The Healing House: The Looney Bin (Excerpt 5)

RevolverNOTE: Please know that this story has a happy ending, one that I am pleased to share with you. This is my last writing about the dark side of mental illness. I’m excited to begin writing about and sharing my victory.

I’d hoped to see you today, but my plans were interrupted by my neurasthenia, another technical term for the neurosis I live with, but almost died from.

My day started out pretty normal, but by midmorning I had lost all ability to cope with even the smallest tasks. My emotions were all over the place. One minute I was depressed and feeling alone, like I was nothing but a disappointment to everyone around me. The next minute I was angry, then nervous and crying.

I wanted to see you, my “Healing House.” I wanted to move in and have you comfort me, but you were in your own state of disarray. They’d uncovered some other issues and were in the midst of repair so I went into the closet of my temporary home. I took my revolver and hide it in my pants till I could get to the car. I headed your way, but I didn’t make it that far. My emotions became overwhelming. I had to pull over.

I remember parking in front of Target and just sitting there trying to gather myself. I glanced several times at the revolver I’d laid in the passengers seat. I’d attempted suicide before, but could I go through with it again? This time it wasn’t pills, it was a gun. There’s no room for error with a gun–not something you want to do half-assed. I made several phone calls from that parking lot but nobody could see me. I called my family practitioner, my psychologist, and my psychiatrist. Everybody was either out of the office or booked. The lady I spoke with from my psychiatrist’s office was concerned and ask me to promise I’d go to an emergency room. I told her I wasn’t going to do that and hung up. I taught at a local college. I couldn’t let them find out I was crazy. I had kids, parents, friends, a church. I sure didn’t want any of them to find out. Then I wondered why I was worried about any of that. I mean, there I sat contemplating suicide. As my mind spun around flashing thousands of images before me, the fact that I cared what they all thought of me gave me hope that I wouldn’t take my life. I left and was headed to see you when things took a bit of a turn for the worst.

I’d just gotten on the interstate and was speeding excessively. I picked up the revolver and put it to my head, then to my mouth, then my heart. I wondered which would kill me faster, which would be less painful. I also thought about what would happen if I somehow lived through it. I was stuck between head and heart. The heart seemed like a better choice since if I happen to live through it, they’d probably be able to fix it. The head, now that’s a shot you definitely don’t want to live through. I recalled a video I’d used when teaching EMTs in the military. This man had attempted suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. He’d lived through it but his head was a mangled mess. I’d pretty much decided at that point that if I did it, it would be through the heart. I was angry at my brain for not working properly, but most of my pain was from my heart. It was at that point that I pushed the cylinder release forward and whipped it open to find that all the bullets had been taken out. I threw the gun into the floorboard. I cried and yelled at the top of my lungs WHY? I felt a huge let down move through my body. I’d reached the climax of my day, what now?

I somehow ended up at a vet center speaking to a counselor. I don’t know if I could have gone through with shooting myself, but regardless, that counselor saved my life. She eventually talked me into going to the VA emergency room only because she promised to go with me and make sure they took me back right away. I refused to set among other people while in the condition I was in. As soon as I was in a room I texted all my children, my fiancĂ©, and maybe my parents, I don’t really remember. I told everyone that I was going to see a friend in Tennessee for the weekend and I ended with I love you. It was what I thought would be a good excuse not to call or text for a few days. At some point the VA ask for my car keys so they could have a police officer move my vehicle. I panicked at that point because the revolver was still laying in the floorboard with the cylinder open. If they saw that, they’d admit me and never let me out. Through the haze of some meds they’d given me, I quickly texted my daughter and told her where I was and ask her to send someone to take my car and hide the revolver.

I remember my fiancĂ© coming in to talk with me. He hugged me and yelled at me asking why I was doing this. I yelled back, “Why did you take the bullets out?” One very observant nurse realized that this interaction was upsetting me so she came in and ask him to leave. I slept for a little while then woke to a couple of EMTs getting me ready for transport. After what seemed like a very long ride, I ended up being admitted to an inpatient psych ward or as some call it, “The Looney Bin.” As much as I’d fought to stay out of a place like this, I felt more as ease than I had in a long time. I knew I needed a break from everything and everybody. I needed to rest, recover, and get back on my meds.

Looking back on this terrible day, I now realize that even through I can recall the details of the day, I was in a daze the entire time. It’s like I was sitting beside myself watching everything take place. It looked as if I was in control, that I was aware and could make decisions, but that’s not the reality. I felt as though I was watching a movie. Have you ever been watching a movie and could see the monster raising up behind someone but they were unaware? You’d be so into the movie that you would actually scream, TURN AROUND! That’s the way I felt. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, the awake me was screaming at the dazed me. STOP! NO! DON’T! But the movie kept playing. I, the main character, was about to be swallowed by the monster creeping up behind me. Suicide had risen from the dead. I felt a slight breeze as if something or someone had walked up. The tiny, wispy hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and chills ran down my spine, yet these warning signs were dismissed. Would I hear the screams? Would I turn around and see the monster that was after me?

In the end, it wasn’t the breeze or the wispy hairs that warned me of the imminent danger. It wasn’t even the screams. Ultimately it was nothing more than a gentle whisper. I thank God for watching over me and saving me from the monster. I am happy and so very blessed to have lived to realize my dream of “The Healing House.” I look forward to writing about my “Happily Ever After.”