Psychiatric Waiting Room


by Joel Ashton-Fogle

Waiting Room 1
Arriving in a state.
Heart racing.
Bracing self and pacing, chasing,
facing wait with weight
Afraid of light. Afraid of sound.
Each breath exploding, foreboding
Eroding ground
Concrete ejection seat
Might hurl me into obsolete.
Confiscation, condemnation,
Where is my self-regulation?
Words blaring in my head
Stopping dead in my throat
Each syllable a passing note
Of dread. Unsaid.
Throat block of blaring silence.

A tiny glass room. Too bright. Too loud.
Mum not allowed.
Just me and the words stuck in my throat
And I can’t say my name so I go for my phone
And texting, all thumbs, “I want my Mum”.
But it’s not allowed
Mum has to wait in a crowded reception
They won’t make exception
They put my coat in a garbage bag
Same with my back pack
Panic attack
Will I get my things back?
And I’m feeling numb
And I want my Mum

Waiting Room 2
Observed, unnerved
Sweating, forgetting the things to explain
‘cause now the words have left my brain
So I nod in agreement wherever, whoever
This waiting room is worse than the first
Past the point of return
Melting down, from the sound
of fluorescent light buzz or whatever it does
to throw this curve to my sensory nerve.

Option 1: Sent Home
They made the decision I’m
seeking attention
They’re sending me home but
I’m spinning inside
My mum looks upset and I
don’t really get it
She’s crying, I’m running. I just
want to hide.

Option 2: I’m Admitted
Form 1 again.
That same routine.
The end.


I am an Early Childhood Educator, Musician, Writer, Poet, Motivational Speaker and Social Justice Advocate.

I am also Neurodivergent. “Multiple Complex Needs” is how it used to be phrased. I have been diagnosed as Autistic, having Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, Developmental Delay, Ankylosing Spondylitis (an autoimmune degenerative arthritic condition) and am partially-sighted.

I was a ‘micro-preemie’ born 16 weeks early at 24 weeks gestation and weighed 600 grams at birth (slightly over 1 pound). I’m of the first generation of micro-preemies who have made it into adulthood. As a young child, my prognosis for survival was bleak. Then the prediction for my cognitive, social and emotional development was grim. I certainly have had, and continue to have, a fair share of challenges, especially if you look at my life through a ‘Neurotypical’ lens. But my lens is neurodivergent. I’d like to offer you the opportunity to have a look through the spectrum of my lens. I submit my poems and articles with gratitude.

One reply on “Psychiatric Waiting Room”
  1. says: Ken McGuffey

    Iiked/like your waiting room poem. Nicely rhymed. It was riveting. Intense. Like riding along. Nice vignette.Did I spell vignette right? KenMcGuffey

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