The aftermath

“I don’t belong here”, I said. As I spoke I scanned the group assembled at the long table. Looks like 2 Head Shrinkers and an intern. They looked like reasonable people. I could work with them.
“Sir, won’t you agree that most everyone here would say that?” said the Benjamin Bratt lookalike, young and sharp Psychiatrist.
“Maybe. And with no disrespect to those who are here, this is different.”
“How?”, the very cute Intern chimed in.
“Because I tried to force my Doctor’s hand and they called my bluff.”
“Could you give us a little more?”
I explained to them that I was struggling with my dialysis treatments. I was having itching and cramping and spasms that made being in a chair unbearable. That I couldn’t get relief day or night and the insomnia was beating me down. When I couldn’t take it anymore I demanded that my Dr. admit me to find out what was going on. That I was going to hurt myself if I couldn’t find relief.
“That was a mistake that I regret deeply,” I said.

I explained that I wasn’t aware of the steps they would take after my threat. The room without sharp objects that I spent almost a full day. That I would be roomed with a bunch of twitchy, clearly disturbed people. God love them but I’m not one of them. That it just wasn’t what I wanted to accomplish. I was very clear to apologize for wasting their time. But I was clear…I am here for medical care because nothing has been resolved yet.

The next 20 minutes was a back and forth about the seriousness of threats and the callousness of ignoring them, taking an opportunity to partake in some group therapy, digging down to see if I really wanted to harm myself. I had to think about that one long and hard with chin in hand.
I had had some dark-ass thoughts while in the booby -hatch room. Cold, alone, sleep-deprived and ravaged by the lack of dialysis treatments is not a good combination for me. I fought thoughts of slashing my wrists and watching myself bleed out. I imagined putting my .38 Special against my temple, or should I put it to my chest to make a better open-casket? I fantasized about swilling a bottle of Ambien and floating off to peace at last.
“And your children?” I came out of my fog.
“What about my children”? I asked.
“Says here you have 4 children. Are you concerned about how they would feel if you harmed yourself?”
Hell of a question. Should be filed under “no-brainer” but it had to be asked. My children would be fucking crushed if I did that. My children and I have an amazing relationship that I cherish. They have been the biggest reason for me to fight all along. “Yes, I’m very concerned. That realization did come to me. I have a great support network all around…friends, family, my Mason brothers. What made me clear my head between my admission 2 days ago and now is one recurring and terrifying thought.” I paused to sip my coffee. “What if there is a hell and my penance is to watch my children grieve for me, to struggle in life and I’m forced to scratch and scream at a window but they can’t hear me?”
“That’s a rather specific scenario…” Benjamin Bratt said.
“It’s happened before in my dreams…”

rock bottom

Well, you finally did it, dumbass. Look where you are now“.
The intercom crackled, “Sir, are you talking to us?”. I looked up at the dark globe that contained the all-seeing camera. “No, I’m talking to myself”. Just for the hell of it I screamed “Get me out of here!”
But I wasn’t going anywhere. See, when you tell your doctor that you plan on harming yourself, this room with no doorknobs, a TV encased by plexiglass and a communal bathroom with no toilet seat with which to bludgeon yourself to death, this is where you end up.

I was cold. The sweat-soaked flimsy hospital blanket did next to nothing. I spent almost 18 hours tucked in the fetal position and waiting for the sound of the big key in the big lock that may bring someone, fucking anyone that may talk to me about what was next. I was alone with my thoughts and those thoughts were dark, foreboding, scary as fuck and wholly, entirely unlike me. Thoughts of harming myself consumed me. Occasionally, the rational version of me broke through the morass and attempted to set me right, reminding me that I have so much to live for.
Think of your kids…
Your mom…
Your friends…
They will never forgive you. All of them. Mom just can’t take another loss and the kids would never get over it. Suicide is selfish, you just pass the pain on to someone else.
Yet here I was. Consumed by the darkest thoughts a man could have. I couldn’t shake it. Death called to me as a viable release from the pain.

13 hours later, at 3 AM I was transferred to my room. A burly security guard with too many tattoos and kind eyes inventoried my belongings. I could have my shoes, but no laces. My beloved Templar cross and chain was bagged and tagged. As he explained the rules and regs of the behavioral unit I glanced through the security window to the ward that awaited me. Nothing beckoned to me as welcoming. I asked the guard, half serious, if it was too late to retract my statement.
“Sir, when you say you want to harm yourself, shit gets serious.”

I had dug myself a big ol’ hole. I needed to find a way to play this. The end game was to get the everlovin’ fuck out of there. I’m not a danger to myself and nobody here is going to believe me. All I knew is that once this ward came to life in a few hours I needed to actively pursue my exit strategy. I knew there would be fallout from family and friends, but therein lay the problem. I’ve been so concerned about everyone else in my life that I failed to take care of me. Now I was broken, and at that moment when I was escorted into the booby hatch I had never been in a lower place.

How do you explain to someone that you love that you’ve lost your will to live? That life no longer gives you joy. How do you tell someone that you are in pain and sleepless and the demons of insomnia are putting bad ideas in your head and you would give fucking anything for the pain to stop, if only for a day. Maybe it’s my fault for smiling when I really felt like wincing. Maybe I should tell people the truth about how I feel and how well I’m coping. Maybe I should cut the damn act and get some help. How are my family and friends supposed to know what is happening if I can’t even be honest with myself…?

“Sir, we have your daughter on the phone…”, a heavy-set nurse was standing at the foot of my bed. I looked out my postage stamp of a window. In the absence of clocks I surmised that it must be about 8. I had finally fallen asleep after 3 just brutal days of insomnia.
“Where can I use a phone?” I asked.
Nurse Ratched motioned for me to follow her. I found a phone with the receiver dangling in the hallway. The cord was only long enough to use while stooped over. I picked up.
“Britt. I made a huge mistake.” Fighting back tears I choked into the phone. “Please get me out of here.”
Time was up. I hung up the phone and went back to my room, curled up into the fetal position again and didn’t move for hours. What had I done with my life… ?