I used my cane to hit the handicapped door opener. My hands shook and shadows danced on the wall. In the back of my mind, I saw train tracks. My head lay on the rail. A whistle blew, and I closed my eyes. It blew again and again. My eyes were shut tight. I was anxious and scared. Do suicides go to heaven?
I signed my name on a white paper. No one could make it out, but they knew my face.
"Yes," I stammered.
"Doctor Stanley will be with you shortly."
I sat in a comfortable leather chair. I thought of the life I could have lived. The life I lost.
A small, balding man in penny loafers came to greet me. He wore a Harris Tweed jacket with no tie—a failed attempt to set his patients at ease.
I slowly followed him down the expensive carpet to a large room. His office was themed after the African savanna, complete with giraffe sculptures and exotic plants. In the corner sat a large hardwood desk. The lights were low. I sat in an Italian recliner and waited.
"Well, David, how do you feel?"
It took me a moment to collect my thoughts. "I still see shadows everywhere. They seem to watch me. Whenever I close my eyes I see myself without a head. Sometimes it feels like invisible knives are swirling around me. The medicine is making it hard for me to walk, and often I feel like I am falling when I am just standing still. The suicidal thoughts are getting better. Just ideas, no actual plans."
Dr. Stanley nodded and scribbled something on my chart.
"I see. I think you are doing better than the last time we met. How are you spending your time?"
"I sleep most of the time. When I'm awake I play my Xbox. Sometimes I read and listen to music."
"Do you get out of the house much?"
"Maybe you could go for a walk?"
"I can't stand."
"Still, you should go outside and enjoy the sun. Research shows that exercise and spending time outdoors can improve mood."
He scribbled something else in his notes and flipped through the pages of my chart.
"Doctor, it has been three years. Will I ever get better?"
He paused for a moment and stared at his notes.
"David, you need to think about what level of better you can live with."
"What do you mean?"
"Just that you need to accept that you will always be this way."
There Are No Happy Crazies
A year and a half later, after seeking out another doctor, I found myself in another waiting room.
Instead of leather, these seats were vinyl. Everything smelled of bleach. I held a book in my hand, Don Quixote. Why can't I be like him? A few windmill giants, a barroom princess, a wonderful life?
There are no happy crazies.
I looked at my father and he smiled. "How do you feel?" he asked.
"I don't know," I muttered.
The news played on a television bolted to the wall. Somebody died somewhere. People were angry. They blamed the government, the government blamed big business, and big business blamed someone else. Nobody blamed themselves.
"Weiss, David," a voice called. I approached a white desk. A young man in a collared shirt sat behind a computer.
"Good morning," he said.
I was silent, but my father chimed in. I don't remember what they said. I didn't care. This place was different from other places I had visited. Nothing expensive except the medical equipment. No comfortable chairs or expensive clothes.