I listen to audio books and concentrate on the speech-actor's voice. I relish the words and how they interrelate. I visualize the characters and concentrate on my feelings toward the characters and how my feelings make the story part of me. I try to guess what will happen next. I look for inconsistencies and ignore them once they're found. Eventually I fall asleep.
The only other effective technique I use for falling asleep is to just drive myself constantly until the exhuastion overpowers me and I eventually fall asleep.
But on occasions such as tonight, when I really should go to sleep early, I lay on the floor wide awake. I try to visualize a peaceful place. Devil's Lake. The Gorge. But these feeble attempts are interrupted by clocks, the heater, the refrigerator, and, mostly, my own traitorous, self-aware, oversized, mammalian brain. It seems to lock onto the first conflict it can and goes into overdrive.
My conflict this evening:
I hate my house. I worked so hard for so long to be able to buy a house. And now that I have a house, I hate it. Sure it's a good enough house. It was completely remodeled before we bought it. Everything is new and beautiful. There are many things I like about the house. I like the garage. I love the kitchen. It's really not a bad place. But at midnight, when I should have been sleeping 2 hours ago, I focus on what I don't like about it. I hate that the front yard and driveway are on a steep slope. I hate how small the children's rooms are. I hate the landscaping in the back yard. I hate not having any windows facing the street. I hate how small it is starting to seem. Where am I to put my synthesizers and sequencers and drum machines? How am I going to fit a computer desk into my children's rooms? It is not the disliking of these things that keeps me awake. It is knowing that I possess the power to change it that keeps me awake. I start thinking crazy thoughts like "I could dig a big hole under the garage and transport the garage underground. I would then have a level driveway. Then I could build a music room where the garage is now. While I'm at it, I could build a wall at the bottom of the slope in the front yard and fill it in to have a level front yard! Wow! I could also rip up and level out the back yard. All this work would increase the property value." Sure. All I need is alot of time to plan and educate myself, alot of money to pay for it, and alot of friends to help me.
And then the realization hits me. I have no time. I have no money. I have no close friends to help me. I've just wasted 1 hour of sleepytime getting excited about an impossible pipe-dream while, at the same time, triggering my depression. So now I've got to find something to keep me distracted until the exhaustion takes over.
But, wait! I'm on call tonight. This means as soon as my body's exhausted enough to convince my brain to settle down, I'll get a fucking support call. My body will scream NO! My brain will scream NO! But my all-powerful sense of filial responsibility will exercise its veto power and make it happen.
This is routine. I can deal with this as I have done every other night for the past I don't know how many months. But then there's tomorrow. Tomorrow I get to meet my psychologist for the first time. I should be thouroughly burnt-out enough by then to convince him to commit me to inpatient therapy. And what a joy that is, ladies and gentlemen. To those who've not had the pleasure of experiencing living among and within leather restraints, orange jumpsuits, and uncircumsized schitzophrenic closet homosexual drug abusers, I can't say I recommend it.
I was admitted to Riveredge Hospital when I was in 7th grade. I was diagnosed with something like "authority rejection disorder" or some shit like that. I didn't do very well in therapy because I kept trying to tell them that I have no problem with authority as long as the person in authority takes the responsibility for being in that position seriously. My theory was proven when I was in the Army. I had absolutely no problem with military authority because it was skilled, experienced authority with an obvious purpose. I graduated with honors from all of my military training. Strange for a person who rejects authority.
My mother tricked me into going to the hospital with her. We went to my grandmother's house to stay for the weekend. After waking on Saturday morning, my mother told me to get ready to go. She said we were going to a hospital in Chicago because they had a new treatment for asthma. I was game. Frequently suffocating on one's own lungs is a humbling and scary thing. Anything that might help me breathe was fine by me. When we arrived at the hospital, we sat in the waiting room for awhile. As two large men who didn't look like doctors approached us, I had a sinking suspicion that I wasn't here for asthma. My suspicion was confirmed upon reaching the floor on which I was to live for the next 6 months. After some paper-signing and initial interviewing, I was shown to my room.
Thick, locked screens covered the windows. Beds, desks, and wardrobe cabinets were bolted to the floor. I was given 5 minutes to become aquainted with my new surroundings and then I was escorted to the cafeteria for dinner. After finishing my cardboard alfredo and spongecake, I was escorted back to my room and given a blaze-orange jumpsuit to put on. This was to be my uniform until I had earned enough "points" to gain the privilege of wearing regular clothes. I asked if everybody had to wear the ridiculous outfit. "No. Only those who we profile as potential runners are required to wear the jumpsuit.", they said. Running had not occurred to me until they had mentioned it.
I was monitored while I used the bathroom to piss and brush my teeth. I was then escorted to a room directly across from the nurse's station. In the room was a single bed with leather wrist and ankle restraints and nothing else. I spent my first night chained to a bed in a cold and empty room in a strange place. I cried myself to sleep having been betrayed by my mother and my own ignorance.
The next six months were mostly an unimportant blur. I did my best to conform. I did my best to keep an open mind. I did my best to do what I had to do to get the fuck out of there. I gained no insight into what was really wrong with me. With most of the other patients it was obvious why they were there. Drug abuse. Satanism. Crime. Sexual abuse. I met all kinds of fucked up people. I learned how to play spades with them. I watched movies about Angel Dust and Rape (rape is bad, mkay!) with them. I endured group sessions with them. All I learned is that there are some fucked up people in this world.
Sure, I was kind of a fucker of a kid. I didn't fit in with anybody else. I wasn't interested in "regular" things. I had a rebellious streak. But who doesn't when they're young? My "treatment" was dragging on without ever giving me the slightest inclination as to what I was supposed to do to get "better".
My father finally intervened. He was fed up with the whole mess. He didn't think I was crazy. He didn't think I belonged in a mental hospital. He thought my mother was crazy for admitting me. He had, somehow, convinced my mother to give him custody of me so he could get me out of there. He thought I needed a stable parent; not inpatient mental care. This was a short-lived fantasy as it turned out. I suspect my step-mother created the necessary interference to prevent this from happening. It was still really cool, though. It was the first time I encountered desperate, protective love from my father. It felt good to have somebody on my side.
The insurance benefits finally ran out and my mother was forced to take me back home. I made the first item on my agenda to get a pack of cigarettes (dumbass!). And I lived happily ever after.
This experience didn't do a whole lot of good in convincing me to trust people. It should be an interesting experience to encounter a shrink again, now that I'm older and not jacked up on hormones. Being severely sleep-deprived on my first visit should add that "Colonel's Secret Spice" to the whole matter.