Blog: Loony Bin, Meet Skillz Again Parts 1-6
(originally written 9/21/18)
PART 1 OF 6: THE SETUP
As many of you know, I attempted suicide on 9/14/18. Depression is a bitch.
As I write this, I've just completed an extended form outlining the symptoms of depression.
Up to a week ago, out of 40 symptoms, all except ONE described me. (No major illness. Well, besides the depression itself.)
While my depression battle isn't new to some of you, I never knew it had gotten THIS bad, or that some of my actions/feelings were related to it.
With increased meds and increased discussion, I've been feeling better this past week. Certainly better than I felt on the afternoon of 9/14/18.
That day began, ironically, with a visit to my psychiatrist. Dr. Brown is (at times eerily) good at deciphering where my mood is without much help from me. She can also usually tell when I'm BS'ing her (which is occasionally). She also sits funny in her chair. Overall, she is definitely part of the solution, not the problem.
I told her the truth—that I didn't really want to live in a world like this, but I had no set plans of offing myself that day or any day. Before you ask "WHY DIDN'T SHE GET YOU HELP?!", legally she is only obligated to intervene if I admit I will kill myself or already tried. They can't commit anybody for wanting to die—if so, they'd have to commit every guy whose fly came open at work, or every girl whose skirt blew up on a windy street.
Following my appointment, I came home and was promptly rejected for a side hustle gig for a very unfair reason, which didn't help my already tenuous mood. Then I spoke with my mom...and got mad at her over pretty much nothing, said something mean. I was so ANGRY and at that point, I was now angry at myself for treating my mom, who's always been nothing but supportive, so poorly.
My simmering personal kettle finally began to steam.
PART 2 OF 6: THE ACT
The guilt I carry around for every mistake I've ever made, every time I've wronged someone. The embarrassment for every dumb thing I've said or done. My at-times lousy treatment of my ex. The distance between me and my child. Gaining weight and losing athleticism (and hair). My skin problems and overall appearance. My immaturity. My irresponsibility with money.
It enveloped me all at once.
In my mind, I now HAD to kill myself.
In a haze, I grabbed a SHARP, long-ish knife from the kitchen drawer and quickly plunged it into my wrist area...making sure to do it vertically for maximum damage. After significant bleeding on the counter, I walked to a nearby softball field—leaving a blood trail behind me—and sent a goodbye Instagram post from the dugout (so lost in my head that I forgot three children follow my IG page, including my own.)
Once again, the knife went into my wrist. Deeper this time, enough to squirt blood out like, well, a steaming kettle. For those of you wondering, it didn't hurt as bad as you might think, but it did hurt. By then—not to sound cheesy—there was too much internal pain to feel serious external pain.
(Although later on, my extremely-bruised wrist couldn't be rotated or flexed without ouch.)
What I tell you now is truth, and I'm telling you to illustrate the legitimacy of this act; that it was a serious suicide attempt and not a cry for attention or help.
Using my phone, I looked up exactly where my femoral artery was because I had every intention of severing it.
Yep...it was that bad.
I held that knife against said artery (or, at least the flesh surrounding it) for several minutes. I poked it a little further...and a little further...and a little further, as if trying to build up the courage for that final step there in a dugout.
Pre-depression/anxiety, I loved being in dugouts, being at the ballpark. Playing, spectating, it didn't matter. You might say it was the ideal place for me to go.
PART 3 OF 6: THE AFTERMATH
But for reasons I'm not 100% clear on even a week later...I just couldn't do it.
I was right there ready. All I had to do was plunge that knife one last time...
Something stopped me.
Next, I spent about 10 minutes just sitting there, processing the last 30 minutes. By now the spurting blood had clotted—though I still looked terrible, active bleeding had ceased. I figured that if I wasn't going to die after all, I need to find out if permanent damage had been done to my arm. So I headed to the nearby Kaiser emergency room.
To (hopefully) keep the cops uninvolved, I told the staff as little as possible, though they repeatedly pushed for details. In time, I was stitched up and back home—alone, not feeling not much of anything. But alive.
By now, people had seen the IG post and my phone was starting to blow up a little. I think my longtime bud Juan was the first to call me. Either Rob, April or Cav—all longtime friends as well—texted first (I'm not going through the messages to confirm...there were dozens of them that afternoon.)
That "little" soon grew to "loads", as my pals proved what I already knew, but temporarily forgot—many, many people care about me and would be hurt if I croaked.
Jon, who's known me since high school, called about 10 times in a row. Cav, Rob, April, Juan, Ed, Dave and even old teammate Leland, who I hadn't spoken to all decade, called or texted with concern. I wasn't ready to talk just yet and ignored it all.
What I didn't know at the time: Cav and others were working behind the scenes to get the police to my door, unaware I was now "fine" and no longer a threat to myself.
So imagine my surprise when—after finally texting "I'm okay" to my friends—five or six cops showed up at my door around 4pm.
COP: Mr. Davis, can you please step outside?
ME: Nah, I don't feel like it. (shuts door).
Undeterred, the cops broke my door open and dragged me away in cuffs, all the while grumpy that I shut the door on them. Good times.
PART 4 OF 6: THE HOSPITAL
It takes a while to place a 51-50 (the code for suicidal people, who by law must be held in a hospital for 72 hours) patient in the loony bin, so I laid around the Kaiser emergency room for about six hours, listening to the various ER staff piece together why I showed up earlier and wouldn't confess the source of my injuries—you could hear the Sherlock-level pride in each one of their voices.
(Except they were getting one key fact wrong: I did NOT post on IG after the incident, I posted DURING. Stick to medicine, "detectives".)
Eventually, early Saturday morning, I was placed at Adventist Hospital in my native Vallejo, CA, after the medics took 20 minutes to load me into an ambulance I could have easily climbed into. Protocols...
Two staffers took all my vitals, gave me fresh clothes, checked everywhere but my anus for weapons, etc. At least I hope they were staffers. One of them, a Tone Loc doppelganger, really didn't seem like a staffer. I'm fairly sure he was somebody's homie with nothing better to do.
Plus, he was never seen again; I saw everybody else at least one more day/night. Oh, well.
(BTW, Tone Loc was a rapper in the early '90's, but I'm not here to talk about the past.)
Throughout Saturday, Sunday and Monday I gradually felt better after attending various groups and talking about everything that led to me slicing myself up. The staffers were fantastic, they made me feel...worth something. Like I was a real person who mattered. AND they always gave me extra orange juice!
Two particular group leaders stood out:
⦁ Angel. A literally 4'8" Chinese woman who led our music therapy group, she came in Sunday with a guitar and a book of songs from artists ranging from Ritchie Valens to John Legend. I tell you, you haven't truly lived until you've heard a 4'8" Chinese woman sing the entirely-Spanish "La Bamba".
⦁ "Brent". You'll soon see why I'm using a pseudonym.
Brent led a [REDACTED] group Sunday and Monday. Bald and goateed, at first he seemed like a totally regular—for lack of a better word—guy.
But gradually, as the group progressed, some of his gestures and word choices became a little...curious.
A hand-droop here. A gentle leg-cross there. Just little things. Again...curious.
Once, as Brent made a point, I could swear he was thisclose to throwing his hand up and snapping his fingers before stopping himself partway through. By the beginning of Monday's group, it was getting clearer and clearer Brent was trying hard to suppress his, uh....flamboyancy.
Lifestyle choice aside, in all seriousness Brent was a terrific leader and rather inspirational. A depression sufferer himself, he seemed to take a special (non-sexual) interest in me and went out of his way to give me a packet of information to help me fight my battles upon leaving the hospital. Brent...nice work.
⦁ In addition, "Dr. Abdul". My 40-something temporary psychiatrist who actually gave me a fist-bump upon discharging me...which was cool. But he wasn't too nice to his subordinate on the phone...not cool.
PART 5 OF 6: THE PATIENTS
This story wouldn't be complete without sharing my experiences with my fellow loony binners:
⦁ "Marvin". On Sunday, after an entire day of almost no communication between us, Marvin interrupted my private breakfast and made a confession: he was hospitalized because people learned that as a child, he touched another child, and now potentially violent fallout existed—basically, he was in the hospital for his own safety.
Overall, a decent guy, and the only guy to use the N-word during my stay.
⦁ "Elena". That same day, under the same circumstances, Elena also confessed to me: she was hospitalized because after a painful surgery, she got hooked on coke and was no longer the same person inside or out. I listened and sympathized, and after that she felt compelled to "share" whenever she saw me. Nice person overall, though.
(Mind you, I did not, in any way, solicit either of those confessions. I was trying to enjoy a breakfast of solitude in our empty video room. I think it was the khaki pants I had on.)
⦁ "Janice". Janice was about 60 and used a walker. I never found out exactly what she was hospitalized for, but it was soon clear she wasn't well-suited to care for herself. You'd be having a normal adult conversation with her, and then she'd ask something like, "Do you think President Obama's daughters are good girls?" or "How do you feel about the world's dental care?"
Janice also made a point of introducing everyone to everyone else, be it staffer, patient, security guard, whoever. She would have introduced us to the birds were there any present. On my fourth and final day, she tried to introduce me to my own roommate.
Her other habit was excusing herself whenever she left a room, even when nobody knew, remembered or cared she was ever in said room. Nice lady, though.
⦁ "James". This is the roommate in question. At first, I thought James was a violent nutjob. He spoke in mumbles, and after sitting quietly for 10-20 minutes he'd just BURST up out of his seat and stomp off somewhere else, where he'd soon continue the ritual.
By the last day, I finally figured out that James was probably autistic. But even if he WAS angry all those times, who could blame him? After all, he had to endure my snoring for three nights.
⦁ "Lynn". Lynn's real name was an unconvential hybrid of two normal names. Think something like "Tiffison". Lynn was clearly unbalanced, maybe even schizophrenic. About 40, she would have been rather attractive with a healthy mind.
On Saturday she must have been medicated because she totally behaved and seemed normal, if not a tad dreary.
Sunday, however, she did a full 180, laughing hysterically at anything and everything on TV one minute, harassing and threatening Janice the next, and ultimately calling about six attorneys on the pay phone and leaving urgent voicemails to call her back at a number she had no access to.
Lynn also had annoying habits of constantly using the F-word as an adverb and punctuating sentences and threats with "Comprende?" One morning, out of nowhere, she asked me if I knew where all the missions of California were, then tracked down the Mexican Elena for answers (of which she had none.)
Early Monday morning, Lynn was stomping around the halls being a general nuisance until finally three burly men and a doctor showed up and pumped her full of something. She slept half the day and upon awakening, returned to her Saturday state...much to everyone's relief.
⦁ "Ernesto". At least 6'3", bearded and covered in tattoos, I was convinced Ernesto was going to eat someone. As of Tuesday morning when I left, he had not. Good for him.
PART 6 OF 6: THE PRESENT
No BS—by Monday I felt pretty good, and since leaving the loony bin I've felt even better, better than after my 2012 discharge.
I've closely read and followed the instructions Brent gave to me, and returned to doing some things I enjoy, most notably home-cooking and going out without dreading it. (Friends, if I've flaked on a get-together this past year or so, it's likely I wasn't honest and gave a BS reason rather than depression/anxiety...my bad.)
Having not seen her in 12 days, I was happier to see Josie yesterday than ever before, even after her months-long Samoa trips.
So far I've not missed a dose of meds and, most importantly, not wanted to miss a dose. I no longer want to die.
I've quit listening to a negative radio show and browsing negative posts on Reddit—both of which I'd immerse myself in daily to, as my therapist put it, "Feed The Beast" of negativity that inhabited me.
Mind you, this isn't a happy ending...yet. I still have a ways to go. While I can promise not to slice myself up again, I cannot promise I won't have long periods of depression ever again—there's no way to know right now and I haven't been seriously tested yet.
All I need from you, friends and fams, is an understanding that this condition is real. The brain is like any other organ and like any other organ, might not function properly in certain people. But I'm not crazy or dangerous. I will not eat you or your children. I will not damage your property.
But there's a chance I could get down again and if I do, know I'll never be that down again...besides, without me, who'd eat all your food, drink all your beer, and drop useless baseball knowledge on you on command?
(P.S. Thanks to all who reached out to me during and after this ordeal...I appreciate it greatly.)