July 8th, 2017 – Musical Truths

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

January 21st, 2017 – Musical Truths

They say don’t let them in.
Close your eyes and clear your thoughts again.
But when I’m all alone, they show up on their own.

Cause inner demons fight their battles with fire.
Inner demons don’t play by the rules.
They say just push them down, just fight them harder.
Why would you give up on it so soon?
So angels, angels please just keep on fighting.
Angels don’t give up on me today.
The demons they are there; they just keep fighting.
Cause inner demons just won’t go away.
So angels please, hear my prayer.
Life is pain, life’s not fair.
So angels please; please stay here.
Take the pain; take the fear.

They say it won’t be hard; they can’t see the battles in my heart
But when I turn away
The demons seem to stay
Cause inner demons don’t play well with angels.
They cheat and lie and steal and break and bruise.
Angels please protect me from these rebels.
This is a battle I don’t want to lose.
So angels, angels please just keep on fighting.
Angels don’t give up on me today.
Cause the demons they are there; they just keep fighting.
Cause Inner demons just won’t go away.

Angels, angels please keep on fighting. Keep on fighting.
Angels don’t give up on me today.
Cause the demons; they are there.
They keep on fighting.
Inner demons just won’t go away.

So angels please, hear my prayer.
Life is pain; life’s not fair.
So angels please; please stay here.
Take the pain; take the fear.

Thursday, August 25th, 10:26 p.m.

It is right there in the notes. The patient log. A direct physician’s order to provide me with 50 mg of Seroquel my first night in the psychiatric unit. Something to help me sleep, which I had basically not accomplished to a significant extent for more than 48 hours and to a healthy extent for weeks. Not to mention its assistance with depression and Bipolar Disorder.

However, it never came. In fact, I went to bed that night finding it extremely odd that after more than 12 hours in “protective custody”, emergency room care, and settling into the psych ward I had yet to place a single pill in my mouth. Not even a Tylenol PM.

Looking back, I fell asleep relatively quickly and slept relatively well. With significant emphasis being continually placed on “relatively.” Let’s face it, I was completely wiped out. Trashed. And I was resigned. For the moment. There would be future bouts and attempts to take back control of my situation, but not now. There was no way I was getting out of this room, in this ward, in this hospital, in this city on this night.

So I laid on the bed. The door was cracked with a stream of light coming in from the darkened halls. At the time, I assumed I was not allowed to close it completely. Subsequently I would learn otherwise, though leaving it open sure made the periodical nurse visits to check my vital signs and bed checks a bit more peaceful.

A mattress, sheet set, and pillow that would have on almost any other night of my life made sleep nearly impossible felt unusually comfortable compared to the lawns, benches, and train seats I had attempted to rest upon for the past two days on the run. The blinds had been left open to my right. A window that largely covered the entire spans of that wall in my room. The night lights of Chicago that could find their way to the 14th floor twinkled and flickered.

I do not remember all my thoughts of that evening, nor how long I remained awake. This one thing I do remember feeling deep down inside my heart…I was a mere shell of whoever I was born to be. The seven-year-old boy playing Little League. The 8th-grade member of the Junior High basketball team. The High School All-Northern California Honor Band trumpet player. The honor student. The Master’s Degree recipient. The husband. The father. The sole proprietor. They were all titles. All history. All accomplishments that seemed to belong to someone else.

Not a different person. The same physical body. But someone else. Someone other than this man lying on this bed in this room on this night. What was left of the mind of this man. What was left of the emotional stability and strength of this man. It had once again been fractured and broken in a more profound way than any of the times before.

And I had no idea if there would be found even enough left of “me” to truly constitute the person that was me.

Thursday, August 25th, Late Morning

Time was no longer of any relevance to me. I knew I had stepped onto the train at roughly 1:30 a.m. I knew that I had stepped off in Chicago roughly 10 hours later with a time change. Sometime around 10 a.m. I knew that I had lasted less than 5 minutes in Union Station before being taken into protective custody by Amtrak police. Since then…I knew nothing of time.

I had been searched, along with my possessions. Phone calls had been made by the authorities. Questions asked. I had been placed in an Amtrak Police Department SUV and transported through downtown Chicago to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. I had sat in a registrar’s chair with the police standing over my shoulders and answered the most basic of questions that come out of our mouths by reflex.

Now I was sitting in a triage station. The police were still standing watch at the edge of the partially drawn curtain. We were joined by two members of the hospital security team. Also with badges, but clearly not with the level of training or authority that a police officer has experienced. They were wearing latex gloves and began asking me for a number of personal possessions to be placed in sealed bags, cataloged and locked in a hospital safe that god only knows the location of.

Drivers license. Credit cards. Cash. Insurance cards. Items of value less my clothes and cell phone. Listed out by number. Placed in those FedEx like vinyl envelopes that you tear the strip off and glue seal to itself. I was handed a pen, the first time I can remember someone actually making something available to me, and asked to sign as to my verification of the contents. Muscle memory scribbles provided through the haze, daze, and clouds of my mind.

My duffel bag was placed in a larger, clear hospital drawstring bag with my last name written in large letters with black Sharpie across a large white block. My shoes as well. And then of course, the inevitable, “Strip down to your underwear and t-shirt, and put on these gowns. The first like a normal shirt, the second backward.” Soon to be my 24/7 wardrobe for days.

I was left alone to change. Not really. The curtain was drawn three-quarters of the way as I followed the instructions. A wheelchair was provided without request, and I was separated from my possessions. Told they would meet back up with me in a bit. A change of location was imminent, and I could tell this was when I would be separated from the sane citizens who had come to this hospital for broken arms, rashes, fevers, or “physical” illness. I knew this was when I would enter the type of place I had only entered once before, and that was as a visitor of a patient. What little I could feel was solely dedicated to the emotion of fear.

Fear at the awareness that my mind was truly broken. Fractured. Maybe beyond repair. Fear of movie depictions of psych wards and mental institutions. Fear that maybe no one out there would ever want me anywhere but in here. Fear that this would be where I needed to end it, but might lack the means for just that very act.

I began to be wheeled toward an elevator. The Amtrak Police offered words of well wishes and health to me. I wondered if they would ever think of me again in this life. How many “me”s did they deal with every day?

How interesting it is that such a life pivoting moment for me, was likely just another couple of hours in the midst of a long week of work for them. It is no exaggeration to say that every day from that moment when they called out my name in Union Station forward has been forever altered…by three people whose names I never received or will ever know.

Three people who took me from the man on the train to the man in the ward.

Thursday, August 25th, Midday

I had never been in the back seat of a police car. I was not cuffed or restrained. However, my hunch is that was largely due to the catatonic and therefore seemingly cooperative state I was in. I had been escorted from the Amtrak Police Department office, out into the public terminal under the watchful eye of hundreds of passengers thinking I was anywhere from a thief to a terror suspect to an unruly passenger being escorted from the building as we passed through a labyrinth of hallways to an underground parking garage. That is when I was placed in the back seat, complete with the “Watch your head” command, and the reaching around me to seat belt me in (as if I was cuffed).

In hindsight, I’m guessing the drive was likely in the 15 minute or so range. Guessing this because upon my release from the hospital my wife and I would actually walk the same path in about that amount of time. However, traffic was heavy. And this was midday Chicago. Regardless of the ‘actual’ time it took, it seemed like hours. Long enough for my mind to pass through a number of different scenarios, not necessarily in this order.

…being as I was heavily entrenched in a severe battle with paranoia, there was a point in the trip when I became confident they were not taking me to Northwestern Memorial Hospital as indicated. Rather, they were transporting me for a transfer to “real” police. The kind that could throw me in jail. Maybe I had done something illegal without realizing it. Or people were just tired of dealing with my life and had asked the authorities to take over from here…

…fearing the ultimate in humiliation, it seemed possible that they were simply the first carrier in a subsequent line that would be returning me home. Amtrak to Chicago Police. Chicago Police to a plane with a personal escort. Or held in custody until someone from home arrived. Or Illinois State Troopers to home state troopers. No one said I was thinking rationally…

…at one point in time, I remember considering reaching forward, grabbing the shoulder strap of the police driving the vehicle, and pulling as hard as I could to choke him. What would I do then? Like I said, I wasn’t thinking rationally. There was a second officer in the passenger seat, and I can only assume my inside door handled wouldn’t work. However, it did seem like another shot at death, literally. I had thought a similar thought at the station, “What if I charge the police? Will they just shoot me like we so often see happening?”

…the most logical thought to flutter through my mind was that I was on my way to being hospitalized temporarily. Which I could really live with. Surely I could pull myself together enough to temporarily fake it. Spend a few hours in the ER. Convince them I had come to my senses and was ready to return home. “Sorry about the scare guys, I’ll be fine. If you’ll just point me towards home, I’ll be on my way.”

…I know what thoughts dominated the majority of the trip though. My plan had been undone. That plan. The one I had put together to kill myself. And now, exhausted and lacking what it would take to navigate a cover-up. Without the energy to launch a Plan B.

Once again I had overcomplicated such a simple task and failed. Fucked up my own death. And was now the one thing I most definitely did not want to be, alive.