Lost….A Walk in Darkness…

“You don’t look crazy…” I squirmed trying to getcomfortable on the gurney in the back of the ambulance. A pretty EMT sat to myleft and looked me up and down. She pulls the strap down tight and sat back. “Great, now I know how a burrito feels.”My arms are tight in the straitjacket. “I know right? All this because I wouldn’tshut my mouth.” She giggles. “Get some rest. It will take us about an hour toget to the hospital.”

The smell of bleach and Pine-Sol is overwhelming. I am wheeled into the hospital (still wearing my straitjacket) and I am processed into the mental ward. Helga the Viking Princess is conducting my rules and regulations brief. “You will have a quick visit with the therapist to introduce yourself to group. Then you will be given medication to help you relax. When was the last time you slept?” I glance up at this towering behemoth that is questioning me like I robbed Bill Gates. “Why? Are you conducting a survey?” A quick note: never get snarky while strapped in a straitjacket. Wheeling me back to group, I am finally released from confinement.  The therapist welcomes me to our massive share session. “Hi! Welcome to group! What brought you here?” As I sat down in my chair, I took notice of everyone in the room.  “Hi! An ambulance.” Snickers rose from my fellow patients. My therapist continued to smile. “No silly, what did you do to get sent here?” Slightly uncomfortable with her ability to smile and speak while barely moving her lips, I swallowed hard. “I attacked one of my fellow soldiers.”

Still smiling she nods her head. “Was that so hard? Ok, we are going to go in a circle, and I want each one of you to stand up and introduce yourself. Explain what your goal is while you are here.” One by one my fellow patients stood and introduced themselves, finally it was my turn. “I am Larry Freeman Jr. I am a soldier with two combat tours under my belt, preparing for my third trip downrange in a couple of months. My goal is to get better.” Finally, Helga comes over and takes me to my room. She hands me my medication. “Get in the bed and take your medication.” Seething with rage at being treated like a child, I walk into the bathroom. “Whatever you say Helga.” I throw the medication into my mouth and swallow a handful of water. Turning to walk out the door and to my bed, my unconscious body hits the floor…

18 hours later, I wake up on the floor. My face isbruised, and the cold floor causes me to shiver. Helga’s replacement comes intomy room. “Hi! You were supposed to take your medicine in the bed. It’s almosttime for lunch, would you like to join us in the dining facility?” I feel likeI have swallowed all the sand in the Sahara. Nodding yes, I quickly follow mycurrent nurse to the dining room. The meal consists of chicken, green beans andmashed potatoes. Grabbing my plasticware, I eat like a condemned man on DeathRow. “After your meal, it will be time to play Bingo. We have great prizes thatcan make your stay here more enjoyable.” I look up and notice a couple ofMountain Dews, bath wash, and a notebook with pens. “Let’s do this!”

I found out that I rock at Bingo. “Excuse me, do youmind if I haul my loot to my room before I go to group?” My nurse walks with meto my room. Stashing my gear so that no one else knows where it is, I make myway to group. “Hi Larry!” I plop down in my chair and listen to my new-foundfriends discuss matters close to their hearts. Some were convinced that theirchildren hated them. Others had seen too much during the Vietnam War. Thenthere was me, lost in a drug addled stupor with no clear direction. “God, what am I doing to my life?” Mynurse comes to get me, and we walk to the therapist’s office. “Hello SGTFreeman. What is going on with you and how can we help you?” Tears filled myeyes, angrily I wipe them away. “Doc, I am fine. I just want to go home.”Sympathy showed in her eyes. “I understand. However, we can’t just release youwithout helping you. The sooner you cooperate, the faster you will be released.”Looking down, I take stock of my situation. “Doc, I can’t sleep. Every time Iclose my eyes, I see dead bodies standing around my bed. This one little boycomes to my bed every night. He stands by my bed and stares at me. It scares meto death.” She looks at me, like a mother looking at her frightened son. “Youdo know that it isn’t real right? Ghosts don’t exist.” Swallowing hard, I nodmy head. “Yeah, but they aren’t ghost. They were real people….”

Halting the session for the day, I sat off in search of Helga and my medication. “God, I don’t want to remember none of this. I just want my pills and dreamless slumber.” Helga was standing next to my bed. “Let’s try it this time with you in the bed.” Obediently, I crawled in my bed and took the handful of medication. Helga hands me a glass of water to choke it down with. “Good night Helga…”

The more I talked with my therapist, the more I seemed to drift away from the hallucinations/dreams that I was having. It could have been the massive amount of Trazadone and Minipress they were feeding me, but I was resting. The last day of my stay in the hospital, I was dressed and waiting to be picked up. “SGT Freeman, do you go to church?” Looking up, I see my therapist smile at me. “Not for a long time ma’am.” She smiles and sits down next to me. “It would not hurt for you to attend church. You need a support structure in your life. A pastor and a good church would do wonders for you.” I smile. “Ma’am I have a support structure, it is called Jameson.” She shakes her head, her curls bouncing every which direction. “No SGT, that is your problem.” Glancing at my watch, I look her in the eyes. “I will consider going to church. You may be right about the Jameson.” Finally released, I sit in the front passenger seat and ponder what my therapist has told me. “Yes, I know that you are real God. I know that you said you would put no more on us than we are able to bear. Yet, it feels like I can’t take one more step. Please help me…”

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