Opening the Door
If I were going to tell you about why it is that those around me think that I am bipolar, I would say that it starts back on June 26th, 2010, the day my favorite niece got married, in Livermore, California. I had attended this event, armed with all of the strategies, techniques and tools that I had gained from my time in hypnotherapy, learning a few relaxation skills, so that I would be better able to attend social events, something that with my panic attack syndrome, I could not do with any degree of certainty.
I had also attended this event armed with three times the normal dose of Lorazapam, the anti-anxiety drug I had been taking for more than five years, 1,000mg of Vicodin, several reefer oil cupcakes, baked for this occasion, and at least two rum and cokes, that I drank, right after I arrived. I have no memory of the church service, and not a lot of the reception itself.
I only remember the trip home. I had been congratulating myself on getting through the entire affair, without panic attack or really, anything negative to mar the experience. I actually felt it was something that I could build on, I was that optimistic. I was also exhausted, tired beyond what a normal day would have brought on. The stress, the diverse substances I had ingested, the thought of a close-to-four-hour drive home, all combined to make it clear to me, somewhere around 7:30, that it was time to make a graceful departure.
Unfortunately, that did not conform to Casey and Lito’s plans, the two of whom were just getting unwound, both literally and metaphorically. They were feeling no pain, and they had enough good will going on, that they were unwilling to consider departure, at such an early hour. However, it was the trusty Ranger which had transported us down, and so it was Annie and I calling the departure shots.
As we first strolled to the truck, and then departed the area, both kept up a running commentary on the bogus nature of our leaving when we did, to the point that I got annoyed. I was mulling over my hard-fought victory, and I was contemplating that I had more at stake, rather than simply enjoying myself, than they had. I was thinking that they should leave me the fuck alone, and I am afraid that I voiced my opinion to that effect.
In my pre-potty mouth days, when I used the eff word, I was in some kind of dire straits, from which I was unlikely to emerge. Such was the case now. The more annoyed I got, the more they taunted me, playing the music loud, when I protested, and dissing on my need to leave early. It really was unprecedented in the annals of our family history, and it drove me to distraction. I could not get the message across that I was about to do something drastic, to punctuate my frustration.
So I just did it. I opened the door on the passenger side of the truck, so that I would have been seeing the asphalt whipping by at sixty plus miles-per-hour, if it had not been coal black outside. It was also pleasant in the sudden rush of the night air, infusing the inside of the truck, with a natural coolness, as opposed to the icy artificiality of the air conditioner. As an attention-getter, opening the door on the freeway, was very effective.
Before we get too far into this, I will relate something that was not evident at the time. My action was a designed crowd grabber, but that is all it was. I did not fling the door open; I merely pulled the handle to the extent that the door became unlatched, and was slightly ajar, but could not have actually opened, unless I completed the process of pulling up the door handle, the rest of the way. Otherwise, the door was destined to remain closed. Besides, I was seat belted into place anyway, so I could not have tumbled out, even if it had been my desire.
Nathaniel, who was sitting behind me, reacted in a way that was unexpected, but in retrospect, was to be expected. At the sound of the door latch being activated, he had reached around the back of my seat, and clasped his arms around my chest. Upon feeling myself restricted in such an unexpected manner, I lashed out with my feet, savagely kicking at the dashboard, windshield in front of me, hard enough to create the telltale spider web effect of a broken windshield.
Upon first realizing that I had opened the door latch, Annie, who was driving, had put on her right turn signal indicator, and allowed the truck to drift onto the shoulder of Highway 101, somewhere around Petaluma, in an area that I had never had the opportunity to view close up and firsthand. I actually thought we were somewhere up in Rohnert Park, not that I was in any position to ask clarifying questions. As the truck eased to a stop, I unfastened my seatbelt, and completed the act of opening the door, and before anyone had a clue, as to the next step in the operation, I had slipped out into the late June night, and been swallowed up by the darkness. I had proceeded directly perpendicular to the highway, simply coming down off the embankment, and emerging right into suburbia, as it flowed alongside Highway 101.
My first impression as I left the teeming highway, and strode into the soft summer darkness, was that the night was alive with humanity, even as the hum of the highway faded behind me. It was still at least seventy degrees, with a breeze gently wafting over me, and knocking the heat back so that the night air allowed its coolness to calm the fires of irritation and frustration.
As I strode valiantly forward, I was aware that there were folks sitting out on front porches and stoops, quietly taking in the late evening stillness, as I walked unobtrusively through the barrio. It was very disconcerting, to me, walking along by myself, any vestige of regaining normalcy, totally removed from the scene, as soon as I had ventured off of the main drag.
I was still determined that I was going to “follow through” on whatever my plan was. I strode purposefully along, waiting for the next step to take place, metaphorically, if not literally. When I heard muted conversation, as I walked along, it was in Spanish. I began to question my initial strategy, of leaving the truck. Though it had seemed the thing to do at the time, in retrospect, it was not the brightest move I had ever made, and the reason was obvious. Where the heck was everybody?
My cell-phone rang, and it was Casey, nervously asking me if I was OK. I gave a terse response, to the effect the I was perfectly hunky dory, but I was not naive enough to believe my own words. I myself was getting apprehensive, and did not have a clue as to how to escape the mess I was in. I waited for Casey to make a suggestion, other than where he might like to see me end up, and within a five minutes, he had directed me to an oasis, consisting of a service station, outdoor strip mall, where we reunited, and without further recrimination, continued on our way, wordlessly. The words would come later, and with them a renewed determination, to pursue another counseling venue, than the one I had already abandoned in Ukiah.
Though it had its benefits, the person who had been orchestrating my therapy, had told me during our first meeting, that she was unlikely to be able to solve my panic attack syndrome, and that necessitated me renewing my search for someone who could hook a brother up. Everyone in the family was on board by now, so there was to be no dilly-dallying on my part. Put up or shut up. I knew it was time to quit pussyfooting around, and get the job done, and that is when Annie came up with the name of Jill Gover. She was the resident therapist in cognitive behavior therapy, at the Long Valley Health Center, and the result was “Six Days a Week,” and a successful completion of the therapeutic process, all in the space of seven visits.