The Raven

The Raven

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Cherokee Spirit (3rd post of brother's story)

"The Cherokee Spirit is still among us."

My brother had gotten a painting from a man he had been visiting often from church. It was a dusk scene of Native Americans; they and their horses were all black like shadows. He propped the painting up on our couch; it was very important to him. He said that the Cherokee Spirit was among us, making us do things. Through his bouts of psychosis, my brother talked greatly of a connection with Native Americans. He collected fallen turkey feathers from our yard and stuck them in anything that would hold them, like hummingbird feeders, abandoner till late spring.

He wasn't sleeping or eating. He had a constant stoned, shit-faced looked about him. He rambled and barely acknowledged anyone else. Just getting more than a few words from him was unusual; he was always very laconic and reserved. His sudden rapid, frequent speech and double-talk stunned us. After a few days of him wandering in the woods, not sleeping or eating, my Dad took him to a counselor that was available through his work, like a family support program. Before they left, my Dad told him that he wanted to take him to talk to someone. My brother said he had to go to the bathroom first. He ended up locking himself in. My Dad talked to him through the door, loosing patience, saying they had to go, the counselor was waiting. My brother said, okay, but remained in the bathroom. We heard water running most of the time he was in there. Soon, my Dad threatened to take the door off the hinges. My brother again said, okay, and still stayed in the bathroom. He eventually came out, no shoes or socks on. He had a shampoo caddy that came with our Dove shampoo around his hand; he said it was his symbol.

"C'mon, Sean, get your shoes on," my Dad told him, getting more frustrated. Sean swaggered and sat on the couch, bending toward the floor to put on his socks; his long hair moved like someone quickly pulling a curtain closed over the sides of his glasses, and put a sock on. He took up his other sock and began to put it over the other one.

"Sean, you're putting it over your other sock," our mom said.

He replied in an irritated voice without looking up, "You're confusing him."

It was the first anger I detected in him since he began acting different. He had been mellow, spacey and philosophical up until now.

Our mother ended up helping him put his shoes on because he couldn't seem to do it.
Sean and our father left. Mom and I stayed behind talking nervously about what could be up with him.

When they got back, Sean wandered up to his room and the three of us talked in the kitchen.
"He said Sean's completely out of touch with reality... He was asking him what day it was, what year, and he wouldn't give him any relevant answers... He suggested the crisis center for drug testing." Sean was strumming his guitar now. The three of looking at the floor, absorbing all the information.

Our father had been working for the same company for about 30 years. To stay open the company had declared bankruptcy and rescinded employee health benefits. My Dad paid his employer for his health benefits now, yet it was too expensive to put a spouse and or child on, so my 19 year old brother was about to become a charity case.

My parents went upstairs to talk to him. They came down sometime later with him following. He calmly went out the door with him and to the truck. They were taking him to the crisis center at the old hospital that had closed down years ago after the county decided to have a regional center hospital for all surrounding cities, and close the hospitals in the cities themselves. This one hospital, closest to us, still had the emergency room and crisis center operating.

The house was now ringingly silent, and I paced. I tried to do some homework, watch Turner Classic Movies channel, talk to my dog and cats for comfort.

I went up into his room. The computer had been left on and there were IMs between him and his childhood friend, almost brother, on the screen. They were both born on the same day and year. They always celebrated their birthdays together.

"Are you okay, man? You were acting weird the other night"

That must have been the night he came home saying he was feeling anxious. My mom and I had been in the living room watching TV when he came in, trembling. Sean and I ended up sleeping in the living room together. I on one couch and he on the other. I talked to him about my anxiety/panic disorder and he said that he might be getting it too. We put on a comforting movie to help ease his mind to sleep.

"Everyman needs a heroine," he replied to his friend.
"Are you trying to tell me you did heroine? You know my cousin died of that stuff."

I don't remember all the rest of the conversation, but I know my brother rambled and his friend ended up saying something to the effect of, "I don't really understand you right now... I gotta go, man, I hope you're okay."

I looked around his room for any signs of drugs he may have done that could help the doctors figure things out. I could hear haunts of The Fur Elise and Greensleeves, songs he had taught himself and mastered on the keyboard, now covered in dust. Deep cerulean colored sky was at the window; the bare tree branches were like ink or black paint running up paper. As children, Sean and I used to drop a little paint on paper, take a straw and blow the paint and watch it move upwards like tiny rivers. I look at the wall next to the window at all the papers - funny, yet very artistic, doodles he did for his classmates, while they should have been working, very detailed scaled dragons and grim reapers neatly pinned to the wall all around his window. An old keyboard lies in disassembled pieces on his art desk. His heavy wooden computer desk, very organized and the drawers labeled with the contents. There are a few holes in the walls behind posters, remnants of his temper. Since he began smoking pot, his anger hadn't been as violent. On his bed are a few sentimental stuffed animals, a faded, patched up Mickey Mouse he clung to as a toddler as he sucked on his fingers, not talking with his silent, blueberry colored eyes, (he didn't talk till he was 3) and a pillow an old girlfriend had sewn or him. He was a normal kid. He loved dinosaurs, Legos, Batman and drawing. He was funny and charming, loved his mom and dad... and video games, especially The Lion King! He and our cousin used to pretended all day that they were Simba and Nala. They would disappear into the woods for hours on "Pride Rock"- a fallen tree.

Some mental disorders don't show up until later in life
What if he's schizophrenic?
There was a local schizophrenic who murdered his family with a shot gun because he thought they were zombies.

On my way down the stairs, there was a gruesome drawing one of his friends had done taped to the back of his door. It was done with green marker, a giant ghost-looking skull person loomed over two naked people, resembling Bart Simpson a bit, blowing sick looking bubbles. Under that drawing was another one in red and blue marker and looked blurry, like they had help the blue and red and drawn the images together. It was of a shaggy haired guy and it looked like you needed 3-D glasses to see it straight. It read, Fuck Off.

I found a guitar pick of his and took it to keep; my throat knotting, missing him, missing him play the guitar, asking me to listen and tell me what I thought.

Hours passed; being in a warmly lit house surrounded by wintry, bare darkness outside comforted me. I had talked a few times to my mom from the hospital- a lot of waiting. She said they were going to do some drug testing, get some blood and urine samples.

The phone rings again; it's my mom.
I can hear she's upset. She tells me my brother has been sedated, held down by guards.
She told me they couldn't get a urine sample from him willingly. He was in the bathroom there. He completely undressed himself and was playing in the toilet water. My Dad went in there to talk to him.
"If you don't give them urine, they're going to take it."
"Should I be scared?"
"Yeah, they'll put a catheter up your penis."

My mom told me, nearing tears now, they had to take the urine from him... They made us leave the room and he was screaming, MOM! Help Me! They're hurting me! She said she lost all composure.

He shoved around tables, acted like an unpredictable, wild animal. He threated a nurse:
Are you scared?
Should I be?
Yeah, 'cause I'm gonna kill you.

"They sedated him... Breanne, when I saw the look on his face, when the guards took him from the bathroom, it wasn't Sean. If he had a knife, I think he would have put in the guard's back."
"Did they find anything in him?"
"Only marijuana... they didn't test for all drugs, I'm not sure exactly what all they tested for, but I know heroine wasn't one."
"I don't know... they seem to think he did wet marijuana- marijuana soaked in formaldehyde."
We talked awhile and after I hung up, I felt a panic attack coming on. I hadn't had one since I began Paxil 2 years before, but I'll never forget the symptoms. I walked around the living room and kitchen- walled back to back- in circles, frantically talking to myself.

He's schizophrenic! He's schizophrenic! He's better off dead than schizophrenic. I had learned about a lot of mental disorders from school. The meds for that disorder are intense and do so much bodily damage. You don;t know what's worse, all the chattering voices or the twitching spasms and numbness; the feeling of feeling dead inside, still with the taunting voices echoing.

I called some of Sean's friends to see if they could tell me anything. They said they had noticed a change, but they didn't know anything else.

I called my uncle, who was always good at calming me down. I cried over the phone to him that they didn't find anything abnormal in him. He tried to calm me down over the phone as I paced. I told him I was scared to be alone, that something might happen to me. I was feeling sick, dizzy and scared. I begged him to come over.

He did. When I saw him turning in the yard, I ran out to meet him, no coat in the cold. He opened his coat to me and I nestled into it.

Inside the house, he pulled out a 1/2 pint of Jack Daniels from his inner coat pocket. I got us some glasses and we sat in the living room watching Keeping Up Appearances and talked. The whiskey flowing through my blood warmed me and eased my shakes.

Around midnight, as I was dozing on the couch, my uncle sitting in the chair across from me, it was as if I had been in a therapy session, my parents came home without Sean.
They told us that the center could keep him for 7 days.

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