The poets' narrative
a blog dedicated to inspired poems & stories written by those touched by madness, mania & depression.
The poets' narrative
The Poets' Narrative shares inspired words by those touched by madness, mania and depression - poems & stories. Today I share a poetic essay - "Buddha & Benzos" by Andrew Turman. The artwork above is also by Turman.
"I am just another artist who happens to have bipolar disorder. I am not that bad, I am evolving." ~ Andrew Turman
"Buddha and Benzos"
"I hate you"
she screams out
the open windows to the neighbors.
Then she crumples
to the floor
in a puddle of silk and denim.
The cycle repeats
over and over
I try hard not to notice...
"Maybe I need to go
to the hospital?"
She questions me.
As I just got out
the day before
against medical advice,
I remain coolly silent.
"I thought this is why
you wanted me home,
to leave the asylum early."
I say through clenched teeth.
"Yes!" she cries.
"I love you, I need you.
Please help me from myself,
and keep me safe."
Indifferently, I light
I cannot stand this much longer.
"Fine." I stand up.
Let's get you to the psych ward."
She changes her mind.
She sits. She picks up the phone.
She languidly starts flipping through the phone book.
"I know the fucking number,"
I spit at her.
I know all the numbers.
"No," she says.
"I want to call the Crisis Center."
My blood boils.
"It is staffed by bloody social workers,"
I know this, from experience.
"They make me more comfortable,"
she whines at me,
tears in her eyes.
"Let's just go,"
I say, grabbing the keys to her car,
"No, let's take your car,
I don't feel up to driving,"
I just want this over with.
All of it. Her. Us.
I cannot stand it anymore.
We ride in silence,
there is nothing left
I pull into the Emergency Room parking lot.
I walk toward the door, while
she sits in the car, tentative.
She calls to me,
"How about we go to the Crisis Center?
It is at the other end of the building.
I walk back, seething.
"You need to see a psychiatrist,"
I practically snarl, lip curled.
"I will, I will, I will,"
she promises falsely.
She gets out and walks to the door.
I am manic,
irritable, impatient, intolerant.
I storm the door behind her.
I am made to wait outside
while she is being interviewed,
as I was a distraction, talking over her, trying to give them the reality of the situation,
not the candy-coated version she is peddling.
I go smoke...again.
One after another,
until she finally emerges.
We get into the car.
As I pull away from the lot,
she is silent.
"They are going to call me tomorrow,"
She says tentatively, nervously
awaiting my response.
"Great, " I finally mutter
almost under my breath.
Finally, I give her a real reply.
"You need to be in the hospital."
I know. I just got out of one,
the sixth in seven days.
She helped me when I needed her.
She drove me from Pittsburgh
to Philadelphia, looking for somewhere
that would accept me.
Now, it was my turn to help her.
I knew of a place, not far away.
I had frequent flyer miles there.
I stopped at the Dunkin' Donuts
to get a "dead-eye,"
a quad-shot of espresso in a large cup of dark roast.
I take a right, toward the highway,
away from the house.
"Where are you going?"
a voice from the passenger seat asks softly,
a million miles away.
"I am going to get you the help you need,"
I growl, anger bubbling to the surface,
my purpose becoming crystal in my mind.
She pleads with me to take her home,
she receives silence as a response.
She absently fumbles with her cell phone.
In an instant, she suddenly realizes
what I am doing, and starts to cry.
"Please take me home."
She dials a number on her phone,
but I barely notice.
My aim is true.
Distantly, because I am trying to ignore her,
I hear her talking to someone.
"I am being kidnapped!"
The operator wants to talk to me.
I know what I am going to do.
The first cruiser, of an eventual seven,
pulls in behind me.
I am sure to go the speed limit
as his lights begin to flash.
I drove and drove
Seventeen miles with my escorts.
Red and blue, red and blue, red and blue.
Streaks across the black Pennsylvania sky.
They put out spike strips,
popping out three of my tires.
I drove on for another two miles, before I was forced to stop
the car screaming for mercy.
A trooper approached my window.
Accidentally, I rolled it up instead of down.
He responded by breaking it out.
The door was locked.
He broke the handle.
Another trooper pulled me out
the passenger door, losing a shoe and my glasses in the process.
I went limp
as they dragged me across the macadam
to the gravel on the side of the highway.
I felt the heavy boots kicking me,
a multitude of law enforcement
surrounding me with guns drawn.
Hard knees in my back,
I submitted to the handcuffs,
screaming for a officer trained in mental health.
She is howling, like a monkey now.
"He just got out of the hospital!"
"Please don't hurt him!"
They pulled me to my feet,
but I refused to walk.
They dragged me to the cruiser,
adding the charge of resisting arrest
to the laundry list,
which eventually numbered twelve felonies and a few various misdemeanors.
They took me back to the barracks,
for a quick teleconference with the night judge.
His decision, via teleconference, bail set at $75 000.
I thought I was, even with my damaged car, a flight risk.
I was transferred to the prison,
and given an orange jumpsuit to wear.
I was taken to a cell, solitary,
where I was to spend a week.
After heated discussion, they took away the jumpsuit
and gave me a horse blanket to wrap my naked body in.
They put me on suicide watch.
I was fed though a slot in the door.
The only human contact I had.
No silverware, lest I plunge a plastic fork
in my throat, in an attempt to kill myself.
I sat there, in my "baby-dolls"
for a week before the
mental health worker came to see me.
I was not allowed to make a call
to my father because of my status as
a suicide risk. I could talk to no one.
They decided to move me to another cell;
They needed solitary for someone else, someone more dangerous.
So, I found myself in a room with three others,
each of us in our 'baby-dolls," naked, wrapped in horseblankets.
I spent another week and a half there,
with the lights on, eating food with our fingers,
making small talk, guardedly.
Some boasted of their crimes, some proclaimed their innocence. I never said a word.
I started benzodiazipine withdrawal, since I was not given my medication.
It is worse than heroin withdrawal. Trust me.
I was on fire, bugs crawling beneath my skin.
My lawyer finally got me out.
He took me to the hospital, urging me
to say whatever it took to get myself admitted.
He did not want to take me back to the prison.
I knew what to say.
I have played the game many times.
I have been in the hospital over fifteen times in the past 25 years.
I have had 45 electroshock treatments.
I have taken 33 different medications in search of one that might work.
I have seen it all, all black water and blue ruin.
I was admitted, eventually.
These things take time.
Forms need to be filled out,
the proper people contacted.
I am forced to put on a hospital gown,
despite my being there for a mental issue.
I rode in a wheelchair to the ward, despite
my ability to walk.
I sank in a deep depression
so I laid in bed for a week and a half
while my psychiatrist mixed a psychophamceutical cocktail for me.
Psychiatrists don't practice medicine anymore.
They practice their hand-writing.
Most are not even good at that.
My father finally took me home,
only with the clothes on my back, barefoot.
She had evicted me. I lost all of my worldly possessions,
including my two cats.
For the past two years,
I have lived with my parents.
They are elderly, and need my help.
So I do.
I work on my faith; I have been a
Buddhist for twelve years now.
Birth, death, rebirth.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
I am not coming back.
The First Noble Truth is
that life is suffering,
and so I have.
I work my craft.
I paint, as Zen Daddy T.
I write, as Wm. Andrew Turman.
I work, as an advocate for mental health.
I live the life of a monk.
I do not drive, as they took my license away.
I am not allowed to leave the county without permission.
I try to explain this to my son with autism over the phone.
He doesn't understand.
Neither do I.
If one is lucky, one survives these life-changing experience intact.
I have had to pick up the sharp, mirrored pieces by myself.
I try to put the puzzle pieces back together.
It is a daunting task, but necessary.
I want to grow. I want to do.
Today, I will fly.
I am Superman.
The poets' narrative? Inspired words? Inspired by what?! We can't pin it down but nonetheless madness can't be ruled out for Michelle, and many of the other writers quoted here.