What happened while you were there?
Well, six months earlier I had this dream about Johnny Cash. He slid into a booth beside me and he was like, “June and I, we’ve birthed a new child. And its name is Acanthus.” Anyway, I was filled with this really happy feeling of exultation. I just felt like I’d been touched, you know? Like I wasn’t alone. So I was in this store one day and there was this ring there with this leaf on it. I asked the woman what the leaf was and she said it was acanthus. So I was like, cool, I’ll take it. When Susanna came, she took my ring because she was like, “They probably aren’t going to [let you take it into the hospital].”
The doctor said I had a psychotic break because I was suffering severe, massive depression and overwhelming stress. I basically lay in bed for the first three days and refused to talk or eat or open my eyes. If someone came around, I would try to blink really quickly. I wasn’t looking at people because I didn’t want to take their pills. I was afraid that I would never leave that place. I was afraid that I would be drugged and I would never be able to say, Help! Susanna was holding my hand. She said, “Chan, I have to leave, but I’m thinking about you and I’m literally twenty blocks from you. I’m going to come see you tomorrow and everything’s gonna be fine.”
On the fourth day, I woke up and I was like, “Shit, Susanna is not coming back. Maybe Susanna is just part of your split personality. Maybe everyone’s part of your split personality. Maybe your mom doesn’t exist. Maybe you aren’t you. Maybe you’re really 75 years old and you’re homeless with cancer and you’re on a respirator, and when you open your eyes, you’re going to see that you’re dying.” So I got out of bed and went right up to the mirror. At this point, I was raw. I hadn’t seen myself. I hadn’t brushed my hair. I wondered [if I looked in the mirror], would it be me? And I looked. And I looked like me. Like the inside of me. Like a little kid. When I saw my face, all I wanted to do was protect that person. And I realized, “What are you doing here?”
So I was like, “What would a sane person do?” I brushed my teeth and I combed my hair. Susanna had brought a few cosmetics and new fresh clothes, so I put them on and I felt clean. I had not gone outside my room yet. But I went out the door and I went down the hall, where all the people had gathered to watch TV. I had heard everyone outside my door saying their names and asking for their medication. So I acted like everyone else, like I was supposed to act. I went up to the counter and I was like, “I think I’m supposed to ask for medication?” And that was it. That was the day.
On the fifth day, it was easier. And on the sixth day the doctor came in and said, “How are you today Chan?” And I’d say, “I’m fine.” So the doctor says, “Chan, are you having any strange thoughts?” And I was like, “On a scale of one to ten, being in here, I’m at a four. But definitely not at a ten, like I was when I first came in here.” And he was like, “Okay, are you hearing voices?” And I was like, “No, not at all. Just my voice.”