Monday, October 28, 2013

The Chair Is Sometimes The Answer

He was 22, tops.  Probably not even that.  His dyed-black hair was tied back into a respectably long ponytail.  His thin mustache and wisp of a goatee gave the illusion he was just getting into his twenties.  His solid physique wasn't overdone.  In fact, he didn't speak highly of gyms.  Was he gay?  Maybe.  There was something to the way he carried himself when he walked that put a "maybe" on my gaydar.  If so, he would be a good addition to our side.  It was just that anger thing, the desire to fight.  Almost a need to fight.  He could be our pit bull, I thought.

When we walked the halls in the psychiatric facility, he'd often talk about fighting, how alive he felt punching, jabbing, hitting someone, how he respected the blows that came to him.  I once remarked that it looked like he didn't get hit in the face much; he was rather to quick to correct me.  At least nothing left scars.

We were in several group sessions together.  One featured a woman maybe in her late twenties, maybe in her early thirties, who wasn't particularly good at leading.  Pretty much, she didn't have a clue.  She seemed hopelessly naive in the ways of leading a group.  She reminded me of a few professors I'd had in college, the ones who read their notes in a monotone and expected you to be fascinated by the information presented.  It's one thing in college; it's another thing to drone on and on, reading your notes in a monotone, to a room full of medicated people.  She was there to develop our coping skills.  Most coped by falling asleep or leaving.

After lights out on the night before one session, one of the women went into a rage about being kept in the facility and argued loud and long with one of the staff.  All of us could hear it (and were pretty much in favor of letting her go, although no vote was offered) and she was finally appeased or least it got quiet.  I didn't know at the time, but the fracas took place in front of my young friend's room.  We'd talked a bit about it at breakfast and I could tell he was still very agitated.  He mentioned he had given thought to breaking a chair in his room and clubbing her over the head.  He was tired, however, and opted to wait it out.

That afternoon at our group, the young naif went on and on about coping skills and happy places and thoughts to distract us from doing whatever it was we were there for having done.  She said something that sparked my friend's recollection of the night before.  He spoke about becoming more and more angry and how he'd considered breaking the chair and hitting the woman to the floor.  The group leader's eyes grew rather large as she tried mightily to maintain her placid expression.  She asked, "What would you have done if she got up again?"  "She wouldn't have got up again," he said matter-of-factly.  I'll give her points for staying in the room, but she did have to look away.  The young guy looked at me and it took all I had to keep from laughing.  I knew I was supposed to be horrified, but it just struck me as being very funny.

Later in the session, she read/talked about coming up with something to think about that would keep us from attempting suicide or battering someone to the floor.  I looked at him and suggested, "Maybe your mantra should be 'The chair is not the answer.'"  He laughed good naturedly; the leader nodded her head and agreed in all seriousness.

He was released before I was, and we had a few conversations before then.  We figured out several things we had in common.  I also told him how I hated being picked on when I was young.  He told me that he was the one in his school who dealt with bullies.  I thanked him.  We agreed that maybe an act of violence might be called for sometimes.  He suggested, "The chair is sometimes the answer."  Sometimes maybe.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Back home again...


I have returned from two more-or-less all-expenses-paid weeks in Harrisburg's psychiatric institute.  As close to suicide as I've ever been.  I realize this is all going to sound like a really bad Movie of the Week, but my life frequently feels like a really bad Movie of the Week. 

My meltdown happened on Friday the 13th.  I've been having a really bad time trying to keep up with bills for quite some time.  I've been seeing a therapist about it and we keep coming to dead ends.  On Friday the 13th I received a note from PPL saying they were going to cut off the power unless I paid them what might as well have been $1,000,000.  Jack is unofficially disabled, but the doctor contacted PPL and told them he would be adversely effected by losing electric.  A month's reprieve but still not a real solution.  Jack finally applied for public assistance and medical assistance and was rejected.  (I learned in the hospital that 1st time rejection is now commonplace.  I wish we'd been told before we started counting on it.  He was refused because he didn't fill out a couple of forms...which they didn't send.  But, of course, that's not their fault.)  All the other bills were as overdue as they have been forever.  Nasty-grams are kind of expected. 

My therapist and I talked about maybe borrowing from the life insurance my mother set up long ago.  I called the life insurance company to see if it were possible to borrow against a policy.  I was told it was not.

And that was it.  I saw that as my final possibility and it was shot down.  I went into some kind of state I'd never been in before.  I felt totally useless, hopeless, helpless, enraged at myself.  Jack walked in and managed to talk me down and finally got me to lie down.  He called our doctor who called the pharmacy with a prescription for Xanax.  Because we've been going to the pharmacy forever, they gave Jack the Xanax (I frequently pick up his prescriptions and we're never given a hard time) and I was good for the night.

My head seemed clearer, I was less panicked, but I still had no idea what to do.  One night as I was about to take a Xanax, I poured the contents into the palm of my hand it finally dawned on me:  I may not be able to take care of the bills, but I could certainly take care of the idiot who was responsible for it all.  I looked at the pills and I can't explain the sense of power and relief I felt.  Then I thought of Jack and realized I couldn't lay that on him and, except for one, I put the pills back in the bottle.

I talked to my therapist and we agreed it was time to go into the hospital.  I'd been having suicide fantasies for quite a long time, but they never had that ring of truth to them.  This did. 

I went in on the 18th and emerged from the cocoon this past Wednesday.  I felt so much better in there.  It's not that the rest of the world stopped, but there was nothing I could do about it and I could just concentrate on being me.  I've discovered that's someone I haven't known for a long time.  I still feel kind of fragile, but it's all right.  I'm supposed to start asking banks for a consolidation loan or a credit card.  So far it's encouraging.  The odd thing is that I haven't come back to my music.  The last time I touched it was the night before the breakdown.  All in good time, I suppose, and I've been writing words a lot.  It's just that the music hasn't come back.

I'm OK for the most part.  It's just that I thought I should tell you.

Trust you're doing well and getting the skis polished up for the winter.  I miss you.  Take good care.