The Takernon State Hospital Center I was accustomed to, back when I was a young buck, when I was in and out of there like a revolving door, is not the Takernon Center which stands today. They’ve got a whole bunch of new buildings in some odd direction on grounds I don’t know anything about. I knew the Takernon Center at the time of the 1970’s, when it was a going concern. You may as well know that when I was not getting enough to eat, or was homeless, I’d get myself to Takernon Center.
When the weather was blustery cold, or overwhelmingly hot. I would get myself to Takernon Center for care and asylum. Takernon always had my three hots and a cot, whether I was honestly suicidal, or only wanted food and shelter. I was in the ER computer for trying to kill myself. It was my blood that made the mess too. I saw to it, so whenever I wanted psychiatric whatever, or a general asylum visit, I’d be there anytime between 1975 – 1985. They couldn’t get rid of me. Most of the time they’d accept me like home.
I knew my personal psychiatric diagnosis was in the mainframe, which shows up everywhere in the state under my name. Doctors would always get a diagnosis on me, along with the suicide threat I’d made myself out to be. When I cut my wrist, even the paramedics called it, “an attention getter.” In other words, I had not hurt myself badly enough for it to be life threatening yet, but I did have potential for doing just that, with enough provocation from something or other.
I can’t tell you exactly when it was, but at a certain point I was begging cops for a ride to Takernon Center from the opposite side of the city, and they wouldn’t take me. I knew I’d get better treatment at Takernon Center, then wherever I happened to be. Then, I’d complain all the while, after I’d been there for awhile, about what an unwholesome restrictive place Takernon Center was. Go figure. Amazingly, staff mostly stood there and took it, except for this one guy. I had a filthy mouth at the time, and was up against this guy who was willing and able to whip me silly. I found out I had a tiger by the tail with him.
Whomever he was, this one staff guy wouldn’t take my guff, as if he were somebody. I really don’t remember much about the incident, but think I cussed out the male nurse down the hall, for being a Nazi, and this other guy didn’t like it much. At one point I was about to receive a good, sound thrashing, but the guy at the door changed his mind, because I changed my tune. I think he even got me a blanket for the cold seclusion room mattress, since I was almost down to my eyeballs.
Somehow, I had ended up in the seclusion room in my skives, cussing everyone and everything. That guy had returned, unlocked the door to the seclusion room with me in it, and voiced his honest intention to put his foot up my butt, if I didn’t shut up right that moment. I was in a seclusion room, of all places. Seclusion is there for being out of control and hollering your head off, the way I heard it. I wanted to give that guy a good piece of my mind, but decided not to under the circumstances. Where I ever went, from that God-forsaken ward, or how I ever did get to that place, I have no idea. I do know I was admitted to Takernon Center enough I took up a whole ten years of my life.
The other thing I used to do was “elope,” or split, from the Takernon Grounds.
I split from the hospital so many times I lost track. Staff were the one’s who’d have to call my Mom on the long distance phone, to tell her they didn’t know where I was. They had to cover their butts if something actually did happen to me. I’d do things like go to the State Park through the woods. There was this deer trail I’d take. It went straight to the park. I’d go skinny dipping in plain sight of all the others, mostly fishermen, on the lake. I’d go in broad daylight too. I was honestly confused and disoriented at that time. I had a tough time at Takernon for a lot of months.
A nice young man in a boat told me to go find my clothes and head back to Takernon Center.
I did too. I found about half the clothes I came with, mostly underwear, and headed, “home” to the asylum. I do happen to have a clearly defined and diagnosed chronic psychiatric disorder, but at that point, those ten full years out of my youth squandered my strength and talents. The other thing was that I didn’t respond to the treatment the doctor prescribed. I was only in my twenties. It seemed to me my life was over. I would talk like it too, on a regular basis. Truly suffering from clinical depression, along with all the rest of the chemical imbalance, medications didn’t change much, not with the getting blasted and all that.
My marathon split from Takernon, which is officially referred to as an elopement, when you actually do it, we went from about midway up the East Coast, the whole way across the country to that famous campus in Berkeley, CA, sitting atop a Greyhound Bus. I hopped the local down to the city, from right on the grounds where I went with one of the guys I met at the Center in the first place. All he had on him was a bag of weed and a lot of useless nonsense in a duffel bag. He called it his stuff. We got on the bus and left the East Coast.
We kept blazing up on that bag of weed, in the on-board bathroom of the bus, the whole way across the USA. He and I were a couple of traveling flower children, ogling the girls on the way by. After a time, a few of the many bus drivers we had, threatened us, right over the intercom. They were going to drive right up to the very next Police Station and turn us in for smoking drugs. Far out, man. We never did stop turning on in that bathroom. My buddy had enough weed that somehow, we had some when we got to Berkeley, just to celebrate. I flew to Florida after a few days out west, to keep from running out of money myself, by my dear old Dad.
See, the guy I was traveling with never did have any money on that trip. I just honestly felt like an adventure, after a year at Takernon Center. I had a little money too, but refused to count the cost. That fella used to exchange jokes with me, in the hallways of the hospital, till we both questioned whether we were laughing or crying. We were so bored, in the hallways of the old L Building of Takernon Center, we started calling the place a laughing academy. I can’t claim it to be original, but we sure did laugh until we cried.
He and I used to party on the outside whenever we got loose otherwise. He kept telling me his sister didn’t appreciate the herb, and that she’d turn me in. I would go ahead and smoke, all the same, if we were riding in her car or we weren’t. I have no idea what I was thinking. Except for seeing that guy and his sister on the outside, I can’t place that guy anywhere else on the grounds of Takernon Center. I guess I knew him on the L Building and that was that, I don’t know. I let him spend a lot of my money, and he sure did. He’d load up his tray the whole way west. I left him high and dry in Berkeley, CA, not because of him, but because my old man got wise on the long distance phone.
Should have used my own judgment, phone call or no phone call.
I met this other guy earlier on in my entire decade at Takernon Center, when we were both living somewhere around W Cottage. He was playing guitar. We used to get wasted, back when I was still doing all that. He was one of the heaviest flower children on campus. Had a habit of turning me on to some of the most kick as reefer I ever had. This guy was the second most prolific songwriter at Takernon Center. I’d tell you his name, but I called everybody, “man,” just because I couldn’t remember people’s names. One of the last times I saw this guy was when I looked all over DC, NE, in my car, just to pass a pipe, get paranoid, and disappear.
Wish I hadn’t done all that to my friends. I was a Judas kind of guy known as far back as university. The next time I applied to Takernon Center, they turned me down flat. Couldn’t believe it. That was the time I was begging the cops to take me to a state hospital. They were always saying they couldn’t do it. I figure it was because Takernon Center said “no” to my name when they called. I hoped to see that guitar playing flower child I used to hang out with. I wanted to talk to him and whatnot. Figured running out on the one guy was about as bad as running out on the other one.