“I’m looking out from inside the chaos. It must be a one-way mirror because no one can see back inside where I am. The looks on their faces, the judgment in their eyes, tells me all I need to know. The most frustrating part about the whole messed up situation is that even though I’m the one that they stare at in shock, I am just as shocked as they are. I know no more than they do of why I lose control. What they don’t know is that I am more scared of myself than they could ever be.” ~ Tally Baker After a devastating turn of events Tally Baker, 17, is admitted to Mercy Psychiatric Facility where she is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. She has come to a place where she honestly believes that her life is over. Her mind tells her that she will never smile or laugh again, that she will never be normal again. It is in this unlikely place that she meets two people, different in every way, yet both critical to helping her realize that she has so much more living to do. Candy, a cantankerous sixty year old patient, hell bent on driving everyone as crazy as she is, shows Tally regardless of the diagnosis the ability to go on and live her life to the fullest is her choice and hers alone. In the midst of her escapades with Candy, a new patient is admitted to Mercy and coming to visit her daily is her son, Trey Swift. At first glance it is obvious to Tally that he is Native American, incredibly handsome and unbelievably caring. But what she learns through her second glance, and many thereafter is there is much more to Trey than he ever lets on. It is on these daily visits that he and Tally build a friendship far deeper than either of them truly realize. With Trey, Tally feels for the first time since she has been admitted that she is being seen as a person and not a disease. Trey begins to make it clear that he wants more than friendship; she knows that she can never give him more. How can she when she won’t even give him the truth? She never tells Trey that she is a patient at Mercy, and she doesn’t ever plan to. Her plans go up in flames when she finds out Trey is a new student at her school, the school where her brokenness was found out in the floor of the girl’s bathroom and a blade in her hand.
Call Me Crazy Trailer
“I’m looking out from inside the chaos. It must be a one-way mirror because no one seems to be able to see back inside to where I am. The looks on their faces, the judgment in their eyes, tells me everything I need to know. The most frustrating part about the whole messed up situation is that even though I’m the one that they stare at in shock, I am just as shocked as they are. I know no more than they do of why I lose control. What they don’t know is that I am more scared of myself than they could ever be.” ~ Tally Baker I walk into my second period history class. It takes every ounce of willpower that I have left to take my seat today. I need to be up moving around. I don’t need to be sitting still—I can’t sit still. I need to walk so that I can think. My mind darts from one thought to the next, never bothering to stop and complete any of them. Of course I didn’t do the assigned reading last night. I can only hope that Mr. Dickinson will not call on me. I can hear the whispers from the other students. I can feel their stares on the back of my neck and I just want to turn and scream at them. My foot is tapping restlessly; my hands are shaking like an addict desperate for a fix. I’m not an addict. I’m not going through any form of withdrawal. I’m broken. Something inside of me is defective and refuses to operate properly, like a busted radio that won’t tune into your favorite station. Looking down, I notice that I actually brought my history book today. I utter a prayer of thanks as I pull it out of my backpack. I open it to a random page because I have no idea what unit we are on. I have no idea what the topic has been for the past couple of weeks actually. Would I like to know? Absolutely. I would love to do my homework like everyone else. I would love to pass a test once in a while. But broken people don’t do homework and broken people can’t pass tests. And as much as I would love to do those things, the shattered soul inside me brings me to a place where I don’t care. Getting from one second to the next is all I care about, it’s all I can think about. Just breathe Tally, in-out-in-out. I don’t even realize that class has started until I hear my name. My jaw clenches as Mr. Dickinson’s nasally voice reaches my ears. “Tally.” I look up, briefly meeting his stare before my eyes dart away. I wonder what he sees when he looks at me. Does he see the monster crawling under my skin, clawing to get out, to take over? If he does, he gives no indication of it. “Would you care to summarize last night’s reading?” He gives me a knowing smirk; or maybe I just perceive it that way. “I can’t,” I admit, and my voice is dry and gravelly, sounding more like a smoker of twenty years than that of a seventeen year old. He adjusts his glasses on his long beaklike nose. His condescending smile reveals two rows of coffee-stained teeth. “You can’t, or you won’t?” He asks me. My pulse is racing and my hands are growing clammier by the second. I’m clenching them tightly, trying to clear my head and fight the rage that is building inside of me. I don’t know why I’m so angry. Mr. Dickinson is a jerk and everyone knows it. Every student in his class has, at some point, been on the receiving end of his degradation. Somehow I know that it is not him that I am truly angry at, but that doesn’t matter to me right now. All that matters right now is that I can’t handle his smartass comments. I can’t handle his belittling. I feel small enough right now. “If my answer had been I won’t then that is what I would have said. The word won’t is a contraction of two words—WILL and NOT,” I continue, placing an emphasis on the two words as my voice steadily rises. “This would imply that an individual has the ability to perform a task, but chooses not to for whatever reason. Since that was not what I said, then that is not what I meant. Any person of average intelligence with even a rudimentary comprehension of the English language would know that when I said that I can’t summarize the reading, I meant that I don’t have the ability to summarize the reading.” Some far away part of me knows that I need to shut up. It almost feels like I’m watching someone else say those things. Unfortunately, it’s not someone else, it’s me and no amount of telling myself to stop talking will work. “At this point, an appropriate follow up question you might ask would be something like, ‘why can’t you summarize the reading?’ That would give me the opportunity to tell you that it is because I did not do the reading.” I look down and realize that I’m standing. At some point in my tirade I have gotten to my feet. I look around at my classmates staring at me in horror. When I look back to Mr. Dickenson his face is bright red and I can tell that he is about to let me have it. I want to tell him that screaming at me at this moment would be the dumbest move of his life. Instead, I calmly walk to the classroom door. I ignore him calling my name, threatening to have me suspended, like I care. My movements feel mechanical as I walk to the girls’ bathroom. There is only one thing that will pacify this pain, this rage that scares me to death. After checking to make sure that I’m alone, I let out a slow breath and pull the blade from my pocket. I slowly sit down with my back against the wall and pull my sleeves up. I shake with the anticipation of the relief that I know is coming. The razor glides across my skin and the sting nearly sends me into a trance. But the trance is fleeting. So I cut again, and again, over and over, craving the single moment of physical pain. I don’t notice the blood pooling around me and I don’t even hear the screams. All I know is that there is relief for a tiny second in time and I don’t care if I have to cut every inch of my body, because I need the pain like I need air to breathe. ~ “Mr. and Mrs. Baker, I’m glad that you could join us today,” Dr. Stacey says with a genuine smile. It’s been a month since my melt down in history class. A month without a blade of any kind, not even a butter knife. A month of therapy, observation by Dr. Stacey and the other staff of Mercy Psychiatric Facility. A month of deciding the best course of action for treatment. One month, and my life is forever changed. “Do you know anything about bipolar disorder?” she asks my parents. Both shake their heads and I watch as my dad leans forward, adopting his I’m listening posture. I slump down in my chair and try to keep from drawing their attention. I dread the looks of worry and pity that I know will be on their faces after this conversation. “Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition caused by certain chemicals in the brain becoming imbalanced. Some are depleted and some become overproduced. Patients suffering from bipolar disorder experience severe mood swings, hence the name. In severe cases it can be similar to schizophrenia. It can be difficult to diagnose because people often seek help only when they are depressed. Generally, the mood swings don’t happen hourly or even daily like you might think. A person with bipolar disorder might be depressed for months, sometimes years, and then they will swing the other direction, to what we call mania. Again, just as the depression can last years, so can the manic phase.” She takes a deep breath and glances over at me. I’m thankful that the look on her face is one of concern, but not of defeat. I avoid looking at my parents. I don’t want to see the pain or fear in their eyes—the same pain I saw the night they brought me to Mercy. I don’t ever want to see those looks on their faces ever again. “The main thing you need to know is that bipolar is very treatable. While it can take a while to find an effective combination of medicines, Tally can lead a normal life if she remains on her medication and does therapy as needed. She will likely have to have her medicine adjusted periodically over time. But as long as she takes care of herself, she will be able to manage the disease rather than the disease managing her.” My parents are silent. Out of the corner of my eye I see my mom shift nervously. My father is motionless. I can’t tell what thoughts are running through their heads. I try not to shift in my own chair but the silence is beginning to make me uncomfortable. Finally, my mom speaks and her words rip wider the already bleeding hole inside of me. “How long will she be this way?” She asks, as if I’m just an old carburetor that needs to be replaced. I feel the familiar rush of anger that has been out of my control and grip the arms of my chair to keep from jumping up and telling them both to go to hell. I grind my teeth in an attempt to keep my mouth shut and try to take slow breaths like Dr. Stacey showed me. Dr. Stacey sidesteps the questions and continues on with her explanation of my diagnosis. “We are beginning a combination of medicines that has proven to work well for other bipolar patients and we hope that it will help level her out. It takes several weeks for the medicine to get in her system so we won’t know for about a month if the medicines are going to help. My suggestion is that she stays here through the summer. She needs to learn healthy ways to deal with the emotions that make her feel out of control.” Her face grows serious. “I need you to understand that your daughter is not defective, she is not fragile or broken, though she may feel that way. What she needs most from you is for you to treat her normally. If you make her feel like there is something wrong with her, then you will hinder her therapy.” “I’m right here you know,” I grumble. Dr. Stacey gives me a brief smile. She is very good at dealing with my surly attitude and I have to admit that there are days that I purposely try to provoke her, though I don’t understand why. My mom turns to look at me. Her face is blank. Any emotion a mother might show for her daughter in such a difficult situation is absent and I feel it to the depths of my messed up soul. “We love you,” her words are clipped and sound about as full of love as a dried and wasted desert is full of water. “We expect you to do your best to fix this,” she continues, “so that another embarrassing situation doesn’t arise again.” I nod, but I don’t speak. I know that if I do I will break down completely. I’m so angry and it’s so easy for others to become the object of my wrath, deserved or not. When the meeting is over my parents both give me awkward hugs but there are no promises of to call and check in and no lies of understanding of how hard this must be for me. Mom passes me a letter from Natalie, my best friend, and tells me that she’ll be by later that week. “Tally,” Dr. Stacey’s voice has me stopping before I can exit her office. I turn to look at her and I can instantly see that, as usual, she sees much more than I want her to. “It’s okay to be angry; it’s what you do with that anger that matters.” My eyes are empty. I know they are empty because I am empty. I am empty and nothing seems to fill the void. “Whatever you say, doc.” Her lips purse as she gives me a solemn nod. “How about you take some time to yourself? You can spend time in your room or anywhere else you can find some peace.” I’m surprised by her suggestion because we aren’t typically allowed much alone time during the day. Doc says it’s because alone time fosters self-pity and depression. Personally, I think they just like watching the crazies interact with one another. It can be quite entertaining when a yelling match ensues over who was using the colored pencils first. Yes, I said colored pencils. Scary, I know. I make it back to my room without incident. By the time I walk in my breathing is shallow and I’m biting my lip to keep back the tears. Tears make me angry because they are just one more reminder of how broken I feel. I shut the door behind me and slide to the cold, hard floor. I pull my long sleeves up and stare down at my arms. The cuts are almost all healed, but the scars left behind will always be a silent reminder that I am fragmented, unable to be solid and whole. I will never wear short sleeves again. I close my eyes and search for something inside me that I recognize, anything to remind me that I wasn’t always this way and I wasn’t always such a mess. I don’t even recognize myself anymore and every day I seem to fade even more. The worst part, the absolute worst part, is that I don’t understand why I feel this way. Why do I feel like the end of the world is one step away? Why does breathing hurt and why does despair seem to be my only friend? What has happened that could possibly make me feel so completely and utterly damaged. My parents haven’t always been so cold and distant. They were never the most affectionate people, but they weren’t so awful to cause me to have a complete and total meltdown of outrageous proportion. I bang my head against the door as I begin to feel the constant rush of emotions, that I don’t know how to restrain, boiling up inside. I don’t want to be this person. “WHY?!” I finally give in and scream. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!” I’m rocking now and I know that I should stop. I’m telling myself to stop but I can’t. The flood gates are open and nothing will close them until I’m utterly exhausted. I thrust my hands into my hair and pull, feeling a slight measure of relief from the emotional agony as the physical pain briefly distracts my fragmented mind. I release my hair and begin to scratch my arms until blood is welling up and skin is gathering under my nails. I don’t care; I just don’t want to feel anymore; I don’t want to hurt anymore. I hear myself screaming incoherently until all that’s left is whimpers. As I roll to my side and curl up in a ball, I begin to shake as if the temperature had suddenly dropped and a raging blizzard is swirling around me. It’s then that I realize that I’m not broken. Broken implies that I might be able to be fixed. No, I’m not broken. I’m shattered beyond repair, beyond hope. I let myself sink into the darkness and welcome the familiar comfort of knowing that I won’t live forever. Someday I will die and this torment will be over.
Chapter 1 Mental Illness: a psychological pattern or anomaly, potentially reflected in behavior, that is generally associated with distress or disability, and which is not considered part of normal development of a person’s culture. ~Wikipedia. Mental Illness: FUBAR. ~Tally Baker “I’m not going!” A shrill, familiar voice pierces my ears as I walk by Candy’s room. Candy runs through her usual morning routine, screaming the same thing over and over again as orderlies coerce her out the door and into the medicine line. Though the screaming can become quite painful to the ears, I find it strangely comforting. In a world where things seem to be unreliable, unpredictable, and chaotic, Candy’s morning tantrums remained as constant as the sun rising. Therefore I treasured them—weird, I know. As I walk past room after room, I hear patients, or clients as the good doctor likes to call us, begin to stir. Most are not in a hurry, after all where do they have to be? The med line, the cafeteria, group therapy; none of those things are going anywhere, so very few of them bothered to rush. No, those of us here at Mercy Psychiatric Facility are just trying to make it to the next minute, and sometimes even that feels like too much. “Morning Ms. T.,” Zeke, one of the orderlies, smiles at me. Zeke is another reliable part of my messed up life at Mercy. Every morning, without fail, he’s waiting by the med window to say “morning.” He stopped prefacing it with the word good after the first greeting when I sort of screamed at him. “What the hell could be so good about another day that I have to get through?!” I admit that it was rude, and any person in their right mind would not yell at a large man over six feet tall, with hands big enough to crush a human skull, but then, when I arrived at Mercy I wasn’t in my right mind. Since then I have learned that though Zeke is massive, he is a big teddy bear. His skin is so dark that when he smiles his teeth nearly glow and his eyes are warm and soulful. He has a Mississippi accent that reminds me of blues and muddy water. Despite my outburst, Zeke was unfazed. He just grinned at me with his kind eyes and nodded his head, as if he understands so much more of the world than I ever could. I haven’t yelled at him since, even on the worst of days. It’s hard to believe that over two months have passed. Two and a half months ago I had been falling apart on the inside, and the brokenness had finally caught up with me, leaving me to explode onto anyone in my path. “Morning Zeke,” I actually felt like smiling this morning and, as instructed, tried to grab that tiny victory. Dr. Stacey was continually harping on me to claim the tiny victories. I’m still wearing long sleeves, but then Rome didn’t fall in a day. “The tiny victories are the ones that really matter,” she says over and over again. And deep down I know she’s right. Those victories over the everyday challenges that we face, things that a normal person wouldn’t even bat an eye at, are vital to someone like me; someone just trying to keep breathing. I walked up to the med window and stared down at the nurse sitting behind the glass. Her out of the bottle red hair is piled up on top of her head like a basketful of bird nests. One too many layers of makeup coats her face. Sheila has been the med nurse at Mercy for ten years, or so Candy tells me. Candy also tells me that Sheila has been known to help herself to a Xanax from an inattentive patient’s pill cup. She smiles up at me as she hands me the little white paper cup that holds the key to my sanity. I take the cup and stare into it, counting the pills, not only to ensure myself that they are all present and accounted for, but also to ensure that the pills are indeed the ones that the doctor says that I am supposed to be taking. I have the colors of the pills memorized. If one of the colors is missing from the rainbow of drugs, Shelia and I will have a nice talk about how dumb it is to mess with a crazy person’s meds. Five pills, they’re all there, staring silently back at me. I hold the cup to my lips and tip my head back, pouring all of them into my mouth. I chase the pills with a swig from the cup of water sitting on the counter and wash them down. I take one more sip before I open my mouth and allow Sheila to see that I had indeed swallowed the pills. She nods and waves me on, already gathering the next patient’s medications. Out of the corner of my eye I see her hand quickly dart forward. I turn my head just in time to see her snag one of the little blue pills from one of the cups. I don’t think. I rarely do, I’m kind of impulsive like that. I slam my hands down on the counter right in front of her and begin yelling, “STRANGER DANGER, STRANGER DANGER!” Why those particular words popped into my head, we may never know. Shelia jumps and the pill falls from her hand. Her eyes shoot up to mine and I give a subtle shake of my head. The commotion behind me is keeping Zeke busy. Just a side note, if you ever need a distraction in a mental hospital, just scream. For some reason it’s like a howl to a pack of wolves and the crazies all feel the need to join in. I lean forward close to the opening of the window and I hold her gaze. “If I ever see you doing that again I’ll cut off your thumbs so that you have no way to pluck one of those little pills from the cups.” Her face pales and I try to feel bad that I’ve sort of come across as a little psycho, but then I remember that I’m in a mental hospital, so psycho is sort of expected. After I fill my tray with my standard breakfast, peanut butter and butter toast, I take my usual seat in the far back corner of the cafeteria. I’m sitting for less than a minute when the chair across from me is pulled out from the table. Candy plops down across from me with a wicked grin on her wrinkled face. Her light blue eyes dance with humor and childlike delight. “You got out of it again didn’t you?” I ask with a smile of my own. Candy nods at me victoriously. “I told them from the beginning I’m not doing group therapy. I have no need to pour out the ugly details of my messed up life so that they can all foam and slobber at the taste of my wretchedness.” “Gee, tell us how you really feel Candy,” I tease. She gives me a confused frown, “I just did. I would use more colorful language but I’ve been warned by the doc that if I don’t tone down my potty mouth then I will be losing privileges.” She lets out a humorless snort. “I pointed out that there are a few things wrong with their way of thinking. First off, who the hell uses the term potty mouth to refer to cussing and what privileges do they honestly think we have in this nut house?” I have to laugh. Only Candy could get away with talking like that to the doctors and nurses and whoever else came into the line of fire. You see, she is a permanent fixture at MPF; she has been deemed by the courts as unfit for society. As such, she gets away with a lot more than the others do. It’s not like they have a whole lot of options as to where they can send her, no other facility would likely take her. “What was the good doctor’s response to your inquiry?” I ask her. She shrugs. “Who knows? I was already closing the door behind me when she started talking.” As I swallow down the last of my orange juice I see the familiar glint in Candy’s eyes. That glint was the one that usually meant there was mischief brewing in her wacked out mind. “So what’s on the agenda for today?” She asks me as she rubs her hands together. “Well, unlike some people, I have to go to group therapy and then I have a session with Dr. Stacey.” Candy groans. “Ahh, come on, ditch group today.” I shake my head at her. “Can’t. I only have one month until school starts and I need to get my walking papers by then.” “But it’s sooooo boring when you aren’t around,” she whines. I can’t help but laugh at her. Candy, a sixty year old woman, whining like a ten year old. Shouldn’t be funny, but it is. “So let me get this straight,” I give her my best are you freaking serious face. “You want me to skip group therapy and risk having my sentence extended because you get bored without me?” “Just when I think you might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, you go and surprise me with your shocking astuteness.” “Glad to know that I can still shock you, you crazy old bat,” I tell her as I roll my eyes. Candy lets out a loud cackle. “What’s it going to be Pinky?” I wish I could tell you that her nickname for me annoyed me, but truthfully, I found it endearing. She had started calling me Pinky the minute she met me because of the pink highlights in my hair. Candy was known for her nicknames. She said it was the only way for her to remember people. I think she just likes to annoy them. I groan. “Fine, I’ll play hooky with you, but this is the last time.” I’m such a sucker for a crazy old lady with the inability to entertain herself. Two hours later I find myself hiding out with Candy in one of the quiet rooms. Really, it’s an isolation room for the patients who get a little violent, or a lot violent. The “administration” seems to think that if they call it the quiet room then it won’t seem so sinister. It amazes me how often the staff mistake crazy for stupid. I can tell you for a fact that some of the most intelligent people I have ever met are off their rocker, bat mess crazy. Candy had swiped some racquets and a racquet ball from the exercise room. We are playing, and I use the term playing very loosely, considering Candy has planted her butt on the floor and is sitting cross legged. Really I’m running around hitting the ball while she simply reaches out every now and then, when the ball is in her reach, and gives it a good whack. “Did you hear we’re getting a new inmate?” She asks me. “Oh yeah? What are they in for?” “Schizo.” “Nice.” “Apparently she tried to off herself and her son found her.” “Damn,” I mutter. “That had to be tough. How old is the kid?” “Well I wouldn’t call him a kid. He’s eighteen.” Candy grunts as she reaches for the bounding ball. She smacks it hard and I have to dive out of the way to keep from getting hit in the head. Of course she finds this funny as all get out. I give up chasing the stupid ball and take a seat on the floor across from her. “Candy, how do you find out so much about other patients?” “The walls have ears,” she tells me in the creepy voice she likes to use on the more paranoid patients. “That’s just freaky; don’t say crap like that.” She chuckles at me as she shakes her head. “You scare too easy.” “That or you just do demented, possessed old lady a little too well,” I counter. “Hello Clarice…,” she growls in response, grinning all the while. I lie back on the ground and look up at the stark white ceiling. The clinical florescent lights cause me to squint my eyes and the white walls and white floor don’t help. I don’t understand how they could expect a person to be calmed in a room so uninviting, where you felt more likely to be probed and dissected rather than be soothed. But then I’m just an inmate, as Candy likes to call us. What do I know? “So when does said Schizo arrive?” I ask her. Candy looks at her wrist. She doesn’t wear a watch, yet she has an uncanny knack for knowing what time of day it is. Any minute now, want to go be nosy?” The familiar gleam is back again, dancing in her pale blue eyes, which are surrounded by aged skin and drooping eye lids. “Nosy is your middle name, not mine,” I remind her. Candy clucks her tongue at me. “You’re middle name is smartass, seems to me you have me beat.” I stand and hold my hand out to help pull her to her feet. “That may be, my old friend, but your maiden name is Bush. I don’t think it gets much worse than Candy Bush.” I laugh just as hard as I did the first time she had told me her name. She swats my backside as she walks past me and mutters. “Ungrateful brat.” “Oh, make no mistake, Ms. Bush, I am very grateful my name is not Ca…,” “Not another word, Pinky,” she cuts me off with a snap of her fingers. I laugh again as I follow her out the door and down the hall towards the new–patient exam rooms.
4.4 rating based on 920 ratings (all editions)
Author(s): Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
“I’m looking out from inside the chaos. It must be a one-way mirror because no one seems to be able to see back inside to where I am. The looks on their faces, the judgment in their eyes, tells me everything I need to know. The most frustrating part about the whole messed up situation is that even though I’m the one that they stare at in shock, I am just as shocked as they are. I know no more than they do of why I lose control. What they don’t know is that I am more scared of myself than they could ever be.” ~ Tally Baker
After a devastating turn of events, seventeen year old Tally Baker is admitted to Mercy Psychiatric Facility where she is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. She has come to a place where she honestly believes that her life is over. Her mind tells her that she will never smile or laugh again, that she will never be normal again. It is in this unlikely place that she meets two people, different in every way, yet both critical to helping her realize that she has so much more living to do. Candy, a cantankerous sixty year old Mercy Psychiatric patient, is hell bent on driving everyone as crazy as she is. Candy shows Tally that, regardless of her diagnosis, the ability to push on and live her life to the fullest is her choice and hers alone. In the midst of Tally’s oftentimes humorous, sometimes heart-wrenching, escapades with Candy, a new patient is admitted to Mercy—a Native American woman named Lolotea. Along with this new patient comes a daily visitor, her son, Trey Swift. At first glance, it is obvious to Tally that he is incredibly handsome and unbelievably caring. But what she learns through her second glance, and many thereafter, is that there is much more to Trey than he ever lets on. It is during these daily visits that Trey and Tally build a friendship far deeper than either of them truly realize. With Trey, Tally feels for the first time since being admitted that someone is looking at her as a person and not as a disease. Trey begins to make it clear that he wants more than friendship, but she knows that she can never give him more. How can she, when she won’t even give him the truth? Tally doesn’t tell Trey that she is a patient at Mercy, and she doesn’t ever plan to. Her plans go up in flames when she finds out that Trey is a new student at her school, the school where her brokenness was found out in the floor of the girl’s bathroom in a pool of her own blood.