Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Happydale travelogues: We all need friends to share our delusions with

This is the fifth part of a series in which I had been on a road trip and decided to put some fictional stories together based on persons and adventures I had on my voyage. Naturally I used no one’s real name and changed the names of places I went. We continue with The Happydale Travelogues;

I was still visiting Jane in the Happydale Hospital, when I struck up a conversation with Martha, a thin-blond-women in her 30s. She was describing an anxiety attack she had just had.
“I’ve had those before,” I said. “They really suck. The worst I get are those feelings that people are staring at me.”
“I have those too,” Martha said.
“I was at a supermarket one day helping my girlfriend with the grocery shopping,” I told Martha. “It was a target store so all the isles looked red. The labels on the cans and packages seemed to blur, since there was no way to really look at all that merchandise at once. Every shopper who passed me seemed to be staring at me as if I was wearing some kind of weird clothes or something. Whether they were young teenagers or older citizens it just seemed as if they were all staring a hole in me. It was as if their eyes were burning into my flesh. Suddenly I got to feeling very nervous. It kept getting worse. Finally my heart started pounding as hard as it could.
I finally went into the rest-room and went in to a stall. I crouched down and stared at the ceiling, while I waited for my heart to stop pounding so fast and hard. I leaned against the tan wall that separated the stalls. Without the imaginary stares, I began to calm down. I had a few prescribed tranquilizers I had in my pocket so I took a few. Then I went out to the coffee bar and ordered a big latte. After a few minutes of drinking some coffee and allowing the tranquilizers to work, I began to feel better. It seemed as if the people were no longer staring at me. My heart rate seemed normal. I felt normal. The anxiety attack had passed. I sat at the table, finished my coffee and then returned to shopping.”
“You know,” said Martha. “I have attacks like that and grocery stores are the worst place for me.”
“Wow! That’s amazing. There must be something about grocery stores that really get to people like us.”
“Well, I don’t like large crowds.”
“I don’t either. But I can see that if a person gets those paranoid delusions, a crowd of any kind would be the worst place to be.”
“There are times when I am in a large crowd and I just have to go outside and get alone to myself.”
“And sometimes dealing with a boss or someone else important can also bring on the anxiety. Luckily it usually doesn’t last that long, maybe an hour or two.”
Visiting my friends in the mental hospital was a great experience. After a few visits, I didn’t feel so all alone. I’ve had my mental demons all my life. I’ve had anxiety attacks, deep dark depression, thoughts of suicide and I have ADD which has made both school and work a nightmare for me. But here I felt at home among friends. None of us are perfect, and really, who wants to be. Whatever our demons are, they make us what we are. They affect my writing. They affect any artistic part of my life, from the art I enjoy to the music I love.
This was just one more great visit in Happydale. -សតិវ អតុ

Bob Dylan - 'It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)'


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