I'm at the Duke Hospital ER right now because my roommate's friend collapsed in her dorm and was brought here about 5 hours ago. 5 hours later we're still waiting in the lobby for her to go inside. Sigh... But while I was here waiting, I had an extremely humbling conversation with a man who was also waiting in the lobby. He had some sort of mental disorder I'm pretty sure because of his slurred speech and randomness of words and lack of social constraint. He was walking around talking to all of the people around saying random things to make them smile. He said to one old lady, "I just like to see people smile." A woman was holding her daughter of about 5 years and he said to the couple, ""Pretty baby. You must be a proud daddy to have her." He was sitting behind me and he said, "Excuse me, pretty young lady." I turned around because I was the only person in the waiting room young enough to be considered a "young lady." My roommate and her friend and her friend's other friend had gone inside just to get her vital signs checked. I turned around and this is along the lines of how the conversation went.

Man: Hi, what's your name?
Sonal: Hi, I'm Sonal!
Man: I'm Billy! It's nice to meet you. --stuck his hand out--
--I shook his hand--
Man: You have a very soft touch. You're a very pretty young lady. Any young man would be lucky to have you.
Sonal: --I smiled-- Thank you so much.
Man: Do you go to college?
Sonal: Yeah I go to Duke actually.
Man: Duke! --talks to the man next to him-- She goes to Duke! Are you a freshman or a senior or a sophomore or a junior?
Sonal: --I smiled again because it was really sweet-- I'm a freshman.
Man: Ah, I know freshman and senior year are the most fun years.
Sonal: Yeah, we actually have finals right now, so lots of studying!
Man: Yeah, freshman year is a fun year.

At this point his attention shifted to another person so I just turned back around and smiled to myself. He was a very sweet man and I hope the best for him.

In our society, we treat people with mental disorders as pariahs. We ignore them, we try to avoid making eye contact, anything that will keep them away. Of course I don't speak for everyone, but as a generality, this is true. It wasn't their fault. They didn't choose to be that way. It's all genetics and brain and their external environments that cause these things. Mental disorders are a scary thing for anyone and rather than trying to keep them away, we should find ways to resolve these problems or embrace them. People with disorders are people too. Who are you to treat them any differently than anyone else?

Two hours later

Back in my room. I came back alone because I had to study for Neuro. Spent the last forty minutes trying to find my way back to East Campus from the hospital on Central. I couldn't come back the way we had gotten there through the Duke Clinic because that was closed, so I walked outside in the cold around the hospital on some sketch streets and found a bus stop and waited for a bus. I waited for like, 20 minutes, and absolutely nothing. So I decided I'd just walk some more and find West Campus and take a bus to East. Walked some more sketch streets until I finally caught sight of the Chapel from behind a bunch of tall buildings and exhaled a BIG sigh of relief. Something I recognized. Thank goodness. That chapel... I love it so much. Then I walked to the bus stop and came back home. 

I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life. 

Anyways, it's time to actually study time. Hopefully it's nothing serious with my roommate's friend and she can take her flight home tomorrow morning. I can't believe how long people have to wait in the ER. I know when I passed out at physical therapy for my knee earlier this year and they took me to the ER, I had to wait about three hours? But for her it's been about seven. It's insane how busy they are. It's really sad too.

One more not-as-stressful-as-orgo exam and then I can go home. Three days. 


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