The Raven

The Raven

Monday, February 21, 2011

Home for the Holidays (part 10 of brother's story)

Our aunt had told him that she wanted him to get well and home; she wanted to hear his beautiful music at the Thanksgiving dinner.
It was November, before Thanksgiving time that my brother came home. He had spent about 4 weeks in Ancora. After further testing and observation, the doctors re- diagnosed him as bi-polar and put him on a mood stabilizer and sent him home. He was again medicated and frustrated. He couldn't play; he couldn't control his hands. It was weird, scary, yet familiar to have him home. He was actually acting like how I had known him. My parents said never again, about sending him to Ancora. (a couple years after this, there was talk about shutting the place down). Maybe I was loosing my mind, but I asked if he could come along on a trip to New York City with my Amnesty group. We were going to a seminar hosted by Amnesty to discuss the human rights abuses of Native American women. I wanted my brother to hear this, expose him to other cultures, ideas. I talked it over with my psychology professor. She said as long as he signed the waiver, as we all did, he could go. i felt sorry for him and what he had been through. He agreed to go. He was witty and charming in the van. He got a little arrogant at times, and I cringed since they had never met him, and my professors were a bit uncertain of taking him to begin with. But he really hit it off with one student. They had us laughing and I felt more at ease. However, as soon as we stopped for food at an enchanting, colonial restaurant, grey stone, slick and glimmering in the pouring rain, I had myself a Jameson. He and I wondered around the little museum upstairs and learned that Washington's teeth were actually made of ground up human and animal teeth.
At the seminar, I cringed again when I saw him taking samples of wine that were offered to the guests. I thought he would trip up again. I told him to be careful, especially with the meds. He ended up being okay. It was the two jackass girls who had never even been to a meeting, but somehow kissed up and got in, that got wasted and embarrassing, but I digress. There were a couple eerie coincidences... the obvious one to me, that I had started campaigning for Native American women, as he was obsessed with the Cherokee Spirit, and while walking through New York, we passed a lane where a sign hung over a cafe door that read Ancora. I don't know exactly what his journey was all about, but I know it is more significant than the human mind can comprehend. I think that's why there are mental disorders; some people are closer to the higher planes of knowledge, more in tune with the astral, metaphysical energies- like a third eye or 6th sense.

We had a normal Thanksgiving in Greenwich, at my aunt and uncle's, just as we always had since children. That same month, just before Thanksgiving, my brother got a job as janitor at Shoprite, our local grocery store. As time went on, he weaned himself off his meds, as well as from his assigned case manager, who weekly would stop by, and who also helped him get his job.
As more time went on, he began to open up about his experience at Ancora. He said that many times he was left to watch the patients, since he was the most sane among them. He saw a patient shitting himself and throwing it at a nurse as she cowered against the wall and sobbed afterwards. I think a lot of it he keeps inside. He says he has a whole new philosophy about life now, after being locked up in a mental hospital.
To this day, February 21, 2011, he is still at Shoprite, now an apprentice to a butcher, working full time and making Union wages. He is off all meds. He drinks and smokes a lot, but maintains himself. It has been four years of normalcy. When stoned or drinking, he gets a bit of the glaze over his eyes and he talks like he did while under psychosis, playing with words, and believing he has all the knowledge of the world inside him, but he doesn't separate himself from the common, understood reality. For the past 2-3 years, his moods have been stable, mellow. He has a steady girlfriend who he met at work. They have been together for just about as long as he's been out of the hospital; she knows his history and his temper. Sometimes, now, I am the one who is paranoid. He always talked about the Cherokee Spirit. She is Native American, and sometimes I wonder if she is part of his mental game, a self-fulfilling prophecy he is trying to create. Many times, especially after the two of us have been drinking and philosophizing together, and I get upset and start yelling and arguing, I have nightmares about him. Many things I ask or talk about when he was going through all this, he says he doesn't remember, which is understandable. Now, we even laugh about a lot of what happened. We have a lot of thoughts in common. He tells me we're like the same person, yet we are the opposite sex version of it. He also uses logic, with a grin and says, or it's because we're brother and sister!

It is 2011, and he keeps the philosophies in his pocket, and plays the game like a good boy. For, when you speak what's in your head, they shut you up, lock you up and drug you up so that you become a twitching zombie, a vessel for the pharmaceutical corporation... I must wonder, therefore, who is the one with devils dancing in their head?
Not a big fan of this picture but dont I look like John Lennon in his later years?!

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