Driving down the highway to renew my Planet Fitness membership,
I was confronted by the whiplash of memories – there towering in
the distance was the castle of my captivity, Dominion Psychiatric,
where I was institutionalized by my will after setting fire to my
room, delusional and paranoid and hallucinating, casting spells with
trash, throwing all my belongings out the window to return them to
nature, I would have jumped if my mom hadn’t pulled me back from the
windowsill screaming, then I cycled through my personalities and became
Puck, speaking in rhyming Iambic pentameter, holding court for Oberon
as I was packed into an ambulance and buzzed away on tides of psychosis.
Committed to the psych ward, I was not allowed shoelaces, for I could
strangle myself on them, so all of us depressed and deluded chainsmoking
masses shuffled around in oversized hospital socks. Group therapy ensued,
I forged friendships with kindred souls, pagan wild and Arabian and Eastern
Orthodox and Buddhist monk trained by Japanese masters to paint cherry
blossom trees alike. Sometimes the madness (there was always madness
in a mental ward) would grip a 6’5 built like a brick man and he would try
to snap my neck, and the hospital staff would call security and we would
be on lockdown as the ape of a violent manic tried to kill us, the lumbering
security guards would taser this victim of a cruel mind and wrestle him to
the ground and into a straitjacket, I was not myself, I thought my parents
demons from Hell and the nurses angels, check under your tongue to see if
you swallowed the pills, they had been pumping me full of poisonous meds to
my disorder for a month, I hallucinated as a waitstaff at a wedding, I almost
electrocuted myself playing with wires, trying to send messages to God by
a volt box, in the asylum, I had to learn how to human again, I stayed in there
over a month, my parents would bring me Subway sandwiches and I would rail
incoherently about my delusions and the voices and demons I saw. At night,
I dreamt of a valley of blood and flesh, and I climbed the spine of a hellish
giant and went into a castle of putrid pinions of rotting necrosis, I swam in
maggots, I was rotting away, my brain on fire. My brain is always on fire.
The diagnosis came in two days from my saint of a psychiatrist who is the reason
I am still alive today: bipolar type 1 with psychotic tendencies, anxiety, OCD.
Unlike most patients that resist, I accepted this, for I was still high off my
own brain, speaking in tongues, swimming through the dark night of the soul.
Every day since has been a clawing back to sanity, sanity I have never known.
When you run insane through life for nineteen years only to crash into the pit
there is no return to innocence, not that my diseases ever left me an innocent.
Wash it away in blood and wine, wash it away in standing back from the subway
train so you don’t jump, hide all the razors, lock the knife drawers, bite down
to guard your tongue from gnashing teeth, have the urge to cut off your toes
and gouge out your eyes, you’re afraid of pencils now, sometimes you think of
biting into the flesh of eyeballs and eating someone, other times there is this
profane, unholy voice in your head of intrusive thoughts, committing and saying
unspeakable atrocities, fuck, I should be able to renew a fucking Planet Fitness
membership without being subject to these recollections, there is so much pain
in this world, in my soul, and I am weary, and I am battered and a wreckage of
what I once was, what I never was, that golden idol of a girl. That witch who
would drag men to the woods to devour them and divine with their entrails. There
is no escape from memory, that beast of time and sensation, but we are nothing
without our histories, and mine is tarred and feather, set alight and pushed off
a cliff, the fool plunging, there is nothing left to tell, just that, I survived.