A Rickety Bridge

I arrived for my very first psych hospital stay without any books. Without anything, actually, because I was operating on a profound, dangerous sleep deficit and there was nothing going on in my brain that wasn’t destructive.
The doctor at that little hospital started giving me a Prozac capsule every day, this brand-new drug that no one had heard of yet and that would spawn a million newsmagazine pieces in which various experts would wring their hands about what it all meant. 

Meantime, one green-and-white capsule at a time, Prozac saved my life. 

When I transferred from that first, tiny psych hospital to a much bigger one in Phoenix, I carried my chart with me, and of course I read it. In my first 10 or so days there, the staff had used the phrase “catatonic signs and symptoms” to describe my behavior, which I thought was pretty funny since inside my skull, everything was chaos and mayhem and frantic activity. I would sit curled in a big chair in the day room and never move until someone told me to. I’m not sure I spoke at all. I remember someone washing my hair while I sat in the shower and that seemed OK. My arms were too tired for head scrubbing. 

So, to the books: I couldn’t read at first. The brain chaos precluded anything except sitting. When I started to calm down a little, I discovered a bin full of tattered paperbacks. The first thing I read was Silence of the Lambs, which seems to indicate that someone on the staff had a terrible lapse in judgment. The inside of my head was a profoundly violent place and I’d definitely have chosen the hose over the lotion. 

Next from that bin, I pulled out a copy of Postcards from the Edge. I didn’t realize who’d written it (I was well enough to read books, but very far from WELL.) and I had no idea it was a semi-autobiographical novel. I believed it to be a memoir and I thought, “Sheesh. She’s almost as fucked up as me,” and that was, somehow, a little comforting. I was very alone with my self-destructive thoughts at that time. Lots of people loved me, but I couldn’t feel that love. Mostly, I thought people who loved me were fools. But Carrie Fisher maybe understood a little, and between that and the Prozac, I had a rickety little bridge that I walked along for awhile until I could make some connections that were a little less tenuous. 

For as much as I loved Carrie Fisher as Leia, and as deeply as I have enjoyed some of her subsequent books, there was this one time in a crappy regional psych unit when a book by Carrie Fisher helped save my life.

Go forth and tell your truth because you don’t know who you might save. There’s no shame. Carrie showed us that. 

Carrie Fisher died today, December 27, 2016. She drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. 

Unclear On the Concept

After I whined for awhile about being unable to think of anything to write about, Brian offered to interview me. “That’s kind of weird, don’t you think?” I asked. “I mean, I don’t really do the guest blog thing, and you don’t even like to write.”

“No, no,” says my beloved, “I’ll ask the questions, but you’ll do the writing. Get it?”

I think he’s a little unclear as to how this interview thing works, but whatever. We’re not much for convention around here anyhow, so we went outside and sat on the porch swing while Carter rode his bike in circles around the cul-de-sac, and Brian asked me questions.

Him: Why do you want to write?

Me: That’s kind of a dumb question. Nobody cares why.

Him: You pretty much suck at being interviewed, you know?

Me: Fine. What’s the next question?

Him: OK, remember that time a few weeks ago when you shaved your legs? What possessed you to do that?

Me: I don’t know. I guess sometimes I think I should do things like girls do them. I mean, girlie things.

Him: Why do you think you’re not a girl?

Me: Because I don’t do girlie things! You know, pretty things and shaving and, I don’t know, lipstick. Like that.

Him: You can always make sure you’re a girl by checking to see if you still have a vagina, right? That’s reliable for most people.

Me: Hey, is that why boys are always hanging onto their boy parts? To make sure they’re still boys?

Him: Nah, because if boys had boobs, they’d play with those all the time, too. It’s just a boy thing. What’s your biggest regret in life?

Me: From boobs to regret? What is wrong with you?

Him: The biggest regret; what is it? I know it’s not marrying Robert because of the kids, so what is it?

Me: This house. Moving.

Him: Yeah, me, too. Have you ever told that story on your blog?

Me: Not yet. Someday, when I can tell it without being a raging horrible bitch. Or act like it was all my fault. Or whatever. Maybe I’ll never tell it. I don’t know.

Him: What do you like best about me?

Me: You mean, besides your boyish good looks?

Him: No, that’ll do. I am terminally handsome. What’s your favorite shape for a swimming pool? If we could build our own, what shape would you want?

Me: Octagonal. Duh.

Him: You’re weird. OK, so you get to build your dream house. What’s it like?

Me: It’s clean. Somebody else cleans it.

Him: What else?

Me: Oh! There’s an apartment on the roof, and that’s where the ninjas live! Remember when the kids used to say that our dream house should have a team of ninjas on the roof for security?

Him: I meant your dream house, like the floor plan and how many bedrooms and that kind of stuff.

Me: That’s boring. Next question.

Him: What’s your favorite kind of flower?

Me: I don’t care. Not carnations. I don’t like carnations, but otherwise? I don’t care.

Him: You have flower tattoos! Obviously you don’t hate them!

Me: Tattoo flowers! My favorite flowers are tattoo flowers!

Him: What’s your greatest wish for the kids? Or your highest hope for them?

Me: I hope they live lives that they’re proud of. That they’re honorable people. God, that’s so old-fashioned, right? Honorable. That’s a stupid word. Integrity! I want them to live with integrity!

Him: Where do you think you’ll be five years from now?

Me: I don’t know. I don’t want to think about that. You know how fast things can change with Carter. I hope Carter is stable. I hope I’m earning some money. Hey, maybe we’ll be able to move to Canada by then! Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Him: It’s too damn cold in Canada. How would you like to be remembered after you’re dead? What do you want people to say about you?

Me: I thought you were going to ask me funny questions. That’s way intense.

Him: Yeah, well, answer it anyway.

Me: Sigh…I don’t know. Maybe people should lie about me after I’m dead!

Him: No, really. What would you want the kids to say about you?

Me: I don’t know if I can answer that. I hope…I really don’t know. I hope people say I really loved the people I loved. That there was no doubt. I don’t think that’s what they’ll say, though.

Him: Why wouldn’t they?

Me: Sigh…I don’t know! This isn’t supposed to make me cry, right? I don’t think so. Next question!

Him: What’s the one sex position that you haven’t tried and you want to? And can we try it tonight?

Me: I’m not answering that! Not on the front porch or on my blog!

Him: Fine. You can tell me later.

Me: Maybe.