Tuesday, February 3, 2015



I am still not well, still recovering from those three terrible years (1986-89) during which my demons took complete control of my mind, heart, and soul; and I was a ward of the county's mental health department, several months locked up, and many more in a half-way residence, formerly a motel, across the street from a bar to which, totally unsupervised, we would jaywalk and wash down our pills with vodka. Diagnosed a bipolar schizophrenic addicted to alcohol and amphetamines, I was cared for by a legion of doctors, nurses, aides, counselors, custodians, analysts, and janitors; and fed countless medications, most of which were useless or counterproductive: I tried suicide twice while on anti-depressants. I do not know how I survived. Friends and relatives who call my survival a "miracle" may possibly have the soundest explanation. I was as "nuts" as one can get: I constantly felt as if I were outside myself, looking at me in my madness: I see myself, with stunning clarity, crouched in the corner of a cell, stark naked, screaming obscenities while ripping my clothes to shreds, when an attendant peeks through the doorway and says, "Are you okay?" Unbelievable! How many blog posts I could fill with episodes like that! That is all past, but what is still present is this: twice a year, usually in April and October, I am plunged into a profound destructive depression in which I am compelled, irresistibly, even when my mind is screaming at me not to, to destroy and discard things, particularly items I cherish, like books, records, gifts and letters from lovers. I have over the years destroyed enough things, telephones, radios, stereos, tape recorders, microwaves, etc., to hold a gigantic yard sale. I would smash them with a hammer, or stomp on them with my foot so hard that it turned black and blue. I am gentler now; but when I feel the darkness closing in on me, I give certain precious possessions to a friend for safe-keeping. Well, this is one long parenthetical introduction to the brief story I wanted to tell: somehow, even though most of me was caught up in a mad whirlpool, my intellect was not touched: in lucid moments I read voraciously and wrote voluminously. When I mentioned to one nurse that I earned quite a bit writing term papers for students, she asked me if I would write one for her, for a college course she was taking to add an MA to her RN. I agreed, and produced an article that was among the finest I ever wrote. I still have her thank-you note mentioning the "A" she received. Oh, the name of the course was "Nursing and Ethics."

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