My average day is comprised of a walk with some of the sickest, most beligerent, dispicable, loathsome, and utterly rejected beings that humanity has to offer. Like many who share this same circumstance, it is not particularly troubling. That would be in the moment.
I am always cautious, and I am always aware of my surroundings: Is it even possible that an experienced clinician would be stupid enough to leave a stapler or a two-hole paper-punch - for punching holes in documents to be inserted into medical records - on the desk where a psychotic inmate would have easy access? Acess because you politely but firmly said, "No, you may not use the phone to call your mother" (which, of course, they already knew, but you're a new face & presumed to be a "sucker" until proven otherwise).
And having previously experienced violence (which is a euphemism for saying I got in a kick-ass, knock down fight with a psychotic man), I am "hyper-vigilant," always aware of who & what is going on around me - some would refer to this as "post-traumatic stress," whereas I see it as a gift. Or how can I explain the dramatic psychological, philosophical, and psychic shift from one taught to "restrain" the "patient" to, as a psychiatrist explained to me my first week in a level-4 "super max" facility, "Grab anything at hand - grab the chair you're sitting on - and beat that motherfucker as hard as you can, for as long you can, until either help arrives, or they are no longer a threat." Wow. Me?
Late last night I got an email saying, "You probably already heard that the chief psychiatrist in Region whatever had some issues (and don't we all), locked himself in his office with enough drugs & alcohol to kill a small army, setup a delayed email informing staff he would "miss them," assuring that no one would find him until, if I may quote the Coroner of Munchkinland:
As Coroner, I must aver,And I say to myself, "What could he have been thinking? He was a psychiatrist, for God's sake!" And then I remember: you are merely a step ahead of the demons. Why him and not you? Intelligence? Doubtful. Less stress? Right... Better "coping" mechanisms? Well, apparently so far... More frustration, disappointment, "disenchantment," discouragement at every turn? Absolutely impossible.
I thoroughly examined him.
And he's not only merely dead,
He's really, most sincerely dead.
And for two consecutive nights I have headed out onto the dark streets to cope in the best way I know how: take my camera and record the carnage. From the streets, to AdSeg, to the office of the Chief Psychiatrist, I can't imagine any of these consciously chose this path to destruction. Do I "absolve" them because they are/were "ill?" Hell no. But I would be satisfied knowing why.
And tonight at 2:30 am, walking through a quiet but deserted shopping center in the "Uptown District," where I had earlier sat on some stairs watching the annoyed drivers of very expensive cars honk & yell at a homeless man - too oblivious with his own tormentors to notice them - the police rolled up on me with that blinding light directly in my face. It took all my energy not be a complete asshole when they asked, "What are you up to?" Rather than say "I am heartbroken," I merely said I couldn't sleep. And when one checked the ID around my neck and said, "You don't look like a doctor," all I could say was, "May I leave now?" "Go home. It's dangerous out here."
Pal, you couldn't even imagine how dangerous it is out here.