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In Which Rhetoric Triumphs over Dialog

Posted Sep 29 2009 10:36pm
"And even now I am afraid I feel the alarm about to go off in me..."
Rick Hilles

It's early Sunday morning, the day I'm supposed to leave with my father for Orlando, and I've done it again--I'm drunk, purging, sleeplessly trying to pass the time. The past few days, I should have been packing, assessing the things I think I might need in my time away from Nashville. I've done little packing or assessing beyond the books I want to take. I end up with several dozen books I want, by the way. As if I will really be spending my time in the hospital researching Zen meditation and neuroscience, or studying for the GRE, or reading even 25% of those books. Deep down, I know I need maybe three, one of which is, yes, obviously, Plath's collected poems. But I'm obsessed with these bound stacks of paper to an irrational degree, and it shows as my father helps me pack them up in bag after bag, clear shelf after shelf. The closets, full of clothes, are a mere afterthought. I couldn't even bear to think about what I would wear while in the hospital, so I just avoided it altogether. Sometime later, around seven or eight in the morning, I wake in my bed. My father is packing my clothes, all of them, into white plastic bags. I pass out again and sleep until noon. We don't leave until two.

I knew the drive wouldn't be passed in silence. I knew I'd have to engage my dad in conversation, and I was in a terrible mood as we left Nashville. I wasn't going to fall for any tricks that were going to open me up to him emotionally--I'd keep him at arm's distance for as long as possible. The car, in a way, became some sort of discussion forum, as my father asked vague, leading question after another, and I responded in an "expert" sort of fashion. The rhetoric of probing my father learned in law school came to bear here, as he tried to learn, in a rather heavy-handed (subjectively) way, about what I thought about my own conditions and their development and prognosis. I told him exactly what I knew about my conditions--medications, courses of treatment, possible underlying bases for mood/eating disorders, and other things. At times, I would qualify some statements with an, "in my own experience, I've had these things happen..." In retrospect, as writing this, I felt as though I were a child put on trial...but for what crime? For being ill? My response of intellectualising my problems only formalised the situation, made the exchange between my father and myself for much of the drive...forced. For almost nine hours this continued.

We arrived in Orlando in the early morning hours of Monday, and though the house had changed, it still maintained the many associative strands in my mind. I couldn't walk into my old room without thinking of the countless hours I'd wasted vomiting, not sleeping, avoiding human contact. A familiar environment, a mind desperate for stability--a combination for equilibrium at all costs. I knew, walking into this place, that I'd not find any immediate peace, only a continuation of previous habits to deal with the extenuating factors surrounding me. Maybe I should have gone elsewhere; maybe I never should have left Nashville. Whatever the case, I'd arrived.

I have been here for almost a full day, and it's become clear to me that: 1. I am no more safe in abstaining from my behaviours than I was in Nashville, and 2. my parents, to some degree intensify a lot of these behaviours (though, they are, admittedly attempting to accommodate and understand what I am going through). My mother, for instance, prodded me tonight about why I was unhappy, and went on to tell me how, "Happiness is a choice." A fine aphorism, but, in the light of what I'm experiencing, if I COULD choose to be happy, wouldn't I? Actually, I know I wouldn't. I choose short-term benefits over long-term gains due to my impulsive nature. This reminds me of last night's episode of House, in that I think there must be some other things that will be equally reinforcing for me over my current, self-destructive behaviours--I just need to find it. For House, it is diagnostic medicine (what a drug, I am jealous). For myself, I want to believe it is creative writing, or the act thereof, but there could be other things I could get a "fix" off of.

The current situation, to be blunt, is tempting, frustrating, and definitely not what I need. I don't need my parents trying to learn more about me with leading questions, with tactics that plod along and repel me. I wish they were more subtle; I wish I could provide them with a handbook for dealing with me. On other notes, Castlewood is a big possibility for treatment, and UCLA might be too, in addition to Fairwinds. Waiting to hear back from Sheppard-Pratt. I'm not entirely hopeful about the others, but who knows? I didn't have a good outlook regarding Castlewood. In two day, I should know where I'll be spending the next 2-3 months...if I don't go crazy from my parents.

-Mt
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