There are times in everybody's life, well at least those that are honest with themselves where they feel like taking the easy way out. Ending it. Kaput. No more hurt or pain.
There are also many people I know on some form of medication that keeps them from tipping over into that hurting zone, that dark, swirling void of self pity, self harm, I'm not ashamed to say that at the end of 1996 I found myself there.
I know many people who have been there and a vast proportion of them didn't come back.
A combination of things got me there but as I've learned that by bottling it all up, containing rage, sucking up more pain and attracting the devils-best-dressed-to-hurt-us all comes to a head eventually. So it began that night when I dropped my print press roller on my left foot.
Christ knows why I thought moving a 120kg solid steel roller at midnight in the rain, drunk was a good idea.
I was told that when you hurt yourself there is a meaning to it. That an injury to your foot is best designed to ensure you change your track, change direction. I drove with one foot to the Emergency intake carpark at Bunbury Regional Hospital, Western Australia.
Crashed the car to be truthful into the lavender bush garden in my Valiant Hemi Ute. Damn I miss that car. I swear I'll buy another one just like it one day.
As I lay there in casualty, a drip in one arm, a drain in the leg (to take of the fluid buildup from ignoring it for a week), 5MGs of morphine and still wide awake, tears rolling slowly down my cheeks a soft speaking man came to the foot of my bed and asked me if I was ok.
"No. Fuck off."
"Son...if you had a wish and you wanted it to come true what positive thing would you wish for at this very moment?"
I look at him perplexed. Was this person actually for real? I came back with an absurdity to ensure he left me alone.
"...I really would like a fucking holiday right now. Whoever you are can you just fuck off and leave me alone or I'll...."
I didn't get the chance to continue. His hand was up like a stop signal.
He left as quietly as he came and I never saw him again. What I did see was more paperwork and folders at the end of the bed. I was told I was being moved to " a more secure place for you" - Ward 6, Bunbury Regional Hospital.
Upstairs. No locked doors but no way out except via the lift or one way fire escape doors. Tricky to navigate when you cant get out of your room.
My ribs hurt and when they X-rayed me they said I'd yanked my ribs out of my costal condroids...sternum I think it is.
Unable to situp, the following day I had three sets of women at the end of the bed. The Mother of of my eldest Daughter, then my ex-girlfriend, then shortly after my newly minted girlfriend. Little did I know that their personal accounts of my radical behaviour in the leadup to my self admission ensured I took that well earned holiday.
So for six weeks I lay, sat, stood or limped around that ward. Here is what happened over that six weeks.
The pathologist came into the room in week 1 and said that she needed to take bloods. I offered her my jugular vein but she declined gracefully. With a grin. It was her birthday I overheard as she spoke in the nurses station. It coincided with Valentine's day. The newspaper boy agreed to join me in my trick.
He went and bought a single red rose. I hid it under the blankets of my bed. She came to take blood. Again I gave her the offer of my neck. She grinned and scolded me. I then said, "....well if you wont take the blood from there will you take this as a token of my appreciation for the gas chromotography you conduct to determine what drugs I'm either on, have taken or continue to take."
Stunned, her jaw dropped. On my release from hospital we met, and met, and met. Of course we didn't talk gas chromatography but I do believe she became my first ever muse. As Artists do.
Anyway, back to the wards. Old man hard left, younger man opposite, lunatic hard right. Everyday was a mix of groaning, yelps, unintelligible gibberish. So old mate dies across from me. Reaches out, I stagger to his bedside just in time for him to make his last breath.
Dead pan grey he sunk to the bed. I collapsed in tears. They tried reviving him. Rushed me out the room and told me to sit in the corridor.
Full moon streaming in through the barred windows. No luck. Old man gets wheeled past covered in a sheet. I crawled into a foetal position and hid next to the visitors chair. The 6 AM sunlight woke me.
Time dragged on. I was given uppers and downers and fuck me arounders. Blue ones, red ones, green ones. They held my mouth and made sure I swallowed every last one of them. I lost 15 kgs just lying down. Wouldn't eat. Read everything there was to read. Even 'Womens Weekly' magazines became real.
Started playing with imaginary friends in the end of ward quiet rooms. Built sculptures from paddle pop sticks. Told stories to faeries who visited me at night and sat with me on my bed.
Diagnosed as everything they could find in the book.
Manic depressive, Bipolar. Schizophrenic.....depresssssed. Duh. Days dragged into weeks. Then months. I lost track of all time and space. There was no world except for the formaldehyde and Pine-o-Cleen filled one I seemed to inhabit.
Visited by my girlfriend/s who spoke to me and asked me to accept the fact that I wasn't getting out soon. Then it happened. One night, in the dead of night a huge commotion. A shape of a human jammed into a bed filled with pumps, lines, flashing lights and beeping things.
Curtains drawn we didn't see anything of this person till a week later when they pulled the curtains back and revealed a human who could only literally move three fingers. Paraplegic and now in for the third time in hospital, busted up. Run over by a F250 pickup truck whilst still on his motorbike.
Within hours he had struck up a conversation with me.
"...So your in here for a holiday I'm told." he laughed. I laughed then replied..."...well I was waiting for you to arrive so we could break out tonight by throwing some blankets over that razor wire."
He sobbed in hysterics. A man who couldn't wipe his own ass. A man whose whole life had been ruined by a car driving the wrong way at the right time when he was a child. A man with a heart of gold. He laughed so hard the nurses repeatedly told him to stop or he would break his nasal feeding tube.
We flirted with nurses together, We laughed, we joked, we argued politics, religion, sexuality, economics. The nurses left us alone.
"You are good for each other...you are his healer Alexander." I looked at them perplexed. Me?
One day it dawned on me that the social worker we both spoke with was my escape out of this dreadful nightmare.
That night XXXXXX planned our escape. He ordered pizza and had them delivered via the fire escape. We left the boxes strewn around our room and the beer cans too. That morning every known professional visited us both. We blamed each other. As planned it worked.
We were separated. Another two weeks of bed ridden misery. Not before he told me his life story, committed with me to a life of education and helping others as did I.
To do good as best we can. To fight our demons.
I understand that he is now a social worker. Successful and happy.
I was moved to another ward. I wrote a letter on paper to the Psychiatrist and stated that they were holding me against my own free will. That I was sound of mind and spirit and wished to placed in the care of my parents. To be transported to Sydney and that I would commit to a thorough and full health assessment at St. George Hospital...which I did.
Yet again a battery of tests. Thank goodness my Mother saw the sense in ensuring I saw the right people. No more pills. No more medication.
That plane flight back to Sydney was gut wrenching. I spent 40 days and 40 nights settling my personal affairs, months of unpaid fines, bills and so on before getting back on that plane and returning to start again.
To do good.