Friday, December 31, 2010

old year, new year

in a couple of hours the old year will close and without getting too maudlin about it i'm just going to say that i hope the new one will be a far sight better. it's been rough sledding and hard times and some insomniac nights and without telling you where this comes from and with only a little editing i'm going to take a break from telling you the epic inpatient tale and give you a part benediction, part poem, part dream and i'm not going to explain it any but just let it float over you like it was meant for you as a blessing for the coming year.


good morning my good friend
may blessings and more blessings fall on you and yours
i have stopped having the dreams and visions
which i think means that i have gotten the message right
which i think means that now it's up to you
to follow the instructions.
remember that in all of the dreams and all of the visions
Jesus had all of his friends,
his mother, the saints, the apostles
your parents, your grandparents
and probably other of your relatives and neighbors and friends
such as he might be able to call on
and there were feasts that Jesus would have been familiar with
and backyard picnics that your people would have been comfortable with
and Jesus did not seem to mind jello cold dishes
and it did not seem weird at all that you were sitting in a lawnchair when he washed your feet
but the thing is that there were a LOT of them, these visions, these dreams
and they came to me at night and during the day
and you were tiny baby and young girl and grown woman and dowager
and you kept asking who you were
and none of us would tell you
and you kept trying to work it out
kept trying to serve
kept trying to fuss
or trying to find out what you should or should not do or say
and the more you struggled the more Jesus and all the assembled company
made you sit and made you be taken care of
and Jesus himself washed your feet  telling you why paul hadn't been invited to the party
telling you just to rest and let yourself be loved.
just listen to the conversations around you and be lulled by the sounds of our voices.
eat what is delicious and sweet.
be wrapped up in blankets, be wrapped in Jesus' cloak.
just let yourself be carried in our arms; let Mary rock you,
let you own mother rock you; you have the time here.
look at the daylight, the starlight, the firelight, the candlelight; fall asleep by its glow.
look at clouds and listen to crickets and watch snowflakes fall and flames jump up
and know you are held tight
let yourself be held tight
i will hold you, you mother will hold you, your Jesus will hold you, his mother will hold you
we will love you, all of us will, no matter what. just let go and let us do it.
let us love you wholly, fiercely, and with full knowledge of all your parts
wrap yourself up against the cold and know that inside, where it's warm
you are wholly, fully loved.
you are passed from hand to hand like a new baby
admired and loved
fresh and and laughing
and that in my visions, at least,
your feet are clean.

so maybe you don't know exactly who you are or what to do or say
but you know the answer to the important question:
you are loved, wholly and fiercely, and Jesus threw a party
to tell you so.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

med trial

one of the reasons i need to be in a hospital is for a med trial. i mean, obviously my mood swings have degenerated to the point that i need to be in a hospital for some decompressing which happens periodically every half dozen years or so even under good management (a lesson we have leaned kind of painfully over many years) but we can't try out meds on me unless i'm an inpatient.

it's just too dangerous.

the reason i'm in the fix i'm in is that there are some very good and effective meds that i just can't take anymore because after a couple of years of taking them, my body rejects them. this actually is not uncommon. psychiatric meds (and other meds used to manage chronic conditions) often run their course and outlive their usefulness. then you stop taking them and look for something else.

my case is slightly unusual in that the meds don't just stop working for me; my body rejects them in grand style. we do not part on friendly terms. it involves anaphylaxis, or stevens-johnson syndrome, or some other such thing. sometimes just starting a new med is a white knuckle ride, and no doctor in her right mind puts me on a new med on an outpatient basis.

so it turns out that n the time since i was last inside, three new drugs were developed that were available for me to try. one was a close relative of a drug to which i was already allergic, so that was already off the list. one was a promising new anti-psychotic with mood stabilizing properties and low incidence of side effects, so we started that one.

now, we purposely do not educate me on the possible but rare side effects of new drugs precisely because of both my history and my suggestibility so that IF those side effects show up, i won't have been looking for them.

so somewhere in the Indeterminate Time we start the new med. i don't feel very different. it must be at least saturday the fourth because it's not my first day in the caf and i'm used to eating there but it's still special feeling to me and i'm having trouble really enjoying the food and trouble swallowing it really, as if it gets down my throat just fine but then gets hung up just above my stomach as if those muscles just don't go right and i'm kind of uncomfortable and i'm not breathing well but my lungs are clear so it's not at all like asthma, ust like my muscles there won't really work, like that strider reaction felt sort of all those years ago before it realy got going only my tongue isn't swelling and my jaw isn't pulling and i'm trying to read and i can't make my eyes scan the page and i'm trying to do a crossword but i can't make my eyes focus on the page and they keep getting across mixed up with down even though my mind understands it and maybe this is too much for your dainty eyes but when i first came in i was constipated four days which isn't unusual when i get to one of these places but my bowels had just started moving again and now they had just come to a halt. it was like muscles in my body were just going on scattered strikes and there was nothing i could do about it.

and when i came in my blood pressure was pretty much an even 120 over 80, give or take a few points. that's the way i am. it was now 160 over 90, give or take.

afternoon and i was still uncomfortable, but the group that was allowed to go to the pool room went to play pool (more about this elsewhere). it was a happy, golden psychiatric hour (forty minutes). and i was still uncomfortable, but the wost of it was over. by four o' clock i was nearly better.

at five thirty i took another dose of the med.  all night i lay awake, feeling like i couldn't breathe. there was no comfortable position in which to sit or lie. i tried to drink water, but it didn't make my throat calm down. somewhere in the night i felt better and fell asleep.

in the morning i took the med again. we went to by lunchtime i was already having trouble controlling the muscles of my face. i was hungry, but eating was a nightmare. i had a hard time swallowing; it was hard to choke the food down. i felt heavy; food was not moving through my bowels. my chest was constricted even though my lungs were clear. did you ever have anything too tight around your neck? put your hands around your throat and grip hard and then try to eat. it was like that.

i kept tryign to explain it to the nurses like the beginning of that allergic reaction i'd had when i had the strider reaction, because the beginning of that had felt just like this, only that had progressed to a swollen tongue and this wasn't doing that. i tried changing position. i tried doing yoga. i tried deep breathing. i tried just distracting myself. it was hard. i couldn't keep control of my muscle movements enough to do anything comfortably or reliably. there was only sitting or pacing sort of agitated.

oh. and my blood pressure over those days was a consistent 160 over 90.

no sleeping. no reading. no doing anything. i talked to david the sunshine med nurse (more about him later, maybe) and it turns out that failure to control those muscles and spasms of those very muscles are rare but well-known side effects of this drug. there is another drug that they might be able to give me that might counter that side effect but that's only a "might" and you have to understand that it's sunday afternoon in a large hospital and that order would have to come from the DOC or Doctor On Call and not my regular doctor and that might take a while AND that given my history of allergies in the first place it is a crapshoot whether or not i will have a reaction to that second drug that may or may not work at all to counter the effects of a drug to which i am already having a very unpleasant reaction and my body is already sensitized and it's SUNDAY AFTERNOON AT FOUR O'CLOCK and i'd better decide soon because they're going to want to feed me my next dose of hell in a paper cup at five thirty.

now, torturers know that torture is not effective because of the pain it brings. torture is effective because of the promise that the pain is coming back. my pain has come on and crested and waned and come on and crested and waned and i have just figured out what has in fact caused it and i'm just out from the worst of it and they're about to give me the next dose and i'm willing to take more of this stuff if i have to but IT'S SUNDAY AFTERNOON and i think that really what i'd like to do before i ride that hideous wave again is talk to my doctor about it and if she still thinks it's a good idea i'll do it again but if it's all the same to you guys i'll just take a little break until i've talked to her, ok?

and of course if they get the DOC to order up that other med to give to me i'm all set but if i just wait until tomorrow to talk with my regular doc instead of a night in hell they have to write REFUSED in the book and i'm de facto noncompliant in the book because them's the rules, a thing i only mention now because it'll come up later in the story about the sneak attack secondary diagnosis.

so a few hours later i have control of breathing and swallowing and can focus my eyes and am having bowel movements and for most of the rest of the duration of the trip my blood pressure returns to 120 over 80 (except for one entertaining interval i will  tell you about later) and on monday my doctor comes in to talk to me and she wryly looks over the charts from the weekend and says "i guess we add that one to the list of meds you can't take" and she starts to figure out what to do next, which is kind of what i expected she would do, since she's a competent professional, but it was a hell of a weekend.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

foggy timetable

there are a lot of things that happened between my admission and when i started taking notes that i can only place generally, say, that i know happened before i got to go to the caf, so before december 3,  but before my mom came to see me on the seventh so i can only place it approximately, or  know it had to be a saturday and therefore on the 4th, but otherwise no idea of date except i had more than one pair of pants to wear, so it had to be later than sooner.

you count days like that: before the rash started. after vinny bounced. before i got my visit. before i got to go outside. the day i nearly shit myself because someone taped an out of order sign on the restroom. yeah. that was funny. remember that one for later, because omniscient narrator from the future is gonna have a whopper for you on that one. or not.

anyway, i was kind of trying to figure out (omniscient narrator from the future) how i was going to tell you about a few things that fell in the Indeterminate Time, since unlike the Admitting Days, the sequence isn't so clear. stuff happened, but the events aren't so discrete. or rather they have to be, but my perception of them wasn't. and so the storytelling isn't very linear. and then even when my thinking clears up a little, your appreciation for people and events will perhaps be improved if i do not speak strictly chronologically, so i'm thinking about that, and maybe about how i'm going to tie together a few things for the omniscient narrator from the future who will be making some pointy little commentaries later on.

for now, it's movie night back at ripley, and the boys have picked out some promising movies that contain some explosions but not too much gratuitous violence  for plot movement.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

at some point

somewhere around the third of december things start to move. i have for the most part stopped crying uniformly. i am still crying, but not uniformly. i have figured out the puzzle of the assignment sheets and have managed to get my little self to all the groups to which i am assigned. i am using my newly-granted tool, the black ballpoint pen, to ease my anxiety about being in public spaces and i am sitting in public spaces doing crossword puzzles. i use crossword puzzles defensively, to stake out acceptable territory and get comfortable seating prior to groups.

i learn to ask before i introduce myself each time nt to have everyone shout out "hi, (my real name)!" in mechanical AA meeting style that just makes my blood boil. it's so hollow that it isn't even a greeting and it's like you're not even there to the extent that when you ask them not to do it they can't help themselves, which only goes to show you how much they're really paying attention, which is why i hate it in the first place.
uh, anyway.

yeah. so. this guy comes in. vinny. and we meet him for the firs time in afternoon community meeting. now, community meeting goes like this: we all sit in a big circle and everybody says their first name and then they say a goal for the day or if it's the evening meeting they might reflect on the morning goal if they remember it or set a new goal for the evening if they're not an advanced player and they name a coping skill they might use and then they say a thing they're grateful for and then maybe  if the person making the agenda had a sense of humor or mercy there might be an oddball item on it like name your favorite piece of furniture and in case you can't remember all the items on the list, they're all written out for you on the whiteboard on the wall:

first name
coping skill
thing you're grateful for
favorite piece of furniture

i'm kind of fuzzy on sequence here,  but i know "piece of furniture" was on the board on december 4.  i know this because it wa a saturday night and my favorite piece of furniture at the moment was "communion table".

i do not know what day vinny came in, but i know what day vinny left. the day vinny came in we got our first look at hi at evening meeting and what he had to say was that he was very happy to be here because he'd been on the waitng list to get in for three weeks and he was really serious about his rehab and that in the time he was waiting to get in he'd had to do all kinds of crazy drinking and drugging and he was tired.

i was thinking that perhaps this was not the soundest reasoning in the world, but once you get to rehab, maybe you get clearer thinking and at least he'd made the trip.

later that evening vinny regaled us with (he thought) very funny stories of how he and his wife had come to admissions together and lied about being married hoping to get put on the same unit. of course they fooled no one.

couples are split up in rehab, for good reason. go look it up if you want to. i don't feel like explaining it. anyway, one thing that they really like from people going into rehab is honesty. no matter what you've done, they consider honesty a really good sign that you're ready to turn yourself  around. so lying at admissions and then laughing about it later wasn't a really good start, you know?

and then there's this thing: you're not supposed to communicate with the other units. when you go to the caf, you're not supposed to talk to the other inmates. it's sort of like prison that way, only friendlier, and it's for therapeutic purposes. but see, according to rules, the staff can't monitor the patient phones. so patients can call the patient phones on other floors so while you're not really supposed to be talking to the other inmates on other floors, you can do it. and no mater what everyone pretends, there's no such thing as a private conversation up there (acoustics being what they are) and it's no secret that vinny and his wife are talking to each other every twenty minutes.

so when mrs. vinny bounced from downstairs, ("bounced" is the term for "left rehab without finishing the program"), vinny swore up and down that she got kicked out for acting out and demanded to be released. of course we all knew that you don't get kicked out for acting out; they simply board you and put you in the quiet area or in a pinch medicate you, but they don't kick you out, but we all knew vinny to be a liar already and we all knew he wasn't really on board with rehab to start with so when he demanded to be released even though it caused a fuss and tied up resources for a number of hours and there was all the usual nonsense of posturing and screener calling and scene making and loud yelling in the end we weren't sorry to see him go.

it was december 6.

Monday, December 27, 2010

split story

it was three days, more or less, that i laid on my bed, holding the blue sweater and howling. if a tray was brought to me i ate. if i noticed that a meal had come up i politely went to get my try myself.  there was no clock in my room, so i had no idea of the passage of time. if meds were to be administered, i took them cooperatively if a med nurse appeared at my door.

i remember going to the center of the unit to look at the white board; it is well known to nearly every veteran of psychiatric units tat the schedule of groups is posted on the white board in a common area, and that the key to the raising of privilege is in group attendance even if one does not wish to socialize in common areas.

this white board was baffling to me. it listed the time of breakfast, but the group schedule read something like this:

9:30 community meeting
10:20 groups
11:45 lunch in caf -or-
12:00 lunch on unit
1:00 groups resume

so while i'm amenable to going to groups, i can't figure this stuff out and just going to look at the board has used up all of my available energy and i just go back to my room to cry. a lovely mental health worker named yvonne comes to my room at some point and invites me to a group she's doing and i happily (for the circumstances) go. then, since there's another group happening right after that, i go to that. then it's back to my room because i can't figure out what else is going on. i am able to communicate that  i would like to go to groups i am invited to, but i'm  largely uninvited. i keep asking for a black pen, but i keep being told i'm not allowed to have one.

one of the reasons i don't want to hang out in the common areas is that it's a very dense area and, well, i'm still crying. i don't suffer from the common delusion that i'm too good for the psych unit, or that i don't fit in (actually, i don't fit in, but not because i'm not crazy enough or too good for it, but we'll talk about that later) but i'm socially awkward on a good day and i'm also very sensitive to other people's emotional stuff; i pick up what other people are feeling and when i feel really crappy and i'm having my own mood swings what i really don't need is other people's mood problems coming on in here and messing me up.

but the staff is all up in my face for isolation and not going to groups and it's like four days before anyone bothers to tell me that the schedule that tells you what groups you're supposed to go to is posted each day ON PAPER you go get at the nurse's station each day at 9:20 and it gives you your assignments and times and if anyone had mentioned that to me it would have been a big help and later on i found out that yvonne had written on my chart that i was willing to go to any group i was invited to but they were preferring to let me take initiative but man, i was too disoriented and crying plus my strategy for dealing with unfamiliar mental hospitals is usually to take a black pen and my book of crossword puzzles and just sit in whatever room it looks like they're going to have group in and use that as my anxiety reduction strategy and entry to the room but they wouldn't let me have a pen and in my state i could only go so far and finally after four days when twitching i managed to get to one of those goddamn groups and declared that my goal for the day was going to be to get a black ball point pen and i KNOW my mom had been talking to the doctors about why i couldn't have one after four days and some bastard handed me one after four days of me asking as if it was no big deal and he says "we let people have pens here" and i had the sense not to make a fuss over why i hadn't been given one before and all of a sudden i have have the tools i need to get to work now.

meet me halfway, you know?

anyway, in real time it's a long time farther down the road and i am back from christmas break and it's almost dinnertime. a guy got bounced from the house last night for coming home with booze, and it was a hell of a day in therapy. i feel kind of beat up and i've been working hard. it's time for some dinner and then maybe some stupid tv and then in the morning my last full day in the program before i step down to half days because that's what my insurance pays for.

soon i guess, i'll be coming home.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

i wuz gonna...

...get back to telling the gargantuan story but it's kind of enough for me that my furlough's up this afternoon and i have to try to beat the storm back there today and i want to tell you that my christmas gifts included items like the "don't die out there" playing card deck and the "worst case survival" daily calendar, so while i DO have an interest in outdoor survival in good years, i think there's kind of a little undercurrent going in my family's hopes for me.


i'll try real hard not to disappoint them.

on other fronts, it was a lovely time and there was a lovely meal and i got to go to not one but two lovely church services with my own congregation whom i have missed mightily and i got to hear loud and clear from them in person how mightily i have been missed and if you're going to be away the best way to do it is to be missed and yet there's still this mood disorder: yesterday i was driving along to my mom's house and i was somewhere i wanted to be with a sackful of gifts i was happy about giving and basically i was really genuinely happy about everything, but yet i was still crying, which is a little unsettling.

it's less confusing when your affect matches your life circumstances; say, for instance, when there are things you're really sad about and you're crying. when that happens it's kind of a relief for me because things match up nicely, which people with mood disorders don't  have to think about so much.

so that's my story.

i gotta go finish packing.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

let's get some things clear.

up until this point i'm been telling things pretty straightforward and chronological, but it's only involved generic admissions workers and police officers and ER nurses and such and things were pretty straightforward. NOW the story is going to get more complex and involve people that are real and interesting (not that the police officer isn't a real interesting person, but for the purposes of my story, he's one-dimensional) and the timelines are going to get blurred if i try to illustrate a concept or stick to one idea that spans a couple of days since i am writing a blog entry and not a novel.

in a novel one may spin out ideas concurrently; in a blog entry one may not. so strict chronology may go out the window.

also since i have already identified the august institution at which i am still a patient, it will be of little use for me to disguise its identity, or to disguise the identity of certain of the staff working with me, or parts of the building or grounds, so i'm just going to say that i'm not going to say anything stupid and that if i have any unkind opinions i will either disguise those identities or i will keep those opinions to myself.

when speaking of patients, i am either changing their names and identifying characteristics or i am referring to them by the nicknames we gave them on the ward (with a little removal of identifiers). "tornado girl" is a good example; we never learned her real name. why should i ever call her anything else? and there was a guy named bob, too. three of them. we gave them nicknames to sort them out. i intend to refer to them by their names, since we only had three and we had to nickname them to keep them distinct. you probably know guys named bob, too. but no, mostly every other patient gets a brand-spanking-new name, which is sometimes funny, because once i was telling stories about a time on a mental ward using cleaned up names and a woman i met on a ward years AFTER i wrote about that story was all proud because she thought i'd told the story about her, using her real name, and no amount of argument, including the copyright date on the publication compared to the date of admission when we had met could convince her she hadn't been part of the story.

oh, well.

talk to you tomorrow.

Friday, December 24, 2010

still on break

i'm still taking a break from the big, big story, but for your listening enjoyment (i hope), i'm re- opening the vault so you can hear the flask christmas album again or even download it. yay! as usual, it's only here for a limited time and then it goes away again until next christmas, so if you don't download your own copy or you weren't lucky enough to get a hard copy, you have to wait until next year to listen again.

yes, those are my own arrangements, and yes, that is my original artwork, and while you're in the waiting room, why not take a trip over to the zazzle store and pick up a bazillion mugs or something and make me rich? or earn me enough money to buy a box of cookies?

that's my hard sell marketing. do you like it? order at your leisure. supplies aren't the least bit limited and while it's a pretty nice design that will look handsome on a table unless you're looking to buy a mug or a greeting card or something like that, you probably already have enough crap in your house.

but if you ARE looking for a nice mug or greeting card with a design like mine it's not too bad of a deal and i make a few pennies off of it which is nice for me.

awesome marketing. the flask christmas tracks are free for you to listen to, free for you to download, and later on i'll get back to telling the gargantuan story.

merry christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

short break

i'm taking a short break from my painstaking chronological narrative of my recent adventures to tell you that i am for the moment at home. this is temporary; i left brattleboro this afternoon at four and i am expected back sunday afternoon.

i am currently enrolled in what is called a partial hospitalization program, which means that while i am in intensive therapy by day and dormed by night, i am under my own recognizance between the hours of three to ten each afternoon and evening, responsible for feeding myself, and permitted to sign myself out on weekends. the program is closed tfor a long weekend on account of christmas, so i am signed out until sunday afternoon.

happily i have a home to go to and a family to visit and a church community to be in and friends to be with. my bills are paid and my house is clean. tomorrow i will take my car to my mechanic and do laundry and go to church.

i will brew ginger ale and maybe i will do some light grocery shopping and maybe if i have time i'll play golf before i  go to church. whatever i do, it will be lovely.

and at some point i will return you to the narrative in its chronological offset order. i took notes so i could tell you about it. isn't that swell?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

so far

it may help you if i tell you that so far i've only been telling the story as far as it goes from monday evening, 29 november to sometime on the aftenoon on tuesday afternoon on 30 november. in all that while i have not stopped crying. if we fast forward two days later, i am still crying very loudly. someone on staff offers me a quieter area in which to be.

in some hospitals you have to be very careful of this "offer" because it's really a kind of code for "five point restraint" or "locked room" and "offer" really means "threat" but it turns out that at this hospital (i learn much later) "offer" really means "offer" and "quieter area" means a quieter area with three rooms (one of which can be locked) but the central portion has a couch and there's a phone and in general if it isn't being used by someone in great need it wouldn't be a bad spot to go read a book and get away from the noisier areas or the rest of the unit.

there isn't a dining area where meals are brought and i'm not up to eating in the weird multi-use place where real estate is scarce, so i take my meals in my room if someone brings my tray. otherwise, i don't eat. mostly they bring my tray.

i have to go ask for towels to shower at night, and that's a trauma to figure out how to do it and bear in mind i'm still crying, but i do it. and i have to figure out how to ask to get someone to let me into the laundry room to put my towels into the hamper when i'm done, too, which seems insurmountable.

i change for bed.

i am still crying.

the mattress. is very thin. i am too heavy for it. it's like lying on a hard surface. i'm still crying. we're allowed blankets, but no sheets. evey fifteen minutes the night nurse comes in and checks on us. i don't sleep.

i just cry. loudly.

i'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


once we get to my room we begin the tedious and horrific process of going through every last thing i have with me. no matter how pleasant and professional and kind these people are being (and this particular staff is very professional and polite and kind) it is still a very difficult thing and there is no way for it not to feel dehumanizing and humiliating.

i was not packed for a stay in the hospital, so i had with me a lot of things that i knew they were going to take away: camera, razor, assorted stuff not really appropriate for hospital use. of course i expected to have them check all my bags and books and pockets for hidden drugs and weapons and for them to take away my meds from home and catalog them and give me hospital issue later.

what i did not expect was for them to take my pens and pencils, nor to take any clothing deemed too stretchy. these tights? no. they have a string.

ok, cut out the string,

those? i can have those.

nope, too stretchy.

what? i do not point out that they're  no stretchier than the ones i'm being allowed to keep, the ones that have just had the string cut out. i know better. i cut my losses. one pair of pajamas is better than none.

ok. i have one pair of pants to wear when i get my street clothes back.

they take my bookbag. no straps. no pen, no pencil. i can have a golf pencil if i want it.

fuck you, i think.

what i say is thank you.

all right.

next project. the thirteen hour project. if you have been following this blog or if you have spent any time with me at all, you know that i take a picture every thirteen hours. it's an art project. some days it's what keeps me going. one day i was crying so hard i couldn't get up from the floor and still i managed to take a picture. it's hard to tel from the picture where i am but if you look real hard you can tell i'm under my desk.

so i try to negotiate with the nursing staff maybe a supervised picture of a blank wall at the approaching designated time. it would mean a lot to me and it would help maintain continuity of my life which supposedly is one of their stated goals, you know?

but know, they can't work that out, and omniscient narrator from the future knows that my failed negotiations with them over this only earns for me an added diagnosis of personality disorder with histrionic and narcissistic strains which kind of makes me feel sad and ashamed but doesn't make a lot of real sense if you know me.

anyway, i'm so upset to lose my photo project that i think for a while that i'll roll the dice, which is kind of mental patient slang for demanding to be discharged when you're only technically voluntary and then they have to call in  the screeners to evaluate your case and if you pass, you go, but if you don't pass, you get held as an involuntary for at least eight days and then you can try again.

i make some phone calls and end up not rolling the dice. omniscient narrator from the future has some ideas about how to salvage the photo project since for the lost days i didn't leave that one place and i'm still living there and it was beyond my control and i can at least represent it photographically if not present the accurate view.


more tomorrow, eh?

it's time for dinner and then back to the house.

Monday, December 20, 2010

team uniforms

so i'm at the retreat and i'm going through the admissions process, which involves an interview with a doctor and a lot of notetaking. i'm still crying loudly. i only feel it's important to mention because when i started crying it was several posts ago when i got back from the art museum and pretty much i haven't stopped crying and the volume is still turned up pretty loud and there are a lot of other bits of the narrative and while it's not exactly background noise, it's worth keeping track of.

i am most definitively still crying. everyone i meet appears to be considering investing in facial tissues or earplugs. maybe both.

anyway, the one thing everyone is in full agreement over is that i am not to be separated from the blue sweter that i am holding and patting. if i forget for a moment and set it down i only wail louder, and people are very anxious to keep it near m as we go through all the little chores of organizing things.

one of these chores is to strip me down and check my clothes for hidden weapons and drugs, and to check my body for same, along with a medical exam and an examination for scars and tattoos. them i am issued crazy team clothing: a grey sweatsuit, tops and bottoms, which, for what they are, are surprisingly soft and plush. because the shoes i am wearing have no laces, i am allowed to wear those. keep that in mind. it becomes important later.

then a nice lady comes and along with another person we pile all my stuff onto a cart and with me still howling we move thorough a byzantine series of tunnels and ramps and elevators that would have confused me if i had been paying attention and we pass through set after set of doors and onto  a very heavily locked ward and begin the exhausting process of checking my belongings in.

at this point i don't know where i am or even what day it is, so if it's all right with you, i'll save telling you about the check-in until tomorrow and o do a little grocery shooping and then go back to the house where maybe we'll watch a movie before curfew.

omniscient narrator from the future has a better idea of how this comes out, but i'm still a little tired and i need a nap.

i hope you're well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

you can't touch this

this whole time since i've left the motel room in the custody of the nice police officers i have been clutching my favorite pillow from my bed at home. the reason for this is not that i love this pillow; it is because inside the pillowcase is my pajamas and my very important sleeping hat and the real point of my unwillingness to be separaetd from the pillow: cr's sweater is in there and i am holding onto that these days as if i am linus van pelt.

they take me from the bennington hospital in the ambulance which i notice is not as nice a truck as the one they had up in the NEK and even though i'm in the back of the truck i've been up and over route nine i can keep track of where we are just by the feel of it but only up until we get as far as the west b congregational church, which is where i go blank as far as geography, which if you're going to follow this story, you should remember, because omniscient narrator from the future knows tat two weeks from now that kind of props up the punchline as well as sort of feeds a sad little running joke four days from now. stay tuned.

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anyway, they bring me into the admissions entrance of the brattleboro retreat, and in addition to starting to explain to me the admissions process, which is difficult because you need to remember that i am still howling, they very gently try to explain to me that they need to take my pillow away from me because i can't have that here. "the sweater!" i wail. "you can't take the sweater from me! there will be a lot less screaming if i can keep the sweater!"

they look at each other, that look that hospital people and emergency responders and hospital people and even school teachers give each other when they're communicating volumes of information when they have to make an important and critical decision in a big fat hurry.

so when i say that there will be less screaming with the sweater than without, one of the people handing me over nods both kindly and with some amusement and says "we've seen some evidence of that" and for the remainder of the afternoon they take some care to keep it near me no matter what task we are engaged in.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

mr. toad's mild ride

it had to have been weird to watch, a little middle aged lady, a little twitchy but otherwise quiet and docile and howling loudly. hey bring me into the ER at the bennington hospital and make me strip down. this is the only time i've ever been in an ER that i wasn't permitted street clothes, which did not improve my mood any. i'm polite, but i am still crying very loudly. and i am a classically trained singer, so i have some LUNGS.

and wen you come in with the police, the police stay with you until you leave, apparently. or until you move to another unit. and they ask me if i can stop the screaming because i'm disturbing their emergency room.

which is of course a serene place.

i ask for a chaplain. i have been asking for a chaplain since i came in. they offer me medications. i'm not opposed to medicine, but what i really want is a chaplain.

they come in and they shoot me full of lorazepam. it really hurts going in. "hey," i tell them. that just honkin' hurts." and that's just the language i use, too. "i would'a' swallowed TABLETS!"

so i sleep a couple of hours. while i am sleeping what i do not know is that my family is frantically trying to find an open psychiatric bed anywhere in the state of vermont so i don't get shipped to albany, which is not a sparkling gem in the constellation of mental health care. there is not a bed anywhere.

there is not a bed anywhere.

there is not a bed anywhere.

after a wile i wake up screaming again.

the nurses rush in and jab another hypodermic in me. "hey!" i tell them. "that STILL hurts! i STILL would'a' taken a tablet given the choice."

and i sleep a while later not so much because it knocks me out, but because there's just not that much to do but sleep or cry and once the edge comes off i have more of a choice and i'm not wild about crying anyway.

after a long time (it probably seems like a lot longer to my family, who are on the outside working desperately than it does to me, because while i'm very sad by this time i'm mostly bored) ONE bed opens up at the brattleboro retreat, which is not just the nearest psychiatric facility; it is one of the nation's finest. it is one of the hospitals i've been trying to get into all along.

apparently when your admission involves nine officers and four squad cars you move closer to the top of the list.

so they put me in the truck and i'm on my way.

Friday, December 17, 2010

falling apart

so i'm far from home and i'm crying and i don't know what to do besides call my mom, who doesn't know what to do besides ask gently if she should call 911. i tell her that i think probably she should.

"but tell them no lights or sirens", i say. these are nice people who run this motel. i like it and i want to be able to stay here again. i tell her to tell the police that i will leave the room curtain open and that when they get there i will keep my hands where they can see them and that i will be docile and come peaceably, although chances are that i will be howling loudly. i can't help it; i'm a loud crier and once i am no longer having to exert self control for the comfort of the other hotel guests, all bets are off.

my mom stays on the phone with me while i wait for the police. i pack my bags. i tidy up my things. i cry. when they come, the curtain is open and i am in full view. the officer knocks politely on the door. i don't remember a lot of it. one officer takes the phone from me and talks to my mom and one talks to me. i cry a lot. i twitch some, but in the very-sad-don't know-what-to-do way, and not in the dangerous-pschotic-about-to-go-off way. we get ready to leave the room.

the officer says "ma'am, i don't want to alarm you, but i have eight other officers with me."
"that's ok.", i say, drooping a little. i notice that although there are no lights or sirens, there are four cruisers. the officer puts me in the back of the nearest one, which for the size of that big honkin' SUV of a thing is pretty cramped. no leg or arm room. i suppose that goes a long way toward subduing the unruly in a pinch, but not so far toward comforting the distressed.

"i am very sorry about this", i tell the driver, " but i am going to cry. and it is going to be loud. i am trying for it not to be so loud, but a lot about my life is out of control right now and i'm doing my best."

"that's ok." he says, and i think somewhere he is thinking that if loud crying is all he has to contend with, he counts himself lucky.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

it seemed like a good idea at the time

so after the Very Bad Thing happened and i got myself home and blah blah blah (it's not that it's not interesting, but i'm just not talking about it, so there's no point except to say that i lack the self control to have stayed home without having done some stupid ass thing) so i thought maybe i'd just take a few days and if i couldn't be among my own church congregation at home i could at least be among friends to see the candle lit for the first sunday of advent so after some hemming and hawing i came down to bennington to the east arlington federated church  where they're always nice to me and after church had a short stack at the blue benn and returned to my room at the knotty pine. i've stayed there before.  it's not terribly expensive; it's not luxurious either, but they're nice and friendly and it's convenient and the rooms are clean and they have reliable wifi. i like it there. and i decided to go to the MassMoCA mostly because a piece in the courtyard was written up in a science blog i read and i wanted o see it but also because i'm always driving through north adams and i always mean to go but never do so i read up on the exhibits and downloaded the podcast tours for the sol lewit exhibit and everything and it was AWESOME and i was all happy and everything and then i went to get a pizza that i very much liked and -life's like this for the wildly manic-depressive- suddenly i was crying, and not the  nice controllable kind, either. only i'm three and a half hors from home and i have no friends or family to help me and i supposedly have a doctor appointment in the morning to discuss hospitalization options. my world has just crashed in and i do not know what to do and i need help and there is no one to help me.

and now i am out of time to tell you about what happened next.

the good news is that i have no shortage of material for a long, long while. the bad news is that i have no shortage of material for a long, long while.

talk to you tomorrow, kids!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

inside out

this one is going to have to be quick, partly because i'm short on time, and partly because i don't have my notes.

i think i mentioned that things were going bad for me.

then things went worse.

so we were talking about a hospital admission.

but there weren't any beds anywhere. so i decided i needed to get away from home and maybe do a little light geocaching, maybe go to a museum...

then all hell broke loose.

it turns out that when the police are involved, it's easier to get a bed. go figure. i didn't write to tell you about it because they don't let you have your laptop on the locked ward.

or your phone. or shoelaces. 

i'm currently living in what can only be described as a quarter-of-the-way house.  today is day two.


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