Wednesday, January 21, 2009
(part 119) THE DICHOTOMY OF THINKING
From 1972 Rolling Stone article/ unused pictures
Emotional and behavioral problems had already become an issue because of my drug and alcohol abuse. To then have suffered a second drug overdose, resulting in another coma, was like throwing gasoline on an open fire.
My ability to respond to the world around me was tending toward overly emotional reactions to everyday situations. Without warning I could become belligerent and was now prone to violent outbursts for little or no reason.
Because L.A. County General Hospital served so many people, they moved you through their system a lot faster. In other words, you didn't linger in intensive care the way I had in UCLA, because they always needed the room for another patient. The difference between waking up in UCLA and USC was night and day. In UCLA you felt the difference by the amount of attention given you; in USC you just felt abandoned.
As soon as I physically could, I was out on the street, probably signing myself out AMA again. I had not been prepared for the bizarre religious preaching from an over zealous staff member I encountered. Her beliefs about my sins, and willingness to impose them on me, outweighed my need for medical attention.
Because these two suicidal incidents happened in such close proximity to one another, I was basically a walking open wound psychologically speaking. Emotionally explosive and highly combative, anger, for me, became the last outpost of self-protection in a psyche that felt unwanted, unnecessary, and broken. My opinion was, quite simply, that it was me against the world.
At that point, the only place I'd felt safe had been Edgemont Hospital, where I was taken following the first incident on the Continental Hotel. I convinced my mother, who'd returned to L.A. by then, to put me there so I could have time to gather my senses and figure out what to do.
Edgemont, being a private hospital, had to be paid for, so she ended up with that burden. I stayed there for 2 or 3 months and it may have saved my life.
During the time at Edgemont, different publications, such as Record World Magazine, ran stories about my battles with the industry and sanity. On one hand I was self-destructive, on the other, I was being talked and written about. This dichotomy led me to a deep split within the framework of my own thinking.
I was destroying myself for sure, but as a result, I was center stage to some degree. For someone who believed there was no such thing as bad publicity, it became darkly apparent that the attention I was getting was feeding my sick ego and spurring me on to successive fiascos of self-annihilation. I spent a lot of time thinking about new and more dramatic ways to keep myself in the public eye.
While in Edgemont, one of the female staff members kept needling me about a pen and ink drawing I had done. I had done many. She seemed overly obsessed with her version of the meaning of my drawing, and would not relinquish her theory no matter what I said.
This continued for over an hour and resulted in an angry response from me. I punched a basketball size hole in a wire mesh security window at the nurses cage door, and blood splattered the area from a gash in my right forearm. I remember staring at the nurse, as she stood in shocked silence with her mouth hanging open. I said, "You happy now?"
I had silenced her badgering and that was all I really cared about. As a result, the hospital called an emergency staff meeting to review the incident and it's cause, at which I was required to be present.
Dr. Wayne, the head of the hospital, told me I could not act out in such a manner or I would be thrown out of the hospital. I said in response, "So I'm in the nut house for being crazy and you're going to throw me out of the hospital because I acted crazy?"
Dr. Wayne replied saying, "I'm not throwing you out of the hospital, but if you do anything like this again, you will be asked to leave." "OK," I said, "I got it. It won't happen again, I promise." I was serious. I didn't want to get thrown out. It was the only place on earth where I felt safe.