Mental Illness? or - Salvation                                                               Copyright ©2014 Hazel Gay

Hazel Gay's To Heal the Broken-Hearted (Chronicle of a woman's 18 year journey through "mental illness" to healing, wholeness and transformation.)
Chapter 8 All quotes used with written permission.

May 8, 1976   Saturday
       Am waiting for my second artichoke to cook, wearing off the effects of screwdrivers and collinses, watching a movie “The Devil’s Brigade,” with never a second going by today, with exception of one call, during which I’ve not thought of you. Decided yesterday it’s OK that I think about you; it’s necessary at this point (beats Clackamas County!). 
       Don’t know why I’m watching this movie.  I’ve hurt enough, enough for three or four lifetimes. In it, I see men, hurting, still going, still giving orders, still reasonable, still performing, with invisible, gaping, bleeding wounds that there is no anesthetic for…And I wonder about you.  I can see parts of you in all the characters and somehow, I feel you would understand how those men feel. 
        While I was delusional I thought you were going to appear on the scene and rescue me, kind of a mental game, your imagination against mine. I could see you in anything, from a $30,000 sports car to a battered old pick-up truck – to the big log truck with clanking, rattling chains, from parachuting in to coming down the chimney as Santa Claus. I could see you doing anything, for somehow, I can see ALL types of men in you.  (Exception: the coward).  I called you a “rhinestone cowboy” while I was delusional.  The state I was in only lowered my inhibitions about telling you.  It still fits; So do a lot of other things but there was something about your leather hat.  You may not have understood me a few weeks ago when I said, “It took a rhinestone cowboy to break the last of the ‘G string.'” The G string I was referring to was like G for Gay and a string of horses.  I consider myself “hard to handle,” “high spirited,” even “wild” almost and a lot of men who “think” they are real “he-men” and go around exhibiting their “he-men” characteristics cannot manage me. I will not allow it.  It takes a gentle touch, accented with just the right display of strength at strategic moments, mental, emotional and physical.  Like the way you pulled me up from the couch. I don’t know why that gesture should have affected me so but it actually made me weak! 

       There are a great many “little things I cling to.” (In reference to a poem I’d given him.) The image of you walking down the hall away from me the day you came to the hospital; the way you kind of half loped, half bounced along on your Earth shoes…snug jeans and a slim, compact derriere… your rawhide jacket hanging from across just the right width shoulders…and an incongruous blond curly mop atop it all…beautiful!  I wonder if that vision “took” because I had just felt I had seen so much pain.  I know I was in pain but I thought I had perceived pain emanating from your eyes that day. 
       Your eyes…that’s where I get the confused message. You tell me what I see is “care and concern.” I know one thing, if what I see is “care and concern,” I don’t think I could handle it if you added “love ” to it.  I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me with so much “care and concern.” And even though I know I’m no more and no less than your other clients, it doesn’t keep me from remembering, thinking, feeling, even “fantasizing” a little by calling up the image of your face that is always so clear to me, so often with a veil of tears over your eyes, wondering if you have a stubborn chin and jawline hidden there, the dimples that intrigue me.  Don’t know why I say dimples; I only look at your right one. The authentic imperfect teeth; the way your hair curls down over your ears, wondering if maybe your ears turn pink before your face does, and if maybe your ears turn pink when your face doesn’t; the way you tilt your head back when something amuses you and you’re starting to break into a grin and I see your neck and it looks so sturdy and you seem so real. 
       Your eyes.  The day you watched me telling you about Joy’s singing; I thought you knew that I knew what I was doing.  And again, it was like a veil of tears. For some reason, the word “wilted” comes to mind. Sometimes that’s kind of the way I perceived you looking at me – with a “wilted” look. Sometimes your eyelids start to droop. 
       I want to give you a copy of the words to the song I wrote and played for you a few weeks ago: 

       When my night becomes darker 
       and I cannot find any stars up above in the sky 
       can’t you hear me call your name? 
       When I find that I’m lost and I see 
       not a sign, not a marker to show me the way 
       don’t you hear me call your name? 
       When I leave him with still 
       such an empty, sad feeling 
       somewhere down inside of my soul 
       don’t you hear me call your name? 
       When I stumble and fall down and find myself crying 
       and get up in spite of the pain 
       don’t you hear me call your name? 
       When the full moon comes rising up over the fir trees 
       and lights up a soft, cashmere night 
       can’t you hear me call your name? 
       When the first crocus greets me through 
       the snow in the garden 
       while singing the first song of spring 
       don’t you hear me call your name? 

       When I hear a new song that I tap my foot to 
       and I want to share what I’ve heard 
       don’t you hear me call your name? 
       When I stand on the seashore and listen and reach out 
       and gently touch eternity 
       Can’t you hear me call your name? 

(Writing the lead sheets for the songs I wrote was probably the most mentally challenging activity I could do. But it felt good to do it and I was so glad I could.) 

May 9 Sunday
       Something happened some time ago that still puzzles me.  When I told you about a man I’d met, I got right up to just before we hop into bed, and abruptly stopped. You sat there looking at me; your face turned an intense shade of red, and it was some moments before you said, “Well…I don’t know what happened, but, uh…” and you were able to continue. 
       You know, I remember the first time I saw you.  Pretty remarkable considering you didn’t make much of an impression on me.  I thought you were an egotistical, pretty boy. 
       The next time I saw you was a year later and I got a different impression. When you saw me, you came from by the table, hugged me and told me how glad you were to see me. And I perceived you as being real and that what you were saying was real, no artificiality, a truly warm and unafraid person. Sometimes I wonder if I go to you for the talking therapy or to be hugged. What is so neat about your hugging me is that you are not trying to take me to bed! You might say you’re the answer to my song, “Touch Me” 
       Touch me, but touch me, gently 
       hold me, but hold me, tenderly 
       speak to me, speak to me, softly 
       tonight don’t take what I can’t give. 
                Let me feel the warmth of you 
                let me hear those little words 
                just be close, so near 
                can you understand? 
                I’ve been used, I’ve been taken 
                I know pain and I know fear 
                I’ve come a long, long way 
                this is why I sing 
        Oh, touch me…. 

       So if you really love me 
       then tonight please think of me 
       give me hope and faith 
       please hold my hand 
       and touch me… 
       just touch me….       

If you would like to hear this song click here:Touch Me ©1974 Hazel Gay 

       Unknowingly, you took the direct route to my heart… 
       Back to my perception of you.  Underneath all the pretty frills that are so good to look at is a basic framework that’s about 203% strong man – a combination Paladin, Tarzan, Superman, Tom Jones and embryonic Schweitzer.  And probably a little bit of Mario Andretti that you’re afraid to let come out.  On second thought maybe you let that come out when you’re skiing. 
       This has been a very nice weekend for me; up until just now I had felt no pain. I started thinking about where you might be this weekend; you might be doing anything, with any body, but reached reality just now.  Today being what it is decided you would probably spend some time with your father and I feel tears in my eyes and wish I could touch you and with the tips of my fingers spend an eternity smoothing away the wrinkles at the corners of your eyes. 
        (This was the first Mother’s Day after his mother’s death.)   
       The Van Gogh colors in your beard – the yellows, golds, coppers, the yellows of your hair – and I can almost get lost in the colors sometimes.  And everywhere I see those colors it reminds me of you….warmth… 
       Actually, all I’m doing with my writing is following your advice and getting into my feelings and I must say it’s been a very nice trip.  The past two days I have abdicated all responsibility to everyone and everything – except my feeling. I’m waiting for the remnants of the Stelazine to wear off so I can do some sewing. And I still have a lot of writing to do. 
       Yes, I heard your words in that little room in the hospital…”Never lovers” and if you can honestly say that as you read my words there was never a “veil of tears” or never a feeling somewhere inside you that felt weak or drawing or just “caught,” then truthfully you can say “Never lovers,” for in that moment of feeling we were indeed lovers. In my mind the past two days, in my own way, I’ve made love to you, without seeing you or touching you…. 

May 16
       I want to comment on what was probably the last paper I gave you before going to the hospital, the one you said indicated disorganized thinking and I asked, “How do you think?” I told you the spaces were to indicate change of subject.  At this point, I’m wondering if that is basically the way we think but continue to follow a pattern of order in outward appearances. Another physical aspect of that paper I’m sure you point to as another indication of disintegration is my lack of starting each line right against the margin.  As you recall, I told you my antique typewriter has a petrified touch. Well, not only does it have that, it also has a constipated carriage return.  At the time I wrote that I was so physically exhausted I could not slam that carriage back hard enough to catch there. 
       This last trip was the FIRST time I’ve not been afraid of delusional thinking; that’s why I didn’t go to the hospital sooner. I just got too tired. 

        When I saw Jess I told him I was stopping seeing him as a therapist. “I don’t need a therapist at this point; I just need a friend.” 
        “This relationship is too confusing to me to be your friend,” he responded. 

May 20
       I will attempt to explain why I’m discontinuing all association with you, DBD, County Mental Health and any other miscellaneous psychiatrists and mental health workers – with the exception of Sharon, to whom I can relate primarily as friend. 
       My feelings tell me it’s detrimental to me at this point to be in the role “patient.” We have discussed the concept of roles and one by one my roles have been shed, like so many skins.  My career role that I lost;  my own disposal of the role of “wife;” lack of role as daughter, sister, relative; failure to acquire the role of singer; not even a role as someone’s girlfriend;  no money and no material possessions to even give me some kind of wavering role and my children and I had been forced to leave the stability of our home. That left me with the role of mother and human being. Woodland Park tried the best they could to wipe out the role of human being and the County immediately pounced on my role as mother. That’s leaving me with pretty thin threads.  During all of this I do have the role “patient.” I want to tell you something. The threads keeping me in the role of human being are so delicate at this point, that the role of patient is derogatory. It reduces my “self image.” It is detrimental to my perception of myself. I think way down inside me is the sure knowledge that I should not be in this position, that indeed, I have the capabilities to do anything I want, and well; that I have failed myself, my potentialities by always doubting on the surface that deep, inner, secret knowledge of myself. By being afraid to be intelligent, more intelligent than my family and friends; afraid to be creative, afraid to even consider myself creative because in my circles it meant being a freak… 
        (I tell him about some upsetting things that happened with my children and my ex-husband the previous week, being threatened by my oldest daughter of having the County Sheriff come to get me)….. 
       “If the County Sheriff comes to get me, this is the last time you’ll see me alive. If you call them, somebody’s going to die…” I screamed as I crumpled down in the doorway, crying. 
       “What’s the matter with everybody?  Everybody’s supposed to do what they want but I’m not supposed to get upset over it?…I’m not supposed to hurt?… Doesn’t anybody know PAIN when they see it????” 
       No, I’m not supposed to even feel it, it seems. I’m supposed to take my AMA approved Stelazine so I don’t FEEL and by all means do not object when the individuals and agencies and systems are piling their shit on me… 
       I’m tired of talking about how I “feel”about that garbage, of “coping,” of picking myself up and starting over after someone or some agency or sometimes even God has just stomped the hell out of me.  I’m tired of it and IT HAS TO STOP – or I’m getting off the boat.  You see, I feel I’m at a place similar to when my anger exploded toward Jack and I knew if I stayed in that situation, something in me was going to snap and then it would be too late.  If some of the pressures, some of the shit isn’t taken off, something in me is going to break.  I don’t know what that thing is but I feel like when it finally breaks, I’ll be a walking dead person, or thing, and I would rather go out while I’m all in one piece.  It might be comparable to the year I spent on medication and I don’t think you want to see that and in your role of “therapist” I’m aware that you cannot meet ANY of my present needs.  I don’t think I was really all that “sick” to begin with, that I was simply reacting to all that goddamned shit dumped on me. 
        My thoughts crossed the shotgun here but I didn’t know where any ammunition was. I figured I had every right to try to keep ANYONE from taking me and I even enjoyed thinking about breaking out the window and shooting at the cops.  But I remembered I had bigger targets at stake and would only defeat my purpose by doing that.  So I played my guitar, played my piano and sang. I got out my old hymnbook and played and sang many of the old hymns – and cried and cried.  I wrote a new song.  I collected books and took them to bed with me.  I reread the last two chapters of Toward A Psychology of Being, thought about all the people who had overdosed on sleeping pills, combined barbiturates and alcohol, and decided if I ever reached that point, that was the only way to go; just go to sleep and never wake up again.  But I remembered the night I had totally handed the reins over to “other.”  “If my job is finished, my God will let me die, I won’t have to take anything.” And I hurt…and I “prayed”…In my anguish I did pray, again, for God to “Just let me die, let me lay down and go to sleep and never have to wake up again..knowing at the time it was not in my control, knowing that if I had to finish what I had started then that was my choice.  My ultimate choice was to choose to follow my feelings of purpose.  If my God has a plan for me, then I had to see it through. That’s what it boiled down to that night – me and my God – and I knew I was ultimately alone – except for my “God” and my belief in a MEANING – even though I didn’t know what that meaning is… 
       I decided when I got right down to it, there was not one soul in the world that TRULY cared if I lived or died, that all anyone was interested in was what I could do for them, and I’ve had my moments in which that included you, Jess Campbell, for you want a brilliant case study.  Well, have at it.  You’ve got all you’re getting from me and I think you might be occupied for a while sifting through all of it; I’m getting out of your playhouse. 
       My feet swelled so badly last weekend during the time I wrote those other papers, even though I was lying around most of the time.  They were enormous, worse than they had been for two years, didn’t go down at night and were the same size when I woke in the morning.  They stayed like that till I went to stay with Sharon.  When I woke up the first morning there, most of the swelling was gone. 
       Even in spite of the past statements about you in this letter, I will admit that my therapy with you has had some effect; your allowing me to “be” – something that had so rarely ever happened, and in your own quiet way, even encouraging me to “be ” and I am aware that possibly it may have been difficult for you to retain your philosophy sometimes.  One of the basic things you gave me was the encouragement to believe there is meaning.  I use that word because I don’t know the right one and that’s about as close as I can come.  “Meaning” however we are unable to perceive it at the moment and I’m wondering if that may have been the backbone of your therapy for why bother to “be” if there is no meaning for the suffering involved in my being. 

Erickson in Identity: Youth & Crises indicates danger of 
PATIENT “identifying” himself as “patient.” 

       After some consideration I decided to end this with part of one of my poems: 

               And if perchance, someday you find you need me 
               for whatever reason it might be 
               Look under a tall fir out where 
               God put grass and sky and flowers 
               and there you’ll find me 
               still working on the lock of the door to heaven 
               with my thoughts, my book 
               and my pen in my hands.  
                     (Written summer ‘7l)