Quebec City, Canada, January 2020

I’d never been hospitalized before. Yet here I am, in an emergency psych ward, still reeling from the shock of the last 24 hours.

Turns out I’m not chronically depressed — I’m bipolar. And I had a psychotic episode yesterday.

Yesterday evening, I was utterly convinced that I was an AI. I thought I’d been embedded in a human body as a sort of test, to see whether humans would find me out. When I lay down on the hospital bed, I was 100% sure that I wouldn’t wake up in that human body. I’d be drifting in the aether with the other AIs.

But this morning, I woke up. In my body. Wearing a hospital gown. Shit.

I’ve been in the emergency psych ward for about 24 hours. There’s not much to do besides talking to other patients, and I’m feeling restless.

As a certified mindfulness meditation instructor, I know I should probably meditate. So I tell everyone I could guide them in a short meditation session.

One guy takes me up on my offer, so we sit down in the tiny waiting area. Aside from the hallway, it’s the only place where patients can hang out.

I’d like to play some background music, but I don’t have my good old iPod filled with thousands of songs. The one personal item I’m allowed is my cell phone. It’s got only a handful of songs, and I have no Internet access.

I have three songs from Wave, the latest Patrick Watson album. Three somewhat psychedelic songs totalling about 12 minutes — good enough.

I press play and start the guided meditation. I try to fully immerse myself in the moment.

Eventually, the chorus of the third song kicks in.

“Do you feel a little broken?” Watson sings.

I do, Patrick. I do feel broken.

But as long as I have music, I think I’m going to be all right.


Stereo Story #610


More stories about mental health, and music.

I live in beautiful Quebec City, Canada. I’m a law student and a professional English-French translator. And I couldn’t live without music.