I went to a doctor to try to figure out what was wrong with me, but she could find no physical cause for my inability to sleep, my incessant fatigue, my constant desire to cry, my loss of interest in personal hygiene, the aches and pains in my joints, the electrical sensations that ran over my skin, or my weight loss. I was down to 135 and could count each rib easily. So she referred me to a psychiatrist.
He prescribed Thorazine after the first or second visit. Clearly I had a mood disorder. I cried the whole first visit just at the idea of seeing a shrink. He said maybe going into the army would make a man out of me. The guy irritated me. He was dressed in a nice little grey charcoal suit. When he leaned back in his chair, his feet left the floor. I was turning my life over to a fucking midget.
The next time I let him have it. And went on and on about how his having become a shrink was clearly related to the fact that he was nearly a midget and he was overcompensating, like Napoleon, who also had been hardly five feet high. And what the hell was I doing turning my life over to an overcompensating midget who had gone into psychiatry so he could have the legal right to tell others how to live their lives. I mean how the hell did I know if he knew anything at all or not. Or was just there to make people as miserable as possible.
I cried through the whole tirade, and when I was done, he asked had I considered institutionalizing myself. My life, at that moment, teetered in the balance. Had I said yes I could have gone on to be a life time member of an institution; instead, I said no, how the fuck, I said, was I going to pay for that. My working class background came to my rescue, although I must say I don’t know if I knew they would take you in for observation for nothing.
But I had the prescription for Thorazine. I visited the psychiatrist every three months or so for a year or better and I renewed the prescription. I had a line of Thorazine bottles along the windowsill. I couldn’t stand the stuff. It was like an atom bomb in your head. It blew away everything—anger, fear, grief, joy—and replaced it all with an intense sense of restlessness. I took it only when I couldn’t fucking stand it any more. Fuck me.
But the next time the draft board called me up, as they would every six months for the next couple of years, I took the prescription with me. They looked at it and said, “Come back in six months.” I was an official and publicly certified nutcase.