I title this venture: Love is Coming
I remember Christmas. I remember cooking about seven different dishes at once, vegetarian, maybe vegan, I know I made vegan brownies, or maybe they were with a chocolate substitute. Yes, that's what it was, I believe I used something else...what was it....I can't remember. I remember sitting at the table with my family, with Mary, with what appeared to be a wonderful meal with happy conversations and lots of wine. After my mother passed away our holiday meals probably went from a 9 to about a 4 on the stress scale. My mother around the holidays transformed into this culinary chef with the attitude of that Chef Ramsey I see yelling and screaming on the television. Only the anger that raged within my mother was drug induced, it was formed from an unnatural place, a place where she lived, a place where she died.
When I was kid the holidays at home were as colorful as the inside of a kaleidoscope looks with you hold it towards the light. My mother was the champion in the kitchen, she could cook and drink many people under the table, and she wore her experience on her face, for when she had her game face on you could just tell by the way her eyes looked. Her eyes became these windows into another dimension, a dimension where up is down and right is wrong. One could get away with murder during the holidays. All the attention was on my mother and her holiday meal game-plan. I miss feeling the chaos, the rush, the fleeting moments passing you by as you watch the outside world moving by, as if you were on a train that was headed towards the end of the earth, but you weren't scared, you were excited because you knew that everything was going to be alright. That is the unbelievable power of a mother's love. It can bridge over the scariest rivers, over the highest heights, and land you safely on the other side.
She had been gone for two years. I had taken her place, trying to complete all my dishes on time, which is hard let me tell you. Cooking everything at once without help lead me to swing back a few. Probably more than a few, but I held it together, I can do that you know, hold it together, it's important that you remember that. So the meal came out perfect, and as I recall everyone had a wonderful time. What happened after that remains to be a bit unclear, for the next day and the day after that I cannot remember, not even a little bit. Until that point I was living upstate NY, in a home with a wonderful group of people, I had a compost pile and a little greenhouse all my own. I farmed everyday and worked in a co-op where I was genuinely liked. Life was great. I had no reason to dread going back. But after that Christmas I never returned upstate, I never saw my co-workers again, or the farm I worked so very hard on. It all dissipated into the back of my mind, never to be seen again.
What I can tell you is this, I knew that I had lost control, that there was something inside me that wanted to destroy me. It's still hard to this day, almost a year later, to really describe what it was that made me shut everyone out like I did. After Christmas I remained in bed for 8 days. During those eight days I slept and wrote. I wrote about how my life was over, how I was this gigantic failure who deserved to die. I don't remember driving myself to crazy town, but baby I was there and living it up. During this time I had been knee deep into a book that was true story. I story was about a girl that had gone mad, and by mad I mean batshit. I remember taking on her woe, because I do that, I find it extremely hard to listen to anyone's suffering without feeling some type of pain myself. I've always been that way.
My family poked their heads in from time to time, wondering if I had been ill. My father especailly was worried and knew that I had to be left alone, and sometimes that it the right medicine. My sister was afraid that I was going to kill myself. I was afraid I was going to kill myself, because I knew that I wasn't in the driver's seat. Crazy was knocking on my door and waiting for me to answer it, and if I had answered that door I knew that it would all be over. This sense, this overwhelming lack on control I suppose clouded my true self, and maybe that is why I cannot remember that week.
The next thing I remember is being in the car with my sister, she's driving, and we're heading south. My sister tells me know that it was my idea, she made the appointment, but I chose the hospital. I Google-d it. While we were on our way there my sister was reminding me to be honest, to confess my sins to these people who were going to help me, to tell them how messed up I was, not to pretend everything was alright. My sister has always been my reality check, my perception police. I assured her that I was going to be as honest as possible, but I had already made up my mind days before that I wasn't going to leave this place, and I made that decision based on security. I knew that I had to be watched, because I knew I couldn't trust this person I had suddenly become. Nope, I wasn't going anywhere.
We drove up and into the parking lot. The hospital was in the middle of nowhere, it was about 85% parking lot. The truth is I remember the lobby and how shiny the floors were, but I knew I was still under some sort of autopilot. They brought me into a little room where a woman evaluated me.
"So....Ann, what brings you here today?"
"I don't know, I mean I do, obviously I"m not well, obviously I'm not in a great place."
"What place are you in?"
"Oh, well, I'm in a place where things arn't making sense. I feel like I'm coming out of my skin. I locked myself in my sister's room, and couldn't come out. I feel like I am being taken over by my repressions, all the shit I've been storing in the back of my mind has come out, and I'm afraid that I am not able to fend them off."
"Do you feel like you are in danger of harming yourself or someone else?"
"No, I mean I don't feel like I would ever harm anyone else. I love my family and what friends I have. I know I don't want to die, but I'm also afraid that I am not in control of my actions."
"Do you always talk this fast"
"No, I don't. Am I talking that fast? I didn't realize. You know I was once voted as "The Most Laid Back" person in my graduating class in high school. I don't consider myself a fast talker."
"Have you ever heard of Bipolar disorder?"
"Sure, my mother was Bipolar."
And that's all she needed. Next thing I knew I was asked, begged to commit myself into their care. I brought my sister in and she was supportive, and even gave me some clothes she just happened to have in her trunk for me. I felt paranoid just then. Had this all been planned from the very beginning? Why was my sister so cool with this? Why were there clothes and socks even for me in that bag? Was I this crazy the whole time that she was glad to see me getting committed? Was it that bad? So I signed that piece of paper, hugged my sister goodbye and entered through those double doors, the doors that separated the sane from the insane, the healthy from the well, the patient from the free soul.
I've seen plenty of movies in my time that depicted mental instutions, and I have to say that the closest this place came to any one of those movies was Kensey's One Flew Over the Coco's Nest, only this took place in 2009, so we've come a long way. The set up was like a a maze, where every hall lead to one big room where everyone always was. I was brought in and into that meeting room, the watering hole for the insane. They sat me in a chair and told me to wait. As I waited I remember being very afraid, and yet very glad to be there. I was searching over their faces, the patients, but I mostly kept my eyes on the floor. One of the staff then asked my to join her in a little room. She told me that she had to do a body search and that I had to take off all my clothes. So I did.
"When's the last time you cut yourself?"
"I don't remember."
"Looks like yesterday."
I looked at my legs, covered in gashes.
"I didn't do that."
"You didn't do that to yourself?"
"No, I don't remember cutting up my legs."
"Alright. You can talk to your doctor about that."
She noted my tattoos and then told me I could put my clothes back on. They had not been able to give me a room just then, for they were full. They had told me that I was intended to spend the night on the geriactric ward. So they sat me down in the meeting room and gave me some literature about the hospital. I sat there and read and reread the sentences over and over like a robot. I don't think I got passed the first page. A few people came over and said hello. I said hello, but I didn't really want to talk to anyone. I didn't want them to think I was there. Yes I was there, surly as I'm sitting here I was sitting there. Someone asked me if I wanted some dinner.
"No. I'm fine."
"Are you sure?"
"No, but I don't think I want to eat right now."
Perhaps an hour later someone came up to me and informed me that the room I was supposed to have was with a woman that was as they described "unsafe". So that was that, I was sleeping on the couch tonight. I wrote all night. I didn't sleep. This is what I wrote:
"I'm in a hospital because it would appear that I'm not well. My mind races, and there are no words I can get out. All these people are so transitioned like a forest, instead of trees there are tall faces, instead of grass, rubber white floors that slightly glow from the light above, instead bushes there are green couches. Because I am in an institution, a rehabilitation center for the mind I will try to remain somewhat positive towards what my goals should be. My stresses are as follows: myself, society, corporate operations, and what am I going to do about those monsters? Perhaps there is something to be said here, but I sure don't know what that would be.
This is beautiful desperation, a contemplated escape. I walked in here to be well, but there is little I do suspect they could do for me. They will operate by the book, like a machine, like a clock that follows numbers, it's in their nature to be robotic treaters. What are they going to do to relieve my mind? The voices inside will combat, the treatment will be drugs, probably done a million times, I'm not special; I'm probably as typical as a melting ice cube, some phase of matter that impresses one more than any NBA, NFL or NHL player any day of the week, When else could you go see an object go from a solid to a liquid?
"We all take there beautiful things for granted. Instead we've all depended upon our other means of entertainment, things that suck the brain cells right out of ourselves. I knew I couldn't get through this, I know I can't get by, I know one day I'll be dead and everything will be quiet, thing will get quiet. It is really sneaky how that body outside lured me in here. I wasn't planning on this, I barely packed a toothbrush, I didn't pack a toothbrush. All the clothes my sister had are limited. I've eaten nothing today because I'm afraid that I'll mess up, slip, fall into my den of lies and sin. They're all very honest here about their opinions about other people.
"---the loonies are judgmental. I suppose I'm not surprised by that. I don't agree with myself most of the fallen days, the days that scatter like a hundred birds in the sky, they gather in a tree, and then are startled, just to fall in order together back into the sky.
"My family must think I'm nuts. I can't thank my sister enough for her kind words, her ability to just understand that my moods are undeniably incredible. Evil are the thoughts their coruscate wings that spread slightly, broadening every perspective, a tunnel of darkness suddenly bright suddenly aware it's a tunnel. Fearful, shocked, now it's aware it's there, bright now. I am that tunnel. Sometimes it's so dark it takes me days to walk through it to find the light. Sometimes it can take weeks , months, years before I find the light.
" Those walks are long and so very eerie, so very lonely. At least those were the days that I remember walking, making an attempt to find the light. I gave up. Found my feet and stopped walking. After a while I forgot what light was. Worse even, I didn't care what the light was. Complete surrender.
"More terrifying then those long dark walks were the sprints through the brightened tunnel. Neon light everywhere so bright, so hard are the rays, you can almost feel the molecules in the tunnel bouncing around, up and off every surface. I would just scream and I do. I'm running through this lighted, illusionist tunnel. This isn't happiness Ann, this is light, this is something that wants to play 24/7, all of you is necessary to play. So now I'm running for the darkness, some absolution to this panic pulsating inside my mind to hard I can't even think. My job is to find the darkness, that's all, no worries. My mind feels best when I do find that darkness, that transitional period, because I'm morphing, the problem is being whole. The transitional periods I prey for because I forget I'm running through life, I forget that I've been confused for so long.
"I am able to forget that I'm sick. Everything before that time is so quickly forgotten that I pay no mind. This is why I've waited so long to get help, because I've never thought, never knew I was sick. Things are different now. Now I'm in a mental hospital and I'm terrified. The light is new. It's coming. All I want right now is a drink, something to calm me down. I can't even try to sleep, I could never sleep like this. I don't even know there I'm going. Something is weird. I'm not happy, but even if I were I would still be running. Unfortunately, I've never understood the extent of this problem, never really cared to. If I don't have a depression than what? What's wrong with my mind? I just want to feel safe, I'm so tired of being scared. This sweater is an ugly blue. I'm an ugly blue. The blue doesn't doesn't care and neither do I.
"The room here is a little safe, outside from a few windows, I wonder is anyone will see me. Tomorrow I have to feel okay, if I breakdown here I'll never leave. My mind won't go away. I can't even begin to imagine the way we are. Everything is a blur. My mind only takes in a few observations at a time. All I want is some peace.
"There are 4 tables in this room. 4 tables with 10 chairs, that's odd to me. There are also 4 couches...conspiracy? They threw me in here without even telling me what I need to do. What are the rules, how do I play the same, what are the teams, and what team am I on? Who is in charge? What are they going to do with my own self? What do they do if you make a mistake? What if I make a mistake? They'll throw me into the fire. That fucking woman didn't even know the facts, she didn't tell me how to be here, no one did. The patients here were the more helpful, now was I supposed to know this? Is this expected? Is this their game? I wasn't even sure I had that problem, but now I'm certain. Are they talking about me right now?
" I feel a bit trauma stricken. Boy, a nurses life is not easy. They need more nurses, but because they can't afford it no one will be hired, so the work is just piling up for these poor women. There's people just bitching about everything. Why are you still awake here? Because I'm torturing you, because you're an awful person. There's a lot to this place, I may want to investigate."
That was night one.
Night two was just as hard, only this time I had a room. The room I had was not on the ward in which I was confined to, but instead on a level up, the geriatric level.
To be continued...