Friday, November 23, 2007

Screams of Mental Illness

I was on the phone with Joyce. I had just finished a volley of emails when the phone rang. I extinguished my cigar and picked up the phone.

"Hey, neighbor," was the excited greeting.

"Hey there, neighbor," I replied.

Joyce wanted to know all about Maggie and told me what they had been concentrating on in therapy.

"Joyce, what are your main symptoms?" I asked her in a moment of seriousness after our conversation had settled down.

"I think everybody is watching me. Even the walls," she replied. "If I scream, they go away. They quit watching me."

"Well, the screaming scares people," I told her. "I know it scares me. I think something is terribly wrong with you."

"I know everybody just thinks I am crazy as shit," she replied. "I woke up last night screaming and they gave me an injection of a sedative. It knocked me out."

That didn't sound good. Joyce is going to be in the hospital for the long haul.

"Do you think I can come home?" Joyce then asked.

"Follow your doctor's advice," I replied, much to my chagrin.

I think my psychiatrist is a bumbling idiot and don't hold him in very high regard. My father loves him because he will prescribe any old medication my father asks for. That is why all the comments of advice telling me to listen to my doctor and to talk to him fell on deaf ears. I felt like a Jew going to the Gestapo for medical advice.

I finally got off the phone after talking Joyce into staying a few more days. "At least, the food is delicious," I told her, trying to put a positive spin on things. And B.I.T. (Brief Intensive Treatment) has some of the most wonderful food. I know. I have been in there three or four times.

How do I handle my mental illness when the paranoia strikes? I shut down. I can lie for hours on the couch staring at the walls as I am tormented with fear. Used to, I would drink heavily to squelch those feelings, but no longer have the money to drink.

I was thinking this morning about the most peaceful time of my life. It was when I was homeless and lived in the woods near Waverly, Alabama. No one knew where I was, or how to get me. My only companions were the birds, deer, and the squirrels. My social anxieties melted away. The cold was harsh, but it taught me a valuable lesson -- a lesson that modern life as I had been conditioned to believe in and live since childhood was just as crazy as the violent throes of turmoil when dealing with my mental illness. I would come under the delusion that the rest of the world was mentally ill, and I was the only sane one left. And the many medications they were forcing me to take made me comply with that strange, crazy world and life I was brought up to believe in and to live. There were obvious parallels to the medication, soma, freely given out to citizens in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World -- a medication used to keep the citizens blissfully placated and unaware of larger issues and of higher thinking. My soma is Risperdal, Lithium, Luvox, and Lexapro,


Cheryl said...

I feel badly for Joyce, but it sounds like she's in a better place than being home. Has she been in B.I.T. a few times too? It seemed she was doing well when you first met her. I hope she's able to get to that place again. I wish the same for you too. Happier times. It seems you do best when you're busy. And when you have company. Thank goodness you have your best girl by you side all the time. Good girl, Maggie.

justLacey said...

Is there some reason you can't go to another dr? Part of your fresh start could be a fresh therapist. Maybe there is a different medication that would work better and not have all the side effects. Have you ever watched A Beautiful Mind?

Leann said...

I'm glad Joyce is in a place where they can help her.

No way you can get another psychiatrist? You have to stick with the one you are currently with?

The say you don't drink because you don't ahve the money, ist that the only factor?

I'm sure living in the woods with the animals was grand. I wouldn't mind doing that myself from time to time. Society can totally suck.

Sorry...have a great day

Andrew said...


I have no way of paying for another doctor. I have no control over my income or insurance. I have no idea even if my current one is covered by Medicare, or if my family is paying.

Kelly Jene said...

Still praying for Joyce...

Ellie said...

I hope everything well goes for joyce. She sounds like such a dear!
She's so lucky too have someone like you..


HKS(see new motto on latest post.)

M said...

i think a lot of doctors overprescribe medicine! good luck with the pharmaceutical roller coaster.

AlabamaGal said...

I read Brave New World and it was an excellent book.

I am sorry that Joyce is still in the hospital struggling with her illness. I know it is not pleasant, to be there and of course being medicated and away from the comfort of her own home. I am glad she has you to talk with by telephone and when she arrives home, as her neighbor and dear friend.

I am so sad to hear that the doctor prescribes medication in a way that pleases your Dad and not necessarily in a way that is helpful to YOU who should be his only concern.

I think things must be beyond frustrating for you but I am happy to see that you are thinking of alternative ways to try and rise above this. You can do it. The first step is thinking of ways to rise and the next step is acting on it and working toward it.

Thinking of you. Ok, I commented on the first entry I saw. Let me catch up on reading the other entries (such a treat to have several entries to read from you). :)


simonsays said...

Good Morning Andrew! It's another cold one here, I think I'd better get used to them...they are here to stay. :)

You are a good friend to Joyce. I feel for her, it hurts when you want to come home and can't. I'm happy she can count on you.

Have a really good Saturday. Is the weather too bad for you to get out and walk? I would like to hear about your travels today!

CJM-R said...

I am also sorry to hear that Joyce may be in the hospital for the long haul. It must give her comfort to have you to call and talk to.

Thanks for clarifying the Dr. situation. Now it makes more sense to me, and I understand why you feel you can't approach your Dr.

Your Dr. manages medications, but do you have a therapist that could help you with your list?

Have a nice Saturday.


I know I sound like a broken 45, but I'm glad that Joyce has you...
this was a very touching post from you!!
Happy after holiday gobbles..
One down, two more to go..Xmas, NEWYEARS and for some of us, Hanukkah..better known as CHRISTMUAKKAH in our house. :)