March 28, 1976
The first time I wanted to write I was 21. I had been thinking for some time about how things had opened up for me during my humanities class with Miss Hatchett; how I seemed to find some of the reasons for the restlessness and frustration I had experienced all through my teens. I didn’t know if it was Arnold Toynbee, Dr. Zhivago, (the book) “The Man Who Saw Through Heaven” or Miss Hatchett herself, but somebody had opened a door for me; I had deliriously jumped through and knew I would never backtrack through that door to the limited, rigid world from which I had come.
At that point I was thinking in terms of a novel, one that would tell of a person’s experience in discovering some of these things in real, everyday life. I wrote a number of pages in longhand to start. I wanted it to be something that would appeal to the average person while at the same time, “MY IDEAS” were slipped in and kind of came up on the reader unawares. As I was writing one day with a pile of clothes lying there to be folded, my sister-in-law came. There I sat with papers all over the table with my clothes unfolded. She asked, “What are you doing?” and in my usual brand of naivete, I told her, “Writing a book,” just as if it were every morning she had someone tell her that.
No, she didn’t say anything. Anything. Just started folding my laundry. Very effective. So I stopped and helped her fold my clothes. That was the last time I worked on “my book.”
When I was in high school, our band went to the State Fair. At one exhibit, there was a set-up that, according to the exhibitors was supposed to “measure” posture, if you had good or bad posture. Using two bath scales side by side, a person stood with the left foot on one, the right foot on the other. If both scales registered the same, perfect posture, if uneven, poor posture. Going around in a group, we watched other people doing this; none of whom equalized the scales. We all took turns. I was the only one that equalized the scales. I’d never tried it before, had never thought about it before, but I knew what it felt like. But that set up did NOT measure posture. It does measure something all right but it’s more in line with what I will call “body knowledge” or “kinesthetic awareness.”
When we first came to Oregon, I went to the State Employment Office where I went through a battery of tests that included assessing manual dexterity, coordination, etc. There were 20 or so of us standing around a long table where we were going to put nuts and bolts together, etc. Standing there, I realized I was a little off balance in my high-heeled shoes so I kicked them off. The man administering the tests was walking around behind us giving instructions, noticed I had my shoes off but didn’t say anything. Later I learned I had made the highest scores of anyone in the room but didn’t know if it really meant anything since I didn’t know what kind of people came to that office looking for a job; I didn’t know to what I was compared. After I’d completed all kinds of tests, the counselor told me I had the intelligence and manual dexterity to have been, for example, a neurosurgeon.
A year later a cousin was telling me about her experience at the same place. “The man told the women they could pull off their high-heeled shoes if they wanted.”
Not working now, I was seeing Jess during the day, still once a week. To add to the plot he was staying with a friend in that rural area, just a few miles from my house.
One night when I managed to get myself into another potentially life-threatening situation, my impulse was to call Jess at 2:30 a.m. I had to wonder if that was his friend’s car I saw going towards town just before I turned off the highway after I managed to extricate myself from the situation. I think I was vaguely aware that I had called him, just as I would have my dad or brother. And I was touched by just the possibility that it MIGHT have been him driving his friend’s car – going to see about ME!
In a state of paralyzing indecision when I went to see Jess one day, whether to continue seeing him or not, when we went into a little room and closed the door, I began to have trouble breathing. I had nothing to say. I played a tape of one of the songs I’d just written. (to him) And he didn’t have much to say, either. A very difficult hour, I managed to talk about my indecision. I could not get to some feelings, as if something was locked behind a door. That room became smaller; Jess was so close and yet so far. My breathing difficulty lasted the whole hour. At the end of the hour I watched as Jess jumped up, made a beeline for the door and went out, something he’d never done! We had always kind of sauntered to the door, together, usually arm in arm. I gave him another piece of writing:
It’s good for me to see you blush
even better than to see your anger
It reminds me you’re a man.
I started to say “Just a man”
but perhaps it’s harder to be “just a man”
than it might be to be a god
for a man has doubts and fears
impossible dreams and castles in the air
that crash around his feet sometimes
and must lie amid the ruin and rubble
wondering how long before daylight.
Sometimes when he’s all alone, hidden out of sight
he gets in touch with an empty place
and trembles in pain and fear
safely tucked under his blanket of darkness.
For if he were a god he’d always be right
in what he says and what he does
He’d never fail and have to keep going
he’s going to fail again.
He’d never find even a whisper of doubt there
when all eyes look to him for the ultimate answer
when he has to make a decision and he knows
he doesn’t have any ultimate answers
he knows it might be just as wrong
as it might be right
but he has to act, he can’t retreat to a corner
for he’s out in the stream of life
not looking down from above.
He’d never have to be painfully aware
of his finitude and limitations
when he walks among the broken, scattered
pieces of people he can’t mend.
Yes, it’s good for me to see you blush…
and laugh and cry
and hear that deadly tone when you speak in anger
for I know you have both feet planted securely
on terra firma.
And I wonder why I first thought, “Just a man”
No god has had to endure such.
It was on a Thursday I met what was to be my last regularly scheduled appointment for a while with Jess. I was over the state concerning him of the previous week, but now I was having other problems I knew weren’t related to him. I was feeling quivery all over. We came up with the analogy of it being like a wire might feel that electric current is passing through. I remember how I cried that day, huddled under the window, as I could see that some of the things I was doing looked crazy to some people, that they could say I was delusional. I said, “Surely nobody would laugh at me just because I wanted to help people like my mother and sister…so much….”
I continued writing, gradually cutting down on sleep. During my writing I began to “see” myself as I wrote about my experiences, things I had done or said and I started seeing myself differently. Sometimes I thought, “I’d like a person who did that!” “I’d like someone who had said that!” I had not realized I did things I liked in other people.
Perhaps it’s very difficult for some to understand why I did what I did. I wanted to study schizophrenia; I had had two episodes diagnosed schizophrenia. I knew if I didn’t sleep there was the possibility I would become “schizophrenic” again. But when Jess said, “I think what you’re going through might be some kind of creative experience,” I went home and thought about that.
“A creative experience, huh? I’m going to ride this out all the way, I want to see what will happen.” I flushed my Stelazine down the toilet. After a few days, when I had stopped sleeping completely and I started having delusional thoughts, I was not frightened like before. I had always known when I started delusional thinking and it had scared the hell out of me. But not this time. I was conducting my own private research program.
“To surrender the moral certainty about good and evil provided by the old ethic, stamped as
it was with the approval of the collective and to accept the ambiguity of the inner experience
is always a difficult undertaking for the individual, since in every case it involves a venture
into the unknown, with all the danger which the acceptance of evil brings with it for every
Neumann, Erich. Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, New York: C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology, 1969.
April 1976 Sunday morning
(Many “strange” ideas going through my mind, ideas I’d simply never heard anywhere, much emotion.)
….I flashed on the thoughts I’d had during the first episode, that the Bible was not only the story of the WORLD but of each individual in microcosm; that I had my creation. I had to meet these things in MY life; I had MY “Golgotha,” I had MY “cross,” that this was information given to men “in the beginning” but over the centuries the meaning had been lost and distorted.
“How easy it would be to slip over into schizophrenia,” I thought. “These thoughts, just accept them, for right now…THEY ARE NECESSARY… for whatever reason.”
I felt better, calmer, and the thoughts didn’t “grab” me. I went outside to see if it was warm enough to work out there. I stood on the porch listening to the songs of the two million birds, the sound of drops of water falling from the eave of the house and splatting on the ground, looking toward the east and wondering, “Will the sun make it before that bank of clouds?” Again, I thought, “How easy to say, ‘The doctors are watching me’…but that’s the easy way. This is reality, I’m in this all by myself. This is the way it has to be….”
Leaning my head against the porch post, I wept and moaned. I knew this was real. I had to decide whether to trust my FEELINGS or not – my THOUGHTS could become schizophrenic. I didn’t know what to do with all those feelings that keep telling me things I don’t understand. Sometimes I know my words aren’t the right words but trusting the feelings was part of my experiment. I had to trust my feelings. I didn’t have anything else to go on. Even if things didn’t happen like my feelings made me think, then for whatever reason, “THEY ARE NECESSARY FOR RIGHT NOW; accept them for NOW; let tomorrow take care of tomorrow.” I watched the bright growing above the cloud bank. “I don’t know who I am…I don’t know where I am…I don’t know when I am. I am all people… all things…all time…”
Tears still running, both arms wrapped around the porch post, I thought about Jesus and what I had decided a number of years ago. For his life to be valid, he could not be a god. He had to be a MAN; he had to feel things I was feeling, the doubt, the not knowing whether I’m on the right track or not, the pain. He couldn’t have the ultimate answers knowingly for that would invalidate his existence. He had to struggle; it had to be a battle. It was not sacrilege to me to bring him down to earth. He had to know what it was to want a woman, to know how orgasm felt. That’s where I started, the first thing the “church” threw out. He lost his temper, he bled real red blood with white corpuscles and everything. He had rough hands from the wood he worked with; he was strong physically. He had body odor and he had bad breath in the morning. And he got constipated, and got diarrhea, probably from the water in some of those wells he drank out of. Being a god would mean only that it would be stupid for a human to even ATTEMPT to go in the direction he was leading. I stopped “praying” to Jesus long ago. I “pray” directly to my “God,” whatever that is…Jesus was not my god or my savior. He was my BROTHER! (And I mean as all men are my brothers.) And I know I would be burned at the stake in some eras. Just now I flashed on my portrayal of Joan of Arc I did in high school. I really related to that character for I “hear” my own “voices.”
“You must work out your own salvation in fear
and trembling; …” Philippians 2:12 NEB
I went back out on the porch just after the sun was up. Beautiful, beautiful, the perfect, ultimate beauty and perfection of that little battered imperfect plum tree, little white buds all over, the first few just beginning to open. The beauty and perfection of those fir trees over the way, those weather-worn, scarred, imperfect fir trees, that was perfect for them, there was no other way for them to be, ultimate perfection. IS. The trees, the grass, the sun, everything just the way it was supposed to be. As I stood there crying I thought, “If this is schizophrenic, then just leave me alone. I want to be this way.”
From notes later that week:
Once on the farm I decided to let the pigs out to graze. In a little pen, ten of them, it was just a mudhole while all around the pen was tall green grass! I brought all the kids out to stand guard while I let the pigs out. It went fairly well till we started trying to get them back into the pen. Five of them didn’t want back in that pen. Then all hell cut loose! Our property boundaries were not fenced and I knew if they got out in those woods, we’d never see them again! Kids and pigs were going in every direction. We chased pigs all over ten acres trying to keep them out of the woods and from going up the road. Once in a while kids and pigs would all come to a standstill – pant – then take off again. By that time I was laughing uncontrollably as I watched. I got scared the pigs were going to drop dead before I successfully lured them back into the pen.
One of the funniest things (now) that ever happened to me in my life was when I started my menstrual periods. It was during Bible School at the end of 7th grade. As I was sitting in the car with a girlfriend, waiting for my mother who was helping with Bible School to come to take me home, the preacher’s son, a year younger than me, came over to the window by me, stuck his head in. The first goddamned thing he said was, “What’s that blood doing on your shoes?” I looked down and sure enough, there were spots of blood on my white sandals. Without hesitation and without batting an eyelash I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Oh, I’ve been cleaning chickens.” He believed me.
While we lived in SE Portland, one Sunday afternoon I had to go to the grocery store about two blocks away across a major thoroughfare. My kids all wanted to walk down with me. Children were about 9, 7, 6, and 3. The little toy fox terrier followed us so one of the kids picked him up and carried him. There was no light there to cross but we managed. When we came out of the store right there by the street I had a bag of groceries and was holding the 3 year old’s hand with the other hand; son had her hand; 7 year old had his hand and 9 year old was carrying the dog. The traffic was extremely heavy as we stood by the street waiting to cross. A priest finally stopped his car for us and the other lane of traffic stopped then. Just as we got right in the middle of the street, the bag I was carrying ripped open, potatoes went all over the street and the dog jumped out of daughter’s arms. While traffic backed up all up and down Foster Road, we were scurrying around in the middle of the street gathering up potatoes and chasing the dog.
Standing here lost in thought again – how I’m completely exposing myself to Jess, that in spite of my feelings about it all being important, I might just be crazy. Still, some part of me felt safe in telling him all these things. He never put me down, even for some of the things I put myself down for. I don’t recall those parts of me, the things that make me ME, my thoughts and wishes and wants and likes and dislikes, that you can’t see or touch, I don’t remember anyone ever looking at those parts for so long. If anybody bothered to look they couldn’t see it, or couldn’t understand it, or didn’t want it or didn’t like it, or were afraid of it. And I want to say something like “Jess is not afraid to be Jess. Somehow, that helps me not be afraid to be me.”
From notes: 3:00 a.m.
Sometimes it’s as if the songs exist somewhere outside time – in the real and eternal. Like they exist before I write them – that somehow I’m peeking into that “other place” and bringing them back. And there’s no beginning and no end there. It’s calm there – peaceful – IT IS – I AM
Driving around one day this week, seemingly aimless, following…? I came to the old, well cared for cemetery at George in a remote area. I walked around, resting…sunshine, green grass, wildflowers, tombstones and markers…1880-1883….Aug. l, 1906 Aug. 3, 1906…. “Somewhere on a hillside overlooking Portland to the NW lies an unmarked grave…” Jonathan David. I’d never figured out what to put on his marker – another unfinished. I noticed a grave with only a small faded metal marker indicating its existence. After gathering a profusion of dainty, classically simple yellow blooms and delicate tiny fingers of white wildflowers growing persistently in quiet disarray in the grass, I kneeled at the head of the grave, gently placed my fragile bouquet of God’s humblest, untamed blossoms before me…and wept…
I KNEW that was not my baby’s grave. I KNEW WHERE I WAS.
But I thought Jess was driving the big, rattling, clanging log truck that was going back and forth on the road – like he was late for something.
I told Jess last year about my feeling off and on for some time that I was “hacking my way through the jungle with a machete” making my trail as I go. I don’t have any markers. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. I don’t even know if I’m going anywhere but if anyone out there has a map, please let me see it. If anyone out there has gone this way before, please let me know, tell me where I’m going.
My mind can’t handle the idea that right now I’m writing a book; that right now I’m making a contribution to medical science even though that’s what the feelings keep feeling like. So I do something similar to what I did last spring; I’m writing this all for ME. (At that time I had not conciously decided to write a book but my feelings were “telling” me that I was writing a book.)
This is my effort to put ME over there so I can SEE me. Maybe just Jess will have a better understanding of schizophrenia, from me. Just MAYBE…but keeping it all in little words, little ideas. This is simply MY way of working out MY problems and I get hold of those ideas and hang on, ending up with “WHATEVER IS GOING ON, IT’S NECESSARY!”
Right now I don’t want to hear “That’s just how I feel” or “I’m like that” and know I can’t explore that “me-ness.” (The more I got into my writing, of which I’ve included only a portion, the less sleep I was seeming to need. It would be ten years later before I would realize that when I started writing intensely, allowing the mental state conducive to the creative aspect of writing, that that mental state or something from it assumed a level of control comparable to my rational, reasoning state. RECOGNITION of that side of me had to come before I could even begin to think about an integration of such. With my “will-power” there was probably no way to get through initially except in an “eruption.” Ten years later I compare it to “breaking a horse.”)
I continued trying to make notes of my thinking as it became progressively, seemingly, “disconnected.” From that collage:
to accept myself
to be able to look clearly and KNOW that’s me
somewhere “Beyond Good and Evil.”
It occurred to me as I’m listening to these songs I’m engrossed in FANTASY, not delusions. How can I say NOT delusions? I don’t know what delusions are. Like this song, hearing it as Jess’ words…and it is a FANTASY. I don’t think I ever allowed myself to fantasize …just started after meeting Jess. I was only approaching fantasy….maybe had wisps of fantasies but NEVER allowed them to develop, to be conscious of fantasizing. I was the 4 year old kid they couldn’t make believe in Santa Claus. (But there was little feeling with the mental images.)
I’ll never forget the day when Abbie and her friend came to visit. For some reason he was very easy to talk to. I told him a little about my schizo experiences, my delusion of being a sort of a “female Jesus Christ” – so to speak. I felt a cold hand grab my heart when, without batting an eyelash, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “How do you know you’re NOT?!”
Schizophrenia is NOT a splitting, NOT a split personality. It’s an integrating experience even though we, with our sense and knowledge of what is “split” and what is “whole” tells us it can’t be. I had that same thought summer ‘7l, when I was submersed in the paradoxes for the first time.
My oldest daughter started taking me in to see Jess and he called my house occasionally. When I told him about having thought “the doctors” were watching me he asked, “Doesn’t that frighten you? Most people feel that as threatening.”
“No, it doesn’t frighten me or threaten me. It’s never scared me cause I’ve always thought they were watching me to learn something which I’ve always been for. Sometimes I get tired of it. I thought they were aware of everything I did and said part of the time, not always through the electricity – sometimes like they had wired the house and sometimes not even that much. It’s basically a ‘feeling’ of being ‘watched’ that I attach those words to.”
“It’s like a giant geodesic dome was over my side of that mountain and I couldn’t see the sun, or the sun wasn’t out there behind those clouds.` I lost my feel for time. I couldn’t tell if it was morning or afternoon or feel the PASSAGE of time, like it was standing still more than anything else,” I said, describing a disturbing experience the previous day.
“I’ve been reading about Daniel in the O.T. and you know, that Bible is just FULL of schizophrenics!”
When I thought the doctors were watching me from the house across the street, I hung clothes symbolically, again, in the window, particularly the afghan I’d crocheted at Dammasch in ’71. That was my banner. I was declaring war! Somehow I felt I was fighting all the Dammaschs in the world!
I went out to burn the trash one night and after I’d burnt off everything in the burning barrel that would burn I decided, “This will represent Dammasch.” Full to the top, I rolled it down the hill leaving a trail of trash till no more would come out. I turned it upside down and dumped the rest out. It was black and icky. With a stick I poked around in that ick looking for anything salvageable, found very few things that might have been recyclable, decided the rest was just garbage and wished to God I could do that in real life. That may have been the night I FELT reduced to the level of an animal. Standing out by the calf in the pen, I felt CAGED. Consummate feeling, consummate pain. I didn’t know if at that moment my body had assumed the form of an animal or not; I wasn’t sure what anyone looking at me would have seen. I didn’t care. The lifetime of pain I had never experienced caught up with me. I FELT – and I howled and I howled – to the calf – to the wind – to the night. Alone.
The night I watched the Wonder Woman cartoon on TV I thought, “It’s really about me, all those impossible things she’s doing, solving all the problems of the world; I KNOW how that FEELS. I’ve been doing it for years and years…” and I laughed and I laughed. Tears were streaming down my face and my sides ached. I was “WONDER WOMAN.” It had never occurred to me how I had STRUGGLED, how hard it had been to live my life. Course everyone in the room only saw how “crazy” I was. Nothing in that cartoon was THAT funny. Yes, I was delusional. I thought someone had written and shown it for me because THEY could see the analogy.
Experiencing the first visual hallucination that I was so aware of, I saw myself on TV for a second at the office where I had worked a few weeks before – and I was stunned. I looked so beautiful – but I didn’t tell anyone…
I thought electric lines were interfering with our body processes, causing tension in people, in families, in society. (Imagine my shock three years later to see an article in a legitimate magazine by a research scientist proposing the same theory!)
I felt/thought my body might be going through the phylogenetic development of the human species – literally. And once I wondered if my skin had sloughed off, if I were exposed nerves and muscle tissue; my body felt like that. During that time my daughter said she could barely stand to touch me, like she was getting mild electric shock.
But I didn’t freak out because of what it felt like was happening to my body. I was not sure of what others saw when they looked at me but I didn’t get hysterical. I told myself mentally, “You have to look at your arm and see your arm as you know it. It doesn’t matter what form my body is in; I am still ME; I still FEEL the same; I’m still Hazel; no matter what anybody sees looking at me; it doesn’t matter if I’m a blob. But I can’t see myself as a blob because I know I can’t handle it right now, not now. I still feel – I still think – I still have Hazel memories – I’m still Hazel…”
For the first time I developed a delusion that my father was still alive and I would see him, which was added to my basic delusional system.
The private party I had when I stayed up all night, with uninhibited creativity and a lot of pretend was more like a little girl playing tea party than anything else. Each object, each position on the table was symbolic. I lit candles, each symbolic. The tallest candle I placed on the dais at the top of the stairs, thinking there should be a perpetual candle flame in my home, a representation for the presence of “God,” “something else.” To represent Jess on the table, a box of salt, and me, a miniature Squirt pop bottle salt shaker full of chili pepper powder. The only thing I was delusional about was that I thought “the doctors” were watching me from across the street, the only consistent delusion throughout the episode.
Looking into a candle flame, an “evil apparition” began appearing. My stomach did a flip flop but I decided I wasn’t going to run from it. So I didn’t look away and said, “Boo” at it, at which point it changed into Casper, the friendly ghost.
Sometimes I “felt” I had been isolated, “protected,” while the outside world came to an end with cataclysmic events, “Armageddon,” that would be followed by the establishment of a “new order” in the world in which peace and love would reign at last, when I would emerge from this “refuge.”
April 19, 1976
From the bush of baby’s breath blooming in the front yard, I picked a big bouquet and put it below the TV; I put Jonathan David’s unfinished blanket over the TV; on that I put a picture of the child I’d had as a result of rape. For the first time I was so grateful for her; that abortions had not become legal yet; that I had not given her away. For the first time in 16 years I was relieved of the resentment, anger, hostility and experienced an inner peace and acceptance.
No one had any idea that what they saw was anything but “crazy”…
She had been born 16 years ago that day….
April 22, 1976 Woodland Park Hospital (Written the following week)
Jess took me from DBD to the private hospital, “Some place where I won’t worry about you,” staying with me till I was admitted. Teen patients saw us and thought he was my husband.
That night a psychiatrist talked to me about two minutes and diagnosed me manic depressive. He wanted to give me Lithium which I wouldn’t agree to, and asked, “How often do you get depressed?”
“When I have a baby that dies, I get depressed; when I start to lose my professional certification, I get depressed. Find out how often something bad happens, that’s how often I get depressed.”
Friday I was still on the “open” unit. That night a “Mental Health Therapist” (They wore labels) took me to the school across the street to a school carnival where we walked around a while.
The next morning I asked if I could go for a walk in the sunshine. Three or four people started explaining the rules at the same time – I couldn’t. Pointing to a posted chart I asked, “What does that zero by my name mean?” Becoming more frustrated, my voice was getting louder. (Being my normal self.) As my voice got louder, hands started grabbing me, holding me, pinning my arms against my body, and naturally, I started fighting. The term is “violent,” you better believe I became “violent.” They started pushing, shoving, half carrying me into a little room and started very efficiently moving all the furniture out. I had no idea how many there were holding me but I know somebody got bitten. By this time I was crying and pleading for them to leave me alone. They held me down on a mat on the floor, the only thing left in the room and started taking my clothes off me. I was really crying now, begging them not to take my clothes off but they went right ahead and did it anyway…everything…They put a hospital gown on me..gave me a shot…locked the door to the bathroom, all went out and locked the door behind them. I was in some kind of shock at what had been done to me! I couldn’t believe they would lock the door to the bathroom! I can’t say I cried or screamed, that’s not what I did. I don’t know what to call that sound that IS pain. It was like the sound I made the night outside my house when I felt like I had become an animal. It’s more of a wailing howl than anything else, sounding like a wounded wild animal. I had to use the bathroom so I banged on the door to get someone to come and unlock it for me, only to discover that I had started my period – even though it wasn’t time for it! I don’t know how long they left me in there…
They put me on the closed ward then. Sunday morning I was in the day room and, again, made the mistake of asking if I could go outside for a walk in the sunshine. Again, not a chance. I must not have raised my voice for I wasn’t “grabbed.” Time passed and through the window I saw the attendant I’d asked and other patients walking down the sidewalk. I started feeling pretty bad. Just then I heard a man’s voice on TV, singing, and thought, “That’s how my daddy’s voice sounded!” (Actor, Ben Johnson, who was from Oklahoma.) I started crying quietly as I sat on my chair. A big, black male patient came over, put his arms around me, patted my back and started talking to me very quietly, “It’ll be all right…It’ll be all right…” Three men “Mental Health Therapists” came over, pushed him abruptly out of the way, jerked me up out of the chair and for only a second I fought, reflexively, as they started pushing me toward the door, never loosening their grip on me. I started trying to keep up with them so I wouldn’t be pushed but they had such long legs and were taking such big steps, I couldn’t. I was talking loudly to them but not shouting or screaming or fighting. As soon as they got me in the quiet room I started jerking my clothes off myself. That’s when somebody started yelling “Code 5” and people I’d never seen before started popping out of the woodwork. I was berserk because I was taking my clothes off before they could do it against my will! So ten or twelve people stood around watching me undress and that’s quite a feat for me, but not nearly so great as the rage and humiliation of having my clothes taken off against my will. Again, they locked the bathroom door and went out, locking the door behind them. I immediately pulled the mat out to the middle of the room and started pacing the perimeter of the room, around and around. I knew I had to do something or what was left of my mind was going to snap. I started singing, in my hoarse, broken, cracked voice, the result of the day before in there. “Jesus walked his lonesome valley” and some of the old songs, and I walked and I walked…”and I must walk my lonesome valley…I have to walk it by myself…nobody else can walk it for me…I have to walk it by myself…” around and around. I’d bump into the wall and wake up. For an instant I wouldn’t know where I was. Finally, I tripped over the mat, fell down and couldn’t get up. I laid there, wondering what was happening to me…I heard people outside, laughing…I heard a girl in the room next to me…sounded like she was beating her head against the wall, and crying, “Let me out…please let me out…please don’t lock me in…” I laid my face down against the mat and cried, “Oh, God, let me die…please…just let me die…” (The next day I found out the girl was a 16 year old Indian girl who had gotten upset when they grabbed me. She told me she was pregnant.)
Again, they gave me a shot. I had to use the bathroom and again, had to bang on the door with my fist to get someone’s attention. If I were forced to urinate in the floor I knew I was going to be a basket case. Again, I laid and howled – in pain and despair. I think I stayed in that room all night, till just before dawn. I must have gone to sleep because I suddenly woke in the same position I had laid down in, on my stomach with my arms and hands drawn up under my chest with my knees drawn up.
Monday someone told me they were going to have a court hearing to have me court committed. All I could think was, “This can’t be real; this can’t be happening; this is ME – a court hearing!”
Jess came to see me that afternoon. (I guess they had to let him see me since he was my therapist. One friend had come to see me, they wouldn’t let him see me. Friends had called and were not allowed to talk to me. My daughter was not allowed to see me when she came and I didn’t know any of this had happened till after I was released.)
Jess and I went into a little room where I told him about what had been happening, between crying…”If they commit me and they keep giving me Stelazine and keep doing those things to me, will you bring me some poison to take? Just bring me something so I can get out of this hell…I can’t take it…I never meant anything more in my life, Jess…”
That night one of those “Mental Health Therapist” came into my room waving a piece of paper, demanding, “Write a note saying you won’t hurt yourself while you’re in Woodland Park Hospital.”
“Now, just what good do you think that’s going to do?” I asked.
“If you don’t write it, we’ll put you back in the quiet room,” he said as he started towards me so I started writing.
“What are you going to do with this? Wave it over the dead body? Are you going to sue the dead body?” I asked while thinking, “They’re trying to get me court committed for insanity and they’re wanting me to write a meaningful statement??” Writing that was the most asinine thing I’d ever heard of but I wrote “I promise…” added, “Written under the threat of going back to the quiet room if I don’t,” signed it, dated it as he said and even added the time.
I looked at him and asked, “Why don’t you people write me a piece of paper that guarantees YOU are not going to hurt me? Stelazine hurts my body but you give it to me anyway. You write me a piece of paper that guarantees you have not destroyed some brain cells every time you throw me in that quiet room.”
He looked at me, a crazy woman, never said a word and left my room, with his precious piece of paper.
I saw a different psychiatrist the next day. When I told him what they had done to me, he threw up his hands saying, “I don’t know anything about it; I wasn’t here…”
“Yah, like the Germans in Germany when they were exterminating the Jews – if you don’t see it or touch it or smell it, it doesn’t exist. You can always proclaim your innocence…” I retorted.
Tuesday an investigator from County Court came to talk to me in my room. When I told him about the quiet room he asked, “Did you become violent?”
“After a bunch of people unexpectedly grabbed me, yes, I became violent. My mother used to hold me when I was a kid and tease me, telling me I had to learn to take teasing and I knew total rage. I was held and raped…so when someone holds me, yes, I become violent.”
I recited one of my poems to him:
On your next day off
take a quick trip to hell, back if you can
you’ll be sure to see me somewhere along the way.
Don’t look too close
I don’t want you to see the look that was left in my eyes
when the devil got through with me.
In a little while he asked me to recite it again and three or four times during the conversation I saw him smile out of one side of his mouth. He went out and told someone to let me out. And he must have told them IMMEDIATELY for an aide came right in and told me I could go home at any time, “But I’d really like for you to stay the night,” which I agreed to do simply because he was so nice. That morning he had brought me a camellia and had requested to be assigned to me.
I got home but my 16 year old daughter didn’t come home. I found out on Saturday, two days later, only because I was persistent in trying to find her, that she was in “protective custody.” At that time I took it to be the work of the county. (I didn’t find out till later it was her own doing.) Since I thought it was the county more rage was added to what I was already feeling. This daughter I’d had as a result of rape wanted to go into a foster home and the county was happy to oblige. More bitterness and hostility was added to what I already felt toward “the state.” “How ironic,” I thought, “the state will pay strangers for her keep but I can’t get a cent!” (She was to stay in foster homes.)
Then! I found out my oldest daughter, who had gotten married in February, had stopped going to school, just two months before she was to graduate.
When I went to see Jess, I was so upset I was shaking.
“I’ve decided there’s only one thing I can do. I feel like making copies of my papers. I have a list of people and agencies to send them to, getting them mailed and then going down in front of Clackamas County Courthouse, blowing my brains out and letting the county explain the body”.
Jess was sitting cros-legged on the floor, his hands resting on his ankles, looking at the ceiling. After some moments he said, “I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Say something, say something, Jess’…” Looking at me he added, “But there’s nothing for me to say.”
Before I left that day he did ask a pertinent question, and somehow I knew he wasn’t making a challenge or trying to dissuade me. I felt he sincerely wanted to know the decisive factor when he asked, “What keeps you from it?”
“Feeling seems to be the root out of which thought comes.”
Van Dusen, Wilson. “The Natural Depth in Man”, Person to Person:
The Problem of Being Human, Moab, Utah: Real People Press, 1967.