Wednesday, May 30, 2007

One Flew Over The Still Cuckoo-As-Ever Nest

I volunteered to come into work on my first day off this week in order to transport a severely and chronically mentally ill woman to the Oregon State Hospital over in Salem, our state's capitol city. Without betraying any deputy-patient confidentiality, I will simply tell you how this very interesting woman insisted we address her. I will also tell you that I obliged her on the request, but that it took me a while to get the name down. It's complicated. It's a formula. And it has to be said just so.

After months of languishing in a jail, she finally got a commitment order from the Court. She came in on what I like to call "the mentally ill person's criminal cocktail:" Disorderly Conduct (like disturbing the peace in other states) and Criminal Trespass II. What it boils down to is that she was being loud and obnoxious at the library and refusing to leave when told to do so by persons in control of the property.

Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison is a very bright woman. African American, "born in Egypt," as she would cautiously disclose to me after many months, she came to jail because (and this was a no-brainer) she is bipolar. If you haven't spent any time with a person who suffers from bipolarity while they are off their meds and in their manic phase, then count your blessings. They never sleep. Rarely eat. And boy can they cuss.

On the way over to Salem, something happened that just amazed me about Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison. She knew her music. She did not like my choice in radio (N.P.R.'s Morning Edition). Oh no. We had to listen to music. I selected an oldies station. When it began to fade as we stretched our distance from the coastal station, I changed the dial. In full-blown, pressured rant about God-knows-what, Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison didn't break stride and quickly inserted, "Where's my Bon Jovi?" I was stunned. Had no idea she was even listening through the mental thickness of her own program. I guess I sort of recognized the song, but I was never a Bon Jovi fan. Not by choice, just by circumstance. I like Bon Jovi. I just don't know their stuff. But boy, she sure did. On one other occasion she was was talking 5,280 feet per 60 seconds and I said aloud, just to test the waters, "Boy, I have no idea who this band is." Nothing. Rant continued. So I changed the station and just like that, out pops, "That was Scorpion." Scorpion? "Oh, I said," and changed it back. A few bars into the continuing song she adds, "Scorpion is a German band."

Really? I haven't Googled it. I just believed her.

My point is this: Crazy is crazy. But I have always experienced, in clinical settings as well as in situations of incarceration, that there is a golden thread of sanity holding the mix together. Somewhere deep down in the muck of all the broken noise, human beings know they are crazy. They know their brain is not working right. And if for no other reason than that, they are always to be treated with dignity and respect.

I am glad that Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison was taken off the street. But she doesn't belong in a jail. The de-institutionalization of the mentally ill is something this government needs to be ashamed of. I'm not advocating a resurrection of the old warehouse model. But something---ANYTHING---would be better than putting someone in a jail cell who really, when you get right down to it, is not a criminal. They are just ill. What if they put us in jail for getting the flu?

So we finally get to Salem. Building 50J. I escort Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison through the double entry doors and, as usual, we just sit there. People with photo name tags come and go. I've seen it before. Not a single person stops to ask if we have been helped or if we need a drink of water or if we need to use the bathroom. Once you get there, you never know what to do next. You just wait like an insect somewhere close to trapdoor spider's hole. I have been to this facility a half dozen times and the same thing happens. Nothing.

So finally, a woman comes out through the iron mesh enclosure security gate and says, "Do they know you're here?" Ah. Relief. A nice person. I tell her that I never know what to do next when arriving. She says that she will call "up there" and then takes out her cell phone. She finishes the call and turns to Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison, introduces herself and reaches out her hand. She got the response I thought she'd get---the smug look with cute African nose in the air and averted gaze. But this woman did a wonderful thing and for that I was appreciative. She welcomed my custody and smiled at her. She then told me she was the floor director. I introduced myself and she left. I got her name. I'm good at getting names.

Some minutes later, many people have come and gone through that security gate, none of whom asking if we had been helped. Eventually, a man and a woman came through the gate and sort of materialized out of the mist, becoming the people we were supposed to follow. I secured my weapon and magazines and entered. They did not utter a single word. I tried my best to get them to speak. I began to wonder if they were patients and not staff, but they had those photo name I.D.s on their blue shirts. I got the man to almost smile. Yeah, I saw the corners of his mouth start to elevate, but something reminded them not to move in that direction. And then there was that serious semi-frown they sported. I pulled out some of my best humor and he beat it.

After a minute or so, three more staff arrived. Same semi-frown. I introduced myself to them. They did not reciprocate. I had begun removing the belly chains and ankle restraints from Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison without being directed to do so. I figured, well, if they didn't want that, they would tell me. After I cut her loose, I said, "So, are we done? Is that it?" I had to ask. I was told that we were done. "So I just go?" They nodded. There was so much I wanted to say. I had pertinent data. I knew this woman and wanted to tell them about her. I held my tongue.

I looked Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison square in the eyes and said, "It has been a real pleasure knowing you, Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison. I am so hoping we can meet after you are done being here." She just told me that she didn't like Jews and I told her that I appreciated her caring to share her opinion. Then I said so long, and left.

I drove across the street and took two cell phone pictures of the old Oregon State Hospital buildings. This is indeed where "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" was filmed. A security guy saw me in the cop car and approached the interior limits of the razor wired fence. I got out and walked up to him and in fine Gawpo fashion, introduced myself. He reciprocated. He was friendly. His name is Tom McD. He said that he began work at the place just a few months after the filming of the movie. "When it came out in the theaters, it was sort of funny because some of the patients were extras in the movie and it was like watching home movies." He said that the sink that was tossed out the window by "the big Indian" had been on display in the foyer of the main entrance until about a year ago. Tom said he didn't understand why they took it away, but that it is somewhere in storage. "Kinda crazy, if ya ask me," he said.

This is the east end of the old Hospital. Tom explained to me that the patients make pallets for large distribution companies. They put in a day of work and get paid for it.



The entrance to the old Hospital.




Just over the top of the car's roof are the double doors to some of the saddest examples of people in the business of helping others. They sure didn't help me. This is the new building.




Not long prior to his passing, a friend of mine saw Ken Kesey in a video store. Her continued staring was finally met with a knowing wink, "Yeah, it's me" it said, "thanks for knowing, and thanks for not rushing me for an autograph."



This video is 8 minutes long. You don't have to watch it all to get the idea. On my last trip over, though, I sure got the idea.

35 Comments:

At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 6:04:00 PM PDT , Anonymous Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 6:13:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

RODRIGO: Wow. My first spam. Thanks!

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 6:26:00 PM PDT , Blogger ARM said...

What a cuh-razy story!! But crazy in a different sense. Does that make sense? Damn, now I'm talking all crazy.

No, seriously, I about died with the Bon Jovi part of your story. Classic. But was saddened about the lack of acknowledgment that was received.

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 6:34:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

ARM: Yes, CUH-RAZY-making. What a sweetheart you are. Yes it does make sense. You make sense. Craziness has to make its own sense though, to the people charged with holding it. Great word you use there: Acknowledged---known. We weren't made to feel known. Thanks for bringing that up.

I love you man! Don't ever change.

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 8:13:00 PM PDT , Blogger vicci said...

and.....I love you! You are so kind...and compassionate..how right you are that 'a mentally ill' person be treated with respect! My heart goes out to HER...and all like her...any one of us walk a very thin line between "sanity" and "insanity"...and things can be "sane" and "insane"....Hey! she knew Bon Jovi and The Scorpions....:-)....somewhere back in that brain of hers she had that music down...besides...how in the H..can any of us judge another human being...who knows what may have happened to her in her life!!!???? OKAY....I'll shut-up now...but I really DO LOVE YOU! :-)

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 8:16:00 PM PDT , Blogger vicci said...

Oooops! I forgot to congratulate you on getting your first spam! :-)
XXXXXXXOOOOOOOOOOOXXXXXXXXOOOOOOO

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 8:17:00 PM PDT , Blogger lime said...

again, you demonstrate what a truly fine human bean you are, mr gawpo. finding that threa dof sanity and connecting with it respectfully means so much, even if the response is quite strange and hostile. i'm glad for the kindly floor manager type person who dared to make eye contact and remember the need to possess a soul in this line of work.


seeing the invisible people is such an important thing.

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 9:21:00 PM PDT , Blogger Diesel said...

I agree with Lime. Most of us would have transported her like so much freight.

By the way, it's The Scorpions. You know, "Here I am, rock you like a hurricane"? They were big in the 80s

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 10:03:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

VICCANCE: You are so right. It is a thin line. I get a little bit delusional when sleep deprived. Nothing like hers, though. I have a hard time treating mean people well. Kill 'em with kindness? Sometimes.

VICCI: And thank you! I accept. So weird, that spammer. I'm not going back to security words yet....

LIMERS: You and I connect as great human beans, Lime. We sniff each other's butts. Well, you know what I mean.

DIESEL: Come to think of it, she did say The Scorpions. Just goes to show you what I still don't know. I do recognize that song, though.

So I suppose next you are going to tell me that big band in the 60s wasn't called Beatle?

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 11:40:00 PM PDT , Blogger S said...

Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison seems like a very interesting individual.

I lived in Venice Beach for 12 years, I have met some of the oddest, most dropped out, and yet the wisest, and most zen...people with nothing...yet everything...

Once in awhile you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right....

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 4:31:00 AM PDT , Blogger lime said...

*circles and sniffs....teehee....couldn't resist

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 4:51:00 AM PDT , Blogger Sheila said...

A few years back provincial government decided it knew best when it came to the mentally ill here. They were allowed to leave their safe facilities and re-enter the real world. It was all about their human rights. Now they have the right to sleep under bridges in the middle of winter. To be ridiculed and go hungry, be dirty and under dressed. It's their right.
Do I sound bitter. Darn right I am. For over twenty years I managed a bus terminal. Bus terminals are magnets for the unusual, the unhappy, the indigent, the mentally ill. I saw them all.
And every day I said a silent prayer that "there, but for the grace of God..."
We had employees that would ridiclue them (not in my hearing if they knew what was good for them)..other patrons who would ask "is he/she on drugs"...
"No, sir, he's not. He should be, but he has no one to help him take them, or feed him, or clothe him, or shelter him.." I would reply.
Each one of the people was once a new born baby, fresh and perfect, given to their mother to hold for the first time...so full of promise and hope for the future.
Somewhere, sometime, something happens, and through no fault of their own they become mentally ill. Like the man who visited me every day, on his way to meet the President, or the lady who was going to the bank because someone stole all her money, and she used to be a millionaire...
In every fantastic story, there would be a grain of truth, something they held on to, because as you say, they know they are 'crazy'..
Sorry for the rambling comment, I feel for Mr's Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison, she could be me, but for the grace of God..
Thanks for being a decent human being Gawpo..I always knew you were..
xxx

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 8:16:00 AM PDT , Blogger ARM said...

Thank you Diesel for clearing up The Scorpions for Gawpo. I was going to, but forgot.

I heart The Scorpions. Or any 80's hair band.

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 10:35:00 AM PDT , Blogger goldennib said...

It is sinful that the only way a mentally ill person can receive care if if they commit a crime first. Bullshit. Bullshit, I say!

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 10:36:00 AM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

ESS: Remember the character of "Miller" in Repo Man? It's like that. Good for you for seeing rightly.

LIME: Ha! Yes. Now let's go get that stick!!!

SHEILA: Yes! That is exactly what I do, too. I imagine them as a newborn. I picture the first gaze from their mother and then the careful choosing of the name. The name! Awesome treatise, Sheila. That man DID go see the president. And that lady DID lose her fortune. The metaphors perhaps are only known to themselves. But the story is the truth. XXXs right back atcha, Sheila, MOB.

ARM: Thuh Scorpions. Okay. I got it. Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison got it. Now I need to go YouTube them and hear some more.

QUILLY: You just chimed in on the email notification. Stand by while I go see what you have to say.....

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 10:41:00 AM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

NIBBY!!!: Oh, it was you. Sorry 'bout that. Ah, but 'tis true. The committing of a crime is almost always the only way to get someone with severe mental illness to treatment. The other way is if we can demonstrate that they are at IMMEDIATE risk of being a danger to themselves or others. When they are no long that, then all bets are off. We have this thing called a Police Officer Hold that can be placed on a person if they are walking out into traffic or threatening to hurt someone else. Rarely do they gesture toward themselves. We can take them to the hospital for a mental status exam, but it is cursory at best and all they have to do is demonstrate that they don't want to hurt anyone, including themselves. Then they are let go until they "commit a crime." Sad. Total B.S., yes.

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 10:47:00 AM PDT , Anonymous Kat said...

I watched Cukoo's Nest with Princess just a little while ago. She'd never seen it and as an apiring psychiatrist I thought she should. We Americans are hideously inept at properly treating the mentally ill in my opinion.

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 11:08:00 AM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

KAT: Love your opinion. I went razor clamming this morning. With a full-blown psychiatrist. Jack. I kicked his ass on clams and after I got my limit of 15 and he only had 5, I thumped the sand and kept yelling, "Here's another one, Jack!" It was awesome. We found him about 10 more. Now I have to go clean them and fry 'em up. YUMMERS!!!!

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 1:18:00 PM PDT , Blogger Blue the Spa Girl said...

Mum and I have always done that...try to see and greet each individual with eyes of understanding.
Each of us was handed to our mothers at one point in time when we arrived. It is the journey in between that determines our place in this world.
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest is one of my favorite movies.
Nurse Ratchet. Jack (god I love him) Nicholson. Great film.
You are a good guy G. Thank you for giving respect where it was due. As in, it is always due.
You know that.
Namaste my friend.xo

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 2:04:00 PM PDT , Blogger Nana-g said...

Oh Gawpo, how I do love you. I miss my peeps. I love that you were the person that delivered your Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison (Buddha, Christ)to her next adventure. Thank you for being you. for real.

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 7:17:00 PM PDT , Blogger Candace said...

I'm I the only one who's shocked that Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison didn't demand anything from The Doors?


My dad worked as an RN and computer guru in a mental hospital for many years. He'd get so frustrated by the patients who would take their meds, get realeased and go off their meds because they "felt better", only to end up back again, a bit worse for the wear. :-P

Bummer. I was hoping the Indian dude was gonna whack Jack with that mop.

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 8:09:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

BLUE TSG: You and your Momma are the sweetest examples of human kind(ness) a person could ever hope to know. And I love that I know and love you both.

NANA-G: Thanks for the YouTube sporting your incredibly talented and wonderful son! I need to get down there and "throw one back." You would have loved her, G. She was so amazing and funny, even through her brain noise. I have to fly for two hours straight to seat the rings in the new cylinder. I should make the last half hour a trip to Independence for a breakfast meet witcha. Would love that. Will update accordingly.

CANDACIA: Ha! That would have been great. The radio gave us what it whimmed us, but I wonder what she would have said if a Doors tune had come on. Oooops. I mean THUH Doors.

Your father shared with me my own frustrations. Yes. They feel all better and then dump the meds. Lots of the older psychotropics had some pretty bad side effects that the newer ones have less of. That helps a bit. But still, you see them decompensating and returning. Sad.

And Oh! My! GAWD! I know. I was so nervous. I felt uncomfortable when Jack started the whooping stuff. Very disrespectful. He deserved a mop handle shoved up somewhere.

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 8:09:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

ARM: Hey, isn't a hair band something you make a pony tail out of?

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 10:30:00 PM PDT , Blogger Claire said...

The Scorpions are a german metal band (not a big hair band). I really liked them back in the day and occasionally pop in the "best of" DVD.
gawpo, you are a fan-flippin'-tastic dude! Yes, all humans deserve to be treated with dignity! I work with special needs kids and a few years ago I worked with a boy who had a chromosomal deletion causing severe impairment. He had to be tube fed and he was mostly non-verbal. Yet when I looked into his eyes, I saw a real person in there. He would get mad a lot. I figured he was pissed at being stuck in such a wrecked body. I just felt his personality come thru his eyes. I completely believe in human dignity and cannot understand people who make fun of the disabled or mentally ill. As you can see I could go on and on, blah blah, but if I ever ride off the rails I hope I am in your town!

 
At Friday, June 1, 2007 at 11:22:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

Oh, CLAIRE: Boy, THUH Scorpions sure have gotten a lot of press here, thanks to noneother than Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison. I think I should buy a CD now and think of her. It will become my tribute to M.D.A.J.M. album. So fortunate that boy was to have had your eyes finally connect with who he was through his. Yeah, I'd be a bit cranky. Ya THINK? And Claire, if you ever rode off the rails, you'd be in my recliner watching movies and cranking up THUH Scorpions with me. Consider yourself covered on that one.

 
At Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 3:36:00 AM PDT , Blogger somewhere joe said...

I went on a bad trip once, decades ago, when bad trips were a rite of passage. I got a taste of what being deranged must be like. The word that comes to mind more than any other is... isolation. Parallel-universe strength isolation. You can see out but nobody can see in. And you're aware of being aware of the mind warp, that's the nightmare inside bubble.

It was gone before I had to get used to living there, learn its vocabulary and game plans. Familiar surroundings, loving voices, and a normal metabolism soon, but not soon enough, brought the ride to a slow, then a stop, then a disembark. Dry land. Solid ground. Stasis. The miracle of the mundane where all systems mesh in perfect registration. The exquisite balance and high function that is the ordinary.

I wish Mrs Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison could just sleep it off like I did. It's one thing to see newspaper taxis appear on the shore. It's another to be taken away in one, and actually have kaleidescope eyes...

 
At Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 2:24:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

SOMEWHERE JOE: Isolation. That definition consoles me, Joe. She was looking out and I just know that she could tell I was doing my best to reach for her through the warp. I didn't mention one part of the story, but will now. There was a stretch of moments when she fell silent in the back seat of the sedan. And all of a sudden I hear her voice calling me through the spit shield, the plexiglass barrier. She pronounced my Sicilian last name perfectly, and she put a delicate question inflection at the end of it. The waters had calmed just long enough, and this is what I heard: "Deputy _______?" "Yes?," I answered, delighted by the melody of my perfectly pronounced last name. Almost like a mother to a child. "What church does your family go to? Your mother's church? Which one does she go to?" I said, "You mean synagogue?" "Yes. Synagogue. Which is it?" I explained our blended Catholic-Christian/Judaic situation to her. She gave out that unique and sweet African American "Umm-hmmm" that only comes to us, literally, Out Of Africa. I loved how she would say, "Umm-hmmm." It was as though she had squeezed into my own warp, the ugly psychophobic voices in my own head that taunt me, at times, to give up. When she called my name like that, it just melted me. I will never forget that. And I know that I will never quit looking in.

Thank you, Joe.

 
At Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 5:53:00 PM PDT , Blogger LisaOceandreamer said...

My darling Gawpo, the heart inside you makes me weep with joy. However we got here, whatever the connection to become friends...I am grateful for it (and Kevin Bacon) beyond words. With this writing and the moments you describe here.... the evidence is quite clear of the rich human being you are.
I cannot wait for G and I to meet you!
XOXO
please note, I can be quite....well...what's the word..sappy...no that sounds terrible. Let's just say I FEEL things deeply and I never say anything just for the sake of saying it.

 
At Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 6:36:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

LISAOCEANDREAMUH!: One heave: Sigh...........

 
At Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 7:34:00 PM PDT , Blogger Michael said...

Here via Mr. Fabs blog.

You showed what kind of person you are from this one post.

I shall endeavor to read some more of your site.

And the Scorpions are a German band from Hannover.

 
At Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 7:52:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

MICHAEL: I am laughing pretty hard right about now, because the kind of person I really am NOT, I allow to surface on Fab's post. You have to give it right back to that guy, yes? I'm a bit embarrassed, but he knows where I really stand.

Boy, I have really taken a pummeling with respect to not knowing THUH Scorpions. I won't ever make that error again. LOL. Thank you for stopping by, Michael. And see you over at your place. G

 
At Sunday, June 3, 2007 at 11:48:00 AM PDT , Blogger mindy said...

my best friend is bi-polar (from too many drugs and alcohol!)(kids, don't do it!!)
i was there when she had her first manic episode, which lasted for 5 days. each day was more bizarre and scarier than the previous. it ended with her being arrested and thrown in the los angeles county psychiatric ward. that was the scariest place i've ever seen. she's fine now, as long as she's on her meds.

 
At Sunday, June 3, 2007 at 7:31:00 PM PDT , Blogger Katie McKenna said...

What a fascinating post Gawpo, thank you for sharing!

 
At Monday, June 4, 2007 at 9:31:00 PM PDT , Blogger singleton said...

Mrs Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison, thank God you met a friend......

Gawpo, you rock!

 
At Monday, June 4, 2007 at 10:38:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

MINDANCE: This meth thing is frightening. It's the only drug that will cause schizophrenic symptoms that remain irreversible. Not that your friend got on meth, but I'm just saying. Those manic episodes are a trip, huh? Not to mention those institutions they stick them in. Yuk!

KATIE: And you are oh, so very, very welcome. Life is a great journey. Remember that song, "Ride, ride, ride, hitchin' a ride"?

SINGLETON: And yes,there is much gratitude on my part for having had the opportunity to meet her. Thank you, friend. We rock!!!

 

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