Tuesday, January 23, 2024

An excerpt from "Bipolar Bear, a journey into the unknown"

This story was written by Melinda Joy Pole, and published on January 23, 2024 as part of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition story contest (Contest link). 

The story is posted here (Link).

The Gatekeeper

by Melinda Joy Polet

It’s my second time meeting Dr. Lee. My first impression, unfortunately while in a chemically induced coma, was blurry. He was short, his back was to me, and he appeared as though he was on his way to somewhere else. He saw the two young women I’ve been chatting with, then the man that looks like my friend Patrick, who committed suicide several years ago. Whatever he said to this man appears to have pleased him, for the man is smiling. Then again, the man is always smiling, like he has a secret. Patrick had secrets too and I keep them safe.

I have my own secret. I have many secrets, all of them conspiratorial, and some of them so deep, I cannot name them. They are what have gotten me here. I’m neither nervous nor excited, two sides of the same coin I know. Still, there is nothing left to be afraid of and for the first time in my life I don’t have to keep telling my body that. I’ve been on the streets now for days, I think I was raped, I think a police officer violated me. I’ve seen the worst that I thought I could see, been through the darkest places I thought I could go. When I leave here, IF I leave here, I’ll be homeless again even though I have a home, and a car, and children and a life of great abundance. Nothing makes sense. Still, It’s better to be free and on the streets than behind these walls, where secrets remain and are kept under lock and key. 

Dr. Lee arrives and sits down. It’s all cheery at first. He’s up for the challenge today. I no longer care what comes out of my mouth, as no one would believe me anyway, so, he plays along.

“So, tell me your birthday again?” he asks. He reminds me of a parrot.

“December 30, 1969;” I reply.

“And you are... the third;” He adds. He reminds me of a teacher I had in HIgh school although I don’t remember his name.

“I am.” I reply.

“So, you are the third;” He’s trying to figure all of this out.

“I am. I am the third of four. It goes like this, the fourth the fifth, the minor fall the major lift, a baffled king composes halleluliah!”

I don’t say all of this. But I am thinking it. I think about lyrics all the time and how I ran into Leonard Cohen once, when he was getting on the bus when I was on my way to rehearsal, across the street from Mcgill. At least, I thought it was him.  

Dr. Lee is trying to understand what is going on in my mind so he can write “Bipolar disorder” down on his paper. Then, he can prescribe. Then, he will be justified. Then, his world will make sense, and my world will end.

“So, you say you are the third-”

“I AM the third.” I say, more emphatically. Born, December 30th, 1969.” I have to keep saying my birthdate over and over lately because no one seems to be interested in whether I exist or not. Not my family, 3000 miles away, in Canada, not my ex, that’s for sure, he’s reveling in this, it will secure his custody war and he will be victorious.

“So, you are the third, and you were born-”

“At 3:13 AM. My mother was given the twilight drug.”

I describe these details as well, as they have become ever the more fascinating as of late. There’s a rhyme and rhythm that has finally come into balance. Maybe it was Covid that did it, maybe it was the car accident, maybe it was Richie, having me believe he was a fractal of Richard E. Byrd. Maybe it was the meth. Maybe it was being alone for 2 months in my jungle home with no food. Maybe it was being stuck up in Hana, for three days and seeing Tumbles dissapear into thin air. Or the spaceship Richie and I saw, or the vortex we fell into. Maybe it was being home alone for 2 months with no food and a raging STD. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

“So, you are special;” he asks, incredulously.

“Maybe. I can survive anything.” I say.

Shortly after, when we finish our game of verbal ping pong and Dr. Lee ends up losing on account of me giving him a trick question, he orders me to be euthanized. He really didn’t like my trick question.

Somehow, when the trauma nurse, 5 days earlier in the ER was asking me if I felt safe, I knew I would end up in this predicament.

“They’re going to kill me in there;” I said to him. We both were crying. I really liked that nurse.

“No ones’ going to do anything to you that you don’t want to do, and you can leave whenever you want.”

How I wanted to believe him.

Maybe it was watching Jack Nicholson get smothered with a pillow when I was seven. Maybe it was my acting career. Maybe that never happened. Maybe all artists really do end up this way.

The nurses are standing outside the room where Dr. Lee and I have just finished our little game of hangman. One of them is crying. Does that mean that I’m going to disappear for certain? The door has been open the whole time, with the nurses listening in. They must know that this can’t be right.

I am escorted to the hallway as Dr. Lee does his rapid duck walk down the hall in the opposite direction. Are they preparing the cocktail? Is this where it ends for me? I didn’t want to die. I didn’t come in here wanting to die.

It’s chaotic, the nurse is looking around and trying to stay steady. She can’t leave me because I’m a mental patient, who knows what I could do? Also, she has to escort me back to the ward, or...

Suddenly, the weight of it all, the past four months, the past 4 years, the past 4 days, all of it, comes rushing in and I begin crying.

“He just ordered me to be euthanized. That’s palliative care;” I stammer. I don’t know why I say this. I suppose it’s because in palliative, nurses give patients the final injection all the time, though it’s technically against the law. It used to be anyway. I remember my Dad and I talking about it when the assisted suicide law came out in Canada several years ago. We were talking about it because the Netherlands had enacted the law long before that and, being Dutch, my father felt somehow proud. I remember being shocked when he told me. I didn’t think nurses would be so brave. They could lose their jobs for doing such a thing.

Or so I thought. My damn naivety gets in the way all the time and I’m mistaken for being self-destructive. Maybe I should die, maybe the world would be better off, my daughters, better off, without me.

The nurse looks at me and nods nervously while looking over my shoulder, as though monitoring for any signs of a sudden movement, a meteorite about to strike earth at any moment, obliterating us all.

I never knew that I could disappear so suddenly. I have never trusted Dr.s very much. I respect them, but I don’t trust them.

I hope my daughter's will remember that I gave birth to them at home. I hope that the Covid shot didn’t make them infertile. I hope that they will learn that mental illness isn’t a real disease, that it’s been a marketing plan and that psychiatry has its roots in eugenics.

I hope this never happens to anyone else again.

I didn’t come here to die. I came here because, more than anything, I wanted to live.

1 comment:

Ainsley Friesen said...

Bravo, an intuitive, bravely written account of the horrors of the mental health system. You are on point Melinda. Well done.