Among those in the confines of the psychiatric ward, there were three fellow patients I remember to this day. That night, they were all with me in the dining hall watching my first episode of Star Trek.
Although I never knew their real names, I referred to them as "Teddy", a very handsome alcoholic; "Princess Olga from Russia," an emaciated woman in her sixties who drifted throughout the ward chattering to herself and looking and acting very regal; and "Lucy", my roommate and the wife of a wealthy lawyer who was being divorced by her husband because of her condition.
I may have remembered these people because they projected something about me. Teddy had the same disease as my father and had a lovely face I enjoyed drawing. Princess Olga was amazingly thin as I had once hoped to be and had found an ability to rise above the occasion of her illness. She also shared most of her food with me. Lucy, my room mate, was pretty but lost, wearing only hospital gowns and crying much of the night. I wondered if she would ever recover, ever become anything more than "Lucy in the sky with diamonds" or perhaps, in her case "without diamonds."
I found out about these patients not by talking with them but by sitting in the hallway drawing, watching and listening. Sometimes the doctor or nurses would explain things to me as a way to encourage me to participant in groups and to help me get out of myself and back into society. I never initiated conversations, merely responding with a few necessary words to the staff and my only two visitors, Mom and Russel. And I never attended "group." I didn't want to stand out, didn't know what to say about myself or my situation, and I wanted to be left alone to figure out the universe.
When I discovered Spock in my first episode of Star Trek, I felt like I'd finally found a spiritual home, a role model, a friend and confidant I could count on to help me get well. His ears and his logic spoke to me. "Live long and prosper," he said.
To be continued ...