Saturday, 25 April 2015

Drowning within my own mind

This is fictional piece was published in an edition of Arizona State University's "Canyon Voices" Literary Magazine. This is an experienced that occured during a very difficult time of my life and how I managed to get myself through it.

"Us as human beings naturally consist of inner Demons, however, what separates us from the Animal is that we have the choice as to whether we will take control of the demons or give into temptation and allow the darkness to take control." 

The sound of heavy footsteps flooded the apartment. Faded voices began getting closer. 
"How many did you take?" 
"A few…" 
"There's a lot more than a few missing. What happened to the rest?" 
"I dunno…" 
"Do you know why we're here?" 
"I dunno…" 
"You're coming with us!" 
Then darkness… 

I am surrounded by people rushing all around me. Through musky tunnel vision the sights of cables that make me one with the machines around me became visible. 
A woman attached a clamp to my finger. 
An extremely slow and high pitch beeping began. 
Beep… beep… 
It slipped off my finger, and the beeping ceased. The woman put it back on. 
Beep… beep… 
Two silhouettes were directly in front of me. I knew who they were, but I could not process it to figure out whom. I started babbling incoherently to them. 
Clamp falls off again. One of the silhouettes reaches out an arm and puts it back on. 
Beep… beep… 

I am in a room… 
Four walls… One door… A bare mattress on the floor… And a plastic container in the corner…Where am I? 
What's happening? 
Anxiety began to build and I became extremely terrified. I scream for help, yet no answers came. 
Something snapped. Fury began. I started thrashing violently while my vision blurred. Swinging at the concrete walls, my hands went numb and nothing more than a slight tingle could be felt. I called out again. 
I felt trapped and isolated. 
Tears poured from my eyes. 
Suddenly the door swung open and two wide built men over six feet tall rushed in and grabbed hold of me. I struggled to be released from the strong grip. It wouldn’t budge. 
As I am thrown to the mattress and am flipped over by one of the men, a heavy set woman walked in and pulled out two large needles. 
"Don't worry Jake you will be fine. This will calm you down." 
"Fuck you! No!" 
Two stings are felt in my backside. 
Everything faded… 

Yet again I awoke to a mysterious room, four walls, two doors (which didn't look like they were locked) and a security camera in the corner pointed directly at me. 
A lady stood next to my mattress, she was obviously a nurse. She looked down and handed me a small Dixie cup. I looked inside to see an assortment of pills; I didn't recognize most of them. Shrugged it off and downed them anyways. 
"You feel any better?" She asked. 
"Fuck off." I muttered under my breath then rolled over and fell back to sleep. 
Over the course of 2-4 days this situation is repeated. I woke up, took pills, ignored the nurse, rolled over and passed out. 

"Hey! You would feel a lot better if you got out of bed, came out of your room and sat in the common area with the others watching television," said a nurse who stood in the doorway. 
"Ummm… W-w-where am I?" 
"You're at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital." 
"Do you remember anything?" She asked. 
Vague memories of pills, sirens, police, nurses, vomiting, screaming, punching, blood, mom, dad, needles, and wheelchairs all flood back to me. 
"I dunno," I said as I slowly got out of bed. 
I'm really not too sure what it was for sure that was causing me to have such impairment with conversation, understanding others held no significant problem, but whatever thoughts that were going on inside my head seemed to be rather difficult to convey to others. I just hoped that this would not continue, and would soon pass. 
I followed her down a small hallway. The walls were pale white and the tacky white and brown tiles across the floor looked completely ridiculous to me. The muggy hospital smell filled my nostrils. She used a key card at the end of the hallway on a doorway and it beeped before it allowed us through. 
Oh no... 
The common area was only a few meters away, and across from it was a nurse's station, yet it had bulletproof/shatterproof-like glass around it and key card doors to get in. I saw folders, computers and medicine cabinets. I knew this situation all too well… 
Fuck… I'm in the psych ward again… 
I stood there in the middle of the hallway stunned for a second taking it all in and examining the rest of my surroundings. The hallway was lined with patient rooms about 6 or 7 of them, other than that there were only a few chairs at the end of the hallway, but before the rooms began there was the common area, a tiny area with a two-seater couch with a skinny black man sprawled out staring at the T.V. and blabbering away to himself, there was also a single seat and a T.V. 
I heard sobbing and noticed that it was coming from an older woman holding onto a railing on the side of the halls trying to hold herself up, she was just crying and crying. 
I began walking to the common area to sit down and then the nurse came back and told me if I needed anything to just come get her. 
"Well, actually, why am I here?” I asked her with the intent to clear things up. 
"Well you ingested an extremely large amount of Lorazepam (a.k.a Ativan). 911 were informed and then you were escorted by the police and ambulance here to the hospital. You seemed to be completely lost and out of it the whole way here. You were sent to ER, forced to take down a charcoal solution for all the pills you ingested, so you would soon stabilize. Then you were not co-operating, trying to leave and giving nurses and doctors a very hard time so you were sedated. Since this was a suicide attempt, you were placed on a form to prevent you from leaving the hospital; While you had to wait for a room in PIC-U to-" 
"What's PIC-U?-" 
"The unit you're on; 'Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit'. So anyways like I was saying, while you waited for a bed in here you were wheeled to a 'Bubble Room' once you awoke you began violently thrashing around causing danger to yourself, so you were given something to sedate you again, you were knocked out." 
"Ah, I remember that." I responded. 
"You were out of it the whole time they brought you up here. And-" 
"I got everything from that point. Thanks…" I turned around not allowing her to finish and sat in the single chair within the Common room. 
While sitting there I felt a throb in my hands, looking down I realized that they were somewhat bruised and swollen. 
Hmmm. At least I can say I haven't forgotten everything… Wait a minute, who could've notified them? I was alone in the apartment before my memory fades and they didn't say anyone was there with me. 
How did they know? 
What am I missing? Will I ever know? 

"So are you feeling any better?" Asked the nurse from the other day as I entered the main hallway. 
"Feels like I've been hit by a fucking train…" I responded. 
"I'll bet! You have been through a lot within the last week- Oh, by the way I will be your daytime nurse, my name is Lorraine, and you can come to me for anything." 
I took a seat in the common area. 
As the minutes passed my stomach slowly got heavier and heavier. Tingling began to develop in the tips of my fingers and the horrible thoughts began again. I'm empty… 
I'm hopeless… 
What's the point? 
I'm lost. 
I'm horrible. 
I don't deserve what I have. 
I'm dirt. 
I wanna die… 
I wanna die. 
I need to get outta here… 
I gotta go! 
As this last thought crossed my mind I instantly jumped up and headed down the hallway. When I reached the door that lead me to the hallway with my room; I pushed and pulled, but nothing was happening, it wasn't opening. I was so spun I didn't even remember that it was a key card door. 
A hand slipped over my shoulder and calmly pulled me back. I swung around, nearly punching the nurse in the face. 
"Jake, are you okay?" 
"J-j-just open the door!" I stammered. 
At that moment I realized what was happening… Panic… 
Once the door opened up I made a dash for my room. I paced for a moment before I flung myself down onto the mattress and let out a scream into my pillow. Next I turned face up; the scream must’ve released the rush of energy and panic, because I became almost comatose, staring at the ceiling for what seemed like forever; minutes, hours, days, weeks? I was just trying to fight off the thoughts that were trying to conquer my mind as hard as I could. Soon my body relaxed, went limp and I fell into a deep sleep state. 

I was awoken by the nurse at 8 o'clock sharp the next day to take my pills. I swallowed them whole, no need for water, motioning away theDixie cup full of water she held out to me. Being able to take pills without tricking the gag reflex was a talent I acquired during my drug use years. 
Laying back down I stared up at the ceiling, again; I was beginning to think that this was going to become my new hobby. My energy level was extremely low, so I decided to roll over, put my arm under the pillow, curl up into a ball and close my eyes. 
I woke up at lunch time. I hopped out of my bed with amazing strength and galloped my way down the hallway. A nurse peeked through the shades of her window and hustled her way to the door, opening it up for me. As I walked through she gave me a very welcoming smile so I grinned back at her. 
"You're looking much better! More energetic I see. It's nice to see you like this and not dead weight on your bed. How are ya feeling?" 
This nurse looked approximately 25 years old with dark brown hair that went down an inch below her shoulder blades, and had huge bright blue eyes that gave her an innocent look. All I could see when I looked at her is the lost love. The similarities were astonishing, but I tried my hardest not to think of her, a past love should be the least of my worries at the moment. 
"What's your name?" I asked. 
"Amy. Is there anything I can do for you?" 
"No. I'm alright." 
"Ok. Well if you need me I'll be behind my desk doing some paperwork." 
Before she left she turned around, and gave me a look that said she knew me. Then she turned back the other way, made her way through the door and back to her desk. Did I know her from elsewhere? Or have I just been here a long time? 
How long have I been here? 
A large portion of my memory was gone and I wondered if it would ever recover. 
Thoughts of this nature were really making me think. They swirled around my brain, waiting to attack at my psyche with weapons worse in nature. 
I decided to go in the common room and try to watch some television to distract my mind and possibly save my sanity some. 
Staring at the TV more than actually watching the show, which was an old rerun of 'Friends', I could not by any means pay any attention to it. 
Oh no… 
It's happening again… 
Here it comes again… My heart begins to pound away with great might. 
Why am I here? I hate everyone and everyone hates me. I am a heartless piece of shit and I don't deserve the air I breathe. Who would bother giving me a chance to prove myself? There is nothing to prove but the worthlessness that I am.
My thoughts were cut short as my attention was drawn to shaking hands. My heart was thumping so hard it could possibly blow through my ribcage. She gave me a chance… Many, in fact… 
I let her down… I let me down…oh no…
I loved her so much and she loved me… Maybe she'll let me back into her life? 
And give me another chance… 
No, too much damage has been done… 
I need to stop thinking about her…
The room started to spin around me; Heart was still pounding like a jack hammer away at cement. 
My hands twitched. 
Oh no. 
Alarms rung out in my skull, splitting it open. 
I drop. 'I am running and running and running. Running down what seems to be an endless hallway. Eventually, I come to a door which looks old and beat up. A red glow shines through the crack beneath the door. Heavy metal or some sort of hardcore music is blasting from the other side. I stare at the rusty door handle for what seems like forever until eventually my senses come back and I grab for it and turn. The universe is stopping for this. Time stops for this. I know the unknown is on the other side of the door yet the fear of the unknown is not fazing me for once in my life. The door clicks and I swing it open. 
To my surprise the room I enter has mountains of pills. Oxy Contin, Percocet's, Morphine, Hydro-Morphs, Ecstasy; everything I could possibly imagine. Everything I wanted. I dove in, head first into the mountain of pills. I begin falling through a tunnel and find myself nose-diving towards concrete cement from quite a few stories up. I cannot stand the sight of the ground coming closer so I close my eyes tight. When I re-open them I am dumbfounded. I am sitting on the ground in the middle of a circular room with nothing, no doors, and no windows, just me. There is an empty syringe sitting in front of me on the ground. 
Is this here for a reason? What's its purpose? Why is it here? 
Why am I here? And how did I get here? 
It feels like days are passing me by. Eternity in this place is something I could not allow so I make up my mind on impulse. I grab the syringe and fill it with the shallow air that is filling the room, then put it to my arm and begin pushing it inwards…' 

"Wake up Jake." 
"What in the f…That was just a dream, oh thank god it was just a dream." I muttered to myself. 
"Jake… did you have a nightmare? We can talk about it if you would like, the only thing is you need to get up our on call psychiatrist is ready to see you shortly." 
"Um… No thanks. I will be out in a minute…" 

I spoke with the psychiatrist for about a half hour. Honestly, I cannot say I have ever had a doctor of any nature, spend so much time with me, not just diagnosing the problem but taking into consideration the causes of the problem as well as my own feelings towards the situation at hand. I felt very comfortable talking to her. 
However, even though she may have made me feel comfortable for a short while, she soon told me something that made me feel an onset of affliction. 
She explained how they had to keep me in the hospital for another 3 weeks for monitoring and stabilization. On the flip side of things though, I was being moved to a secondary area of the psych ward, without key card doors on the floor, giving me the ability to roam the whole floor free and clear. The floor is still locked from the outside world, but what else do you expect from a psych ward? If I follow the rules and begin to show improvement then I would be granted 'Privileges', such as wearing my own clothes rather than hospital gowns, and being able to go outside and smoke during designated times. 
On top of it all, the doc changed my parade of medications around, now I would be taking; Cypralex, Welbutrin, Epival, Seroquel, and some sort of anti-axiolytic for if a panic attack hits again; only to be taken as needed. She also told me that there was a doctor coming in later that day to access me so I can get back onto my Methadone; I have been on Methadone treatment for about 3 months already due to a previous Oxy Contin addiction. 
When everything was all said and done, I waited a few hours for the proper paperwork to be filled out. The nurse then came and told me to gather up my stuff and let her know when I was ready to head to the next unit. 

A week went by, things were getting better, either my mother, father, brother or step-father would come see me every day, it was what kept my connection with the outside world, as well as made me feel like someone cared and I mattered. I was on my Methadone, so no more feigning for Oxy's. 
The medication started to make life feel a little better; the haze from my overdose began to lift.

"What are you doing here?" 
"I am here voluntarily..." 
"You admitted yourself?" 
"Why the hell would you do that?" 
"I've become symptomatic as there calling it." 
Zoey was dating someone who I lived with in a mental health group home that we called the T-House. Me and her boyfriend have been pretty good friends, we both been diagnosed with bipolar and spent a lot of time high with each other, actually that was all we ever did. 

While lying in bed, I stared blankly at the wall ahead of me. Things are gonna be different when I leave here. 
I will stick with the Methadone treatment. 
I'm going to finish my school. 
Get a full time job. 
I will live life. 
No more will I let my disorder and these drugs take me over. 
I'm in control.

I'm pretty sure if I wouldn't of hoped for the best when I got out then I would've ended up letting the insanity envelope me and take over completely, I was what made me get better, the nurses helped, my family helped, the pills helped, the doctors helped and the group sessions helped, but the only thing that fixed me was my own thoughts and mind; because I am the master of my own mind. 

Days went by, weeks went by; Zoey and I spent most of our days just sitting around doing puzzles or talking to a select few people. 
Then the day I had been waiting for finally came. 
"Jake we seem to have made some progress and you seem to be improving very well," said the psychiatrist. 
"Yeah, I'd say so," 
"Are you ready to go home?" 
"Yeah, if I had a home to go to…" I paused for a moment. "I don't have my apartment anymore but I think my mom will let me stay with her." 
"Okay well, I will write up your paperwork and you can leave at 12pm today if you work out a place for you to go." 
"Thank you very much." I finally get to go home... 
What's going to happen...? 

Leaving the hospital, a dream sequence began to take place during reality; it was like the feeling you get when you enter a new and unfamiliar place. I moved in with my father in a growing community right outside of the city. Living there was hard to keep myself stable; I had nothing to do and spent a lot of time all by my lonesome. I spent hours crying and days wishing life would show some sort of enthusiasm to it.

 Even though my father tried so hard for me, I could not take living in such a depressing environment, being alone as much as I was and the lack of human contact began getting to me. So I moved in with my mother, she is easy to talk to and I vented to her often, this did not help me at all, like I had hoped. Yes I have my family to fall back on whenever I need a shoulder to cry on, but I never found it to relieve my feelings at all, I am not sure why. I still give them all the respect they deserve, but the problem is me, it’s not them.
I overdosed yet again, on Seroquel this time; somehow after spending a little over 12 hours in the hospital I was released from the ER, I cannot tell the story of what happened there, it is too vague and hazy. My whole walk home from the hospital, however, I had spent talking to many different friends and family members, just to later find out none of them where even there. A few days later I began getting contacted by old friends and family members who had heard of what happened to me. They all showed how much they cared; even people who I truly thought were not even capable of any sort of affection. I felt terrible for doing this to them and slowly fell back into my depression. 
However, after a short period of time, I remembered my time in psych; I remembered my positive affirmation that helped me get through a very difficult time in life. I began using it and things started changing.

Sometimes, during a period of intense emotion my mind would conjure up such peculiar yet creative ideas that went in aimless directions to other ideas of a similar nature.
I tried using music as an outlet to convey these ideas to others but nothing ever came from it.
I also tried talking about these to people with little success.
One day while reading online articles (a common pastime for me), I came across an online writers’ community, which I decided to create a profile and write a few poems.
I found that writing about the feeling currently overwhelming my mind had a habit of releasing the chained up emotions and freeing them in such a way that sent a surge of relief throughout my body.
So I began writing every single day. In fact, some days I would spend all day writing. 
Writing has become more then a hobby for me; it has become a part of who I am, a part of my personality. My emotions are shown through my poetry, my concerns are shown through my articles, and my creative side is shown through short stories.

Writing is what keeps me sane, writing has become my medication, and I need a daily dose of it.
In the words of Ray Bradbury: “Stay drunk on writing, so reality cannot destroy you.”

It's true what they say I guess; time really does heal all, because as time passed I began to learn that if you try hard enough you can defeat any inner demon, and push back at any outside force trying to drag you down. 
I spent years on drugs, so many that it’s difficult to recount, I have spent months in the hospital, months on the streets, and years bouncing around from residence to residence. I have seen someone get stabbed nearly to death, people beaten to hospitalization, people have died on me, and people have left me. So many times I came so close to dying, through all these times I have hated myself; however, somehow, after it all, I seem to have come out stronger then I have ever been in my entire life. 

By no means am I saying that I am cured. In fact, I often still fight the roll of addiction when it begins to creep up on me. There are still days were all I want to do is get absolutely blitz but I just remember the times spent in hell as a result of it and it keeps me at bay till the cravings pass. 
Mental illness will never go away, if you have it then it is a part of you, it is a vice in itself, and it is part of your personality. The only thing to remember if you suffer from this curse is that you need to stay in control, because the second you allow yourself to give up the fight, your curse will become your disease, the illness will take over and slowly begin corroding away every aspect of your life until there is nothing left.

As time passes I just get stronger and stronger, when I feel a fury, sadness, or even a manic attack coming on. I choose one of my many healthy outlets and begin engaging in the activity till the moment passes. There is the odd time where I cannot completely control an attack, but I am what stop them from becoming out of control and destructive. If you don't believe me then that's up to you; you're actually reading one of my outlets right now.

"Do not dwell on the negative aspects of the past and allow them to constantly take over your thoughts or else it will eat you alive. But still remember that they are to never be forgotten, because reflection can make you stronger by keeping you from repeating mistakes. Build a platform to stay above the current trying to carry you away. Do not allow yourself to drown within your own mind"