Crazy in the Mirror: Part I

This is a short story inspired by the phrase below. It is the first of two episodes.

An important note: I am not a medical professional, nor have any real understanding of psychology. The events in this story are, as usual, fictitious and suffer from my incomplete and flawed knowledge.

“The definition of madness is to repeat the same action countless times whilst entertaining the illusion that the outcome will change”

Saying of unknown origins.-

From the diary of Dr. Moid, 25.09.2016

  • 6:00-8:00 AM: Woke up. Washed face, made bed. Helena up. Drank coffee, read newspaper, kissed Helena, drove Suzy to school and went to work.
  • 8.30 AM: First appointment: Mrs. Schiller.

Mentioned family affairs, specifically relationship with husband. She says he is growing more distant; she suspects cheating. Panic attacks, fear of loneliness. Talked about parents as well. Prescribed pill for panic attacks. Appointment in a week.

  • 9.30 AM: Second appointment: Mr. Jones

Talks about his recurring anger. Drinking is an issue. Rage against girlfriend who won’t support him. Rage against the system, which is unfair, he says. Admits to looking for a fight in a bar. Prescribed another round of mood stabilizers. Appointment in one week.

  • 10:30 AM: coffee break. Sylvia talked about her weekend; she went to Bedford on Wye. Sunbathed but was unsatisfied due to lousy room service. Note: stay away from the Blue Hotel in Bedford.
  • 11:00 AM: Last appointment of the morning: Ms. Rowland

More problems at work due to her sexual appetites. Apparently seduced and went down on a colleague (female) in the teachers’ lounge during break. Not caught, but now is living a complex situation due to her other five relationships. Wonders if I would “like to go for a ride sometime”. Prescribed mood stabilizers. Scheduled appointment for next week.

  • 12:00 AM: Lunch
  • 01:00 PM: Appointment for the afternoon: Thomas Finn. Blow by blow account follows.

-“How are you feeling today, Tom?”

“Fine Doc, just fine. Much, much better! I’m getting closer and closer, and I’m sure that if I listen hard enough, the faeries will show me the way.”

I looked up from my notepad and stared hard at Thomas Finn. He was a thirty-something man and as far as we all knew, he was stark raving mad. Today he was wearing a rubber duck on his head, tied with string, and a suit. He’d carefully stained the shirt with grape juice to spell out the word “OBLONG” and he’d painstakingly replaced all the buttons on his jacket with marbles kept in place with copper wire and fishing tackle.

He was a new inmate at the local asylum. According to his file, one day at work he’d “Removed all his clothes and attacked his employer with a stapler whilst singing Amazing Grace”. He’d been coming to my cabinet ever since and had become quite popular on account of his modus operandi: he never presented the same symptoms of madness.

Most patients, I reasoned, tended to have disorders that were easier to diagnose and if not curable at least easily manageable. Standard maladies like schizophrenia, dementia, depression and bipolar disorder were standard everyday occurrences, as were the more banal problems relating to broken marriages, feelings of inadequacy and addictions.

Thomas Finn was not.

He either had none of the standard mental diseases or all of them. He would pass from euphoria, to depression to normality to mania. From inarticulate howling and animalistic behavior to highly concentrated bursts of mathematical genius.

Recently, the warden had arranged for him to be moved to a padded cell and placed under a 24-hour watch. A week ago, he’d managed to escape and wander over to the town zoo, where he had proceeded to ride Hathi, the local elephant whilst reciting The Tempest accompanied by sound effects he’d pulled off the Internet. He was highly unstable and what was worse, he perplexed me.

“Faeries, Tom? Are they always there? Are they talking to you now?” I gently asked, trying to control my more recent bout of frustration. For the moment I had managed to mask my annoyance thanks to by years of training and the small bottle of Scotch I kept in the left drawer of my desk.

“What faeries? Oh, THOSE faeries! Nope, that’s old news, don’t need them anymore!” he said as he jumped up and began rolling around the floor. His rubber duck honked loudly as his head pressed on the Persian rug.

I dutifully wrote down this newest delusion on my notepad. We had tried many different drugs on Tom. The ones we managed to administer had no effect. The others, he used to play marbles.

I didn’t know why he did what he did. All my efforts to understand his motives failed miserably, crashing against the chaos, which endlessly sprouted around him.-

Session finished. Orderly takes Thomas back to St. Laurence’s. Finish writing out notes and add to the “Finn Files”.

  • 02:00 PM: Second visit of the afternoon: Jacob Larsson

Cigarette addiction problem. Talks about impotence. Recommend nicotine patches. Again. Appointment in two weeks’ time.

  • 03:00 PM: Go to golf club, played with Dennis. Win, one under par. Drinks with Dennis and Jessy. She looked quite fetching in her summer dress.
  • 05:00 PM: Picked up Suzy. Tells me about school. Math, history and crafts: made a pony out of newspaper and glue. Helena home, good day at work. Mowed the lawn, dinner.
  • 07:00 PM: Dinner Lasagna. Put Suzy to bed, read her story: Snow White. Watched episode of House with Helena. Bed 10:30 PM

Diary of Dr. Moid, 03.10.2016

  • 6:00-8:00 AM: Woke up. Washed face, made bed. Helena up. Drank coffee, read newspaper, kissed Helena, drove Suzy to school and went to work.
  • 8.30 AM: First appointment: Mrs. Schiller.

No more panic attacks, but paranoia increasing. Hired a private detective to stalk husband. Keeps checking his phone to find proof of illicit relationship. Many angry confrontations, holiday in France cancelled. Talks about parent’s separation. Advised time with friends, relax and appointment for next week.

  • 9.30 AM: Second appointment: Mr. Jones

Battered, black eye and arm in a sling. Admits to not taking the pills, binge drinking and attacking a group of bikers. Two cases in court: girlfriend and bikers. I prescribe and set up a meeting with an AA group. Appointment next week.

  • 10:30 AM: coffee break. Sylvia talks about her weekend; went to Swingham. Went horse riding but was unsatisfied due to lazy horse and long drive to get there. Note: do not go riding in Swingham.
  • 11:00 AM: Last appointment of the morning: Ms. Rowland

Stabilizers obviously not working. Showed up in a very revealing dress. Spread legs and displayed that she had clearly neglected to wear undergarments. Spoke of her more active lovers and the various activities in public places. I recalled her to order, as she becomes more aroused. She tried to initiate physical contact; I repelled her. Speaks about lack of excitement in her life. I prescribe stronger stabilizers and set up meeting with nymphomania support group. Appointment next week.

Note: next time, no couch and seat. Must put a physical barrier to discourage contact. Desk, I think.

  • 12:00 AM: Lunch
  • 01:00 PM: Appointment for the afternoon: Thomas Finn. Blow by blow account follows.

– He looked normal today. Utterly normal. He was wearing a shirt, a blue tie, pants and a jacket. He entered the room calmly, came over, shook my hand, and then sat down on the armchair opposite the desk. He then crossed his legs and waited.

“Hello Tom. So, nothing peculiar today? No screaming, no mind-games, no outrageous claims?” I was expecting anything to happen at this point, from him enacting a scene of a Robin William’s movie to trying to scale a bookshelf with his teeth. No such luck. Nothing. Only a smile. It was deeply unsettling.

“Nope, nothing today Doc. I decided to try normality for once. Ever since my epiphany I’ve been wanting to give it a try; so here I am!”

I blinked twice. It was the first time in over five years that I’d heard him refer to the episode and only the second that I’d heard him express himself with such a fluent and varied vocabulary. I was shocked, but I wasn’t about to let my guard down.

Session finished. Orderly takes Thomas back to St. Laurence’s.

  • 02:00 PM: Second appointment of the afternoon: Fred Milton

Talks about his insecurities, and obsession with cleanliness. Polishes my table as he speaks. Try to talk to him about his relationship with his children (grown up, estranged). Reticent to speak. Give book on positive thinking, appointment next week.

  • 03:00 PM: Went to golf club, played with Dennis. Lost, and played poorly. Drinks with Dennis. Jessy absent due to flue.
  • 05:00 PM: Picked up Suzy. Tells me about school. Math, history and crafts: drew a picture of Spot hunting a rabbit (note from teacher encouraging us to speak to Suzy about appropriate drawing). Helena home, good day at work. Mowed the lawn, dinner.
  • 07:00 PM: Dinner: Meatloaf. Put Suzy to bed, read her story: Gavin and the Special Chimney. Watched episode of GA with Helena. Bed 10:30 PM

Notes: The session with Finn today was…disturbing on a personal level. I cannot understand how this madman appears to be so happy. Even in his most violent moments, he smiles, as if warmed by some inner light. How can he be at peace? How can he just sail through life oblivious to the responsibilities of the common individual and be happy? I don’t understand him, but…I think I may envy him. –

The story continues in part II...

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