It was not my intention to shed demons into the mind my psychiatrist, but having learned to cast darkness from my own psyche during times of heightened stress, and wanting to demonstrate the reality of my enslavement to an invisible, evil force all around me, I released one from my ear while in a small, windowless office in downtown Manhattan while my shrink listened halfheartedly to me complain of a severe pain that wrecked me from the inside–
“I hurt so bad,” I said. “For God’s sake is this the modern world or what? The medicines are not erasing the pain. Perhaps I have syphilis and my mind is rotting. I can’t take anymore pills and what do you mean, I’ll have to take these for the rest of my life?”
“We can only control your illness, not cure you, Mr. Taylor.”
“Illness? But this came out of the blue– out of nowhere– it came from two Mormon guys that I met on the Upper West Side. It was hot outside. I needed rest and water for I had been preaching. I happened to walk past a pretty limestone building the moment I noticed a rainbow over Central Park. I took it as a sign and turned towards cool air blowing from inside the chapel. There was a sign on the door that invited me, and all guests inside. It was the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and at the time, I thought perhaps I was on the path to sainthood so I went inside and it was then that I invited them to my house for further instruction. Don’t get me wrong, doctor, I was not interested in what Joseph Smith had to say– the men were hot if you know what I mean– attractive in the biblical sense. They came to Brooklyn the next day and dropped off one of their bibles and from that moment, my thoughts wouldn’t stop. Did you know that Joseph Smith found the Mormon bible in the woods?”
“I am not going to prescribe anything that you will become addicted to. I will give you one more refill on Xanax, but this is it and you have to promise to give lithium a try.”
I rubbed my earlobe, pretending that it itched while she wrote a prescription for both lithium and Xanax.
After she handed me both prescriptions, I noticed the refill for Xanax was for 120 pills, unlike the 30 she had issued the month before, but I didn’t say a word and quickly folded the paper before she had the opportunity to recall her error.
If it had any say in the matter and if I were not required to obey rules of the dark arts, I would have permitted her to suffer through all of eternity, but I decided to give the lithium pills a try and return to an appointment the next month.
I arrived at St. Vincent’s Hospital twenty minutes prior to my appointment. I felt that being prompt would demonstrate that indeed I was not the schizophrenic once assumed, nor was I bi-polar as Dr. Travis had feared, months before. A clock in the waiting room ticked slowly. The sound of the second hand could be heard above the chatter of those in the waiting room near me. I noticed a slight variation to the rhythm of the clock each time the thin hand passed twenty-past the hour. Dr. Travis had yet to call for me and already, we were fifteen minutes past our scheduled appointment time.
Just as I was about to inform the receptionist that I was leaving, Dr. Travis, with her short bobbed hair cut unevenly entered the waiting room carrying two large shopping bags from Bed, Bath and Beyond. She noticed me immediately and asked what I was doing there that day.
“I have an appointment,” I explained.
“No, not today,” she insisted in traditional, snobby, Jewish mind doctor fashion.
“I have the appointment card you wrote for me.” I quickly pulled the card from my jeans and showed it to her. She was embarrassed in front of the loons in the bin and insisted that I come with her that moment.
After she placed her bags beneath her desk she asked if there was much improvement.
“No, not much but at least I no longer burn out light bulbs in my house. I was going through four bulbs a week since leaving Trinitas Hospital, but it has stopped. I think it was the lithium and I thank you for that,” I said.
“Any side-effects?” She asked.
“Yes– I spent two nights on the bathroom floor unable to lift my head to the commode to puke, but overall I believe, Dr. Travis, that you have exorcized my Morman demons. The sad news for Glaxco Smith Kline is that I stopped taking the lithium. I gained more than forty pounds this month. My God, look how fat I am! This just can’t be!”
“We can try adjusting the dosage,” she said in a rather cheerful manner as she prepared to write another prescription without asking any additional questions relating to my mental health status–
“I’m done with you,” I said, as if she were my wife whom I had caught cheating. “You don’t listen to anything I say to you. But before I go, I want you to place the following comment in my record because I want my opinion to be vividly clear so that forty years from now, when we are all dead and gone, at least I had my say– I had a religious experience. That was it. Nothing more, nothing less, Dr. Travis… a religious experience. Got that, princess?”
At that very moment, a light bulb in a small lamp in her office popped. She nearly jumped into my loving arms that very moment. She quickly flicked on the overhead florescent lights above as I stood up to exit.
“If I were you, I’d get a new lamp,” I said. “When that first happened to me, I made the mistake of simply replacing the bulb. Now look at me. Good-bye, Dr. Travis and thanks for taking this load from my mind and for all that Xanax!”
As I departed St. Vincent’s outpatient psychiatric center for the last time, the fire alarm went off behind me. Despite the sirens I could still hear the uneven pattern in the rhythm of the clock on the wall. I hoped that Dr. Travis took my advice by not replacing a bulb in a lamp that had been used to channel my demons. All I know for sure that it was not I who set off the alarm that day.