05 June 07

Psychotherapy with Dr. T. (Part 3)

“How are you doing?” Dr. T. asked.
“Much better than last time,” I said. “I realise how silly I must have sounded worrying that I’d never get out. I think what happened was this year began and I spent months in a state of euphoria telling myself that this is the year I get out. Then from that state of happiness there was a backlash, and I spent several weeks fully convinced I was never getting out. I’m over that and I can feel the euphoria building again.”
“When are you getting out?”
“I’m eligible to be released to Immigration in November.”
“But it usually takes a few weeks for them to pick you up.”
“Yes. And then I’ll be processed at Florence. But according to the British Consulate, if I have a passport, that should only take a few weeks, so I’m hoping to be home by Christmas. If you get a HNR from me in January then you’ll know we’ve got problems.”
“So are you ticking things off a list of things you need to do?”
“I’m beyond ticking. The things have been ticked, and worked to death. I think my stressed-out-about-never-getting-released phase was productive in a sense that I kicked and screamed to my parents, my attorney, and CO3 Rose so much that everyone is now doing as much as they can to ensure that my release is processed. We’re getting regular emails from my attorney updating the status of the proceedings for my deportation order.”
“So if you expect to be home by Christmas where will you be living?”
I laughed, and said, “It’s kind of funny actually. It’s become a joke among my family and friends that I’m going to be living in my parents’ garage and they’re going to be feeding me orange trays through the cat flap.”
Dr. T. laughed, and said, “What are you going to do when you get out?”
“My goal is to be back in a university some time in 2008. I aim to do a creative-writing master’s, and a senior academic at a university in England has asked me to consider going to his college. He also pointed out that if I went there a certain best-selling author would confer my degree.”
“So you wouldn’t be living with your parents then?”
“No. That university has living quarters for its senior students.”
“And how are you going to afford all of this?”
“That’s the only thing holding me back at this stage. The State seized all of my assets, so -”
“Why did they do that?”
“To offset some of the costs of my case, I believe. They said it was in lieu of racketeering proceeds that they couldn’t prove or find. Anyway, I can’t fall back on my parents because I owe them a fortune for my legal bill. So, I’m making inquiries as to scholarships and loans available to someone in my position. Prisoners Abroad have provided some useful info, and I’ve written to them with more questions.”
“So how are things on the yard?”
“Everything is going great. I’m doing college classes through Rio Salado. I just finished a philosophy course, and really hit it off with my teacher. My heart and soul are demanding that I take a shot at a career as a writer, and as I’ve only got a few months to go, I’m making a final push in that direction. I’ve submitted some short stories to magazines. I’m reading books on writing, and tearing through the classics. I can feel changes coming on in my prose. I believe that all this effort now will help me succeed when I get out. I have manic energy that I’m focusing right now. I think that being bipolar can be an asset for a writer.”
“Not if you’re suffering delusions of grandeur of being the next Shakespeare, and all you are writing is gibberish.”
“Believe me, I’ve written my fair share of gibberish, and gone through some peculiar phases which I’m embarrassed about - I can’t wait to re-write that stuff. But there have been some gems among the rubbish. It’s a question of culling the gems. And look at all of the legendary bipolar writers and poets: they range from Virginia Woolf to Lord Byron. I’m not so delusional I’d place myself in their league, but if I didn’t have this manic energy I couldn’t sit and write for twelve hours feeling on top of the world, not wanting to take a break for a shower or to go to chow.”
“So you are familiar with the diagnostic criteria for bipolar.”
“I’ve read books on it.”
“You do get talking very fast. Do you have racing thoughts?”
“Yes.”
“Do they prevent sleep?”
“Yes. They can keep me up for hours at nights, but I do eventually get to sleep.”
“You’ve mentioned times during your life when you have contemplated suicide, and you’ve mentioned times when you’re on top of the world. So you do seem to experience the bipolar extremes.”
“I spend most of the time happy hypomanic though.”
“And doesn’t it feel great?”
“Yes.”
“That’s why a lot of people with bipolar disorder don’t want to take meds. They want that high.” “And I’m certainly one of them. My dad asked me if I had a choice not to be bipolar would I take it. I told him I would stay as I am even though it may have contributed to my propensity for doing drugs and partying. Being bipolar gave me the energy to succeed at many things including stockbroking and stock trading.”
“Do you think stockbroking contributed to you breaking the law?”
“I think I was attracted to investments due to my risk-taking nature, and that same character trait certainly contributed to me breaking the law.”
“What about the office environment you worked in?”
“I went from being a university graduate in England to working in an office full of feisty New York Italians – some of whom liked their cocaine and strippers.”
“It may be a stereotype, but when I imagine stockbrokers I see coke-snorting macho types.”
“Yeah, it was quite an experience, but that was nothing compared to the levels of drug consumption among my friends and I in the rave scene. That’s what pushed me over the edge. And I’m not going back to that. I’m determined to succeed in literature and to get back to trading my own account, neither of which I’ll accomplish if I cloud my mind. To me prison has been a necessary step to grow out of those old ways. I can’t imagine who I would be without all of this personal development. It’s been such a good thing. The main downside has been the effect on my family, and that pain has motivated me to make amends. My sister asked me if I had just intellectualised to mollify my parents – which kind of hurt – and I tried to explain to her the ongoing development of my new self, and the continuous shedding of skin that’s occurred as I’ve attempted to transcend this punishment.”
“How is your sister?”
“She’s doing phenomenally well. She’s about to get married. Her and her fiancé recently bought a place in London where they both have high-powered jobs. In the eyes of my parents, I see her behaviour as compensating for my misbehaviour. She’s doing us proud.”
“It’s great that you seem to be so happy today.”
“Thanks. I’ve a lot to look forward to.”
“Are you sad about leaving America?”
“There are some people here who I’m going to be sad to leave. But I broke the law and its part of my punishment isn’t it? America was good to me. I prospered, thought I was invincible, and overstepped myself. Maybe I can arrange to come back legally some day. If not – oh well – there’s plenty of the world I haven’t seen. The East is booming, and I have some ideas in my mind that I could put into place there. I enjoy the challenge of fighting the odds, of building things up. If I can do well in prison I should be able to thrive anywhere.
As funny as living in my parents’ garage sounds, being reduced to rock bottom has put me in my element. I can’t wait to get to work on my comeback. That seems to be the way I’m hard-wired.”
“So no more worrying about not getting out eh?”
“Definitely not. In my most recent Siddha Yoga lesson Gurumayi points out that if we were to view a videotape of our lives and see how much time we spend worrying over things that don’t materialize we’d be slapping our heads and wishing we could do it all over again.”

Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below

Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jon,

Is there any chance we will still be recieving regular posts/updates after your release? Will the blog end upon release? WIll you "bequeath" the blog to someone else to provide insights? It will be a sd thing to see it go after you are released. But as we all know...all stories must come to an end some day. -Jose in San Diego

joannie said...

I believe one of the best things I ever did in (mid)life was to follow my art star...it was a risk and to some pretty impractical and foolish, but I have never regretted that decision. I think C.S. Lewis talked about personal growth and decision-making like following the branches of a tree-every decision is a fork in a branch takes us to a higher destination. I have a feeling this is a story that will never end.

Anonymous said...

Keep focusing on the positive Shaun; a lot of good has come out of this and will continue to do so at all angles and levels.
Well done.
Terry B