“I need to take your glasses as well, ma’am.” The guard said, sticking out his hand. “I can’t see without my glasses, I need them.” I said pleadingly. “It is our job to make sure you are safe while in our custody, your glasses could easily be fashioned into a weapon and we are not going to take any chances, so please, hand them over.” He said. I reluctantly removed my glasses and immediately the world around me became a blur. My vision is terrible and without my glasses I couldn’t tell how many fingers you would be holding up-even if they were an inch from my face.
I heard the cell door slam behind him and could only assume he had left, because I sure as hell didn’t see him leave.
I had been placed in an “observation cell.” These cells were specifically designed for inmates who were suicidal, therefore, it was made to be “death proof”. Someone who wants to end their life can become quite crafty, so they take special precautions to ensure that it would be virtually impossible for any inmate to do so.
All protrusions from the room had been removed, such as: sprinkler heads, bunk bed rails and windows. My jump suit had been replaced with what I can only describe as a large, bulky, velcro potato sack. There was no loose fabric, so even if I wanted to attempt to twist my new attire into a death weapon-it would be virtually impossible.
They had removed my shoes, and my glasses-but this wasn’t the worst of it. The cell itself was made of glass walls. This was to ensure that anyone passing by would be able to peer in at me and check to make sure I was still in fact breathing.
I felt like an animal at the zoo. I could see the silhouettes of officers in uniform passing by, occasionally stopping at the glass and making snide comments. The majority of corrections officers knew why I was in there, they had access to the entire report which detailed the things I had done to their “brother in blue”. Needless to say, each of them wanted to ensure I was fully aware of what a piece of shit I was. I could hear them say “I don’t blame her for trying to kill herself, I would too“, “She’s looking at a lot of time.” “She’s blind as a bat, serves her right.” I was embarrassed and ashamed and there was no where for me to hide.
After about 7 hours in my aquarium, I started to really lose it. I was already feeling mentally unstable-and the current conditions certainly didn’t help. The longer I sat there- blinded and stripped down to nothing-the more my grip on reality slipped. I had been reduced to nothing. I walked into that jail as “Tiffany”, but in this moment-I was something else, someone else, I didn’t know who the hell I was anymore.
I had been vomiting repeatedly as the drugs made their way out of my system. I spent most of my time hunched over the toilet, heaving as I desperately attempted to get the poison out of my body. I had my head resting on the cold metal of the toilet seat and suddenly had an idea. They had all of these measures in place for suicide prevention-but I was smarter, and I was going to finish the job.
I pulled my potato sack up over my head to conceal the back of my head, I then proceeded to cross my arms, placing both of my thumbs onto the boney part of the front of my throat. I began pushing and squeezing as hard as I could. I wanted to break the bones in my throat in hopes that it would cause me to suffocate to death. I know that many would probably consider this quite disturbing, but you must understand, that I wanted death more than I had ever wanted anything before in my life. I needed it. So I felt as though I was doing myself a favor in my efforts to end my life. I found that those bones were much more malleable than I had anticipated, they didn’t break, they just shifted backwards which caused me to make an audible choking sound.
In the distance I heard someone say “Here she goes, open #4” as the door clicked and was slid open. I felt the heavy hands of the guard on my shoulders pulling me back away from the toilet. I landed flat on my back and he held me down with his elbow to my chest. “Stop this-right now.” He scolded. I began screaming at him. “Just f***ing let me gooooo. G** damnit why the hell won’t you people just leave me be?! It’s my f***ing life! It’s none of your business just stop, let me finish!” I was sobbing at this point, and despite the cold floor on my legs and back, I was hot with rage. “Please just beat me over the head with your night stick. Please please pleaseeee just kill me. I’m begging you. Shoot me with your taser please. Please. I want to die.”
“I’m not going to kill you inmate. Then I would be put in prison and that sure as hell isn’t happening. I’m going to stand up, and exit the cell, you have one more chance. If you pull some bullshit like this again, we won’t hesitate to shackle your hands and feet. It will be a lot more uncomfortable for you if we have to do that so knock it off.” He said sternly, no compassion in his voice whatsoever. Here I was-a fellow human- begging to die, and he was speaking to me in an empty, robotic tone. I realized right then and there that I was nothing but another junkie inmate occupying one of their cells. They didn’t care that I was once captain of the cheerleading squad, or voted class clown by my peers, they didn’t care that I was a sister and a daughter or that I once did roller derby. They didn’t care that I was voted queen at the Valentine’s Dance in high school or that I was a restaurant manager for 3 years. None of that mattered, I was no longer that person- I was inmate 4012342, and nothing more.
After what felt like an eternity in isolation-there was a small knock on my cell door. “May I come in?” I heard a kind sounding voice say from the other side. “I don’t give a shit.” I said, huddled in the corner of my cell with my knees pressed to my chest. The door click and opened. I couldn’t see the person standing there, but I could tell by the silhouette that this was no guard. “I would like to come closer, but I need to know that you won’t hurt me, can I trust you not to hurt me?” She said. “Hurt you? Why would I hurt you? I wouldn’t do that, I don’t even know who the hell you are, I can’t see shit.” I said. “Well my name is Dr. LaChance and I would like to speak with you.” She said. “I don’t really feel like talking right now.” I said cynically, my chin pressed to my knees.
“Well I certainly don’t blame you, you are in a glass box, near nude without sight. I’ll tell you what. If I could convince the guards to get your glasses for you, could you make a promise to me that you wouldn’t try to harm yourself with them?” She said. My heart leapt within my chest. Being able to see what was happening around me would certainly help me to comprehend my surroundings, and I would feel better equipped to handle my current situation. “Oh my God yes. Please. I promise on my mothers life I will not use them for anything other than looking at things. Please, can you do that? Can you get them?” I asked eagerly. I could hear that she was smiling as she spoke, “My, you certainly perked up didn’t you. Give me just a moment.” She exited the cell as I began feeling hopeful.
I had taken my sight for granted and once I no longer had it, I realized how important it was to me. I waited with anticipation for what seemed like hours for her to return and began pacing back and forth in my cell. Suddenly a wave of doubt surfaced within me. I realized she wasn’t coming back. I knew this was too good to be true, oh my gosh what if I had been dreaming? I hadn’t encountered one employee whom had talked to me as if I was a person since I had been here, why would a sweet stranger whisk in and reward me with my glasses out of nowhere. I had officially lost my damn mind-I was hallucinating now. My thoughts were interrupted by the click of the door. I stopped dead in my tracks and swiveled on my heels to face it. “Hello Tiffany, it’s me-may I come in?” Dr. LaChance asked. “Yes, of course.” I said hopefully. I heard her heels click on the concrete floor as she entered the cell, but then they suddenly stopped. It had grown silent.
She giggled, “Oh, I forgot, you probably can’t see me-I’m handing you your glasses.” She said as she slid them into my hand that had been resting by my side. I began crying as I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I don’t know who this woman was, but I regarded her as an angel. I opened the temples of my glasses and slid them onto my face, eager to get a clear picture of this wonderful lady. The moment she came into focus my heart dropped to my ankles.
I didn’t recognize the voice and her last name was different….it used to be Godfrey, and I used to be her cheerleading coach.