Wherein some things are too close to write about, but you gotta write anyways…
It’s odd, but in the middle of a panic attack, even the worst one in seventeen years, one is still capable of a lucid thought or two or three. A couple of weeks ago I was at a new psychiatrist’s office attempting to get my meds refilled. However, Dr. Bela Agabalyan thought I was an alcoholic whose only purpose for being in her office was to score Klonopin. You know, because the three-hour nap Klonopin brings on really gets a party going.
She refused to listen to me, even when I pointed out that I didn’t need the Klonopin refilled anyways, and could we please talk about my bipolars. “I see two diseases here: bipolar and excessive alcohol use!” she snapped. It should be pointed out that according to the info available to her I drank three times a week for a total of five drinks a week. I’m really not much of a drinker. My interaction with her proved that weird corollary that the more one says they don’t drink all that much, the more people think you have a flask of Beam strapped to your thigh.
Nothing is more frustrating than when people who are wrong don’t listen to me. And when you don’t listen to me, your reward is a panic attack. Usually, these consist of me storming out of a room in a huff, but I needed my meds. I was trapped. Trapped in a room with a stupid person gets you a doozy of a panic attack. I might even punch a wall (or in this case a Purell dispenser). Trap me in a room with stupid person the same day I receive the news that I’m wildly diabetic and a few days after my beloved stepmom dies, Katie bar the door.
Literally bar the door Katie, because I’m going to start beating my head into it. Which is what I did, well over a dozen times. Yet, even though I was having by what any standard was a psychotic break, I was still capable of some lucid thoughts…
- This has got to look bad.
- Why isn’t Dr. Bela Agabalyan telling me to stop? People always tell me to stop banging my head. What is her problem?
- I’m lucky I don’t need the Klonopin filled because she’s never gonna fill that scrip now, is she?
- I’m gonna get some good writing out of this.
That’s the solace I take out of whatever misfortune, real or manufactured, life hands me: I can always write about. The universe didn’t give me many gifts when it came to dealing with the world, but it gave me the ability to describe my feelings thru stringing together words and sentences in a pleasing manner, hopefully funny, that helps me understand what went on. And hopefully it helps others, too.
So, Chris, start writing about how Dr. Bela Agabalyan and the rest of the team at North Central Mental Health let you down. You’re so angry with them, it’ll be great.
No. Tried for two weeks. Have over three thousand words on the subject. All crap.
How about the diabetes diagnosis?
No. It probably won’t be funny until go blind or lose a toe.
How about your stepmom’s death?
Geez… let the poor woman’s body get cold before you start mining her funeral rites for comedy gold. Yes, your biological mom’s funeral was hilarious because of the eight-hour viewing of the body, but you waited like thirty years to make words about that.
I’m the first person to ever say that comedy equals tragedy plus time. I came up with that just now. I have an unusual gift for understanding the writing process I know. You’re welcome.
But there’s still that urge to lash out at the demons right away before they can settle in and alter neural pathways to the point where you ARE that guy banging his head into the steel door. Where you will always be the crazy person. The person whose thoughts are always, shall we say, maladaptive.
So I write about Dr. Bela Agabalyan. I come up with some good lines like “She feeds off the tears of the mentally ill.” But the more I write about her, the more she cuneiforms herself on the Mobius Strip that functions as my brain. Writing about the evil that is Dr. Bela Agabalyan gives her control. It’s not supposed to work that way. I can’t write funny stuff about her until more time has passed.
I need to be angry for a while.
So I figure the biggest palate cleansing fuck you I can give Dr. Bela Agabalyan is to write about something completely different, so……
Did I ever tell you about that time I was attacked by a groundhog?
Did you know that groundhogs are sometimes called whistle pigs? If one were ever standing on your ass, screaming that sound at you, you’d always remember.
But there I was lying on a loamy forest floor early one Ohio spring with a whistle pig going to town on my butt.
One of the advantages the Betas touted during Rush was all the fun, organized activities that the brothers took part in. And since I had transferred in to Wittenberg a trimester earlier after a year at Cornell where the only activity in which I participated was gently tapping my forehead on the windowsill of my dorm room, organized activities that didn’t involve gently tapping my forehead sounded keen.
[HINT: When pledging a frat, try not using the word keen. Or peachy, for that matter.]
During my tenure of being a pledge, the most organized activity I encountered seemed to revolve around me having to cluck like a chicken for not fetching beers, saying the names of the Founders, or packing the sacred hookah fast enough for the actives.
However, when I returned for Spring semester after a spring break where I drove down to Alabama to visit my girlfriend at her school only to find her in bed with a guy named Dalton –“Come down early, I want to show off my boyfriend to everybody!” –I found out that the chapter had scheduled a paintball game. I had spent the entire drive back from Alabama muttering “Kill. Kill. Kill.” at my tachometer, so shooting someone felt both appropriate and needed. Gunplay would take my mind off of her.
As we were told to wear clothes we “didn’t give a shit about,” I was sporting a pair of jeans that I had blown the crotch out of and a t-shirt my now ex-girlfriend had given me emblazoned with the logo of the hillbilly safety school she went to. When we had all arrived at the paintball site several miles south of Springfield, Ohio, we were divided into red and blue teams and given armbands. I was on the red team.
We were shown how to use our pistols. Fill the clip with eight balls, making sure not to break them in the process. Load a single paintball into the chamber, making sure not to break it in the process. Fire the paintball, making sure not to break it in the process. Repeat.
We were also introduced to two paintball “regulars,” whose names I choose to be Wayne and Clyde. Both of them clutched automatic paintball rifles with gumball-machine-looking chambers that held over a hundred multi-colored paintballs. I assume we would only be allowed to touch their guns if we were to pry them out of their cold dead hands. They were on the blue team.
The red team was annihilated in the first game. Clyde shot me in the face.
For the second game, red team decided to engage in a defensive strategy instead of just running to the blue flag haphazardly, right into Wayne and Clyde’s line of fire. First of all, we made a deal with blue team that they would frag Wayne and Clyde right off the bat so we all could enjoy the game. Then four of my teammates and I arranged ourselves at various approach points to the red flag. We were to blend in as much as possible in order to pick off blues as they came for the flag.
I lay down at the base of a tree where two paths to the flag converged and covered myself in last fall’s damp leaves. The starting pistol rang out. I immediately heard a volley of shots followed by screams. Wayne and Clyde were down. I momentarily felt bad; this must happen to them every weekend. But at least now twenty-five moderately stoned frat boys could run around in the woods, pretending that they were in The Shit looking for Charlie without having to deal with people taking it seriously.
It would be a few minutes before the fighting made its way to my location. Even so, my adrenaline was off the charts. I was shaking like a leaf, which was in turn shaking leaves. I needed to calm down before I gave away my position. I did some breathing exercises my shrink had recommended to calm my nerves. Circular breathing is a great way to inhale spores and mold. A Klonopin really would’ve come in handy.
Then at my seven o’clock, I heard a rustling. No one should be coming from that direction yet. I tried to look over my shoulder, but I’ve never had the bendiest neck. The rustling came closer. Then came the SCREAM. It sounded like someone was jumping onto a sleeping cat’s tail from the arm of a sofa. It clicked in my medulla oblongata somewhere between pain, terror, and annoyance. I froze. One of my red teammates shot in the direction of the rustling scream. That only angered it. And, it was blaming me.
The shuffling beast moved directly towards me, and I attempted to turn to face it. But before I could, it was literally on my ass. Groundhogs can weigh fifteen pounds –fifteen pound of angry. It screamed again, just a couple of feet from my ears, imprinting that bansheeism on my neural pathways for eternity.
I thrust my butt upward and flung the fetid rodent aside. I stood up and tried to fire on it, but my gun jammed. Bright orange paint ran down my wrist. The groundhog flashed its teeth at me and disappeared down a hole right where the front side of my ass had been.
A shot hit me at the base of my skull. What was it with people shooting me in my head when I had a perfectly good ex-girlfriend shirt to destroy? Didn’t they know I had memories to erase?
I dropped to my knees partially out of the concussive force, partially out of shock, partially out of theatre. The groundhog chattered at me from its hole. In a brief silence I could hear tiny chatters farther down the hold. I had had my junk perched over a nest of baby bitey things.
That was in April of 1986, and I’m just writing about it now.
It was just a groundhog. Groundhogs cannot prescribe psych meds.
I should be ready to write about Dr. Bela Agabalyan around 2058 sometime.