Jarred

Day One

 

That day I unpacked, putting my clothes in the steel locker and settling into the desk that was bolted against the wall I had brought my journal to write in (I figured I needed something to do I wasn’t going to talk to any of these nuts while I was here).

 

      As I settled in my roommate walked in he was a tall man with graying hair as mine, he introduced himself. I smiled told him my name. He went on and gave me the rules of the floor somehow they were different than what the nurse had said. He showed me a sheet of paper taped to the wall that gave the daily schedule of what to expect. I read it out of courtesy but what I really wanted was not to talk and to be left alone, he seemed to go on and on then he asked why I was here “why was I here I thought to myself Because I want to fucking die ok ?! Is what I wanted to say. but I just shrugged my shoulders and said “ I am not sure” “that’s what I am here to find out” That seemed to satisfy him and he backed off thank God, I could tell that I wasn’t going to like this and I wanted a cigarette.

 

  He left me in peace in the room as I wandered around the small room, I noticed that an employee with a clipboard would walk by the room at fifteen minute intervals . I noticed it but didn’t think anything of it at the time. I stared at the tattered paper taped to the wall the tape was old and gummed and yellowed ,

It was the daily schedule. The ink was almost worn away. Cigarette breaks were few and far between, Oh no. man this is going drive me crazy.

 

  I sat on the bed and the plastic mattress crinkled under my weight. The stench of antiseptic was thick in the air of the facility, I stared out the door at a blank wall, thinking “what is going on  How do I get out of here - how did I get in here what are people going to think of me what do I have to say to get out of here who do I say it too, I can take on any doctor I have done that before. Again with that clipboard lady what is she marking down on that paper GET LOST ! Jesus !

 

  A little privacy please” I thought to myself .just what was this woman who was built like Karen Carpenter would come right down to my room stand right at the door jam stare at me for a brief moment look at her clip board mark something off then look up at me again then leave, Now that was getting very weird I don’t like that crap. It was making me self conscious to say the least. “What’s so interesting about me ?” ( true sign of a mind in need of some “tweeking”to say the least everything is about me noone else just me)

 

  As the day progressed I stayed in my room, pondering the audacity to go to the pay phone - I was listening to the sounds on the floor a lot of laughing crying yelling , wow I am not over the cuckoos nest I am in it. Why am I in here? I was started to get very scared and wasn’t sure of how to retort to this stimuli so I cried alone and silently I cried like I never cried before I remembered the tears being very hot as they fell I sobbed exceedingly fiercely .

 

As I began to bring myself to step out of my room I thought to myself “What are people going to think of me. . I don’t like this idea of people mulling around looking at me and making judgments on me by the way I look. Or by the way I carry myself. As I thought of this I was also thinking at the same time (yes I can do that think of many things all at the same time doesn’t everyone?)

 

What mask shall I give them I can be sweet and charming , Or make Alexis Morale Carrington Colby Dexter Healy. Look like a girl scout. I could reduce most people to tears in a matter of moments, People have seen

                                                                                                                                                                                

me do it and I have done for the shear sport of it.I find it fun. If you haven’t guessed by now I am a gay man   and I don’t know that has much to do with the story of my hospilization but it just might give you more of an insight to me as a individual. As I stepped into the hall I looked to left and the right to the right was a long hall with a window at the end, For some strange reason that end of the corridor bothered me I was actually afraid of it. Why I am not sure, I opted for the left as

 

  I walked to the nurses station the glare from the Florence sent lights seemed to casts a despondency  within the floor the air seemed thick as, I moved down the hall. I moved closer to the nurses station I noticed to my right there was a room large windows with what seemed to be chicken wire encases between the panes Ahh yes in case I decide to throw myself through the glass in a fatal attempt at a sort of operatic ending to my life I looked a little closer I notice a mammoth Replicated oak conference table much to large for the room and those chairs just are to big! I saw a stereo with a cd player and a large book case piled to the ceiling with children’s arts and crafts supplies and puzzles.

 

   At the table I notice a woman younger than me pretty in a plain sort way very pale dressed in denim overalls white thermal shirt and constructions boots ( This is the typical dress of the Maine person they are working people with no Aires to portray they don’t have the time for such games) working on a Childs puzzle she seemed normal I figured she was visiting someone and waiting for them to come out I looked a little closer and saw large gauge bandage on both wrists to the middle of her fore arms “Holy shit I thought I thought to myself what the fuck is up with this no one is going believe this I don’t believe this and I am here what am I fucking  in a desperate scene from GIRL INTERUPTED”

 

   No I don’t think so I am outta here there is no way I am staying here. Ok I have got to calm down. Figure out who I have to charm to get out. Directly across the hall was another room much larger than the make shift conference room there were too couches comfortable chairs a table with chairs and a recliner as well as a television refrigerator sink and so on .

 

 I laughed to myself and thought” Look at this aint this a kick in the head Its like the Brady bunch on LSD

Look at these characters There was one in the recliner with one of those fishing hats on that old men where  to begin their retirement staring off into space kind of like I knew she was human but she didn’t, Another skinny little pixie thing with black dyed hair and black eye liner (that she didn’t know how to apply) was jumping around to people try to make them laugh and she was trying  way to hard and being quite annoying.

 

   Many of the others in the room where basically ignoring everything each other were saying. I scoped it out needless to say I wasn’t impressed with these low lives. As these people moved about I noticed that they all definitely had quite different personalities and agendas but there was one common thread between them they where all trying to over come what ever got them in here by any means possible! Whether they new it or not. Band together I mumbled there is strength in numbers you fools you’ll get out quicker. 

 

 

  I know that I am not going to be here long enough to even  say hi to you nuts. Wont that be great here all of a couple of hours then I am tossed out I grinned thinking that I would say to Frank see I told you that you are wrong now what punishment can I bestow upon you .

 

    As I was turning to go back to my room. Out of the corner of my eye I saw  a woman maybe around my age with way to much make up, jeans way to tight and hair that has been colored one to many times ( not even lady Clairol) wee locked eyes for a moment I knew at that instant this could go either way friends or true out and out enemies I stared her down I let her look away first. Once she did I turned to go to my room as I walked to my room I heard my name called again Mr.Micheals ?

 

     Yes I said  it was the nurse who had interrogated me I mean admitted me we have you down for a physical “Physical a wave of rage went through me I could feel it well up from my toes right up to my head my skin crawling I smiled and stated I will wait here on the bench until you are ready for me how’s that ? She thanked me and went back to her post of duty “what ever that was more than likely swooping down on small prey and children in the parking lot. As I waited I watched the goings on of the facility people motivated by their jobs what it seemed to me was the same employees walking up and down the same frigging hall with paper talking about one another.

 

   The patients were a different story oh now that was some good shit to sit and watch from trying to pull a scam for a early discharge right down to getting extra meds now this was good , You see I am exempt from this because I am in control of my head see I am to smart to be here once I talk to the doctor he’ll toss me out saying why are you wasting my time ? I will look at him and say I don’t know talk to admitting. I don’t run this place. “see I have it all figured out. For know I will wait and watch. As I sat on the bench in the hall Behind me I Know that woman still working on that puzzle with the mangled wrists my back to her. Directly across from me was the room with all the activity ok I need to “scrutinize” this situation as a whole I sat with very casually and looking straight ahead not making any eye contact with any one just trying to watch them and hear what the hell they where talking about , I thought what the hell could these fools find so interesting , oh please like their opinion matters. This one with  all the make up and the fried hair form all the color and the make up does she ever shut up . well isn’t she special! The biggest nut in the can of mixed nuts

 

      I sat quietly and watched and listened , my eyes set on the nurse that admitted me. She was short dyed blonde hair blunt cut in a purple velveteen dress that was a bit juvenile for her age and  within her job here but if I gave her a chance I am sure she would be very nice, Her face showed that she was easily harried and she had been a hard worker all her life. Basically she was some bodies mother. Needless to say that I was ready for her if she came near me. As I looked back into the room with all the patients I saw the girl with the fried hair and all the make up staring at me 

 

  

     I did not want her to look at me or for that matter even talk to me. I could tell that she was trying to get a look over at me, She was sitting on a couch that was up against a wall in order for her to look at me she would have to turn her head an obvious movement I would notice that from the angle I was sitting in . She moved her position to a chair that was facing the hall and that gave her a great advantage to look at me dead on “ what’s her problem” Oh screw you with that paint by number face. I thought. Oh  man I cant wait to get outta here

 And now they want me to have a physical ? What’s up with that ? I am healthy

 

   As I sat that voice that was piercing my head who is it and shut up I looked around it was coming from the “happy room” it was the big nut Oh shut the fuck up” what are you in here for? Whoever brought you in here just needed a break from you either that or the color that you have been using on your hair has seeped into your brain and caused damage big time.

 

 I waited patiently and watched the goings on in the hall as I sat the Karen Carpenter wanna be with her clipboard was on her way by pencil in hand , Oh please will you get lost. Does she get paid for this ? And if so why…. Could this broad be a patient and this is the way they deal with her. You know like that episode on ER ! The physc patient escapes and interviews a resident for a better position and at the end she realizes that he is an inpatient in the hospital.

 

 I heard my name again in a soft melodic tone this time I looked up and saw a larger woman with dark brown permed hair frizzed in every direction  dressed in the usual larger woman garb Stripes going the right  way in an  sorry attempt to slenderize her frame brown and white stripes with brown polyester slacks and Birkenstocks with no socks or hose for that matter it was April in Maine we were still getting on average 6 inches of snow a week was this one for real ?

 

 She introduced herself as Carol nurse practioner and she would be conducting the physical “ What I thought to myself back the fuck of lady there aint no way you are seeing me naked sorry that aint going to happen - Another voice in my head at the same time is saying calm down relax you can do this you have you have to do this to get out of here comply just comply they will see that you are very accommodating and realize that you are not suppose to be in here and out on your ass you go. Ok Ok  here we go I smile and said alright she said follow me I abided by her direction and we went down the corridor the one  I don’t like, we stopped right across from my room she unlocked the door and opened and had me enter before she did . As I entered I noticed that for an exam room this room was no bigger than a closet .

 

     One counter with all the necessary supplies and diagonally in the middle of the room was the exam table  I saw that the last one that preformed a physical did not pull the paper down for the next person now whets up with that before I get up on that I have to check this out so I pulled the paper down on the table got out the specimens bottle (urine) Also got out the blood tubes three red top for chemistry two purple tops for hematology two lavender tops also for hematology (I need to feel I have the upper hand but for me I think people are viewing me are being helpful more over

 

      I am showing off my intelligence in a way ) I asked is there a req ? Carol asked me to disrobe  very gently and handed me a Johnnie “ that sentence just deflated me she was not impressed by me being so efficient I doubt that this state has ever seen the likes of me I can do more work in an hour than half these people can do in a year, I complied silently I felt the tears coming as my mind started to race thoughts are bouncing in my head like a pinball . It is begin to hurt - I was starting to experience a cerebral skirmish with the voices in my head the voices where fighting as to what to do in this situation , I felt that I was helpless until these voices came to a conclusion as to  what I was to do. The voices where escalated in pitch making me physically shake

 

 I could feel the sweat start on my forehead my throat was dry what was I going to do. I didn’t want this woman to see this I could always hide this from people and just chalk it up to a bad mood if the occasion some one asked but most of the time people knew not to come near me see I am one of those people that whatever mood I am in it shows on my face so there is very little hiding for me. The voices are getting louder now as I slipped my Johnnie on and  stepped up to the exam table I could feel my skin crawl thank God her back was to me so there was maybe a minute or two get compose myself not make the voices go away I had no control of that just find within myself the appropriate mask to show this woman.

 

     I rested myself down on the table it was cold against my back and I welcomed the sensation due to the fact that I was getting hot flashes I lowered my head and closed my eyes and listened intently to the argument in head to me it was just totally in audible yelling I could make out one general consensus that this experience was all my fault that I was wasting this ladies time I had no right to be here there are other people that need the help and I am taking up space and How dare I do this - the voices told me that I was worthless I disgusted them . The voices continued I listened and I agreed,

 

One I agreed it seemed to subside a little bit and I had some peace enough to plan a strategy as to what I was dealing with at this time. Carol turn to me and she asked if we should begin I said sure: After about a hour and a round of small talk I was dressed. And on my way back to my room. I smiled and walked across the hall my head down. The hall was dark now as the sun was setting it gave me an feeling of formidable nerves ness I couldn’t place it or put my finger on it but it was there and  it wasn’t going anywhere.

 

    I walked into my room and sat with my back to the door and watched the red sun go down through the clouds I was listening to the voices in my head go at it again getting louder and louder I no clue as to what the fight was this time my head hurt man how do I get out of here I cant take this I am sitting on a plastic mattress with one thin blanket yeah right I am definitely out of here. I heard footsteps coming in the room I froze God now what please what the fuck just go away ok ? Do you smoke the voice bellowed I turned the loud voiced startled me even though I knew some had walked into the room

 

     “ I looked up and said YEAH!! It was my room mate he smiled and grab your coat and we’ll go I will wait for you cool I thought thanks I jumped up grabbed my coat from that steel locker and I was ready to go. We walked out of OUR room and went to the right to the nurses station he pointed out to me the dry erase board directly across from the one at the nurses station see this board he said to me I nodded he said there is your name put S.B. by your name that means smoke break that way the staff knows where you are at all times and don’t forget to sign out it can get you into a lot of crap that you don’t need while you’re here again I looked at him and nodded . I thanked him

 

 

Just as I finished putting the S.B. by my name the can of mixed nuts swarmed the boards to sign out I stepped back and saw a board with useless info on it I pretended to read it so noone would talk to me so far I talked to much as far as I was concerned . Sign out for a smoke yeah that’s got to go. I am 37 years old and I have to ask to smoke I thought to myself I am a grown man.Oh ! What did I get myself into. I have been like this all my life noone ever said that it was a problem before now all of sudden there is one. Well once I talk to that admitting doctor things will change.Ok,ok lets go smoke that will calm me down after everyone started down the corridor, laughing talking loudly I lagged behind noticing that two nurses where putting their coats on as well as the Karen Carpenter Wanna be I started my down the hall and watched theses nuts pick up their pace I looked at the open office doors and noticed that most of them were empty I was getting nervous by this hallway I didn’t like it where the hell did we have to go to smoke? We reached the end of the corridor to the right was a door locked (yeah ok that’s a surprise)these fools piled against this door like sardines hoping against hope that their weight would magically open the door. As we stood there the nurses counted the patients and recounted then one of the nurses handed a patient closes to the door the key to the door Another surprise it was the girl with too much make up she poised the key to the door knob and with the precision of a diamond cutter she had that key in the lock and the knob turned in a matter of milliseconds.

 

 Once the door was opened it was like the stampedes in Pamplona these fools running down the stairs at times taking two at a time. The stair well was full of noise it was echoing off the walls invading my head and making it ache like never before Cant they show some decorum I thought to myself are they animals all this for a fucking cigarette Maybe I am in a scene from some bad remake of a Fellini movie look at these nurses have the no control over their patients Come on don’t they see that grown men and women should act as such not like children. I was the last to reach the bottom of the stairs.

 

  There was a bench there and another door leading to yet another room I looked through the small rectangle window and saw in this little room all the mixed nuts stand there smoking I walked out like a gentleman and found a corner to stand in  I looked around and assessed the room and the atmosphere of the room it seemed to be a sort of renewal for these people the nicotine seemed to calm the savage beast. We were not allowed lighters so my roommate gave me a light off of his cigarette I was so thankful for this smoke it wasn’t even funny I inhale deeply and closed my eyes and just enjoyed it . I was not in the mood to talk to these people and I was to stay to my plan of one word answers if at all asked. This room was built as an addition on to the main structure extremely solid with ventilation at the top and the bottom maybe around 10 inches in width both top and bottom.

 

As I stood there quietly I noticed the girl with too much make was talking a mile a minute My God does she ever shut up I was hoping that the nurses would medicate her maybe a little thorozine I M it would work for me I stared at here and wonder how long it took her to get her foundation on . It was so thick. She was talking and yelling and laughing loudly the queen of the nuts. She looked at and said “Hi” I smiled and looked away I did not want to be bothered by her I never surrounded myself with this caliber of person and I wasn’t about to start. Before I realized it I had a bout a drag left on my cigarette so quickly I pulled out another one and went to town. I was just following suit.

 

  It was working the nicotine seemed to be doing the trick I was starting to relax. I wish I could say the same for the voices in my head they had seemed to awaken from there slumber and where going at it again. I tried in vain to block them out to no avail but this time I was hiding it well, The nurses seemed to handle the noises and levels of mental status well one stood out to me she was a pretty woman natural blonde smart hair style very stylish way of dressing and flattering. But more so than that eluded experience not just in her job but life experience I hadn’t spoken to her as yet but I felt like I could speak to her, She must have felt me looking at her she turned to me and smiled and greeted me

 

I smiled back and said “hello” she said “you are new here “ I said Yes I am as I smile” “I know you are nervous don’t be we will talk later as she put her hand on my forearm reassuringly and smiled” I started at her and felt a calming come over me I thought to myself this is my ticket out. After that the break was over we all filed back up the long stair case this time on the way up the patients were quiet and slow heavy breathing the nicotine has calmed us but taken its toll on our lungs and it could be heard. I wondered what would happen when I got upstairs what would I do with my time it was only 4:30pm man how was I going to pass the time in this dump as I arrived upstairs

 

I noticed out the window that it had started to snow I love the snow I know I will go to my room an watch it. First I had to go to that board and take the S.B. away from my name so that they know I am back I did that and I went to my room the rest of the smokers seemed to disburse all over the floor. There were other parts of the floor that I hadn’t explored as yet nor did I think I would I had no interest in those areas at all, I walked back to my room and sat on the plastic mattress facing the window and began to watch the snow and listen to the argument in my head, it was getting heated in my head and very loud I wasn’t sure as to what or why the argument was over but I knew one thing that the voice agreed that I was the cause of it and that I was worthless and I can do nothing right and that I everything I did was wrong. Each decision in my life was wrong right down to my choice in friends. I was started to believe this over the last three to four years things seemed to be falling apart and I could hold them together anymore I didn’t no why I was isolated by choice any interaction was by the phone only and friends where more often than blown off. Or given excuses relatives seemed to back of because they knew I had a violent temper and a short fuse. Never the less I was admitted to a mental hospital.

 

 Here I was not only an inpatient but I was going to end up with a diagnosis. I the vast terminology of a physiatrist “And how does that make you feel?” “make me feel ? I have that right ? Ok then I feel like this Fuck it med me up let me out. Then once I am out I will take the bottle of pills and swallow them at once, There your job is done and so is mine. That’s what it makes me feel. As the snow fell outside in the “real” world I was started to feel my conscious mind give in slowly but steadily to the voices in my head. When I did that the voices seemed to become mumbled and dissipate as they began. The snow was falling heavier now as I watched I thought of Frank and wondered what he was doing and what he was thinking. Am I going to make it out and am I going to have a marriage?

 

      Who knows. I cant think about that now I am emotionally drained and I am starting to feel drawn. I could sleep for years or so I felt. I looked at my watch and it seemed that time was standing still this is so surreal. What could be going on with me what’s in my head that’s shouldn’t be there, Do I have multiple personalities like Sybil or for that matter Trudy Chase Like in that book “When Rabbit Howls” could I had 98 different personalities in me and I don’t know it would I want to be intergraded I know that Trudy did not want that - how would they find out if

 

   I had this and where would that leave me in a mental hospital all my life? Is this my legacy?? Is this what my life is. I endured all my family crap just to end up thrown away as a mental reject in a state of vast emptiness mentally and physically. As these thoughts ran through my head I could feel the voice starting to laugh at me it was a deep belly laugh I couldn’t blame them it was what I deserved I had let my family and friends and frank down by falling apart and having to be brought into this place- now what..

 

 I got up and moved around the room and found myself looking at that tattered piece of paper again 6:10pm Smoke Break I am there I thought I looked at the clock it was 6:07 I grabbed my coat and exited the room went to the board put the “S.B.” by my name and followed my ritual of not talking but reading the bulletin board as the nuts lined up the count began as did the run for the door and that infamous key -. Again it was exactly as it was before No decorum yelling laughing no control. I reached the room and smoked three cigarettes this time I noticed that there was a two and a half hour wait between breaks this time.

 

   I was about to light a fourth when we were called in the girl with all the make up never shuts up she is like an old yenta

Knows everything about everyone. She thinks she is helping this young Beautiful woman with her memory I over heard her diagnosis Severe depression she is having ECT and there is short term memory loss after treatment so this broad is reminding her of everything that has happened

 

Are they sure I belong here I thought to myself. No I mean really just for the record could someone double check and make sure. I walked up the stairs and found myself out of breath once I reached the top of the incline “fucking stairs I thought “ with each step wasn’t the cigarettes it was the stairs. I entered the unit and thank the nurse for holding the door I walked down the hall to my room I put my coat on the back of the metal chair searched in the pockets for change to call Frank, I walked out to the pay phones and called frank

 

“Hello” Hi I said Hi how are you I am ok I think you doing ok there yeah I think so how is it there he asked me I don’t know yet - there are a lot of nuts here. I proceeded to tell him the events of my day he listened and was very empathetic. It made me feel safe that he was on my side and that he was sure that I was in the right place. We talked until I started to cry and I told frank that I would call to say goodnight. Talk to you later ok ? Ok he said see ya.

 

  We hung up and I made my way back to my room. I noticed that the room that everyone sits in was loaded with everyone laughing  and having fun. That little skinny girl with the black hair and  the eyeliner was making an ass of herself she was talking so fast that it was almost incoherent people weren’t paying any attention to her they were just nodding then continuing with their conversation. The girl with all the make up seemed to be quite agitated by this girl she was staring at her and if looks could kill this little thing would have been dead - she was a very skinny girl with large brown eyes slight in stature but quite energetic her personality was that of an arm chair Know it all,

 

  It seemed that every person who mentioned a subject be it as simple as a diet or as complex as bio medical engineering  she knew everything there was to know about this subject and would interject into a private conversation. People seemed to be getting annoyed by this, I could tell I guess my curiosity got the better of me because I took that first step into the room. I was actually standing in the room my eyes frantally searching for a place to sit the first place I found was at the table.

 

   I pulled a chair out and sat down quickly I looked on the table and found a magazine and began to leaf through as to not to call attention  to myself . That girl was going to town she was a walking book of useless information. Man was she ever aggravating . As I sat and listened I kept my head down only allowing my eyes to look up to see what was going on as far as moments and the mood of the room as such, As the patients conversed this girl kept it up it was like a game to her seeing how much prodding she could bestow upon the other patients passive aggressive behavior at its best.

 

Listening to the redbrick that she was bestowing on her captive audience she somehow gave the impression of some self proclaimed prophet and that she was the chosen one to bring this enlightening message brought down through the ages to show them the way and the error of their ways she would accompany them to the land of the free and the sober, the land of free minds to break the shackles of mental illness .

 

 Ok this is getting good I thought I looked around the room at the faces there was that pretty girl I saw downstairs smoking  the one going through ECT wow she was a natural beauty dark hair blue eyes skin like a porcelain doll her smile lit up the room she just was staring at the nymph like creature knowing what she was saying was not quite right but she was showing respect by giving her attention in other words the lights were on but no one was home. She sat with back to the wall, next to sat the girl with too much make up her face showed everything she was ready to blow man this chick was ready to go off

 

   This is what I am here for,  I live for this shit  ok now this is going to get good , maybe it will escalate into one of those big things and the straight jackets will come flying out and someone will get put in that room you know the rubber room. Just as the little nymph like creature was about to go off into a dissertation in regard to her experience here in the hospital the girl with the make looked and took a deep breath  and bellowed at the girl “Shut the Fuck up Alba we have sat here for the last half hour listening to your shit like you are a doctor you are nothing but a patient like each of here you cant diagnosis us you cant help us so just shut up !”Alba stood there dumbfounded her filled with tears the book she was holding fell .

 

   I felt the tension in the room I looked at the people no one said anything they just stared at the two of them . Ok tell her off she thinks she’s all that but she’s not just nail her back she’ll back down I promise I thought to myself. Alba  looked at the girl and said I am so sorry Tawny I was only trying to help some people with this book I was reading I am sorry with that she turned and ran from the room. That’s it ? Nothing else ? Man I thought that something might be brewing here ok that sucked. I continued to sit at the table  dying for a smoke hoping that it was time for one but we had an hour to go,

 

   Better than two hours I figured. Tawny hmmm her name should have been bully. Well lets see how long it takes her to start in on me. I know its going to happen  It more than likely does these tough broads always seem to gravitate to me for some strange reason . It goes either one of two ways we are friends or mortal enemies. This chick here this tawny chick definitely had to be watched -

 

  She was a whiner always had something to say not always good either  knew everything about every body including the staff just how long has she been here and what’s up with her attitude, I noticed her hands a  lot of gold and diamonds but cheap stuff it made a statement. Or so she thought. I sat there showing no interest in any of the after talk as to what these people were articulating about Alba some felt sorry for her some felt she was misunderstood some just didn’t care either way. I was one that didn’t care either way I wanted to see her stand up for herself not cave in in like a fool letting a woman of that caliber beat her down I lost respect for her. (See having respect from me is earned ).

 

   I sat at the table allowing myself the right to be in the room with the other patients not speaking to them just leafing through a magazine when I hear “hey” I continued to read again I heard Hey a louder this time I looked up with a look on my face of WHAT! I asked in a very low and menacing voice “are you speaking to me”? it was Tawny I saw you being admitted she said  I said really? She said yeah. Oh ok in the same voice I put my face back into the magazine an ignored her from there. I looked at my watched it was 8:30pm I figured I would head back to my room and sit and watch the snow in peace. Just as got up a nurse walked in with an ante rage and said time for wrap up Wrap up I thought what the fuck are they wrapping up ? Is this some kind of fun for the feeble minded or what I think that all the patients from the whole hospital where behind her.

 

They all compiled into this one room stealing every chair in the room sitting in a semi circle they began. The nurse had a clipboard and went down name by name tawny she began your goal for today was to talk to Dr A. have your meds changed and see about a pass Tawny replied I did that he doesn’t want to change my meds yet and he will let me know about the pass the nurse nodded and said great sounds like you reached your goals good job. Down the list of people the nurse went person by person goal by goal  to say this was tedious was an understatement to say the least  it was a form of torture form the middle ages for me it was like being held hostage in a off off off Broadway production of fiddler with Lyle Wagoner and Judy tenuta.The nurse looked at me and said we do this nightly in the morning we have a meeting called DOCTORS Group where you will set a goal for the day and try to attain it then we will go over at wrap up. I nodded and complied once again. Keeping to my plan of compliance making my life easier here, and virtual silence once the nurse ended the meeting  we were to go to the nurses station for meds oh now this was going to be good.

 

  I stood in line and waited, I got a small cup of water and a small nurse came at me with a plastic cup full of pills I looked at her she looked at me and she began 1500 mg of Depakote 200mg seroquel and Folic acid ok I said but what is it for she smiled and said The Depakote is a mood stabilizer and the seroquel will stop the brain seizures BRAIN SEIZURES what the fuck is going on with me is my brain fried or what. I smiled thanked her and swallowed the pills. By the time I got to tossed the pills down my throat it was 9:30pm everyone had their coat on and was poised for a cigarette Awesome I thought to myself I ran down to my room and got my coat I kept my cigarettes in the pocket’s so I would always be ready for a cigarette break no lighter but plenty of cigarettes I made my way back to the board to sign out I looked for my name I found it but the S.B. was there already  wow I thought hmm. Ok then I am ready - Tawny looked over at me and said “I figured you wouldn’t miss this one either”

 

    I looked at her and said thanks. All of us made our way down the hall to the door again it was loud and uncontrolled and it bothered me that it was like that there was no rhyme or reason to it this time the door was opened by a tall skinny younger man he had a slight frame and goatee and a baseball hat he seemed very jovial , once more it was a stampede down the stairs shrieking and  laughing loudly. Out in the smoking area everyone was smoking and asking when was the next break tawny said one more for the night at 10:30pm I thought ok I am there I would make my call to frank after that one. I finished smoking the room was still full I walked into the hall and made my way up the stairs to the top “Fucking stairs Fucking stairs fucking stairs “ I thought all the way up.

 

   I was winded more than the last time was it the pills or was it the cigarettes and lack there off exercise. Soon after I arrived at the top everyone started their assent the nurse once again let us in the ward and I walked slowly down the hall, to my room. I figured that I would be safe in there I would rather be alone than be in that room again people might speak to me. I went in and put my coat on the chair I sat down and pulled out my journal I figured that if I started to write it would pass the time until the next smoke break

I began to write I wrote through my anger through my rage through my tears through my joy I love that book I hated that book and sometimes I even loathed that book .

 

   I wasn’t sure what I was feeling I think that the pills were kicking in. As I sat with the one light on I heard a knock on the door I turned and looked

 

It was the nurse from the smoking area the nice that said we were to talk later. She had a soothing demeanor I was very comfortable with her, She introduced herself as Sienna and she was to be my Primary Nurse she wanted just to sit and talk and get to know each other. I was for that She had my chart in her hand and she said that she had read my history - My history now aren’t

 

  I the most interesting thing in the worlds I thought  ok then she said where do you want to start? She asked  well at the beginning ? I said ok lets get to it she said  it says that you where abused yes I said she had a look of empathy on her face but not pity most pity I would assume would pit me for admitting that I was abused I thought that was quite strange not taking into account that this woman hears this everyday what could possibly so different about me nothing my life was no different than anyone who grew up in my neighborhood things that happened in my area happened to everyone but no one talked about it, Did she want me to elaborate about what happen to me? By this time the pills are really taking hold on me my head was swimming but in a calming way I felt that I could handle it by talking about it ok I thought to myself I can do this if she wanted to know just as

 

    I throng together the  valor and the power to tell her she began with a sort of warning “ before you begin I am constrained by law to report all cases of abuse no matter what, Ok ? I agreed. How do I tell her everything that happened to me and how do I be honest? Just another hurdle for me to leap somehow this wasn’t causing me a rage I found that to be completely dumbfounding, I began my earliest memory as a young boy maybe around six or seven a neighbor up the street used sexually abuse me I didn’t think anything was wrong with it at the time I guess I was to young and those times we didn’t hear that as children we had the right to our own bodies,

 

    No other person had the right  to touch us. This went on for Many years, I am still friends with his family and his mother still lives in the same house (to this day certain smells that I  identify from that house are very susceptible triggers for me wine cellars basements cold damp places )as I explained Sienna wrote this all down and listened to me I was astounded that she listened with out judgment she made no judgment on me at all once that had sunk into my head I was ok to go on with my history. I continued with the sexual abuse and that seemed to be good for me to release to someone to who was objective and didn’t know me. She asked me what else in my past was a milestone as far as abuse goes

 

  I remember my mothers father no liking me I remember him doing mean things to me squirting me with the garden hose for no reason at times he had rage towards me he would through rocks at me and bite me people on my mothers side refer to this as teasing  and don’t really take it seriously so I never really talked about around them. She nodded as I talked I could feel the tears in my eyes but kept going. I was 8 when he died and I was glad he died I never was so happy that someone had rotted form the inside out from cancer it made me glad that he was gone. My family seemed to canonize him once he died he died on his 64th birthday I felt bad for my grandmother for her lost not for him loosing his life.

 

  As far as I was concerned I was free from him. She just nodded and smiled kind of knowingly. Somehow she knew what I was saying and wasn’t repulsed by it. She asked me about my mother that was a long answer, I sighed I knew this was going to be the hardest question of all there was a lot to this it was involved and intricate well I said that’s a hard one She looked at me in a soft gentle voice said we have the time I agreed I didn’t want to be honest but something inside me said go ahead just let it out. Well in a nutshell my mother and I had a very dangerous relationship love hate,

 

  We are cut from the same cloth I am my mothers son I am proud of that and she was a very angry person she never treated me nicely if she did it was few and far between. Many times she would lash out at me and I know that she never really liked me. But to the outside world she was an angle IF SHE LIKED YOU. There is a ten year difference in age between my brother and I, no sisters so my brother was an only child until I came along and as I grew up it seemed that my mother pitted us against each other so we are not close to this day. My mother and I never saw eye to eye over anything as I grew and began to understand I would spend more and more time downstairs with my grandmother two  of my mothers sisters lived downstairs also with my grandmother but my grandmother saw how my mother treated me and she was very good to me and basically raised me,

 

 

    I say that all the good in me in combination of three people in my life my mother my father and my grandmother. My grandmother was my shield my mother was free with her hands , as I explained my history I could hear my mouth explaining my “history“ but somehow my brain was seeing it and brining me there. I could feel it see it I was there it wasn’t a day dream to me it was real I mean right down to the smell of the food on the stove. I could feel my body starting to shake sweat poured out of every pour of my body I afraid of the way my body was reacting but I could not stop the “memory” It was very intense I never experienced this before my brain was somewhere else in a place I couldn’t get it back from

 

 The memory was that of when I was a young boy , it was a hot July day much like the day I am writhing this the humidity of the city was stifling  and the city was cast in the mist of a heat wave. We had the biggest yard on the street and the most rules laid down by my mothers father (yes my grandfather) He was a large man who smoke cheap cigars and Drank way to much home made wine he had a mean streak and to this day my family will refer to this as his way of teasing (Funny it left physical scars) I remember sitting on the grass playing with my purple dune buggy with my rubber finger puppets of Bert and Ernie

   “ I was wearing brown shorts a brown and blue striped shirt with sox and sneakers I had my back to the huge apple tree and was enjoying the shade and the breeze, if I looked straight ahead  I could  see the fireplace that we would cook out in that my mothers fathers had built and beyond that was our garden. He would be in the garden all day drinking his home made wine and getting smashed he was in remission from cancer he had a larengectomy many years before I was I was born (removal of the voice box) he had a hard time talking but once you are around it long enough you could understand him as I sat talking to Bert and Ernie I felt a stinking on my leg I looked down and there was nothing

 

   I thought that maybe a red ant had bit me and went on playing  I shifted  my position and had my back to the garden the next thing I know I felt a very sharp pain in the back of my head the forced that accompied the pain pushed my face into the hard bark of the tree I felt my cheek scrape against the tree after the initial shock my cheek burned and as I stood up the air seemed to cool it, in a strange way I liked the sensation until the tears from the pain started to roll down my cheek and sting the raw skin of my face. I remember seeing stars but I knew I had to get away but what I remember saying to myself is what did I do wrong for him to do this to me. I thought that maybe sitting on the grass was wrong  no one ever went on HIS lawn it was pristine after all, But is that license to trough stones at a child? I can say that no that I am older.”

 

        I could feel a bump I looked and saw blood no a lot but there was blood, As I started to “come around” I heard laughing  I turned around and there he was my mothers father a hand full of stones and a glass of wine I looked to my left and on the ground next to me was a stone covered in mud that was from our garden. I grabbed Bert and Ernie to protect them from him and went upstairs to my mother my face was scraped from the bark of the apple tree as I ascended the stairs my mother saw that I had blood on my shirt She yelled at me “what the hell happed to you I lied and said I fell with out hesitation she slapped my scraped face and told me that I had ruined a brand new shirt, She cleaned me up changed me into play clothes checked my head and told me not to go to sleep to sit in the parlor and watch T.V. but she never asked what happed to the back of my head. Think about it If I fell forward that explains my face but not the back of my head  but it I fell backwards it explains the back of my head but not my cheek.

 

    The one thing I remember about that day and that brings it back to me and I relive that every time while I was being used as a target my neighbor was mowing his lawn so the smell of fresh cut grass will always take me to that memory. And I don’t remember it I LIVE ALL OVER AGAIN I feel the pain.

 As I relived this in my head I wasn’t sure that I was giving my nurse what she needed as far as what she needed to help, I didn’t know what I needed I thought that this day was one of the worse days that I had lived through so far. After I gave her that story

 

   I think that she saw that I was spent, and that I wasn’t sure as to what had happened to me she said that we would have a “chat” every night that was enough for tonight  I agreed She left my room and I headed for the phone. I called Frank to let him know that I had my meds and that I was going to have a smoke break and go to bed, He said ok we talked until we piled at the door again , this was the last smoke break of the night so I got in four. After that I went into my room lied on the bed within minutes I was out,

 

 

 

                                                                  DAY TWO

 

 

        It was around 5am, when they came in and took vitals and blood  ,  I went right back to bed and was out again until I heard a voice scream SMOKE BREAK!! At my door it was Tawny man could she yell . I jumped out of bed (thank God I wore sweats to bed) had my socks on and coat  while I was walking to the board to sign out I still had sleep in my eyes. Tawny was walking towards me she said where are you going I signed everyone out lets go the next break isn’t until ten thirty.

 

 Ok I said as I followed her we were the first in line at the door and the next thing I knew a key was put in my hand  I looked at and from some strange reason I looked at it and handed it to Tawny she smiled at me and of we went. It was slower going down the stairs this time no one was awake we all piled in and I sat this time. As I smoked this time I notice Tawny She was showered dressed and make up on ready for the day ok am I late I thought do I have to get up and get showered do my hair and that crap to be somewhere I just don’t have the energy I am depressed and the way things are going I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel ,

 

 

 I let it slide and kept quiet again. We had to get a move on to make it down to the café for breakfast I wondered if I could get into the shower and dress before I ran up the stairs and bolted into my room and showered got dressed and I had 20 minutes to spare so I sat in the Happy room and watched the news and waited for the line up. I watched the goings on in the hallway not sure of what to make of this whole thing not sure where to go where I was allowed to go or what to do. So I sat and waited, I figured that there would be a lot of that here “hurry up and wait” one thing that

  

 

   I hated was to wait I hated people who were late that was one of my pet peeves, Herein the happy room I sat waiting. After around ten or fifteen minutes I saw that everyone had lined up at the door to leave the unit and the nursing staff was counting the patients I quickly stood up and walked into the line to be counted- Big step for me I allowed myself to be seen with these people in “public” we filed out, The exsidous was that of a smoke break on the elevator down everyone was laughing making snide comments about the food in the café and Tawny was giving us hints on how to aggravate a café worker she lovingly referred to as cafeteria nazi “Just point to everything she said and say

 

   “I want that and that and that” that will drive her crazy She laughed. I thought to myself ok I hope I see here do that just to see the look on the ladies face because I know if it was me I would make sure I gave her the wrong things at least three times and make her wait to eat. I would make her crazier than see would try to make me and beat her at her own game I decided to try and catch it if I could. The elevator stopped at the ground floor and the doors opened we filed out and made our way into the café we were the first unit to come down for breakfast so the café was empty it was a stampede for food I never ate breakfast but I was here so what the hell. As fate would have it I was behind Tawny I kept quiet in the line and watched Tawny pile her tray orange juice toast Jelly butter pancakes syrup cereal scramble eggs and a yogurt through all this she pointed like some sort of deranged Helen Keller pointing and grunting her order to the small woman behind the bay Marie. The cafeteria nazi as Tawny called her was small and solidly built with hair secured in a hair net her face was wrinkled with the signs of hard work and her role as care taker through out her life it was a no nonsense demeanor, She knew here job and she knew it well as well as al the rules and the regulations of her position in the hospital as well as state, She glared at Tawny and repeated each item to her by its proper name visible pissed she served with grace, and accuracy,

 

    More than I would have done by what I saw I would have told her to screw and let her starve by the look of her she could live a while on her ass alone. After Tawny finished her little display of passive aggression for the morning she turned to me and said Your turn as she laughed and walked away. Cafeteria nazi asked me “can I help you?”

Please I said pancakes than you. She complied handing me the dish and that was that . I got my coffee and made my way to the tables, I saw that one long table was full so I sat alone and was fine with that as I tried to eat it just wasn’t going to happen so I concentrated on my coffee I concentrated on how bad it was it tasted like bleach.

 

   My mind wandered to the memory of last night and what happened to me in my room as the thought hit me a chill ran through my spine and I started to sweat and shake. What was happening to me I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. I tried to stop thinking about it look up and concentrated on the snow outside I watched it fall it was coming down really hard and I loved it. But that memory wasn’t far from my mind I didn’t want to tell anyone what was coning on with me

 

    I was afraid to let them see me. It would them how weak I am, I am strong they have to see my strength. I thought to myself ,  Weather its there or not I have to make them think I am so I can get out of here fast. I could hear the patients of my floor behind me talking about the next part of the morning Doctors Group Tawny was adamant that she was getting out on a pass - the doctor was giving it to her and changing her meds whether he wanted to or not, She made it seem so easy I wondered  if it was that easy I thought to myself could I just leave I have always been passive but I had not let people see that that would be my worse nightmare come true that people saw me just as I was weak and compliant there was nothing worse to me. I had always put up a large front so as not to let people know that I was weak. A loud mouth of sorts to be exact. The one thing that I had on my side is my sense of humor I have a quick wit and an amazing way of finding the humor in any situation,

 

            So far as of yet I haven’t found the humor of being here. Yet … anyway.

We were being called into line to return to our floor, I covered my coffee and joined my group. As I stood there I was lost in thought of what happened to me in my room last night I had never experienced that sort of a memory before I FELT that stone hit me I FELT my face hit the bark of that apple tree. That tree is still  in my yard to this day I see it every time I drive into the driveway I have driven and walked into that yard a million times since than incident and I never had that thought before. It was intense. I thought of that apple tree how I loved to look at when it bloomed but more so looking at in the winter with a cup of coffee watching the snow fall from the bear branches into the blanket of white beneath it.

 

            The story behind that tree is that when it was a sapling a hurricane blew into the Boston area and my mother her father and my father went out into that storm and held that tree up so it would not blow away. My father once told me that the reason it grew so high is that underneath the tree the roots had tapped into a natural underground tree. I loved that tree just for the simplicity of its beauty but now after that memory how could I look at it as a beauty. C’mon I thought the tree didn’t jump out and scratch your face the force of a thrown stone that hit the back of your head dead on caused that. Why take it out on the tree? The thought ran through my mind over and over I was so confused and didn’t know what to think. I felt my body start to shake again I felt the sweat starting and I wasn’t sure as too what to do.

 

   I did nothing time. The way I looked at it is I am dammed if I do and dammed if I don’t so just make it through it any way I can. I leaned against the wall and stared straight ahead  and waited for it to pass.

 

   I hoped that I could walk I was uncertain that my legs would support my weight. I took a deep breath and put on foot in front of the other and made my way a little shakier but no worse for the wear, I had great anxiety caused by the expectation of the realization that there really was something wrong with me. The elevator carried the can of mixed nuts I was now officially a part of know officially as Three south, What I am saying is I am accepting the fact that I am one of these mixed nuts I am the big Brazil nut of the can So now what do I do fight it? Or work it so it can help me I have to take this and make work how? I have no frigging clue I guess its time for me to do something that I never have done before in my life NEVER ask someone for help.

  

    That might take some courage, ok lets take things in small steps and I wont commit to anything as yet.

  See in my life asking for help I was taught that was a sign of weakness and that you needed to be held by the hand and that you weren’t good enough to do it on your own. In my family if you said can you help me please you were pushed aside verbally assaulted and that person did the minor or major task. Would you ask for help? If that what you were used to ? So you can understand that’s why I am a little squeamish about asking for help. As we arrived on the floor I was in a funk with all these thoughts running through my head I made my way to the happy room and sat in one of the chairs by the window I stared outside and before I knew it the voiced in my head started to argue

 

    “You need help they shrieked - see you are a looser you are stuck in a mental ward your never going to get outta this place why even try you where worthless as a kid and you still are” as they continued the banter I just closed my eyes and let them go at it and just gave in to them and waited for the headache. I always got the most horrendous headaches after one of these fights.

 

    The day had started on the floor everyone was very happy today it was making me sick. Would I ever be happy? NO. I am to far gone. They put me on meds that take away brain seizures,  Whats up with that ? I wasn’t aware that my brain was an epileptic. They must of missed that in the physical. Either of my brain was seizing and they were afraid to tell me one or the other.

 

  I was waiting for that meeting to start Doctors Group meeting everyone started to pour in the room grabbing at chairs like children from first grade saving seats for their “best friends” so they could be close OY! Here we go,  we sat waiting for the doctor and the staff to arrive. I was kind of surprised  to the amount of people that showed up for these “meetings” nurses, the doctor, the social workers and of course The nuts. In that first doctors group I sat and observed I wanted to see just how things were going to transpire . I sat and listened I couldn’t help but think of it as “US” against “THEM” I think some of the social workers made it seem that way NOT all some one in particular I pegged her right off the bat. And as luck would have it she was assigned my case 1st hurdle. I can deal with that.

 

   I continued to listen and wondered how things really worked around here, So far everything  each patient asked for the answer was “we’ll look into that and let you know how that fairs” ok in other words No. why not just say No in the begging  why let these poor people hang on is it to teach them that on the “outside” you always don’t get what you want! But most of the time on the outside you get the answer right then and there. Yes or No. and then you are not  left hanging. More or less we are gladiators set forth to destroy the onslaught of furious beasts and only the strong will survive, This time I cant just make them think I am strong I have to BE STRONG no if ands or buts about it there is no other way around. It was time for me Dr. A wanted to know how my first night went “fine” I slept well thank you ,

    He explained to me that the meds will help but will take a few days to get into my system so in a few days he would do a blood level and go from there in the mean time I was to go to the group therapies that they assigned to me and try to work on the problem I was having  I agreed, I was the last patient to be thrown to the lions I set my goal for the day, I wanted to read on my diagnosis Bi Polar #1 secondary Post traumatic stress disorder. What the hell was that. I had heard of it and I wasn’t sure as to what it did to you or for that matter made you do. I know that I had a really bad temper.

 

     Rage I could be VERY moody and not only that I could stay in a depression for months at a time, I would isolate not return phone calls imagine things that people say things about me make up stories making me look better than I actually was or am. I was constantly in a state of nervousness due to the fact of my lies covering up for them, Sometimes I was hoping to be caught sometimes I didn’t care either way, most of the time. As the meeting broke up it was off to the nurses station for our pills I took my morning meds I think that the pills were making a difference. I am not sure how.

 

 

 As I walked out I checked to see if I was in any groups I looked at the papers and I was in one group therapy . “Assent to whine” Its all my mothers fault here we go that didn’t start for an hour man what was I going to do for an hour? Back to the happy room. I walked in an planted myself at the table and just stared out the window everyone was off to their perspective groups. I sat and just waited for 10:30am to arrive. Around 20 minutes had gone by when Tawny came blustering in big smile and a candy bar in her hand . How are you doing she asked ? I looked at her and the sight of her was very comical to me that burned red hair and the make up piled on and that eye liner !! I said to her I am waiting for 10:30am I have group therapy. She smiled at me and said hey me too.

 

    That’s cool she howled as she pulled out a chair and sat down at the table with me. “so she asked how did you get in here?  Just as the words left her mouth and registered in my brain I thought “Wow what balls!” But I admire that this was a crossroads of sorts for me of sorts do I lie I could do that with such finesse and grace that people would all but genuflect when they saw me approach or should I try the new way and be honest, Ah what the hell  I looked at her and said  I don’t know just like everyone else I am crazy. She rolled her eyes and said yup me too.

 

    We continued to talk it was funny the more we talked the more we seemed to like each other we noticed that we where in group therapy together and I was ok with that. We talked for what was two minutes we looked at the clock it was time for group, this was my first group ever I wasn’t sure as to what to expect Tawny and I sat next to each other and watched as people filed in the little waif like creature that Tawny had yelled the other day was in this group. As she entered Tawny’s eyes flowered her with a glare daring her to sit anywhere near here and that would be the end of her. Again I liked that about Tawny. More patients made their way in the tall lanky kid with the baseball hat was here he seemed to have a great sense of who he was and was a funny guy , It seemed to me that he was easy to talk to. He had one of those faces. Type of kid that you want to go out for a beer with. And you know that all you are going to do is sit at the bar and laugh your ass of at him and his stories. I couldn’t help but think to myself why was a kid that looked so happy on the outside here of all places Just to see him interact with all the other patients he was a funny kid what was so horrendous in his life that landed here in this Little piece of locked hell here on earth?

 

 

 

As everyone sat in a semi circle the group was brought to order by one of the clinicians her name was Linda, I had seen Linda earlier that morning she seemed to me that she wouldn’t take anyone crap no matter what and it didn’t matter who you where she just didn’t care, She was somehow different in this group she looked around and smiled at us all. She dropped the leather day runner she carried around with her on the floor at her feet and made herself comfortable. She looked at us and said ok kids this is your GROUP what’s on YOUR mind ? Ok now if that’s not a loaded question I don’t know what is,

 

 

   You can look at this in a few different ways some of us are not to trusting of the staff so either we will tell you exactly what you want to hear, Or keep our mouths shut, Some of us will be more anti establishment and fight to have the rules changed. Some were just to tired to care. Or at least that that’s what the meds they were on showed to the outside world. I sat and listened I still wasn’t sure what I was here for what did my “abuse “ have to do with a diagnosis of  Rule out Bi polar manic depression, c’mon these people are here because they need real help by professionals I am not sure that they need to spend the time on me maybe on a outpatient level but not like this. I am taking up valuable space and time of the staff this is what I thought to myself not hearing what was going on around me.

 

 

    The younger man was speaking the one with the baseball hat I looked at him from my point of view he no longer looked happy and jovial. His face seemed heavy his eyes full of tears he shook from head to toe as he spoke of an anger so embedded in him that you could tell it was a festering rage that somehow there was no release for. I KNOW THIS RAGE. He made sense although he said nothing of a rage I saw it. I felt it,I hung on each word he said. I feel like I failed he said in a low voice I tried everything I was told to try to work through this and nothing seems to be helping. I relive it every day every minute of every day its all I see its all I think about I replay that night over and over in my head.

 

     Until I cant stand it anymore how did this happen to me. I saw the pain the rage and all that seemed to eat him from the inside out and realized in that moment that I have that malignant  rage that anger. I want to cry over it and have it matter and not have to move on and not feel “just take everything in stride no matter how bad it gets that’s what’s expected of me and that’s what I should expect of myself. As I looked at him I was speechless I admired his courage at that moment I never had met anyone braver or more open in my life I thought that he was one person that would always remember, And I didn’t even know his name. As the group progressed everyone seemed to focus on the topic of anger I have that God knows I have plenty of that I sat back and seemed just to take it all in I noticed that the meds allowed me to listen better than I ever had before the racing thoughts  seemed to have subsided for the moment. As they discussed the topic of anger I listened with the intent to learn as much as I could. They progressed to rage, Now this is what I needed to know what the hell was it.

 

 

    The rage I felt had a physical  response for me I could feel it start at my toes a swift burn at the tip within seconds this heat was at the top of my head and I was in an uncontrollable fit of fury. That for me had a physical feel as well as an emotion. This was all new and foreign to me I had never heard people talk so openly about their feelings and  how it hurt. It is a ongoing pain. I thought to myself I have lived all my life with this pain and I hardly knew it. My mind just accepted that pain and put it some where else and didn’t let me “deal” with it but it did manifest itself in other parts of my personality.

 

 

     As I sat there I began to think of when I was a child this time I was around seven years old and I remember I wanted for my birthday a Big wheel it was a plastic tricycle that had one larger wheel in the front two smaller ones in the back and an adjustable seat in the back with a secret compartment that was my best gift ever. The morning after my father had assembled it I got a long piece of string to tie my purple dune buggy with Bert and Ernie to the back of my big wheel so they would be with me I never would go anywhere with out them ever. The big morning came I was up at my usual six am and had my breakfast a glass of milk and a pop tart got dressed and was off down the stairs to the drive way to ride up and down the long drive way. I got my new big wheel and gentle brought it down the back brick stair case to the black tarred driveway. I set it down quietly and stood there so proud of my new toy, I sat in the drivers seat and put my feet on the pedals I turned and looked to make sure that Bert and Ernie were secured and I was ready to go.

 

 

 

           I started to pedal it was great my own freedom to ride as long as I wanted down the long drive way back up around the three cars parked in the yard over the small grass to the Parr ell side of the driveway over the side walk of the front back into the driveway. I did this over and over as I passed the kitchen window of my grandparents I heard yelling but the big wheel was loud it had a plastic lever that stuck into one of the wheels and made a noise as a motor, As I sat I was there I could hear the motor I could feel the warm June air smelling the roses in the yard seeing all the apples on the appltree and hearing the apples that had fallen in the driveway crush beneath my wheels as I drove over them. As well as the smell of all the crushed apples. As I made my way down the drive way I looked back to check on Bert and Ernie They seemed to be having as fun as I was! I thought I saw someone come out side as I looked but I knew everyone was up but none came out that early except for my dad and I just saw him in the garden. He gave me a pear. And I was saving it in my secret compartment for me and grandma for later, as I was rounding the for my estimated 250th round the driveway as I made the turn facing the street my back to the brick staircase I felt a freezing cold stream of water hit me in a very hard stream,

 

 

      It was so hard it knocked me off my big wheel into the bushes that framed the driveway causing  me to scrape my face on the branches skin both knees and hit my arm on the tar. I got up and saw him There he was my mothers father laughing at me thinking that was funny, I was paralyses but this time I was mad at him I had the rage I could feel it welling it up. I walked over to my big wheel picked up and walked it over to the stairs where he was standing the whole he was laughing at me. He said to me in Italian “Go turn the water off.! I looked him in the eye and said NO!

 

 

    He raised his hand and Slapped me in the face. He slapped so hard that I fell to the ground I looked at him stood up I wouldn’t cry on my way up I opened my mouth and bit in the hand so hard that he had to beat me off it took him a good three punches to get me off I ended up with a black eye. I don’t remember what happened after that as far the repercussions of the family. Or just what happened to him for what he did to me I do remember my grandmother asking him what he did to m e for me to bite him like that. I was in the memory I wasn’t “remembering it I was in it I could smell the apples on the trees, I could feel the warm summer breeze, I felt the cold water of the hose hit me. It was so real it sent goose bumps through my body a long with a cold sweat. These memories where all I had in my life bad memories and I very rarely allowed myself to let the out. Mostly I would let come to the surface if I was alone or needed to cry. But a lot of the time when I heard a song that hit “home” with me the tears would fall. I  had  no control over them. I brought myself out of that memory and back to the Group and before I realized it was over. And everyone was getting to leave. I thought to myself what a waste for me I missed out on so much, I felt as though I was beat down and what I wasn’t sure what to do about it. It was a feeling I was used to and to be honest I was accustomed to. What I was thinking about this was different as I left the meeting, How do I get rid of this feeling of being beat down ? I didn’t think of it at the time but I never thought like that before I usually just stuffed the bad feelings . Was it the pills that made me think like this? Are they magic? I have never been this calm before either.

 

 We left the “Happy room” and I went to my room I sat at my desk and stared at the blank wall my mind was blank and I was amazed I was enjoying it quiet mind peace no arguments in my head causing me headaches or making me afraid to move or be around people. As I sat there. There she was again  Clipboard and all checking something off as she walked by, And it didn’t seem to bother me nearly as much this time around. As I sat Tawny came by and said “ Hey I signed you out smoke break lets go !” “OK I said grabbed my coat and we were off” down the hall to the door we went.

 

     Again it was loud everyone running  and laughing  It was fast this time it had been three hours since our last smoke so we were more than ready. I think. I inhaled deeply and closed my eyes and sighed. The conversation was that of the usual one of only a few topics Discharge, Drugs, Alchol,Addiction,Meds, and such. I think that I learned more my listening  in the smoking area  than I did by doctors group or group therapy. I listened to all the conversations and soaked it all in wanted to hear it all and learn it all. I never really understood addiction I knew that it was difficult to overcome but the way that I saw it, It was a choice. You choose to drink or take the drug. By listening to these people it really wasn’t a choice more of a craving a thirst that needed to be quenched no matter what the cost. The repercussions didn’t matter no matter what happens after they got what they craved they needed it, and that was that. I was lucky I didn’t have that problem I was ok in that respect . I listened to these people talk about the alcohol and the drugs and to what lengths they went to get it and where the addictions took them. I was amazed.

 

 

 We finished up just as the nurses told us it was time to go back upstairs our lungs seemed sufficiently full of smoke and nicotine to carry us through to the next break, I hope. I climbed the stairs  completely out of breath and dizzy, but I welcomed that feeling I was let in to the unit and I walked down to my room put my coat away and looked out the window it was a cold gray day . I loved these days. As long as can remember I hated sunny days. On sunny days I would pull all the shades down and make as dark as I could in the house it would allow me to be depressed and sleep as much as I wanted to. Somehow here I couldn’t do that my mind was different some how it seemed that it was quiet. I thought to myself wow I wanted to die a few days ago and no it seems quiet in my head I just have a lot of questions. One of the questions that I had was why did my mother have to go through what she went through ?

 

         I know that we never have had the right relationship as far that aspect of out relationship went. At times it seemed that we were in a completion with each other but for what? She was never really nice to me growing up she pushed me aside a lot she would make a big deal out of everyone else kids and not me I would be expected to be perfect to sit there and look perfect and not speak. If I did speak I was reprimanded or slapped for talking. I remember all these things as a young boy as I grew I looked at it as giving me something in her right hand and taking it away in her left. At that very same moment, As I grew older I would do EVERYTHING for her approval but what I didn’t know is that I did that without knowing that I was looking for her approval. I remember the fights that we had and the things that I said to her and the things she said to me. I remember that one time she told that had she known that I was gay that she never would have had me. That hurt me but I never let her know that. I don’t think that she ever really accepted me and my homosexuality. I found it hard to except her at times she could be down right mean. I have seen her in action . The holidays Where a source of nothing but aggravation for the family. My mother took on the role of matriarch, On Thanksgiving  in particular she invited the whole family with the exception of my uncles three children (her brothers children) to this day I don’t think that they did anything to her , my father and I just think she had “a hair across her ass” with them.

Preparation for the holidays were very hard on my dad and I, It would start a week in advance my mother would start cooking staying up all night getting everything right accepting no help from anyone. No one could do it as well as her she would be in a mood all you had to do was look at her the wrong way and the screaming would start. She would not only scream but she would threatened your life with a knife her hands what ever she could. Most of the time we would just keep quiet to keep her quiet. The day before thanksgiving my father and I would have to take a part to large heavy solid oak tables and carry the up two flights of stairs and set them up again . We would hear “don’t scratch the paint, don’t hit the furniture hurry up and get them set up I want to set the table. We would hear that until we were done setting that up. After that I would help her set the table. The next day when she served everything went off as usual my mother was herself no one challenged her. And the whole family was there. When she put the coffee and desert on the table my three cousins came in. I was in my room smoking I heard my mother yelling and telling them to get the fuck out of her house and that they weren’t invited. My father and I were appalled but not surprised. No one was. And no one said anything. But within twenty minutes everyone was gone.

 

 Now my memory is that of Easter eve 1996 I was helping my mother get ready for Easter dinner it was Saturday night and we had been getting a long  great. I was making her laugh as we were talking and she told me to stop that it was making her back hurt. Deep inside I knew something was wrong. I told her that she had to go see the doctor, She agreed, My mother never went to the doctor she suffered from Ulcerative colitis, They wanted he to have a colonostomy a long time ago, And she refused.

 

  Easter was ok my mother was very uncomfortable. Everyone left early and I cleaned up as my mother sat and watched. We talked trying to figure out what it could be in her back. The next day was her appointment for a check up. We went for the check and her primary care was my sister in laws brother. He ran the whole gamut of test on her. Including a chest a ray including  P A & Lat. He gave her a script for pain I took her home to wait for the results. We stopped filled the script and went home to wait. I had a funny feeling, I gave my mother one the percocets and she fell asleep. Around four o’clock the doctor called I answered the phone the phone it was Steve her doctor, I said what’s up? Well there is a shadow on her lung we need her to have another x ray. I said when? Today he replied we are on our way. I told my mother and said you know how they are ma they screw up everything. Or something moved lets go get it done two minutes ok ? She agreed we where home in an a matter of forty five minutes. I brought her home and  gave her a percocet. She fell asleep as I sat with my dad and explained to him about the x rays. And what a shadow could mean the phone rang, It was Steve “I will be stopping by on my way home to talk to you and the family” Sure I said and hung up. I knew exactly what that meant Lung Cancer.

 

 

      I called my brother and sister in law and told that they needed to be there to hear what he had to say. They agreed We were all there and my mother was ready for the what ever he had to say. I knew what he had to say and I was ready for it. He came upstairs we where all there he started” The x rays shows that there is a  tumor on your right lung and it is malignant we will try chemo therapy  and radiation. We will try to shrink the tumor I have the name of one of the best oncologist in the city and I will get you and appointment. My mother agreed.

 

    He gave her one last piece of advise attitude and rest are the best implements to fight this, Ok ? She nodded and smiled I think that everyone in the room was in shock. I was not in shock I don’t know what I was I walked him out and on the stairs I looked at him and said Ok what’s the deal  has It metastasized? He looked at me and said yes how long I asked? 30 days he said at the most. I got angry the rage came I knew so well and said to him FUCK YOU! I wont let that happen she has to fight. that’s all there is to it, I walked him to his car and thank him he gave me all his numbers and said that she would be treated as a  VIP I said thank you again. I went upstairs and told my mother “Look you can beat this OK? Lets get you strong and do what we have to do ok? She nodded at me and said OK.” my sister in law sat with my mother and me and my brother and father went into the kitchen to talk. Don’t tell grandma they said to me I said Bullshit I never lied to her and I wont now This is her daughter and she has a right to know what is going on. My brother looked at me and said “then you tell her” I looked him in the eye and I said I had planned to. I turned and went downstairs.

 

 

    I went in there she was sitting in her chair. The woman that I most admired in my life she was my BEST friend my confidant my protector but most of all my pal. I  looked at her and said “Ma ?  Yeah she said  I never lied to you so I have to tell you something that’s really hard and everyone told me not to tell you. I know mama (she always called me mama her pet name for me I was her favorite) Ma my mother has Cancer and its not good its like what Pa had. She looked at me and said “I know mama you think I am stupid? “no ma I just wanted to honest with you that’s all. I know she said  I been through this with you grandfather. Good ma I might need your help ok? I asked She smiled and nodded at me and I could see how proud she was just by her eyes.

 

 At that moment I realized that was the hardest thing that I had ever done in my life I just told my best friend the women that I idolized and my mentor that her oldest daughter was about to die a slow painful death. I don’t know how I did it, Or where the strength came from but I did it. I didn’t have time to feel anything about the time so it was a natural thing was to just stuff that until another time. I hugged and kissed my grandmother and went back upstairs things were normal my brother started drinking. I hated that I never knew what would happen when he started to drink so therefore I was nervous. I went to check on my mother she was with my sister in law and she was doing fine.

 

 

    I went to my room to smoke I sat there and thought of my grandmother 90 years old arthritic and her oldest daughter is dying of cancer what does that feel like? To see your husband die almost 30 years ago of the same thing and now your daughter is about to go through the same thing. As I sat there I though of what my mother used to say that she would die like her father and around the same age. Now I thought to myself wow she was right. Metastatic lung cancer  man there is no coming out of this what do I do no one would blame if I walked away from this for the way she treated me but what does that say about me and the way she and my father raised me? I made the decision that there was no way that my dad could handle it on his own and there was no way my I would let her go into a hospital or to a hospice floor in a hospital. I thought her being home would be better and she would be more comfortable. I opted to keep her home in my mind. The door to my bedroom opened and it was my brother and he was drunk just what I needed he looked at me and said “ so what do you think? I don’t know I said I am not sure it’s a lot to take in all at once I know that she’s not going to last long at all and that’s not going to be easy for her or us - so I guess it boils down to hope for the best prepare for the worse. He looked at me and said “ well dad and ma are not that smart and you better not drop the ball” I took that to mean you are on your own,

 

    God he was such and asshole. I didn’t have time to deal with him at this point and that was that, He and my sister in law left for the night that relived a lot of pressure and that way I knew that my mother would rest and not put up a front. So people wouldn’t think it was as bad as it was, the next weeks told us exactly what we were dealing with we had a diagnosis of Metastatic lung and liver cancer. And she knew what she was dealing with. She wanted Chemo and radiation that were offered by her oncologist. I stopped working to care for her full time. I was here nurse I administered all meds including  all shots. It was hard until you got a routine down, I was working day and night and cooking cleaning keeping up as best I could. I took over the house and cared for both my parents.

   

    In the very beging my family would just stop by and my mother would expect me to make coffee put something on the table. That got old real quick. I told no more I had enough to do with out all shit and they where to call before they came over from now on. I was there in the memory again sweating shaking I began to cry again this time the tears where for me not my mother or the pain that my grandmother felt of loosing her oldest daughter. It was for me and me alone. I cried for my loss I cried because I had to see my mother die by inches every day I cried because it took five years for the memory of her face cancer ridden in the hospital bed was all saw when I closed my eyes to go to sleep at night.

 

    I was mad and I didn’t know what do about it. I was mad that I had to do everything to plan the funeral and wake and the thank you’s after. I had not been able to let go of that. After my mother died then loosing my grandmother and having to take care of her seeing her fill up with fluid and not be able to help her. And hear ask me to let her go because she was tired and wanted to die was very hard for me once she was gone I had no one left anymore. I am all alone I had no one to tell my deepest fears and secrets to that I can trust I wanted to scream as loud I could. Like a wounded rabbit that’s all I wanted to do, to be honest I still do. God knows I miss these two women. I started to think to myself that I was afraid to remember things  it was taking a physical toll on my body and mind, After I went through one of these “memories” I would get a headache and my jaw would ache, I would be very irritable and then I would startle very easily. Shake sweat and just want to be alone. It was worse here for some reason, I sat on my bed and felt myself starting to get very dizzy and I thought I will just put my head down and rest for a minute then things will be ok. I put my head and covered myself with the comforter Frank brought me from home and closed my eyes and tried to clear my mind. I saw my mothers face again as usually did. But this time I tried something different  “I said goodnight mom I love you.” Then I fell asleep.

 

  I woke up four hours later to Tawny Screaming SMOKE BREAK!!! Every one is signed out I jumped straight out of bed like a cat that has been startled. I grabbed my coat with out shoes just socks and made my way to the door still asleep. Everyone was basically the same as me. I see it was like siesta time in the can of mixed nuts I wasn’t the only one. Cool I thought. Ok we are all here and need a smoke our nurse this time was my primary Sienna so that made me comfortable, Tawny said to me are you ok you slept a lot today I said yeah I think it’s the meds but I am not sure. What do they got you on. I told her and she laughed at me and said I guarantee you they will go up a lot more within two days. Somehow I trusted her and what she had to say. She seemed like she knew what time of day it was in the hospital. She was full of energy and she talked non stop this smoke break was different Tawny started to introduce me around to everyone on the floor. For the first time I allowed myself to say that maybe the people here are not that bad, And maybe I should give them a chance. I started to relax and really start to listen to them and what they had to say about their meds and the side effects and how they effect them during the day. All I know after my nap I was very groggy. My head was very woozy. I was feeling it and I was feeling the effects of the pills.

 

   I was on my third cigarette and I was enjoying it just as much as the first, Tawny said that we go upstairs and then we sign out to go to the café for dinner. Oh no she is going to drive that lady crazy !!! Well if this is the only fun I get in here then I am up for it. We went upstairs and as I walked in Sienna said to me “same time same place?” I assumed that she meant that we would be having a little chat tonight. I looked at her and said I am looking  forward to it. I ask you what could I say? After all the door is locked there Is no way out for me. A small luxury that I gave up when I signed the paper to get the bed in here. As we rounded the stairs and went through the door we just walked down the hall to the front door so we could go to the café Tawny’s standing joke was that the hospital café could prepare chicken seven different ways for each day of the week. I thought it was funny, no matter how trivial it was to someone on the outside. As I walked with all the patients into the elevator,

 

     I was lost in thought, I was worried about the memories I was having they seemed to be getting worse taking over my body as well as my mind, after they were over my body was emotionally and physically drained complete with a  killer headache. What the hell was my body going through? I started to shake in the elevator, unwittingly and I was trying to hide it two days here and I was still afraid to mention my truest feelings. I didn’t want to be made fun of or laughed at, Or for that matter told I was imagining it. That was a huge fear of mine.

   

 Off we went and we left the elevator and Tawny was talking to me a mile a minute and I didn’t hear a word she said I just kept a smile on my smile on my face and nodded a lot, When I let my obsession go and started to come around, She really started to make laugh in the line as we got our food, “Ok she said lets do this tonight when we go back upstairs Bruce is  in on tonight and he’s trying to quit smoking right? Right I said  well then you and I both now that he’s dying for a smoke that makes sense I said well then its easy we’ll just ask him if we can sneak an extra smoke break in. I looked at her Can we do that I said I thought they are pretty strict here. Oh for Christ sake Lighten up! Just follow my lead. Ok I said .

 

      We sat and ate together and talked with everyone else we laughed a lot and I learned a lot I also learned that Tawny knew a lot about the rules and  how to get around them, How to get the staff to help her out in way shape or form so it seemed. She was married with a child from a previous marriage and the only that her husband was going to stay with her was for her to come into the hospital and get rid of her addiction to pot and alcohol as well as being a bi polar. What a combination I thought I didn’t get the addiction part but I was just beinging to see the light on the bi polar part, It is a tricky thing to deal with the mood swings the dark parts of the disease can be very unpleasant to say the least. Tawny seemed to in control at all times of her emotions with one exception anger that seemed to flow at any given moment. She shake almost violently at all times side effect from her meds she said it was hard for her to hold her coffee, I thought that she drank way to much caffeine and that was contributing to her shakes. I never saw shakes like that before. At every chance she had she would attribute them to the meds not that she was coming off any addictions or anything like that, She was lucky she had a husband that loved her and owned one of the best businesses in the area and he worked very hard and made a very good living, She didn’t want for anything  basically she was a spoiled woman who got whatever she wanted just by asking for it. I think some of the patients envied her for that. I didn’t I felt bad for her. I thought that she was very lonely and scared even though she had everything that she wanted and made it a point to let us all know that she had it. We had all met her husband he was a very nice man quiet almost standoffish in a way. But never the less he was there and seemed like a great guy. I tried my best not to pass judgment and leave well enough alone. I didn’t need her as an enemy or one who would  just throw snide remarks at me for the shear fun of it, I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I remember the times that I would revel in the chance to make some one cry I would love to do that, I would love to go back and forth. Now I am not in the mood for it I think it’s the meds,

 

   I sat in the café surrounded by all the other patients I heard them speaking and laughing and began to feel that sensation of becoming lost in thought it was all encompassing. You feel your eyes becoming locked dead on something and you don’t feel yourself blinking any longer your mind goes numb. A part of you gets scared and nervous because you are not sure what the memory is going to be how severe and whets its going to be. It can effect your mood for the day or the month for that matter it can send you into a depression that can last for a day or for months. For me I found that can think on two planes some what like a computer (this was pre meds) I could be having a “flashback back” it could be very intense shakes sweats and all and be teaching someone how to write a business letter and they wouldn’t have any clue as to what was going on in my head. Some people knew by my rapid speech and wanting to get things done with a fever pitch.

 

   This memory was coming on very fast I could tell it was dark and I was getting very frightened I began to shake. I was starting to fall into it. I found myself somehow transported back to 1996 and I was with my mother it was July my aunt Rita had come to Boston to see my mother she was my mothers younger sister and  she had come to see my mother due to her diagnosis of lung and liver cancer. The memory was so real to me I could hear the hum of the air conditioner in the windows and the smells of the fresh flower arrangements that had been sent to my mother for her sixty sixth birthday. The heat had made this day quite  strained between my mother and I. I wasn’t sure why. I had done everything as usual so for me the day was like any other. I started out with her breakfast. Then her shower as she showered I changed her bed did the laundry and hung out the clothes started her lunch and supper, Baked her Blondie’s. Made my grandmothers lunch ,dusted vacuumed and that was all done by 9 am.

 

         My aunt Rita was amazed at my schedule. So by 9:30 am I would do my mothers meds. First it was her pills, Every third day I would change her phenolynne patch  which is a form of morphine that is released through the skin in micrograms, Then I would give her a injection of neuprogen 1 amp every day to boost her white blood cell count. This was the worst thing I could do after this shot the side effect would be body aches and  she would become very tired and end up sleep through out the day. After that first time I did that I saw the side effects I cried I didn’t let her see me but I cried it was brutal to see my mother who lived her life like a lion be reduced to a lamb. A brave lamb but a brave lamb. I remember treating my mother like I always did it was important to me that I didn’t treat her different because she had cancer,

 

I thought that would be the worse thing to do I thought to myself that she would end up giving up. I would try and have her get dressed and get out for a while everyday be it out to lunch or have some of her friends come over for coffee whatever. Today though she woke up in a vial mood. In her defense it was the first one since April when she was diagnosed. As I did my usual thing my aunt was in her room with her and I was in the kitchen. My mother was in bed I went to the door of her bedroom and asked her “Why don’t you get dressed so you and Rita can go out” She stared at me I knew that look it was more like a glare I knew it from when I was a kid. I felt the rage start at the bottom of my toes to the top of my head I became irate. I looked at her and said “What is your god dam problem ? She just looked at me and said nothing “ I looked at her I said you only perk up when your other son and his wife come down here you act like nothing is wrong no pain you bound out of that bed and sit at the table laugh and have a ball then as soon as they leave dad and I have to pump you full of meds to compensate for all the pain you are because you wont take the pills in front of people. Oh poor fucking Loretta I yelled I am so sick of this shit I did everything in my life for you  just so you would notice me and treat me as son and love me but your fucking brothers kids came before me the dog came before me if I didn’t have grandma I would have had nothing she raised  me I have been to every doctors appointment with you  I have done everything you have everything you ever asked me to do and never bitched I keep this house clean I do the laundry and to boot you fucking girlfriends called and said that my whites are whiter than yours. I knew that would get her I continued on my rampage for two hours coming in and out of her room yelling at the top of my lungs. My father who was sitting in the kitchen having lunch and my aunt just sat and didn’t stop my tirade for three  reasons I was right and they knew it, it needed to be said and it was building up for thirty three years. After all was said and done I looked at her and said can you tell me why you did all that to me?

 

  She said No. I looked at her and said I don’t have an answer for that either but all I can say to is this “all that is water under the bridge and I love you. And we don’t have to have this conversation again ok ? That was fine with her. It was done from there. That memory to this day every time I have it its like I am there I start to shake and sweat get weak in the knees and I get nauseated I loose the day to a migraine and the next day is total exhaustion. This time sitting in the café A strange thing brought me out of the memory a single tear running down my face. I was shaking . God did I miss my mother its so weird when you loose your mother its like your tie to the world is gone and you are left with a rope that has been severed. A sense of fear over comes you  and your not sure as to why but its there under lying and you try and try to make your way but that underlying feeling of that lost connection is never far from the surface. Memories for me are strong and never far from my cocious mind I can slip into them like most people slip into their slippers but these memories for me are not always a comfort and they can hurt and hurt deeply. I never know what can make them come or why sometimes a smell a song I cant always pin them down.

 

  It was time to back to the floor we bussed our own trays and got in line to be counted and on to the elevator - third floor everyone was happy and seemed to be ready for a nap and a cigarette and not in that order I looked at my watched it was almost time for a smoke. Great I thought. Tawny said to me you going down I looked at her I said Yeah are you she said yeah meet me in the TV. room ok ? Yeah sure I said. I went to my room got a pack of smokes and my coat and headed for the T.V. room I sat I was alone so I sat by the big windows that faced outside to the parking lot and watched the snow, The snow always made me feel good it seemed to cover mistakes to me and made everything new. I was happy to see the white and the cold searing air I enjoyed watching it I was being comforted by it. It was quiet there for a few moment the usual bustling floor and noise level that was very high was very quiet and solemn and dim it almost took on the gray of the clouds outside. Hey! I turned quickly not sure as to who it was and what they wanted. With my luck another physical, It was Tawny she had Freshened up her face! How are you? Ok for now but I could smoke a pack right now.

 

      We laughed. We started to talk about absolutely nothing and began to laugh she was telling me about former patients that she had gotten close to and all I could think of is how long has she been here to become friends with all these people to see them come and go that must have been hell for her. It made think we all have a little piece of hell here on earth. I once heard a saying in a movie that for every happiness we have in life we have to pay for. I believe that to me it makes sense no matter how I look at it, I look at it so many different ways being in this place. I thought at one time that I had lost my mother and worked so hard for her and tried to make her life as easy as possible in the end that I would have a break from illness and sickness a few months after she had passed my dad a heart attack and that was hard to take it wasn’t a bad one just a scare more or less but in the state I was in I was more than just a scare to me through all this I had no time to grieve my mother, And my grandmother 90 years old and saw her husband die and then her eldest daughter die of the same thing I saw the depression set in to her and I knew it was only a matter of time before she would go. I always said that when she goes I would be lost. And in a way I am. Tawny listened to me and seemed to understand me and knew what I was saying  I was amazed at myself  it was the first time I was honest about my feelings and trusted someone to tell them in my life I wasn’t sure how I felt it didn’t feel bad at all, What amazed me about Tawny is she didn’t judge me she seemed to be unaffected by the words or the emotions she seemed to empathize with me and understood my pain, I wished that she could make me understand the pain. I went on  a limb and asked her why is it so easy for you to understand my pain , And not me.

 

           Why does it hurt so much every time I try to sort through it I fall into a memory that engulfs me I tumble into a depression and I want the world around me to suffer for it and make them hurt as much as me, I want them to feel how much I hurt and I cant get a grip on the pain no matter how hard I try. She looked at me and said that’s easy its your pain you feel it you carry it you hold it until you are ready to put it down on the table and sort through it then you are going to have a hard time getting through it. For some reason that made perfect sense but I wasn’t sure what she meant, Before I could ask her what she meant it was time for a smoke. We all signed out and made our way to the door. Tawny and I were the leaders this time. Our Nurse Dave asked if we wanted to go the long way. We all agreed it was a good Idea so we all opted for it. We went to elevator and off we were. It felt so good to walk long strides through the halls. We had to walk by the front door people were coming in and out I could smell the snow in the air as I walked by I breathed deeply as I walked. It was a comforting smell the snow would cover all the mistakes that I was responsible for. Tawny and I talked and laughed on our way to the smoking area mostly about nothing and everything we could. This smoking area was much bigger and nicer with two picnic tables and there was plenty of room for all of us. We all sat relaxed and enjoyed our cigarettes and it was a peaceful break. So much for my stay thus far. 

 

   After about 25 minutes we were back on the floor and I went back to my room put my coat back and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I walked to the T V room and I saw that little pixie thing romping I said oh no I cant deal with that right now so off to my room I went I opted to write in my journal, I began to write I got lost in my writing the next think I knew it was time for wrap up. I was glad for that I had something to do. On my way in I saw my Nurse sienna and she said  Jarred after wrap up we will chat? I said ok great I meant that I like to talk to her she was easy to talk to and made it easy for me to open up. Everyone on the floor piled in to the T V room and I sat on the big couch the next thing I knew Tawny came in and jumped on the couch next tome put her feet up on my lap and made herself comfortable I looked at her and she looked at me and I smiled and she laughed and said do you mind ? I said no not at all I like d her moxie I guess. It kind of took me off guard and made me feel comfortable and wanted. Special for some reason. The session started “who wants to go first the nurse asked ? 

 No one put their hand up , The next thing we know the little pixie puts her hand up and says I will she went on and on and on about her attained goal of talking to her doctor about her discharge and why her mother doesn’t accept her boyfriend could it be because she is thirty four and he is sixteen? Tawny raised her hand and said to her the reason your mother doesn’t accept your relationship is because it’s statuary rape! I looked at Tawny with disbelief I couldn’t believe she said what I was thinking  more than likely what everyone else in the room was thinking. That was it that little pixie thing was out for blood She looked at Tawny and said how dare you judge me I am in love for the first time in my life and so is he. We know that this is right I have never experienced this before in my life I broke off an engagement for him. Tawny let her rant and rave. After she was done making her points it took about fifteen minutes. Tawny just looked at her and said “let me be honest with you  #1 That’s all well and good that you feel that way about your boyfriend, #2 No one has to except it and you should not force people to #3 You are more than likely his first piece of ass so I don’t think that its going to last for the rest of your life like you seem to think. With that comment said it was over She was reduced to tears and it seemed that Tawny’s honesty was the pin that burst her balloon and her future plans where teetering on what people thought of her plans. 

 

 

    I thought to myself how can let her out of here she doesn’t seem stable enough to handle life yet in here and she wants to leave here, At least in here no one can hurt her like they can out there was she nuts ? (will you hear what I am saying )I was surprised at the nurses not stopping the argument between the two of them it seemed that they should stop them and not let them fight that way in front of other patients. Or was that a form of therapy? I wasn’t sure nor did I want to peruse the topic between the too  of them. Just let it go that what these paid professionals are for. More over fighting for the right to be in your thirties and wanting to be with a teenager says something about your character, To me anyway. The meeting progressed, It was Tawny’s turn as she sipped her coffee she started out by asking what the hell was my goal this morning ? I started to laugh she kicked me witched made me laugh harder. The nurse looked on the clipboard  and said you where going to check on your meds and see about a pass. Oh yeah that’s right. He said no to the pass and the meds NEXT!! I looked at her and laughed out loud and so did she. After we where done laughing she looked at Denise our FAVORITE nurse and said I will try again tomorrow for the same thing ok ? Denise ok at least you got a plan. Denise looked at me for some reason I looked over at Tawny and started to laugh she laughed at me I looked at Denise and said “what did I say this morning?” Denise burst out laughing !

 

          It says here that you were going to get everything you could on  bipolar how did you do ? I showed her my folder it was jammed packed I had planned to read tonight I told her. Great she said  what’s your goal  for tomorrow ? I told her that I wanted to know more about my meds and diagnosis and to participate more in group and try to be open to more groups, Denise though that was a god Idea. As I listened to the other patients in the group everyone seemed to have met their goals for the day except for one, remember earlier in the book my reference to Cokus nest well there was this one patient who just happened to be Native American ands he never spoke not a word he was a tall kid with long hair jet black hair that was so health and black that when the light hit it shimmered blue.

 

    He sat in the meetings quietly staring into no where. Tawny made a vow to get him to speak. She would make it a point to say Hi how are you ? If he did not answer her she would say it louder for some reason when she did it we would all stop what we where doing and wait for a response. Well now  it was his turn to talk. So Denise started did you meet your goals John ? We all stopped and stared ! No answer I looked at Tawny she at me we stared at John and waited. Nothing Finally Tawny said he doesn’t  Talk. He looked at her and kind of smiled I looked at him and was amazed, Well said Denise if no one has anything else to say  lets get our meds, with that tawny and I where up and at the nurses station “MED NAZI” Tawny yelled Brenda looked at us and said oh Christ its you two ! I laughed I said “Hi ya Brenda” she came out with Tawnys meds and she took them. It was my turn and she gave them to me I took them, I wasn’t sure if they made a difference but so far they seemed to comfort me as far as pills go. Tawny was off to her room she was going to shower and get into her sweats for the night ,

 

    I thought that was a good idea so I thought I would do the same thing. I popped into the shower and dried off put on my favorite sweats and favorites socks. Just as I sat on my bed to start reading about Bi polar Sienna walked in I was very happy to see her, Every time I saw her I was comforted for some reason I saw her name as my primary nurse on the board  by the nurses station and I felt as though I was lucky to have her as my nurse, no one had a nurse as good as mine I heard every one  else on the floor complain about their primary nurses but no one who had Sienna complained. So therefore I was lucky and I knew it. She sat down on the other bed and said to me “so how was the day ? I wasn’t sure really how they was and that’s exactly what I told her I wasn’t sure how it was it was my first full day and I wasn’t sure as to what to expect. She smiled  and nodded and said  Well that’s to be expected the first day is like that getting your sea legs and getting to know everybody and getting into the swing of things. So she said what do you think of it so far. I hate being locked in! She said to me I don’t blame you I would be too. Did you like the group this morning ? How did that go.” I liked it I thought it was a good Idea but in the middle of it I got one of those memories that over take me I started to sweat and shake and I was in the memory

 

    I was actually there do you know what I mean ? I could smell the smells and hear the birds and feel the heat of the day I started to sweat and got nauseated . She surveyed me and said what was It that started it do you know what it was? I thought  for a moment and said no I cant put my finger on it. She stared at me and said well there is something call post traumatic stress disorder and it can cause these type of memories. And can cause  this stress to the body , How I asked? Sienna began by telling me in the world wars that some of the veterans came home from battle with what they called at the time Shell shock that caused this I listened to her intently  to her at that time there was no way of knowing how to treat them so they where locked in mental hospitals  almost forgot about. Modern medicine has come farther in a short time we realize that the mind holds on to trauma. Some people tend to stuff feelings and emotions never letting them out and holding  on to them, they have to come out at one point at any cost. Or they will eat away at the patients.

 

    That made sense to me for some reason not that I was a physiatrist but for some reason  it made sense. I never really let my true emotions out . I never really knew how too. There were certain people in my life that I was afraid to say no to and if I did they had a way of manipulating me into saying yes. And I would end up doing  things that I would absolutely hate doing . So I would say yes just to get them off my back, By doing this I grew to hate family functions and it showed. As I explained to Sienna the dynamics of an Co Dependant Italian family that has no true feeling for one an other except for anger and never saying  what they meant to each other. Or why you get the call as to did you hear what she said about her and I will never do that holiday again and the only reason I do the holidays is for Ma she old and everyone should be here how many more does she have. I don’t know why it was so important that people who hated each others company to be thrown together for a holiday? isn’t  there enough stress on a holiday without adding that to  it I just never understood that Sienna just sat and listened after I finished explaining it to her I looked at her and said  and now I am locked in here and they put me on the meds aint that a kick in the head ? With that she started to laugh at me and agreed.

 

        She also told that the body and mind have a way of coping that’s all we can say about it. Look at yourself you endured abuse both sexual and physical and you never told anyone and your mind found a place and put it there and along with it all the emotions with them so there fore you stuffed every thing. Again it made sense I looked at her and said what do I do ?? Do you write? She asked ? I said I kept a journal all my life she said start writing what you are feeling. With that Sienna got up smile and smiled and said same time same place tomorrow? I smiled and said you got it. As she left I stretched out on my bed closed my eyes and began to think I thought of my mother my grandmother, I was thinking how much I missed them and what they would think of me being in a mental hospital. That really cant matter now due to the fact that I need the help no matter what anyone thinks. I know I need the help. I realize that now I know that its going to take me a long time to get better than I am now but I want to be better I am tired of feeling like this, I am tired of loving the depression. I was thinking honestly that I was like mother in a lot of ways I liked when people fought, I liked that people came to me for advise and that they wanted me to take care of things in their everyday lives. I wanted to take over my mothers place in the family for a while. Then I started to be sickened by my family, the way that they had there noses so far up everyone else’s ass that they couldn’t see two feet in front of them. That can get very aggravating after about too minutes.

 

       I remember after my mother had died and we where making the funeral arrangements I wanted to have in the line my father my brother myself and my grandmother I thought that was more than enough the next thing I knew my father put all my aunts and uncles in the line so all the mourners had to see ten people in the line I thought that was a little ridicules if you ask me, and my brother had a limo for each of my mothers siblings families there own limos so there fore it looked a parade of sorts. As it was the funeral director told me there was over two hundred cars in  my mothers funeral procession. these memories started to make me shake and get me very nervous I had no control over it. So I tried to clear my mind. It went right to my grand mother it calmed me she always had that effect on me. I loved to talk to her, to me she was so smart and worldly she knew so much about so many different things that I was always amazed that when I when I went to her with a problem it seemed she always knew what to do.

 

 Or say  to help me find my way around the problem or solve it in one discussion. She was my mentor in so many ways. I remember we used to talk about how she came here from Italy and it was hard for her to learn English and find a job during the depression. Raising six kids and she never once complained. She entrusted me with all the stories of her childhood from her village in Italy as well as being the only grandchild that speaks Italian fluently. When her relatives from Italy came here to see her it was wonderful for her to show me off I was her pride and joy. I did show off a bit I made espresso and sometimes I made polenta and my sauce that she always said was as good as hers and would invite all her relatives over before they went back to Italy. She loved that I did that for her. It was an pleasure for me I got to see my grandmother enjoy herself with her family. On those times we hoped that my mother would be on her best behavior sometimes her moods would dictate her and make us all afraid of what she would say or do to the relatives she would through looks at these people for no reason. It was very uncomfortable and to honest it made me very scared  at times. I am not sure why my mother did that to my grandmother of to the people from Italy she never saw or talked to them for that matter so it never made any sense to me, As to why she would treat them badly or not talk to them, I would assume it would depend on her mood. That was my families excuse for everything oh there is nothing wrong with them they are just moody or you know how they are just don’t get  them started. So therefore all the holidays or get together you would be walking on eggshells. For fear of saying something wrong to trigger a fight or sending someone over the deep end and of course if it was you who made a perfectly innocent comment that someone didn’t like then you were blamed for ruining the Holiday and then shunned at least that’s the way it was for me, I had experienced it first hand so I either handled it one of two ways if I was at the table I said nothing just hi how are you and pleasantries or just have plans for that day that’s all but the weeks leading up to that holiday where total hell. These are the things that seemed to slip into my mind after I talked to Sienna I had no control over them they just seemed to come into my head and bring back to the place all over again and sometimes it was actually worse than it was when it actually happened. I was starting to get really frightened about it now I had no clue as to what was happening to me. The rage seemed to have slowed down and not as bad as it was before the lies and the fantasy world was starting crumble and that was ok with me so far. I didn’t know what to expect from it but so far I was ok I didn’t feel out of control or for that matter the need to be in total control over everything  and that was a new feeling for me so that was good in a new for me.

      My mind seemed to be calmed on one level but total chaos on another I wasn’t sure as to what to do about I couldn’t explain it and I wasn’t sure that anyone would understand  me when I tried I was at a loss for words as far as that went I had to think about it. And sort it out. But what’s my first step into sorting this out how do I begin getting this all sorted out in my head. It was starting to give me a headache and make me nervous. I started to sweat and decided to try not to think about it. I wrapped up in my blanket and closed my eyes and tried to get a nap. Sleep was the only thing I could count on I was always the same I could depend on it to be the same all the time and be welcoming to me a nap was like a friend. I knew that when I slept I didn’t have to think and that all problems would be on hold for the time that I was asleep. As I lay there sleep did not come as easy this time I tossed and turned I couldn’t seem to get comfortable. I tried everything I could think of to fall asleep ,it was no use I sat up and turned on the light and looked around and saw the information on bi polar sitting on my desk

 

      I grabbed it figuring that if I read it, it would be boring enough to put me under and that would be that . I started to read and it started to interest me and I was reading  the symptoms and to my surprise  I had every symptom there was I was amazed. I never heard of this diagnosis before and was interested in seeing where this was going to lead. The information was though and precise and I was ready to read it and accept what ever it said and realize that I was Bi polar and there was no way to deny that I was any thing but. In a way if I looked at It took a lot of pressure off me to be perfect and not always have the right answer and know everything all the time that’s was the worse part of it. I saw that people expected to much form me. At least that’s what I thought and that’s what I was made to feel. It could have be that I had been imagined it but I thought it was real. I swore I could have felt it form people. No matter which way I looked at it I felt I was responsible for peoples bad moods if things had gone wrong in their lives I was responsible and a part of you wants to correct  that due to the fact that you feel their pain (so you think) mostly you seem to thrive of strife the more trouble you seem to find the more you can go and get done the more you have to bitch over and you will bitch to anyone who will listen. For me when I started in on something that’s was I would go on to anyone who would listen on and on I would not let it die I said I would let it go but I wouldn’t I would just change the words around and that would seem to be a different topic for some reason,  I was remember these things in a manner that was concise and methodic something I never experienced before . I thought to myself that it has to be the pills I was able to complete ONE though at a time and that was something that I never did before in my life, I never had just one thought in my head  usually it was a couple of thousand at one time flying around at once and I wasn’t able to focus on just one so when I went to think of one or tell someone what was really bothering me I couldn’t zero in on just what was bothering me. The pills they had started  me on have shown me a difference there was no doubt about it. I was so thankful for that it wasn’t even funny, I had never been so able remain calm in my life. Actually think things through no where the thoughts where stemming from. I wasn’t sure as to how long the pills would work before I became immune to them. I was thinking of them like antibiotics you take them for so long you become immune to them so far that was my fear. If that happens what do they do ? Do they just give me more milligrams or do I go back into the hospital? I don’t think I could handle going into the hospital again, As I thought I noticed something  I wasn’t freaking out over the possibility of this happening I was actually open to all possibilities but I wasn’t ready to think about that’s all. I knew that the pills made me tired and it was hard to keep my eyes open I notice in a short time that my sleep was heavy and restful and I liked that aspect of the pills, So far there were very little bad points to the pills so far, but I haven’t been faced with any huge life changing  problems as yet, And I don’t see any so far, I am thing that soon enough I will be and then I will see just how well the pills work in keeping me in check as well as my emotions, I guess there no way of knowing until I am faced with it, I wasn’t afraid any more, I wasn’t walking around shaking or nervous or anticipating a problem or making one up  in my head. I felt slept sleep closing in on me quickly and I knew it was going to a long and heavy one and that was fine with me, good knows I needed it. I found myself comfortable for the fist time actually I was comfortable and I was ready just to close my eyes and drift off. So I did.

 

 I woke up to the shriek of SMOKE BREAK ! I jumped straight up and  grabbed my coat and met Tawny at the back door. I was basically still asleep but I had my coat on and my hands on my cigarettes I was ready the door was opened and we were off everyone seemed to reach the smoking area at the same time and we were all dying for that first drag on the cigarette. I sat down and waited for a light for my cigarette. I was listening to everyone talk and laugh, I enjoyed in my sleepy groggy state. Tawny was staring at me and she said to me “Wow the meds are hitting you hard aren’t they? I looked at her and laughed and said yeah I think so I am freaked out at how good I am thinking and how calm I am I have never felt like this in my life!

 She said to me I know it shows in your face I love watching you and how you react to things around everything is so new to you its great to see you enjoy it, thanks I said but I wasn’t aware that it was showing I was a little embarrassed to say the least and it made me a little self conscious as to the way the pills were making me or react for that matter. Tawny seemed to be a expert when it came to the meds she had been on them for a while now herself she explained to me what each one did and why the gave it to me and what I could it expect from the pill and exactly what will happen when they increase the dosage, Even how much weight I will gain from the Depakote I just stared at her in disbelief and said wow you really know a lot about this stuff don’t you. She looked at me and said I ask them questions everyday.

 

     Did they put you on lithium? No I said I am depakote and serequel what’s serequel she asked I told her that they said it was for brain seizures and I got no side effects from it - It was a new drug so they said do u like she wanted to know yeah I don’t feel like I am shaking or anything. She stretched her hands out in front of herself and told me to look at her hands, I looked down and her hands where shaking like she was sitting on a washing machine set on spin she could not hold them steady no matter how hard she tried if she held a cup of coffee it would spill all over her she told that was a side effect of the lithium and she has been beginning to get off of it for a week now and the doctor hasn’t change the other yet. Why I asked she didn’t know why and she told me she wasn’t going to ask at the next meeting she was just going to tell him in a direct manner she wanted to try it in hopes that he would be open minded enough to trust her judgment. That made sense to me and I agreed but if it matter I was a man and I was a lot bigger that her maybe that’s why they put me on a stronger med. She looked at me and said take a look at me pound for pound we are equal no matter witch way you look at it. I laughed and said ok.

 

   I was thinking how thankful I was that I wasn’t experiencing any of those side effects and that it was going ok so far but what the big thing for me was that I was not freaking out at the possibility of going crazy over it that I could have side effects I was leaving all that up to the staff. The old me would have fought to the death, I was worried about one thing I had Hepatitis A in 1990 and I read that all my meds are activated in my liver I was concerned about any liver damage. I ask Dr.A about that and he assured me that the liver had repaired itself in the ten years I was not a heavy drinker at all and that I would be fine. So that was good  and put my mind at ease. For now any way. So for now I was just getting as much nicotine into me as I could and listening to all the other patients talk about their experiences in other hospitals in the state. One of the things they were talking about was not so much the facilities but the state of the Department of human Services, They were telling horror stories regarding these people that work within this government agency. Stories of children dying , children being pulled from homes without proper warrant, People being denied benefits that needed them - completely corrupt, and no one was able to stop these people. The channels seemed blocked for some reason. And in the state I was in no one seemed to know that if you called a t v station or got someone involved with a big mouth a lot a negative publicity could have been shed on them and they could have been forced to change the system, But some how I landed my ass in a scene from “Little house on the prairie” Where no one wanted to make waves. I knew deep in the back of my mind that sooner or later that I would be going home and I wouldn’t I wasn’t staying here, I knew that but I refused to think of that now. I took that thought and filed it away in my mind to reference later. I knew that for me to deal with that I would need strength and I didn’t have that now.

 

 Wow I was starting to think rationally and that was a big step for me I could reason with myself without emotion and know that in time things would get done and I wouldn’t have to rush through it to get it done just hold on to it until the time was right. I looked at the faces of my fellow inmates and for the first time I saw the fear in their eyes. I was able to look and see beyond their masks and see there raw emotions some looked like deer caught in the on coming headlights of a Mack truck just waiting for the inevitable impact some held on to their fear as a crutch for fear that if they let go what would they have left ? Some of them had anger and rage in front of their fear a huge brick wall of rage daring anyone to close this wall was a waiting for them to drop on to them. And crush that person as to not let them see the fear. Because if that fear is seen then the perfect is no longer perfection but a down fall. And that’s a risk no one here is willing to take.

 

 

 For us not being perfect is the utmost failure in the world fore we do think we are perfect and the sick thing is that we really believe that the people around us view us as perfect too. In a way its sad I know as I looked at my counter parts I saw their faults and accepted them and though to myself “It’s ok these people are nuts buts its ok so am I and if this is were I have to be to learn acceptance of them and myself then so be it - but on the other hand I was petrified, to admit to myself. We finished our cigarettes almost at the same time  and we where off to three south.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Allie Bloom, David Schafer, M.Ed. (Blackdog)
Bipolar World Partners:  John Haeckel, Judith (Duff)
Founder:  Colleen Sullivan
 

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