Today, at TRB Lounge, we are featuring an excerpt from The Flawed Ones – A Story of Mental Illness, Addiction and Love by Jai Chirino.
Read ahead to get a sneak-peek into this exciting new read releasing very soon.
About the Book:
After leaving behind a trail of drug-addled destruction, Jay finds himself confined to the walls of a psychiatric hospital. He is now compelled to confront his actions, his issues, and the past that led him to such downhill spiral. But what surprisingly affects him most are the people that he becomes surrounded by; people with considerable deficiencies that will shed some light on the things that truly matter in life.
“The Flawed Ones” is a thorough examination of the struggles of mental illness, depression, addiction, and the effects they have on the human condition. Most importantly, it proves that physical and mental shortcomings do not necessarily define who we truly are inside- that the heart is, in fact, untouched by our “flaws”, and that love will always prevail above all.
I was stained with the color of despair, my face as white as paper and my eyes afraid. I had not been me for a while and I didn’t know how much destruction I had caused, but I had the terrible suspicion it had been a lot.
The room had nothing in it but a single-wide bed, right in center. There were no pulse monitoring devices, blood pressure monitors or any other type of triage care equipment. Behind the bed was a window that brought in enough light to see that it was daytime, but it wouldn’t be soon. There was a small television hanging from one of the walls, but it wasn’t on. For a minute, the thought of looking for a remote ran through my mind, but just thinking about exerting that type of effort made me feel exhausted.
I sat in the middle of the bed with elbows resting on my knees and hands balled into fists, supporting my head. Mom and Dad stood next to me, pacing nervously in quiet desperation. They had not slept for days and their faces showed it. Their eyes told a story I didn’t want to read, so I kept my head down and refused to make eye contact. There was a constant static noise inside my head that got gradually louder as the minutes went by, and by now it was getting to the point of unbearable. I tried squeezing my ears shut with my hands, closing my eyes and blowing out my nose, but nothing worked. It felt like the station inside my head had lost all reception, and only the white noise remained, slowly torturing me, forcing me to surrender the rest of my sanity.
A doctor eventually walked in the room, sporting a fake smile, as if its only purpose was to sooth me. It failed.
“Hello, my name is John, I am the ER doctor today,” he said, still grinning without credible emotion. His whole expression had been programmed for dealing with the people he encountered, maybe in an attempt at making them more comfortable or at ease. He probably spent a long time in front of a mirror, perfecting it, practicing hard at masking his aversion to broken people, the reason he decided to become a doctor in the first place. Then he realized that fixing the broken meant being around them for a while, and he had no choice but to learn how to conceal his true feeling on the matter. I just hoped that his whole act worked better on others than it had on me.
“What brings you in today?”
His question was just part of the protocol; he already had the answer. His left hand had a grip on a chart that told him more than he needed to know, and I didn’t have the desire of reliving any of the details that had transpired the previous weeks. My blood would do that for me; it would give a thorough recount of the alcohol binge, the sedatives, the stimulants and whatever other substance I had put in my system without recollection. It would be a faithful witness of the accounts that made me lose total control and landed me in the hospital that day.
I kept it short and sweet to get things moving. “I have been struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs,” I said with embarrassment, not for telling the doctor, but for having to openly admit what I never had in front of my parents.
“I see…” Now the doctor’s fake smile dissipated; my answer was the cue that gave him clearance to stop the pleasantries and get down to business. His new face was no better though; it had morphed into somewhat of a concerned frown, eyebrows making a considerable upwards tilt where they ended, by his nose. His nostrils opened wider than normal, almost begging for more air. His eyes strained with focus as he made eye contact with nothing but the chart that he was writing on, while speaking to no one in particular.
“Let’s go ahead and run some labs and see what medicine we can give you in the meantime, to ease some of the symptoms, deal?” He looked at me momentarily and there was one more artificial grin. Before I could nod in agreement he was walking out of the room, turning this time into his true, uninterested self. As he walked past the glass wall in front of me, I saw the real ER doctor for the first time. It almost made me feel relieved to not have to live with the lie; the clumsy act that he had to put on, just for me.
A needle went in my arm and painted three vials red. There went my story, no detail left behind. Questions were going to be asked, and truthful answers were going to be given. The dark era of lies and deceptions was finally coming to its inevitable end.
Then I waited, waited for help, a knot in my throat as the walls of the room started to close in. Sobriety sank, deep in my gut. I started reminiscing without anything to blur the images, and excruciating pain bubbled up inside me. There were projections on the walls, chopped up scenes of disastrous moments that defined the surrender of my sanity, of my happiness, of my hope. I wanted to scream, but didn’t know how. I wanted to cry, but tears wouldn’t come out. I sat still in the middle of the bed, and the walls were now so close that I could touch them with my hands. Mom and Dad became dark shadows that stood still in the background. The ringing in my ears became louder and it muffled everything else. My head started pounding harder than my heart, and my desolation became intolerable.
The wait continued, the minutes refusing to move on, time becoming relative to my discomfort. Mom and Dad still stood by my side. Their pacing had continued, just a little slower. Heads down, arms crossed, I could only imagine what was going through their heads. I was well-aware of their exceptional distress, and felt immense guilt knowing it was me who put it there.
Outside the room, movement continued. Nurses and doctors did their dance as stretchers drove by and parked in empty rooms, delivering their cargo. Green scrubs would rush to hook up monitors, get blood pressure readings and insert IV’s. An agonizing patient begged for pain killers. The loud speaker called out for a code blue in room twenty-six. Nurses sprinted past the room, almost in rehearsed formation.
A blonde-haired woman now sat on a recliner on the other side of the glass wall, in front of the nurse’s station. It seemed like she couldn’t quite understand why she was there. She attempted to helplessly explain to the nurses and the cop standing by her that she had not meant to threaten anyone’s life. It had just been a fit of anger, like the ones she had gotten before, during her first tries at sobriety. The nurses, with their empty smiles and careless eyes, nodded and ignored her. It wasn’t a story they hadn’t heard many times before, or one that could possibly change her outcome in any way.
Seventy-two-hour psychiatric hold. We were going to be staying on the same floor.
At last someone came. They had secured a room for me to stay in. My parents got close and embraced me. Mom gave me her “it’s going to be ok” look, but the fear in her eyes said something else, something sadder. Dad walked past me and gave me two soft pats on the shoulder, then continued to walk out of the room, head down, as if my failures were his own.
As they disappeared into a corridor that now seemed five times longer than when we got there, my stomach ached the same way it did that very first day of public school, when they waved their hands in unison, and their blurry silhouettes shrank as I saw them vanish through the tears. I had never felt more alone, more abandoned. The complete weight and heat of my burning world rested entirely on my shoulders now. Would the elevator taking me to the third floor be able to hold that much? I was about to find out.
About The Author:
Jay is an author, mental health advocate and recovering addict, who spent over ten years battling his demons. Today he focuses on sharing his story and the story of others like him in order to create awareness and help eradicate the stigma that has always surrounded mental illness. He lives in Tampa, FL with Ana, his cat.
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