out this triage form, and we’ll get you in line to see someone,” she said and handed a paper to him.
He carefully filled out his name, address, phone, emergency contact, and he paused when he got to the reason for the visit. He swallowed and put “suicidal thoughts” down and left it at that. He handed her the paper and went to sit down in the waiting area. He felt that same sensation of being outside his body and the world seeming fake. He crossed his arms and tried to concentrate on the people around him. There was a little boy with an earache screaming off and on. Thankfully, he was called back quickly. He saw someone with their arm cradled to their chest, and someone else that was holding an icepack to his head. He lost track of time, then, and felt himself detach from the world again.
“Giovanna,” he heard and stood up automatically. Another nurse was standing at the door to the ER area.
He approached her and felt strange, as though he were walking outside his body again. He watched as he was weighed and led to a room that didn’t have anything in it except a bed and the built in TV. The nurse showed him the control to operate the bed and the TV and told him that someone would be in to see him shortly. He watched her leave and realized this must be the room specifically for people like him. The front was all windows and the door was also slid open. He found himself going through the channels on the TV several times, never stopping on a show. Finally, he just turned it off with a sigh. He leaned back in the bed and closed his eyes.
“Mr. Giovanna?” he heard after a while. He lifted his head to see a woman in a doctor’s coat.
“Yeah?” he said with a sigh.
“I’m Dr. Manchester. I’m the ER psychiatric consultant. I hear you’ve been having a hard time. Tell me what’s going on.” She was taller with long brown hair and piercing hazel eyes. She wore a pantsuit with a white doctor’s coat over it.
“I’m feeling like the world isn’t real,” he started, sitting up in the bed. “Like things are just imaginary and I keep spacing out. The reason I came in today is because I kept thinking of how to kill myself with different things. I knew it was wrong; but I couldn’t help the thoughts.”
“Have you had these thoughts before?” she asked, jotting down something on the clipboard she held.
“Not like this. I mean, I’ve struggled with depression since I was a child, so I’m used to that; this was different and scary.”
“You said you wanted to be in the psych ward when you talked to the nurse,” she pointed out.
“It is the only thing I can think of to keep myself safe. I don’t want to hurt my adoptive parents by doing something,” he explained.
“So, you have a support network?” she asked, still making notes.
“Yeah, I have my adopted mother and father. My adopted father Jonathan dropped me off here today,” he said and looked away from her, already feeling the sensation of being distanced from himself.
“Does your depression seem to affect the way you interact with them?” she asked.
“Erina worries about me, but I spend a lot of time alone even so. I just don’t want to be around anyone. I live on their property in the guest house.”
“I think you qualify to be admitted, and you are willing to seek help. That’s a good thing. I’ll send someone from the psychiatric floor to come take you to a room. It shouldn’t be long. Then I’ll be up to visit with you some more and get to know you.” She smiled at him and turned to leave.
“Thank you,” Giorno said with a half-hearted smile himself.
He settled into the bed and looked through the TV shows again, finding nothing he was even remotely interested in on there. He had almost fallen asleep when he heard someone in the room. He opened his eyes to see a male nurse standing by the bed.
“Mr. Giovanna, I’m here to take you to a room,” he said. This guy was shorter than the doctor with dark hair and dark eyes. “I’m Charles.”
Giorno got up and followed the nurse, walking close behind him so as not to get lost. They went to the elevator and up to the second floor. He turned into a locked door and punched in a code and led Giorno inside. Once inside, the nurse got a set of pajamas and handed them to Giorno.
“Go ahead and change in this room here, and we’ll put everything you have with you in a locker. You can’t have any electronics, so your phone has to stay locked up. There are some activities inside the ward that you can do.”
Giorno nodded, stopping to send a quick text to Erina saying he’d been admitted and he’d call when he could. He went into the bathroom and changed into the pajama looking outfit and handed over all his possessions. He only had his wallet and phone on him, so there wasn’t much to put away aside from his clothes. Once he was changed, the nurse led him through another set of locked doors and down past a nurse’s station into a hallway to a room with the number 234 on it.
“Is there anything you need now?” he asked.
“No, I’m fine like this,” Giorno said with a soft smile.
“Dr. Manchester will be down to see you soon,” the nurse said and turned and left.
Giorno was alone now with his thoughts as he sat down on the plain bed. There was a TV behind plexiglass and another remote like the one that had been in the ER. He again tried to find something to watch but was again disappointed. He heard a knock and looked up to see Dr. Manchester in the doorway.
“Hi, doctor,” he said as she came in and sat down on a stool that was in the corner.
“Shall we get to know each other?” she said and held the same clipboard from before.
“What do you want me to talk about?” he asked, sitting up and turning the TV off.
“Why don’t you start with when you started having depression problems. You said it started when you were a child.”
“Um, yeah. I was raised by my mother and step-father until I was ten. My mom really didn’t do much with me, and my step-dad was abusive. He liked to hit both my mom and me, but she never did anything about it.”
“How did you come to live with your adoptive parents?” she continued when he stopped.
“I was adopted when I was ten by a couple named Erina and Jonathan Joestar. They were loosely related to my real father, though through friendship. Well, past friendship. My real father never acknowledged me, choosing his other son Donatello as his heir. I have other half brothers through him, including the one I talk to named Rikiel. He stays in his house though because he has severe social anxiety.” He paused to gauge whether he should continue or not. He swallowed and went ahead. “I think I was eight or nine when I started to feel lost and disconnected from the world now and then.”
“So, when you were adopted, your life improved?”
“Tons. Erina and Jonathan are good people. They were in their fifties when I was adopted; I’m actually close in age to their grandson Joseph. It was about ten years ago now since I started living with them. I didn’t want to move out when I got out of high school, so they offered to let me stay in their guest house. That way I can have my privacy but I’m close by.” Giorno stopped again and sighed. “I try to not be sad or depressed because it worries them.”
The doctor nodded, still making notes. “It sounds like they love you very much to care so much. But you need to know that it is beyond your control to be depressed like this. I’m going to prescribe an anti-depressant that I want you to start while you’re here. It won’t really take effect for several weeks, but the sooner you start, the better. I’m also going to put you on another medication that boosts the effectiveness of the other one. It will work pretty fast, but you might not notice much of a difference at first.” She stood up and smiled at him. “I also want you to attend group each day. I’ll come and see you every other day to see how you are doing. Expect to be here at least a week.”
“Can I call my family to tell them how long I’ll be in here?” he asked, suddenly worried because he knew that Erina wouldn’t relax until she knew for sure what was going on.
“There’s a community phone in the common room. You can use that one anytime you wish. You don’t have to stay in here; in fact, we recommend you go out and meet some of the other patients. You’ll have your meals brought to you. It won’t be long until lunch. If you need anything, ask one of the nurses.”
Giorno nodded, feeling like he was causing so much imposition on so many people. “Alright, thank you.”
He watched her leave and laid down on the bed to stare at the ceiling. At least here, there was nothing he could hurt himself with.
Panacotta Fugo sat at the large table in the common room when he saw a new person walk in and go to the phone. He was thin with blond hair in curls on top of his head. He picked up the nearby phone and Fugo could hear him relatively clearly.
“Erina, yes. They admitted me. Yeah. I don’t know how long they’ll keep me but at least a week. They want me to start medicines and do some therapy sessions with the groups here. Yeah, I love you too. Bye.” He hung up and turned to look at Fugo who was still staring at him.
“Hey, you’re new here,” Fugo said with a smile.
The blond approached him and nodded, taking a seat at the side of the table. Fugo was coloring on a paper with a picture of some cartoon characters on it. He pushed a piece of the paper toward the newcomer. “We don’t have a lot of things we can do, but coloring is kinda therapeutic.”
“Yeah,” he said as he took the paper and a couple of crayons from the basket in the center of the table. “I rather use pencils, though.”
“My name’s Fugo.”
“Oh, um, I’m Giorno. Today is my first day,” he said as he started to fill in the cartoons on the paper with color.
“What are you in for?” Fugo asked with a smirk.
“Oh…ah, depression.” He looked down as if he was embarrassed by the admission.
“I’m here getting meds adjusted to get my bipolar disorder under control again. So, I understand the depression part; though my problem is more the mania I have. I tend to get violent when I’m manic, and have outbursts of anger,” Fugo said and resumed coloring his own picture.
“Fugo!” came another voice the caused both of them to look up.
“Oh, Narancia,” Fugo said to the shorter dark-haired man. “We have a newbie on the floor. This is Giorno.”
Narancia sat down across from the pair of them and grabbed a paper from the center of the table. He dug through the crayons until he found a few that he wanted and started coloring in the picture. “I’m Narancia, nice to meet you, Giorno. What brought you to our little ward?”
“He’s got major depression,” Fugo answered and smiled at Giorno who didn’t look like he wanted to answer.
“Ah, that’s rough. I’m schizophrenic. I needed to come in after a bad reaction to a change in meds. I think they’ve about got them figured out this time. I’ve stopped hearing the woman calling for help and the screaming and stopped seeing the words written on things.” Narancia spoke about it as easily as if he was talking about the rain.
“Did you have any luck getting them to believe you?” Fugo asked.
“No, even though I have the scar, they think it was all part of my delusions,” he said with a sigh, turning the paper to color in the other side.
“What happened?” Giorno asked and looked over at him.
“Well, I was arrested and in a juvenile facility. I didn’t do anything, but I got framed for it by a ‘friend’. While I was there, they used to have a lot of us get sick and have a lot of surgery. See?” he lifted the side of his shirt to show a long scar. “I think they took a kidney out of me. That’s at least the only thing that would leave that kind of scar. I woke up during the surgery, too, so I know they were doing something.”
“No one believes you?” Giorno asked with a frown.
“With the schizophrenia, the doctors just say that it was something I made up, but my hallucinations never included something like that. I hear a woman crying for help or screaming, and I see words like ‘kill’ or ‘die’ worked into everyday signs. I don’t see made up scenes like that. But they still don’t listen even though I asked them to do a scan to see if I’m missing one of my kidneys.” Narancia didn’t ever seem bothered by what had happened and then looked at Fugo. “Hey, did your adopted family ever come visit this time?”
“Adoptive family? I’m adopted too,” Giorno said with a smile.
Fugo sighed, shaking his head. “Luckily, they seem to be leaving me alone now. I hope this trend continues to be one they stick to. I just wish I could go back and change what happened.”
“What happened that you wish you could change?” Giorno asked with a glance at Fugo.
“He had a ‘satanic panic’ when he was a kid,” Narancia said without looking up from the coloring page.
“Satanic panic?” Giorno asked.
Fugo sighed. He wasn’t going to go into this today, but he supposed if this guy wanted to know. “Yeah, when I was a kid I got taken away from my real family after they were charged with ‘satanic child abuse’. I got adopted by a family that just wanted to exploit me. My new grandmother was the only one I really bonded with. Before I came here, I had a severe explosion of anger at them and ended up telling them they never loved me, and they were at fault for me being taken from people that might have cared about me.”
Giorno nodded. “At least my adoptive parents were better than my real ones.”
“You lucked out,” Fugo said with a sigh.
“I’m not sure I was lucky. I ended up here,” Giorno said and both Narancia and Fugo looked at him. Both gave a knowing nod and went back to coloring.