Washing Away

washA Great Depression-style dust storm howls outside, blotting out the stars.  There is a pall which covers the sky, the ground, the cows, the flowers, the windows, the faces and even gets in the teeth.  The air is ionized as fractious dirt strips electrons from the air like drunk cowboys tearing at cathouse gals’ raggedy gowns.  At night the faint glow of the streetlights downtown turns the dusty sky a roiling, blowing rose.  Up in the nineties this afternoon, the temperature is supposed to drop at least forty five degrees over the next four days.  The wind speeds are not.

My days have been slipping.  In a wash of grays time’s slipped by.  There was donuts with my friend who says he has funds for me, once borrowed, but they have flushed through his fingers.  My search for a place of my own, consequently, melting under sunny promises.  My new group of friends, based on shared political objectives thrashed by a barely old enough to vote bigoted twit with control issues and delusions of grandeur.  I can’t tolerate bigotry and prejudice and such smallness of mind that it threatens to come flying out of her ear every time she flings her hair back across her shoulder.  Then I took my grandson to the movies, where a woman threatened to kill me for hitting the back of her seat when I crossed my legs behind her.  It made me insane.

So, as instructed by my psychiatric mentors, I went to my support people.  My husband, who started bitching at me about how I get mad when he loses his temper (so not about him at that point), my brother, whom I could not reach, and my good friend of thirty years whom I called and asked, “I need help, can you get out for a minute?”  to which he answered, “I’m kinda snowed under.”    Thanks.  Bye.

Slide- wash- slip-

Then I was at the tracks, wondering if I could find a comfortable spot to lay, and if I could find one where the train would be going fast enough to split me in pieces.  I didn’t want to use the car because, well, even though I’d seen a car get hit by a train before, I couldn’t be certain in this day of curtain airbags and crush zones, that it would be all that effective.

What’s worse than being depressed?  Being a mangled failure and depressed.

Slosh- slip-

Than I was at the local mental facility The Pavillion, a place I had been warned was no more than a warehouse for bodies not yet expired.   My clothes and glasses were taken and I was issued a paper prison suit (one pocket) and sky blue socks with white rubber Vs all over them.  Without my glasses they looked like doves in military procession flying across my feet.  I was questioned a few times, gave them a list of my medications and went to bed.

Wash- fade- wake: BANG! BANG!  It’s time for meds.  “What meds are you taking?”  “I gave you a list”.  “Well we don’t have those yet”.  “Ok”.

“We’ll report to her doctor she’s not taking her meds”.

Fade- sleep- BANG! BANG!  “Time to eat.”  “Do you have my Zegerid?  I have GIRD and can’t eat or I’ll get sick.”  “Zeg- what is that?”  “It’s Zegerid, it’s for Gastro Intestinal Reflux Disease.”  “I’ve never heard of it.”  “It’s over the counter.” “We don’t have that.”  “Then I can’t eat.”

“We’ll report to her doctor she’s refusing to eat.”

Fade- Draw- tap tap.  “We need to talk to you.”

“Do you cut yourself?”

“No”

“Do you pull your hair?”

“No”

“Do you hurt yourself in any other way?”

“Not on purpose”

Later.

“How’s your depression on a scale of 1 to 10, one being the most depressed, ten being the least?”

“Well, my depression’s doing great, but I feel like shit.”

“How’s your anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10, one being the least anxious and ten being the most?

“About a six.”

This went- fade in, fade out, for at least three days.  I didn’t eat.  I couldn’t.  The meds didn’t come.  Then I saw some doctor I didn’t know.  He was on call.  He said, “You need to stop doing this to yourself!”

I think he was reading someone else’s chart.

Twice a day someone banged on the door.  “You need to go to group!”

Twice a day, “No thanks.”  Then the threat, “We’ll have to report to your doctor you’re not participating in group.”

Finally I realized after not eating for several days, no word from my doctor and not enough or none at all of most of my meds, it was time to leave.  Because they wouldn’t give me my diuretic, my blood pressure shot up from 110/50 to 175/120.  I was thinking clearly, had a handle on things and knew that having signed myself in, I could sign myself out.

Slap!

“You have to wait to see the doctor and he has the right to wait four hours before he calls back.”  It was Easter, I found out, so he wasn’t going anywhere.

The next morning my own doctor came in after days of not making an appearance, call or any other contact and decided I should be committed.  “It says here you haven’t been eating.”

“I haven’t been getting my medicine and I can’t eat.  I get sick if I do that.”

“And you’re not taking your meds.”

“I’m taking every med they give me, but they aren’t giving me most of them.”

“You’re having trouble sleeping.”

“They’re not giving me the Lunesta you prescribed.”

“They’re afraid you’ll overdose.”

“On ONE PILL?”

Then it hit me.  I was no longer a patient.  I was a prisoner.  My doctor didn’t want to be liable for what happened if she let me out.  She recommended against my release so it would be up to a judge decide whether or not I was a danger to myself or others.  A judge who would never set eyes on me.   I got up from the table and went directly to bed.

Sleep… BANG! Time to eat!

“Can’t eat without my meds, Boss”

Sleep…BANG! Time for group!

“Prisoners aren’t here to be helped, they’re here to be punished, Boss.”

Sleep…BANG! Time for your meds!

“Yes, Boss, I’ll take my meds.”  then, “These aren’t all the meds I’m supposed to take, Boss.”

“These are the only ones we have a record of.”

“You’ve had a list, Boss, since the first day.  But prisoners don’t have rights, so I’ll take what you give me, Boss.”

They stopped asking about my level of depression.  It was obviously near absolute zero.  They also stopped asking about my anxiety level.  In return, I stopped moving.

“Don’t you want to take a shower?”  “No”

“What do you want to do?”

“Sleep.”

And I did.  I slept.  I used the facilities.  I slept again.  And again.  I was once again ready to end everything once and for all, because nothing was going to make me better as long as I was in prison and that meant I would never get out.

Someone, apparently, noticed the nosedive I took when I was told I couldn’t go and reported to the judge, because suddenly I was free to go.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  I gathered my clothes together and stood until they moved me into the assessment room where a short little twit of a nurse felt the need to force me to sit down.  I said, “I prefer to stand.”

“You’ll get tired standing there.”

“I’ll stand.”

“You’re angry, I can tell by your body language…”

“No kidding.”

“Are you going to sit?”

“Is it a requirement?”

“No, you can stand on your head if you want to.”

“That was uncalled for.  I just asked a question.  You don’t have to be rude.”

“FINE!  Stand if you want to!”

(Finally, she gave me permission!)

Not wanting to be sent back in for any reason, when the secretary called me into her office for some paperwork, she said, “Sit down.”

I said, “I prefer to stand.”

She said, “Shut the door.”

“I’d rather have the door open, thanks.”

“You can stand outside until I’m done, then.”  I had to look through the window as she did my paperwork, work that with other prisoners she had been asking questions.  I was being punished again, of course.  Apparently low level mental health jobs attract a lot of control freaks.

When I was finally out I picked up my keys and hustled to my car.  Once inside I locked all the doors, leaned on my steering wheel and cried. I decided that the next time I felt like killing myself, I’d just go ahead and do it rather than go back to that rathole again.

I called my husband and asked if he’d bring me my Zegerid and meet me for lunch.  That was – how long, a few days?  a week?  more?.  I’ve been sick every time I eat since that day.

At home I did sleep properly, caught up on my nightmares.  My little terrier who has been dying of Congestive Heart Failure was losing control of her bladder.  Each time she had an accident my husband would shout and rave and curse at the little dog even though he knows she can’t help herself.  She would be so frightened, I finally took her to the vet and had her put down.  No one deserves to live like that, not even a dog.  No one is screaming at her now.  She was a sweet thing, very protective, very smart and definitely my dog.  It was her decision.  She picked me.  I miss her.

My husband told me I should quit the political group, that it was too much stress.  The truth, I suppose, is that I’m not fit for human companionship.  I don’t have friends here in town, and I probably shouldn’t.  Friends make me happy, give me a support system, keep my busy.  And those things are supposed to help me with stress, I thought.  But he has friends that I never get to do anything with because he says he “sees them enough at work.”  I can’t bring anyone into my home because no matter how much I clean it up, it’s dirty by the time I turn around again.  So I just quit trying.  My daughter can’t seem to bring herself to clean anything and my grandson isn’t learning how to do it from her.

So I keep all my things in a little pile next to the bed, do my own laundry, try to keep track of the days and exist.  Some days it seems that I’m just trying to stay alive long enough to die and wonder, why do I have to wait so long?

Swish- slide- slip…

 

 

 

 

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