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  • The Crack-Up: #199-7
  • Taylor Elliott (bio)

Two kinds of trouble in this world— living, dying I lost my power in this world And the rumors are flying.

Lindsey Buckingham, "Go Insane"

I woke in the early hours of the morning in a strange bed. A black woman in blue scrubs moaned in the bed next to mine. "Oh Lord, what's wrong with me?" she said. When she curled herself into the fetal position and quieted to whimpers, I took account of my own condition.

My hand, which was clutching Mama's stuffed brown bunny, was bruised from IV insertion and removal. My wrist was cluttered with hospital ID bracelets, one of which identified me by my first name, Marjorie, indicating serious "permanent record" calamity. They had me now, that was for sure, and what was worse was that I knew the reason why.

Valium, more precisely diazepam, swallowed in one large group of 25 to 30 pills, was the damning evidence landing me there, smelling of my own urine and vomit. But to blame it on the vehicle of destruction was grossly unfair.

Simply put, I wanted to end my life. I tried to but couldn't, and that is why I found myself sleeping dreamlessly in a mental ward. It was a Tuesday early in November, and under normal circumstances, I would have been up late finishing work for the first semester of my senior year in college.

But normal circumstances seemed just beyond my reach, and while lying in my bed next to my roommate, I felt a certain peace. While I'm sure this was not the kind of peace "that passeth all understanding," it may have been [End Page 113] close to it. I was no longer afraid, because like everyone else in here, I had nothing left to lose.

I woke again, hours later, to the sound of a resident calling me Millie. "No, not Millie," I said angrily, my face still turned toward the wall, my body wrapped in blankets.

"Oh, I'm sorry Marjorie," he said. "I must've mixed you up with your roommate."

It was a small point, but in that moment, my name was all I had. "No," I clarified again. "Marjorie may be on my birth certificate, but my name is Taylor."

"OK, Taylor," he started again, rather pleasantly, given the fact that I had corrected him twice without even bothering to look at him. "We know you took a lot of Valium Sunday night. Were you trying to hurt yourself?"

I knew better than to try and deny that I had done anything to harm myself. "I suppose I was," I said carefully. "But I've no plans to do anything like that again."

"So you haven't had any more thoughts of harming yourself or others since then?"

No, I thought, except maybe you. "No," I answered, still curled into myself, annoyed that he would not let me sleep. Sleep the sleep of the nearly gone.

"Were you drinking the night this happened?"


"What's your drink of choice?"

I badly wanted to say water and leave it at that, but I knew that would get me no closer to breathing outside air. "Bourbon," I said.

"How much bourbon would you say you had, let's say, in liters?"

I had absolutely no idea, and what's more, this seemed like a really inane question. In the time I spent trying to mentally measure out liters of Jim Beam, I could've been doing something much more productive. "I had four drinks," I said.

"How often do you drink?" he asked.

"Once a week," I said. Sunday night, my best friend and I would listen to the Borrowed Angels play in our favorite bar. After two sets of music and four drinks at the most, we'd call it a night.

"Do you ever drink alone?"

"No. Always with friends and usually in a social situation."

"Do you ever take a shot during the day just to get yourself going?" [End Page 114]

"Absolutely not." I was trying to take him seriously, I really was, but I could see where this was heading...


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pp. 113-122
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