Story: My Walk Back to Sanity
September 18, 2020
“Do you take this woman to be your wife?”
“Do you take this man to be your husband?”
“I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss your bride.”
I can’t recall when the kiss changed to hitting or what led me to this place in life. Was it the slaps across the face, the shoving around, the cussing and name calling that brought me here? My memory was dull, my body in pain, no my life was in pain. If only I could just recall what got me to this place sitting here in this lonely room. I’m still not sure, but I think it was when he explained to me I couldn’t go back to the emergency room anymore and demanded I learn how to give myself medical treatment. I bet that was it.
“Hello, how are you doing this morning, okay, you still aren’t talking? Well, it’s time for your meds.”
The psyche nurse handed me a little plastic cup with two small pills. With the information from the questionnaire I half filled out on my arrival, the policeman’s description and my silent behavior, the doctor determined that I should take these pills every six hours.
The tablets were under my tongue as I drank the water, pretending to be experiencing difficulty swallowing them.
“The doctor will be in to see you soon, you need to talk. They will move you from this open unit to the locked unit where the real disturbed people are if you don’t start talking. I know you are not crazy, you have been through a traumatic experience, and at least he lived.”
I believe the nurse was trying to keep from laughing. When she left, I flushed the tablets down the toilet. I had a lot to think about and didn’t need the disruption of two small pills clouding my thoughts.
He didn’t die, but the road to recovery would be a lengthy one for him. His lawyer told the judge I was faking insanity in order not to go to jail. How do you fake insanity when you have a folder in your briefcase hidden in the back of your closet that shows treatments from the emergency room for a broken jawbone, slight concussion to the left side of your head at least several times, a broken finger and a broken rib on your right side? Insanity was staying (mentally and physically) through all of those beatings. No, I was not faking insanity that evening; I was walking my way back to sanity.
I can look back to the day I gave him full control.
“Baby, put this piece of steak over your eye, I will call your job and tell your supervisor you have a pink eye”.
That was the day, and we both knew it.
“Hello,” the doctor said, walking into the room with my chart under his arm. “The nurse said you are taking your meds, however according to your reports there has been no change,” the doctor repeating what he had for the past week.
The nurse escorted me up to the nurse’s station while another nurse checked to make sure the door had locked behind us. This unit was quiet. I imagined a locked unit would be loud, with patients running around,
especially trying to break out. Everyone was sitting looking into space or walking along in circles.
“Your room will be down this hallway. You will share a room for a few days.”
A few days kept echoing in my head. I wanted to go, but go where I thought? I don’t have a home anymore. The Fire Marshall had placed a “Condemned” sign across the door. When I grabbed the sign from him and tried to wrap it around my head, oh, maybe that’s what led me to this place.
This is your room, and this is Eleanor. Her family is moving her to another faculty on Monday. I did not need to look at Eleanor or to even acknowledge her presence. Right now I was the only presence in my world.
Another nurse came in with a small plastic cup and passed the cup to me. When I looked in the cup, the pills were different.
“The doctor changed your medicine, he wasn’t seeing any results from what you were taking,” she said.
There was no way I could get these pills under my tongue and there was no way I would take them. Refusing to take the pills, I placed them on the nightstand and sat down on the bed. Now laying here in these restraints I was certain she pushed me first, even though the report said otherwise. “How in the world am I supposed to go to the bathroom or ring the bell?”
I don’t know what moved Eleanor to just start talking to me; it seems I couldn’t understand anything that was taking place in my life anymore.
“I know the difference from being in pain and being crazy and you are in pain,” Eleanor said.
I had wanted to say something to her but had made a promised I would not talk for a while for any reason. The last words I had spoken before I made that promise to myself was “I’m sure started this chain of events”.
“No,” I said.
“I know you didn’t say no to me.”
“I refuse to live like this any longer.”
I had never seen him laugh that hard, which threw me off guard when I felt the full impact of his fist in my stomach. His hands around my throat lifted me up off the floor until we were looking each other in the eyes. I had never seen the devil, so I did not know what his eyes looked like until now.
Still laughing, my husband dragged me across the floor into the kitchen. The kitchen is the last place two insane people should be.
My husband was yelling, “I hope God broke the mold because there should not be another dumb human being like you on earth, you crazy…”
Like I mentioned, the kitchen is the last place you should be, especially when insanity reaches its peak.
“Hey, looks at me honey, what were you going to call me this time, a crazy what”? I can’t remember when he stopped calling me Baby.
Blood was all over both of us. I recall seeing a knife on the counter as he dragged me into the kitchen by my throat, I just don’t remember picking it up.
“Help you do what, honey?”
“Call an ambulance, please.”
“Why would I want to do that, honey, do you need medical treatment?”
“Well, honey, I have learned over the years how to apply medical treatment, tell me where it’s hurting”?
When I saw the tears running down his face and how they were moving the blood down his cheeks, I realized precisely what I needed to do.
“Honey, you have got to stop screaming like that. I was merely trying to wash the blood off your body.”
“Maybe I should not have let the water boil so long. Boy, I have worked up an appetite, what do I have a taste for?”
“Honey, you have got to stop trying to yell.” I warned him all that noise was upsetting me. “Honey, I know it may seem a little tight across your mouth, but stop moving around and it will become more comfortable.”
When I watched at my husband this time I didn’t see the eyes of the devil anymore.
“Do you need to go to the bathroom,” Eleanor standing over my bed asked?
Taking the restraints a loose, Eleanor helped me out of bed. The meds that were forcibly administered earlier caused me to be very dizzy. Eleanor caught me under my arm and told me to lean on her.
“Everybody on staff is nice here, except for that one. She knew you would have to go to the bathroom and wanted you to go in the bed and lay in it all night,” Eleanor whispered.
Eleanor sounded as if she has encountered this nurse personally.
“They won’t be doing rounds for another 45 minutes,” Eleanor said, helping me back to the bed and reattaching the restraints. Eleanor fell back to sleep quickly.
It was morning, and Nurse Mean was standing over my bed. “I will take your hand a loose and you will take this medicine voluntarily or you will be in these restraints for the rest of the day”. Sometimes a little encouragement can go a long way; this medicine had a fruity taste.
I learned the doctor didn’t come on the weekends. Also, Eleanor let me know they are not to allow you to stay in your room all day either. The medicine wasn’t altering my thinking. Maybe going out with the general population would be helpful too.
After breakfast, I sat in the front area with everybody and quickly grew accustomed to my surroundings. I heard Nurse Mean was planning to pull a double shift until she got a phone call and had to leave immediately. “I know there’s a God”; I laughed to myself; “I wonder if he knows who I am?”
The makeup in the dayroom was comprised of different nationalities, male and female individuals from their early twenties to the elderly. I glanced around and wondered what caused them to feel it was safer in this world of insanity than the world of the sane. For those who were born with what we call a sound mind, what transpired in their lives that caused them to abandon it? They say there is a thin line between love and hate. I suspect there is a thin line from wherever you are in life to crossing over to the other side and that transition could only be one phone call away.
“No, he can’t come to the phone,” I said to his campaign manager, “he’s in the shower” and hung up. He was laying there on the floor soaking in a puddle of blood fortunately the boiling water had cleaned most of the blood off his body.
“Honey, are you okay,” I yelled down to him.
He opened his eyes and looked at me strangely. I stooped down and removed the rag slightly that was across his mouth.
“Baby, I’m sorry,” he mumbled.
Now I laughed harder than I had laughed in years. “Sorry for what, honey? No wait! I’ll be right back”
Sitting back down beside my husband, I opened my briefcase and pulled out the emergency room reports and instructed him to say “I am sorry” after I read each report. His “I’m sorry” was weak, and I had to continue asking him to speak up, which I realize was what distracted me from what I was cooking and not noticing the kitchen was filling up with smoke. The sound of the smoke detectors got my attention as I was just getting to the report with the broken rib. I was his rib, and he had broken me.
“Honey, I will have to leave now, because there appears to be a fire.”
When I looked into my husband’s eyes this time, I saw my eyes as I looked into the mirror when I would hear the door from the garage open and my husband walk in. I think they call it terror.
“Honey, can I get you anything before I leave? Stop moaning, okay.”
I remember nothing from that time of trying to make sure my husband was comfortable before I left. I wanted to make sure his hands and feet were secure so he didn’t hurt himself trying to move. The Fire Marshall and the policeman concluded what they saw was an attempted murder and attempted suicide gone badly.
Suicide, I was not trying to kill myself or murder him; I was trying to get back to sanity. How could they come up with that assumption, I will never understand? It was the smoke that had caused me to pass out and found lying across my husband’s body. I guess that brought me to this place in life.
With my briefcase of hospital reports and journal of my medical attention I had given myself over the years. The judge to conclude I needed mental help more than jail until the trial.
My husband came from a wonderful home with no violence. He was the family’s promise child. He was the one who would make a name for the family and take them to financial happiness. His parents saw to it he had every opportunity available and with their support he excelled with each situation put before him. He once told me he felt the pressure of the world on his shoulders, but had to keep going in the path chosen for him. He was to be the champion for his family. I could see early in our marriage that with each accomplishment another layer of expectation was placed on him.
Each layer concealing who he really was a layer he presented to the world of others. Specifically, his family and what they needed and wanted him to be. Where do you release your frustration when on one side is your family that believes in you and is making preparation to have a better life through your life? Then you look on the other side of you and by default the person whom you loved must now become the causality for your sanity or insanity. My In-laws considerable upset, were the ones pressing charges. My husband still had not come out of the coma.
Life can send you down a path so fast that your head spins. I truly stood by my man. My husband learned how to hurt me in places that wouldn’t show. So with bandages under my clothes and wearing hats all the time kept my battered body our dirty little secret as I remained by my man. When my husband informed me he was running for a city-wide office, I knew it would keep us in the spotlight and thought his violent behavior would stop. I just didn’t know I would have to be the one to help him stop.
When my husband and I would go to events around town, I could consistently single out the women who lived as I did behind closed doors. We all had the same blank stare in our eyes when we looked at each other.
A man’s scream broke the quietness in the front room as he started beating a pillow on the sofa before throwing it against the wall. Before anybody could reach him, he just slumped to the floor and laid there lifeless. When the charge nurse got to him she reached down and patted his hands.
“It’s over he can’t hurt you anymore, it’s over,” she said helping him up off the floor.
Eleanor moved closer to me and held my hand, saying “let's go to the room”. Before we could get up an elderly lady started screaming “make him stop.” Like a ricochet, one by one the patients started screaming, hitting the wall or rolling on the floor. The staff was rushing in from all directions. The main door swung open and staff from the other units came running in. Eleanor started rocking back and forth, her body totally out of control. Practically lifting her small framed body up from the sofa, I got us back to our room. Sitting in the room, I joined Eleanor and rocked with her, hand in hand.
Once Eleanor woke up from the meds they gave her, she explained that when one patient goes off it triggers the other patient’s personal issues. They would fight what or who had bought them to this place in their lives. The childhood traumas, loss of love ones because of death or divorce, abuses of all kinds would seem to manifest throughout the room and people would fight for their lives. I wish I had known this beforehand, so I could have taken part. I felt a little cheated.
“Ouch,” I yelled at Marie.
“WOW, he must have really hurt you this time,”
“This time,” I thought, “he hurts me every time.”
Marie was the only friend I had left. When people try to help you and you don’t take their advice they normally move out your life. I can’t blame family and friends for leaving me. It was probably too painful for them as it was painful for me. Marie had stayed and I was glad she did. We never talked about my home life; we talked about other things going on in the world.
When Marie came to visit me at the hospital, I could see she was fighting back tears. They had kept all media away from me. We could not listen or watch the news or even read a newspaper on the locked unit, not knowing what would set a patient off. While in the open unit, I had no desire to read or watch anything.
According to Marie, the media ran our story for two days and then nothing. She told me she had heard that my husband was out of the coma but had not spoken since he woke up. Maybe he saw this as his chance of getting his life back and using me as his reason for dropping out of his family dream.
It was not a surprise when his lawyer visited me and told me my husband refused to press charges. And also made his parents drop all charges against me. I knew I would not see my husband again, because he was moving up north to start a fresh life according to his lawyer. Our divorce did not require any face-to-face contact, excellent lawyers on both sides can do that. He had always talked about wanting to be a writer.
Eleanor hugged me tight before her family took her away. I know I cried for hours for her when she left. Nurse Mean rubbed my hand when she came around doing the round that first hour. The hospital could no longer hold me, but in a letter to the doctor I requested to stay for a little while. The only stipulations were they move me back to the open unit and not have to be on any medications. I still had not spoken a word. I needed to walk back on the side of sanity again and knew I would need help in finding my way back and finding my voice.
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