There was a very large black man in the hospital room I was to share when I was admitted the second time for having a psychotic break, in 1995. I had been told by a friend from church that I had nothing to worry about going to Georgia Regional that – really… – everything would be all right. Perhaps to test me, the black man shouted when I walked into the room, “I was in the woods with nothing but a Bible and a knife and came face to face with a grizzly bear…what do you think I did?!!”
“Hit him over the head with your Bible.” The words from a psychotically broken mind, but they made sense at the time.
A pause of two beats.
Quietly then from him: “You’re right.”
We went to sleep maybe two hours after lights out because I was manic after all and asked him a thousand and one questions – I thought he was God the Father and I was Jesus Christ (that was the principal reason I was in the psychiatric hospital…) and I was asking him about everything from the creation of the world to President Clinton to speaking in tongues.
The next morning over breakfast he motioned to the others sitting across the table that I was his roommate. Then he pursed his lips and did the talking gesture with his hand. You know, where your opposable thumb snaps rapidly against the other fingers, mimicking a mouth. The girls across from me laughed. They were cute but, of course, were also psychotic and/or suicidal and therefore their laughter may have been directed at the eggs on their plates as much as at me or what my roommate had just said.
The average stay at Georgia Regional was seven days. I was to be in for 13; my roommate had already been there two weeks but was sure he was getting out soon.