This is it tramps and ladies. This is where it all ends. My first story on this blog. It was a journey and so far it has been quite a journey. It has almost been a week on this website, I have never really done this on my own before. Like, comment, and follow, this is A.B. and I really feel better.
I was given dinner and a new change of clothes, basic red scrubs. “Dinner” was a flat chicken breast with grill marks, baked beans that had corrupted everything on the plate, some sort of noodle salad thing that looked awful, and a spork to eat it all. I was starving, they had run out of PB and J in purgatory and I couldn’t have cheese. I did eat everything on the Styrofoam plate except the salad stuff. And of course everything was cold.
I managed to get my notebook back. The curly haired lady at the counter said usually I couldn’t get my stuff, but she was going to make an exception. I think she saw the guppy in my eyes when she knew the others were tricky sharks.
I wrote for a little bit at one of the tables, then I decided to join the fray.
The people in there are best described as a band of misfits. I sat down in this couch that was surrounded by others to form a box. On one was a dark skinned man that was tinged yellow, the same as the sickly yellow surrounding his pupils. I later understood this to be Jaundice. On another was a pretty yet tired looking girl. She looked like a doll whose eyes were malfunctioning and couldn’t stay open.
“What are you in for?” asked the Jaundice man to the Broken doll.
“Opiates,” she said simply.
“Pills, percocet, vicodin.”
“Yeah, painkillers,” I managed to contribute.
“Hmm,” he said. “What about you?” He inclined his head to me.
“I’m Bipolar,” I said.
Really? It took a lot to admit that. You don’t know what one of the most serious mental disorders is?
So I told him. “It’s when your moods change and you have no control over it.”
We talked a little more. I learned that the broken doll had been there four days, apparently detoxing and waiting on a bed to open up at a rehab center. I didn’t know how she could see with her eyelids broken like that. I guess the drugs had done that. The four days thing scared me more than a sword hanging over my head.
The Jaundice man explained that over several months he had been spending his time drinking on a bench in the park. Somehow the cops or somebody had picked him, and he was now eighteen days sober. Two weeks of that had been spent in a hospital bed. He was waiting on his Native American benefits to find him a halfway house.
I didn’t belong here.
After that, the guard changed to some jock with huge biceps. He had us all go outside to this area with high walls, too high to climb. We were given granola bars, and encouraged to chat. This is where I met the tattooed man and the meth head man. The former was covered in tattoos from finger to a small part of his face. He looked scary, but was a total push-over. He had a soft voice and explained freely that he was homeless.
Tattoo man asked the strangest question to the burly jock babysitter. “Do you think somebody can survive on just chocolate?” he was referencing the chocolate granola bars.
The jock asked why he put forth that question.
“You know ’cause I am homeless and that’s all I have been eating lately.”
Next our attention was brought to the meth head man.
Jaundice man, that ever curious person that he was, asked the other why he was here.
“Speed, meth, trying to get into rehab,” said the man. He was covered in scabs, they lined his face like teenager’s acne. He shook constantly and wore a jacket even though it wasn’t cold out at all. He talked about leaving his home state. When I, out of all people, asked why that was he responded, “Because if I stayed there I would have died.”
I am pretty sure the jock asked me why I was there. I gave him the same answer as Jaundice man, only I added that I was trying to get on a medication plan. He accepted that answer.
We returned inside and I decided to get some paper to fold more. I had folded a few items: a lotus, a crane, and a lily. A few patients were impressed including Tattooed man. Another patient that really loved the origami and sort of faded into the woodwork was one I will call Ricardo. For naming him by a distinguishing feature or illness seems unfair to a man that was clearly loosing his grip on his mind. You could see the desperate claw marks he had gouged into his mind through his eyes. He was unwell, and everyone knew it.
He wanted to learn how to fold one of the pieces I had made. I accepted my new pupil, by this time I folded over a dozen creatures and flowers, so I began to teach him how to fold a crane. It took me longer than expected, he was a little bit of a hard student to teach. But in the end he succeeded. He was so happy to have finished it. It was a little lopsided, but it was his words that made it truly beautiful.
“I’m going to show this to my grandchildren and try to teach them.”
Writing that line made my eyes water.
After that I tried to write some more, but the blaring TVs made it near impossible. I decided to take a sleeping pill. I fought it for awhile, even the jock noticed it. But fighting a sleeping pill was the closest thing to being conscious, and not have the raging horrible demons buzzing around in my head. I eventually laid down on a couch, because I saw the sleeping area and thought I could never sleep in a line of six beds.
Then about two o’clock, I woke up. It was at this moment I realized I was in a place for crazy people and that somehow I did belong here. I started to freak out, I entered the bathroom and tried to calm down. I left and tried to talk to the jock, but he wouldn’t give me anything. I am not good at self-soothing. I am a top spun by Mister Universe. My head was everywhere. I was a roller-coaster that only goes up into oblivion past God in His heaven. I was in outer space. But I had nothing, no friends, no internet, nothing.
I laid back down, my head covered by a sheet. I wore myself out. I must have laid there for a good half an hour til sheer exhaustion took me in its arms and smothered me with a pillow.
Several hours later, at about seven, the fire alarm went off. Yes, being awoken by the sound most associated with fire and therefore pain is about the worst way to wake up. We were all hurried outside, there were a lot of people, a lot more than I realized.
The going rumor was that some kid had pulled it trying to escape. That didn’t work out apparently. We were separated by units and counted. There was a man in a wheelchair I remembered from earlier. He wasn’t in our unit, but some kid messed with him and the F-word was clear even across the parking lot.
Shortly we were led inside like sheep, drug addled sheep. We were told that breakfast wasn’t for a couple of hours. I went back to sleep.
Jaundice man woke me up for breakfast, he was really a kindhearted man. I don’t know why he drank to such excess.
Breakfast wasn’t much of an improvement on dinner. It consisted of two pieces of rubbery french toast and two greasy slices of bacon. And they were so generous as to give us sporks to eat it with. I mean they handed out the plates from behind plexiglass like some kind of camp for rabid dogs. I bet they feared a spork in the eye. I was almost dedicated to find a way to weaponize a spork. For you know reasons.
The bacon wasn’t a big hit with everyone. Jaundice man had to give me his because he couldn’t put up with that much salt. That’s when several women decided that they didn’t want their bacon either. And that is how I ended up with about eight pieces of bacon. Of course I couldn’t eat all that and threw about three of them away.
Then I think it might have been a food coma that got me to sleep more. And a few hours later I was awoken. It was time to see the nurse, the holder of the prescription pad.
Her office was right up the hall. She was a heavy set woman with blonde hair and formal clothing. Anything else about her I cannot tell you. I only looked her in the eye once or twice. She asked why I was there.
I told her everything I thought was right, I promise you. I thought I explained all my symptoms correctly.
“What do you expect to get out of here?” she asked.
“A medication plan, something to stabilize my moods.”
“Why would you need that?”
“What? Because I can’t function without medication. I miss school, I can’t be around anyone, and my moods keep shifting.”
It was then I learned how cruel somebody can be to a man that has seen the darkness and lived to tell about it.
“What do think you have?”
“I think I am Bipolar.”
I could feel her eyes scan me. “It doesn’t sound like that to me at all.”
“It sounds like you have a personality disorder. That you just want to live off the government and your parents all your life. It sounds like you are just making excuses to not be productive.”
“What do you mean? I can’t function, I need medication, so I can be productive. The way I am is not right. I need medicine to fix that.”
“Everything you said sounds like a personality disorder.” I must have become visibly angry because then she said, “See, you getting angry only proves my point more. All I can give you is anti-depressants and those take about thirty days to take effect.”
Then there was something about how that’s all she could do for me, but honestly I stopped listening. I got up, while she was still talking, thanked her for nothing. Then left that godforsaken office, wanting to return later with a knife so I could show her what real suicidal thoughts looked like. Show her what a personality disorder looked like.
I returned to the den of drugs that was slowly killing everyone. Jaundice man liked booze, the broken doll loved pills, and the meth guy was a bad hookup away from an overdose. And here I was, your insane narrator, on the verge of tears because eight years of trying to convince people I had one specific disorder failed once again.
I called the family friend from a post-it note I kept in my pocket from the night before, when I had received it from my mother. But that doesn’t matter, nothing really matters. I was stuck staring at the endless unyielding darkness forever.
The broken doll came up and asked me what was wrong.
“The nurse couldn’t help me.”
She expressed her confusion, I was about to cry.
The family friend showed up with his wife. They gave me back my stuff and I left. My eyes over flowed with tears.
I told the friends what happened.
“We’ll find you someone else that actually listens,” the wife assured me.
I only cried.