Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Black Books

Yesterday I took my Flipcam out of mothballs to prepare for the weekend wedding that I have to attend (might as well shoot some footage for them if I can; don’t know why else I should be there). While  searching for the instructions to refresh my memory on its use, I came across the two notebooks that I mostly filled last year during three stays in detox and the subsequent months in two Intensive Outpatient Programs: one for substance abuse and the other for mental health.

The books are full of unpleasant reading. The first stay was five days long, and I spent much of that time unconscious. It wasn’t until the second stay that my NP told me I’d been in such intense withdrawal that they kept me pretty well doped up most of the time. That second stay was eleven days, and that number appalls me… to think that my pussyquats were left alone all that time barring visits from my kind neighbors twice a day to feed them. 

The third stay was just under a week, and it was during that time that my anti-depression medication was changed. As the Prozac wore off and the Welbutrin stubbornly refused to kick in, I found myself doing things like sitting by the telephones wondering if I could strangle myself with the metal cord, or sitting on the floor at the end of the hall sobbing my eyes out. 

“Nighttime is the saddest time @ 4 East,” I wrote, and on the same page: “A sign of how disorienting this place is: H_____, who @ 8:00 PM thought it was morning.”

The pages are decked out with graveyards, pumpkins, skulls and black quats… which doesn’t mean anything because I just like drawing those things, and will always fall back on them if nothing else comes to mind. What’s more telling is that the quats in some pictures are shedding copious tears. One of them is standing behind a gravestone bearing my name and the words “Loser - Failure - Accomplished Nothing.” 

On one page I wrote: “The longer I stay here the more confused I become. I just want to go home, and I don’t even care anymore about whether or not I have a job.” The fact is, losing that job was about the best thing that happened to me. Had I stayed on working in that Concentration Camp for a boss right out of H.P. Lovecraft, I have no doubt that there would have been a fourth stay, perhaps even a fifth or sixth… or perhaps not. When I look back on last year, it is clear to me that I was heading for a fatality, and getting close to it — and I didn’t give a good god damn.

My dislike for AA and its shallow methodology, its sloganism, was already apparent: one note reads, “Tuesday Night AA Meeting: “MEETING MAKERS MAKE IT!” — EXCEPT for the ones YOU JUST TOLD ME ABOUT who are DEAD!” And this: “It’s distressing to me that even for [my NP], AA is the only game in town for recovering alcoholics. It simply doesn’t work for me, not in the dozen or so meetings I’ve attended. It’s still a GROUP — and GROUPS are all the same to me. No one talks to me and I don’t talk to them. I have tried four different meetings in W________, and none of the other ones are held @ times that I can attend. Most have a lot of the same people.”

This was before my diagnosis of Asperger’s made it obvious why the social solutions are not the right ones for me.

As I go through the pages I can’t help but wonder how the others that I met during my three stays are faring, and how many more are living in that world — which resembles nothing so much as a zombie movie — as I type this. There seems to be no shortage of customers.

It’s probably a good thing to look at these notebooks every now and then, to remind myself of how far I have come, of where I was and what a sad, sub-functional state I was in; but at the same time it hurts like a punch in the face.

— Freder

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