“Cuckoo’s Nest”

June 26th, 2019

Beloit Wisconsin, New York City, 1972 to 1980

“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” Aeschylus

Note from Cindy

Eric has filled me in on what he remembers from 1972.  Some are horrific and too painful for him to write, even today. Memories can be triggering for me, and for him.

His are particularly frightening, and I can only imagine him being in a place filled with inmates, a place perhaps similar to the atrocities that Ken Kesey wrote so brilliantly about in what I consider his finest work. It might have been a nice place. He doesn’t remember.

Depression ran in Eric’s family, and he’d had problems with hyperactivity as a child, but like many of us in the 70’s, we tried drugs. In college, he tried them too often. Perhaps it was self medication. Most of us do it in some form.

Triggers aside, we proceed in documenting them, perhaps to exorcise the horror of the dark times and be grateful for the times we can again see the light, and  we are well.

Below is what he was able to write and remember.

Jump cut now to 1972, my 20th year…

My look has changed a bit …

I was attending Beloit, when perhaps too much LSD with my fraternity friends landed me in two psychiatric hospitals, one in Illinois, and one in New York

I spent two years medicated by Thorazine and Prolixin while receiving weekly doses of electric convulsive treatments (shock therapy) all with the aim of arresting the illness, then diagnosed as major depressive disorder. 

But when I say, “thanks for no memories”, I really mean that, due to the way ECT was done then, huge parts of my childhood and younger years are blocked out. Gone.

But, through someone’s grace, it worked. 

A wave of good things followed, as they sometimes do after living through years that were so dark.

A note from Cindy. A poem he wrote later speaks to the darkness he felt... The darkness we all feel when we are deep in the rabbit hole

I was then able to recoup my sanity, work six years in a neighborhood butcher shop and then resume my college career, which included a 3.87 undergraduate grade point at Hunter College and acceptance into the graduate school of journalism at the University of Texas.

I also was married and had a daughter Niki, born in 1986.

Note from Cindy…..He was on his way, but with these illnesses, they can rear their ugly head at any time. But it must have taken tremendous courage to recover slowly, painfully, and then fully re engage in life.

But for Eric, as for many of this in this hideous club of mood disorders, all good things must pass.

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