“Purple haze all in my brain, Lately things don’t seem the same, Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why, ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky” Jimi Hendrix
Mental illness is a horrible thing. It can be totally debilitating. I don’t know anybody who ever said that they loved the lows of depression. On the other hand for those of us who have touched the true euphoria of madness, the story is different. Some of my fellow mental patients have quit taking their psychotropic medicines just to experience the high. While I never did such a thing I quit my medicine several times and I cheated once. The end results were the same, winding up in a psychiatric hospital.
I recall one time I was being in the police station. Though handcuffed, in my mind I had supreme confidence. When I went to jail there was not an ounce of fear. When I was transported to see the nurse a fellow prisoner yelled at me from his cell. “CIA, CIA.” I guess with my short haircut and muscular frame I fit the part. Not intimidated in the least bit I screamed at the jailbird. “CIA, KGB.” He quickly quieted down, I doubt he was expecting such a response.
In my last hospitalization which was about four or five years ago, I was very manic. I was cheating on my medicine. I had to leave for work at 4:30 A.M. and I didn’t get back to around 7 p.m. The ride to Brooklyn was rather easy as the roads were empty. Going home, however, was total frustration as what should have taken no more than an hour could sometimes take three or more. Once more I wound up in police custody. I was in some kind of cell for observation which wasn’t locked. The guards were busy chattering away. I got out of my cell and said: “Could you please quiet it down some of us are trying to sleep.” Needless to say, they didn’t like my intrusion but they didn’t do anything to me outside of angry glares. They did quiet down a little.
In that last hospitalization, my creative juices were flowing. I am artistic by nature and when I am manic they take a quantum leap to a higher level. The only problem with this is that I may ascend too high where my writings become incoherent. That only an insane person could appreciate them. I am a big fan of Neil Young. He put out this bizarre recording called ARC. It is a strange collection of screeching guitar riffs, booming bass and crying. Once when I was manic I listened to it and it all made perfect sense.
So in the last hospitalization, I was creative and I had plenty of time to write. I had broken my glasses in the quiet room so my seeing was handicapped. As a result whenever I wrote or read I would have to hold the paper very close to my eyes. To pass the time I would play a game with the staff and my fellow patients. They would write a topic and their name on the top of the piece of paper. In turn, I would write them a personal poem using their selected topic. I would also draw some kind of drawing on the other side.
I recall there was one psych tech, in particular, I hung out with. I was in a confined space so the community was tight. I didn’t write him a poem for some reason. When it came near the time for my release he asked me to write him a poem as he didn’t get one. I gladly obliged. One psych tech or nurse was totally freaked out by what I wrote her. Another didn’t like it so I wrote her a second one.
At the end of the stay, the hospital took all my book of writings with a little chicanery. I was a little disappointed but not greatly. The total volume of work was probably was probably less than thirty pieces. I am sure that they are somewhere on my permanent record. I had one good rap song about the Black Panthers and Chairman Mao.
Please check out my book “Murmurings Of A Mad Man.” It is about a time when I was committed to a state psychiatric hospital called Graystone. It has a new cover and a lower price! https://amzn.to/2Ni5GGh
Photos by eye of einstein,