Paranoia vs Apathy

Suddenly , the pilot announces that we’ll be landing soon . Upon hearing the news , the fat man , the Asian woman , and I simultaneously squirm like mealworms and stretch in our seats . The fat man obnoxiously sneezes , landing a few sticky drops on the side of my neck . I cringe but don’t wipe them off right away . I’m distracted by the Asian woman who starts frantically digging in her oversized black purse , pulling out a handful of tissues and holding them up to cover her mouth and nostrils , as if allowing in another molecule of air will kill her instantly . Her eyes are wild and frightened . They bulge even further when the obese man sneezes again . I can’t help but snicker . If paranoia isn’t the opposite of apathy , I don’t know what is .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

A Pet’s Unconditional Love

Maybe it’s stupid to love a cat so much , but she really is the only thing I can count on in my life . No matter what I thought or did , she never failed to cuddle next to me every night . On the nights I couldn’t stand myself , the nights I binged and purged and felt defeated and disappointed in myself , she was always there for me . In this world , you need a cat or a dog to experience unconditional love .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

More Prop Than Person

I got the last word , the most genuine thing I could say out loud and not get kicked out of the rotation . What I wanted to say was that most of the patients are restlessly meandering , drooling , sleeping , or loitering around the nurses ’ station all day long . I wanted to comment on how they’re hunched over in a lobotomized line for a cupful of pills or a tray of food and look more like bizarre props than people. I wanted to tell him to forget the medication and give them something meaningful to do. But I didn’t say any of that.

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Expert Destruction

I’m in disbelief . The tension between Jamal and Dr . Patel is rising . Their cultures are relentlessly clashing right in front of my eyes , like a sword fight between wealthy India and West Philadelphia . My honest impression of Jamal is that he’s bright , sane and doesn’t need medication . If anyone sounds crazy , his mother does . Some part of me will not allow me to remain silent . Jamal’s young and smart , he has a future . He doesn’t need big – gun medications , and I’m overwhelmed with an urge to save him .

“ Dr . Patel , ” I respectfully say . “ When Jamal says he spits in the mirror , it means he’s rapping . He’s a rapper and that’s how he practices . ”

Dr . Patel stares at me blankly . Nothing registers . I’m a stupid , white girl. “But he hears voices . Why else would he talk to himself ? ” Dr . Patel asks.

“No , he spits . He raps . He’s not hearing voices . He’s practicing to be a musician,” I explain. The conversation continues in this relentlessly circular fashion . Nothing is sinking in . I give up and excuse myself to the bathroom. Let the “expert” seal the young man’s fate .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Tattoo Relief

Tory continues to work while I mentally command my body to adjust to the pain and discomfort . The needle spills color under my skin. Tory doesn’t say a word . I break out in chills . My pain tolerance is high, but each time the needle hits, I feel a new, excruciating sting. It hurts but part of me loves it. All I can think about is the growling device marking my back, and not the morbid sentences in my pathology book. The physicality is a relief .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Perspectives on Film

On the way to Winchell’s I thought of my father’s and Theresa’s different reactions to horror stories. My father was secure in the fact that horror films were made up Hollywood productions created for spine-tingling entertainment, and Theresa’s take on the genre couldn’t have been more different. She believed that the cast and production team put themselves psychically in harm’s way when they created scenes about evil spirits and ghosts. The making of a horror movie, she had told me, attracted dark entities and put everyone at risk of possession or unfortunate accidents for participating; furthermore, she said that the essence of fear that the films provoked in an audience created a weakness in people’s auras, allowing entities of the lower realm to invade. She had warned that it was best to stay away from unenlightened films.

Synanon Kid Grows Up by C.A. Wittman

Death of a Mind

I leave the books behind and go to my room. I cry, as if Chase recently died and isn’t brooding in the room next door. I almost wish he’d die. Seeing him lose his mind feels more painful. At least if he died, I wouldn’t have to be teased by seeing his physical body, because the Chase I adore doesn’t exist anymore. His body is a house that is falling apart, and his mind is a prisoner in the upstairs attic. I have no hope. Still, sometimes, a glimpse of his malnourished body makes me want to violently shake him until the chains holding his mind captive fall free. As if that would work.

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

He Was a Fool

Satanism, however, is far more than a movie set and a red robe. Practicing the black arts leads to what lives within the shadows, and you never know what you are going to attract by dabbling in such things. Often times, those who argue that black magic doesn’t work haven’t personally practiced it. Having experienced it directly, I am one who believes that some doors are meant to remain shut, but fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and if anything could be said of my father it was that he was a fool.

Rabbit Hole: A Satanic Ritual Abuse Survivor’s Story by David Shurter

Army of Dolls

Dr . Jonas is a psychologist . She’s petite with short grey hair , wears thin glasses , and dresses like a nun . I heard about her through a friend who told me she’s not only good , but sees students at a discounted rate . I’m like a desperate whore these days when it comes to therapists . I’m willing to give anyone a go. She’s currently on the phone.

While I wait across the desk from her, I glance around her peculiar office . It’s actually a spare room in her house , and that makes me uncomfortable. The walls and floor are a pale pink . Numerous old – fashioned dolls in Victorian dresses and doll houses are scattered throughout the room . It reminds me of a five year – old girl’s playroom . I hate dolls . They’re creepy, plastic , miniature humans who probably come alive at night and kill people…The label doesn’t feel right to me, like an ill – fitting jacket . She’s the expert , so there’s no convincing her, but it can’t be right. I squirm in my chair. I want to tell her every single person on earth exhibits some traits of mental disorder, but I don’t want to start a fight . It’s not like she’d believe me . She’s the doctor and I’m the patient, even though seeing patients among an army of dolls hints of her own mental issues . I look up , straight into the eyes of a beautiful doll with long locks of golden curls. I want to smash its porcelain face .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Being Irish in America

Steve held close to his heart his family’s connection to Ireland. It is an interesting aspect of the Irish in America that Steve, like others of his generation who were several generations removed from Ireland, felt that being Irish defined who they were. Possibly, it had to do with the identity it gave them. Saying that you were Irish was comparable to claiming membership in a distinct fraternity with a common tradition, secret rituals, and assured friendships wherever you found a fellow member of the Irish diaspora. The Irish gloried in their family, their neighborhood, and their love of the language. For Steve, it granted him entrée into the big leagues, where many young men of Irish descent were entering the American mainstream.

Steve Hannagan: Prince of the Press Agents and Titan of Modern Public Relations by Michael K. Townsley