Trip #1. July 22, 2005. A dark room. Table, desk, chairs. With me is a staff psychiatrist and psychiatric nurse at the Green Oaks Psychiatric Facility. Nearby are my brothers Mark and Jeff. As I sit and listen to the doctor’s questions, I have a vague recollection of my younger brother rousing me from my bed, an angry confrontation, my .45 automatic lying on my nightstand. Then shock and confusion on the drive to the treatment center.
The residuals of cocaine, Xanax, and Jack Daniels are still coursing through my veins, but the fog is lifting slightly. Raging anger is settling in its place. Battle lines are being drawn in my mind. They want to take me prisoner. It’s war. I’ll lead the inmate rebellion.
Questions from the shrink pierce my anger like tracer rounds. What drugs have you taken? How are you feeling? Do you want to harm yourself? The anger is powerful. My belief is that if I died, it would teach everyone a lesson and do them a favor.
Trip #2. April 7th, 2007. I am in a daze. An hour before, I had been awakened by my girlfriend. She had been out of town visiting family for Easter weekend. I had no idea what day or time it was. Not realizing the weekend was over. Two days had passed. I had blacked out. There was cocaine and empty alcohol bottles in the bedroom. My black-market Ambien bottle half empty. No idea how many I had taken.
The familiar ride to the Green Oaks treatment center. The familiar haze. In the parking lot of the treatment center, I realized that if I did not get honest starting at that moment there would be no hope for our future or my future. Right there in that parking lot, through all the drugs, the tears, and anger on her part. It was time for the self-styled emperor to put away his fancy new duds. There was no control. There was no life. There was no future. I was naked in the mirror. I finally saw Brian. What I saw made me sick to my stomach. I had failed at life. I had now in my mind failed every single person who had ever loved me. If I did not get honest starting at that moment, there would be no hope for a future with the people I love and who loved me. Families love. Families care. Families can also distance themselves when no effort is made to at least take one small step towards recovery.
Trip #3. October 15th, 2015. Back in the Green Oak’s parking lot. This time I am alone. A rush of feelings and memories as I pull into the parking lot. My brothers are in fear. My girlfriend(now-fiancée) in tears. The intake desk. The familiar room where I sat with the attending psychiatrist.
This time however, I am not in crisis. This time I have been in recovery from drugs, alcohol and eating disorders since April 8, 2007. My thoughts are not of suicide. My thoughts are about reaching out to others who came before me and came after me at Green Oaks. Letting them know that recovery is possible. This day, instead of needing help, I am there to help. Letting people know that in the worst possible circumstances, Green Oaks was a positive for me in getting me thinking about recovery even though it would take two trips to arrive there. Without Green Oaks, maybe a different, tragic road. There is no shame in psychiatric crisis treatment. That is often when we need it most, even if it does not seem like it at the time, and we fight with all of our strength against it. Let yourself be loved by those who care about you. Let yourself be helped by those trained to provide it. Thank you to my brothers and fiancée for loving me. Thank to you Green Oaks for helping me.