*these events take place before SickyBeat begins in 2009.*
On Thursday, February 2006 around 7P.M. I lay in a hospital bed alone after my family had left. I’d finished a very precise meal, chicken tacos, and was not allowed to walk around, my television watching would be monitored as well, no food, fashion, or diet product t.v.
I’d been convinced to take my first anti-psychotic after momma had to hold me in the bed after lunch. I was fighting to burn off the calories in half a sandwich and some melon, ready to pull out my IV. I had no plan, I wouldn’t have gotten far, I can’t walk without a special walker and the bed was a mile high itself. When my nurse came running in because of my screaming, she put the small yellow pill in front of me, and I resisted.
I became painfully self-aware, looking at my mother. I didn’t like what I had become, and the only way out was through. At least the pill melted under the tongue so I didn’t have to feel another lump go down my throat. A sense of general calm overtook me shortly before my momma and aunt left.
As I ate my tacos for dinner, I felt a freedom and hope i had believed were dead. This is where the fog descends on my memory, something happened after that dinner that left me again enraged. It had to do with the lead doctor at the treatment centre, maybe she stopped by that evening, but I was pissed off at something she said.
I knew I should document my own thoughts and experiences, it was one of the few permitted activities anyway, but I couldn’t get more than six words out before I drifted off. Healing is exhausting.
I didn’t start trying to recall or document my 3 weeks in that hospital until a year after I’d left that treatment program; because of the failings of our American insurance system, not because I was particularly well at the time. By late 2008 though, so much of the detail was blurred. I didn’t remember much of my prior “logic” for my behavior.
I swore that the next time I went through such a life-altering experience, I would write things DOWN! I had expected my coming 20s to be interesting and to have its share of suffering, but I had no idea it would be so crushingly torturous as it was. I barely had time or strength to write a 100-word poem once or twice a week. But, I always tried.
The half-filled pocket notebooks of poetry, the collection of hospital wristbands, the art I used to capture the successes, failures, and overall reality of that suffering helps me remember my humanity. I remember, the illogical thoughts, the choking fear, and paranoia, the pain, the lack of control. I take pride in my memories, I feel a deeper sense of empathy for others, because I have known things many not, like psychosis.
I have come out the other side of it. And now I can share that decade with you, knowing the weakness in my old thinking, and why it remained so gripping for so long. I can’t say I’m grateful for the intensity of that suffering that i experienced and caused others. But, because I took time to document it, I have the power over it as a tool of empathy instead of it haunting me like I ghost.