Journey to the Loony Bin (Part 1)

“Why couldn’t you have just kept your fucking legs shut!!!”

I shouted that… me.

I shouted that… at my mom. That was me saying that to someone I love more anything in the universe. It was the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’ll regret it through the decades; it’ll be with me on my deathbed, should I have a deathbed.

That was me during a total nervous breakdown. This was probably 5 or 6 years ago. Or was it longer? I can’t remember. I was at the tail end of a three year bender on weed, booze, and psychedelics that began when one of my best friends died in a drunk driving accident (He wrapped himself around a telephone pole. 21 years old).

I was madly in love with my best friend’s girlfriend.

I’d quit work because I couldn’t handle even one iota of stress.

So, that was my rock bottom. This is just providing some context for my verbal atrocity, I’m not seeking forgiveness or sympathy.

This is just an earnest display of the human condition. That’s all I ever write about. The Buddhist-orientated passages aimed at helping and sharing are just byproducts. Really, it’s about the blood.

A writer, a good writer, bleeds across the page. A writer takes something witnessed, whether in the world-at-large or in oneself, and works—directly or indirectly—at cutting to the quick of it, to the meaning.

This takes honesty and vulnerability. Even fiction has to be honest if it’s to mean something. Even fiction has to honestly reflect and allude to some real-world quality that the author has witnessed. The reader always knows if that’s present in the work or not.

I started writing because I love words and had a big imagination when I was a kid (as most kids do); I kept writing because of suffering. That primal urge to release the world “in here” into the world “out there.”

I wrote while I was institutionalized, though I had to wait until they thought I was stable enough to use a pencil without trying to stab myself with it.

I admitted myself to the ward after that shouting incident and the near suicide attempt that followed. It was a near attempt because I had every intention to climb onto the roof and plummet to the ground.

But then I heard my mom crying. I saw, in that horrific moment frozen in time, that I was causing her a truly grotesque amount of suffering. So I stopped and said, “Mom… I think I need to go to the hospital.”

So on our merry way we went. She drove me, 20 miles of heartbroken silence with the evening sun glinting off her wet cheeks. My face was slack and my cheeks were dry, I’d run out of tears years ago.

There’s a degree of despair, of self-loathing and indiscriminate disgust that tears can’t reach. It’s a withering, a cognitive decomposition. When the pit gets that deep, emotions arise that can’t—and shouldn’t—be named.

It’s really beautiful, that madness, in its own way. There’s a beauty to everything, it just depends on the lighting.

It seemed to take an eternity to be admitted. I went through the paperwork in a daze. With each scrawl of my signature, I felt like Sisyphus pushing that fucking boulder up the mountain. The legaleze blurred together, a sea of nonsense.

Finally, once the legalities were taken care of and a bed opened up, it was time for me to say goodbye to my benefactor. “I love you,” I told Mom as I hugged her close, “I love you, and I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

After changing into loose fitting clothes particularly designed to provide me with no  means of murdering myself, I was shown to my room. I collapsed in the bed. The sun had sunk, and a new day beckoned. I didn’t dream.

<—Part Two—>


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