The day someone I love was hospitalized, the world turned sideways. New York City’s noises went from thrumming chorus to sharp screams-each honk, siren and raised voice split me in half.
During several weeks of lead up, I’d observed from another state as my loved one skyrocketed into mania. A new, more explosive strain laced with paranoia and profound cognitive dissonance. It was violent water crashing through the dams. It was treading a path to victory.
Each day the clock ticked as I tried to contain the metastasizing mania over the phone. We needed help that didn’t exist-it was August and his psychiatrist was away for the month. Hospitals don’t admit involuntarily until there’s potential for imminent physical violence. We talked to him for hours in hushed tones, monitoring, keeping vigil.
The dams broke.
The scene. He turns on every light in his apartment. He turns on every faucet. Water pours onto the kitchen and bathroom floors. His face, body and the walls of the bathroom are covered in shaving cream. The cell phones get thrown into the gushing water.
Thunder and lightening raged outside. It was 2am.
The girlfriend got out of the apartment. Soaking on the sidewalk and wrapped in a bed sheet, she called us. I listened as my mom said “let’s get off the phone now. We’re losing time. Please call for help now. Call 911. Now. Right now”.
Four police cars arrived. An ambulance arrived. A firetruck arrived.
Police stormed up the stairs in riot gear to the locked apartment. He was calling himself by another name, refusing to cooperate. They met him where he was. They saved his life.
The world tilted sideways permanently. My heart broke and then fell back together in a new shape.
We are all ok now. Compassion has grown from the seeds of trauma. I don’t know if we’ll ever come out of the proverbial woods: maybe that’s our new home.
But the light shines through the pines on good days; brighter now that I’ve seen darkness so deep that the word “black” does not suffice.
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