What can I tell you about rehab…? I was voluntarily placed into a quasi-medical facility and slept in an all-female dorm. It wasn’t one of those celebrity California rehabs you see ads for that offer horse therapy and yoga classes (I’d love to see any addict desperate enough for institutionalization who’d be interested in yoga), but it wasn’t Gospel Mission/Salvation Army austere, either. It reminded me of an extremely clean college dorm that doubled a jail and a sanitarium.
You can trust me that it was clean, because when I wasn’t in six hours of group or individual therapy per day, I was cleaning the facilities myself with bleach-based products, hospital disinfectant, and a shit-ton of Lysol. Everything in rehab smelled like artificial pine trees. Apparently, like most rehabs, this one was big on discipline, so we all had chores daily chores. Being new and relatively young, I got the “worst” ones: cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping and mopping the hardwood, and washing bed linens.
I did just fine with the chores, even though I didn’t enjoy doing them (especially starting at 5:30 AM). I was already doing them at home, unless I can afford to hire a professional cleaner for the week, and rehab was my “home” now, and SOMEBODY’S got to do it, so what is the problem…? I also grew up in homes with control-freak parents, and my mother and downright obsessive about housekeeping. The jobs I held in younger years, cleaning restaurants and the bathrooms. Cleaning up in the dungeons multiple times daily, too…
Most of my roommates also executed their chores well and with a minimum of snark…but about a third of them found having to make their beds along with everyone else and take out the trash and dust the furniture to be some sort of personal insult, especially since they were “paying for it (rehab)” and “not children anymore.”
I bring this up not because I’m bragging about completing simple household chores. I bring it up because it was one of the most prevalent personality traits I observed about the other patients in rehab: a resentment about being told to do anything and a neurotic worry that cooperation with rules was humiliating or some sort of threat to the image of themselves that they’d built up in their heads.
Another thing I noticed was the ability (or, worse, willingness) to sit still and concentrate. We spent most of the day planted in desks in group therapy sessions and classes about addiction. I’m not a professional educator anymore, except for freelance tutoring, but jeez, I couldn’t help but look at it through my teacher’s eye: so many of them (at least half of them were younger than me) couldn’t physically control themselves. I don’t think they were being intentionally disrespectful…they just couldn’t stop crosstalking or fidgeting.
Many of the patients there were caught up in the court system: DUIs, were attending because they were in custody battles for their children, or were there to be in compliance for some legal evaluation to maintain their employment or parole/probation requirements. What I would like to say is that I don’t think most of them would have committed their dumbass (mostly) petty crimes–theft, possession, public intoxication–if they hadn’t been under the influence of their drug of choice.
I was the only one who was not a parent. I thought about this a lot.
The quality of the therapy was variable. I honestly don’t think that one shrink knew what he was doing, which scared me. Another seemed to know what he was talking about and was trying to do his job. The others were in between. I cautiously ascribe this to professional burnout, which every staff member in the building seemed to be experiencing, to some extent or another…from the cafeteria cook to the techs who constantly took our blood pressure and urine samples.
After a week, a new psychiatrist talked to me for a few hours, and he asked me how I felt about psychotropic medication for anxiety or depression.
“Well, I’m not enthusiastic, but I’m not anti-drug at all. I was on Paxil for a year and a half ten years ago, and I don’t think it did anything for me, one way or another. The withdrawals when I quit it were awful for a month. I had vertigo and brain zaps. But, I’d be open to trying something again, if you think it can help me. If it doesn’t work, I could always just stop taking it after a decent trial run or two or three months, so no harm done. Please don’t give me anything that will make me a sleepy fatass. I don’t want any sexual side-effects either, though I’d be willing to put up with them for a little while until my body adjusted. The Paxil made me inorgasmic for a month, and then I adjusted and everything worked again.”
I talked to the Collector on the phone immediately after I was taken off the several-day “blackout” period, and told him that I was doing well and going back on Naltrexone and trying out a psychotropic SSRI.
He demanded to talk with the physician who prescribed it.
“I don’t think he will, Collector. I am pretty sure that’s illegal,” I said.
“You can listen in on speakerphone or I can come down there. You’ll have some legal paperwork. I can look at it. I need to know what is going on!”
Other calls were made. It was like the Inquisition in there.
I’m giving Citalopram a three-month shot. Thus far, I feel nothing that I can discern. If that doesn’t help, they recommend Wellbutrin. If that doesn’t work, well, who knows.
More about Rehab–and the Holidays–later today or tomorrow, I hope