Psych Ward Diaries. 02.

The preceding episode in the series can be accessed here: https://mayowaosibodu.wordpress.com/2021/04/10/psych-ward-diaries-01/


Mister Dayo.

Yes, Mayowa.

We’re at the circular sitting area where a number of walkways intersect. Right next to the table-tennis setup.

We’re reading.

Mister Dayo came into the facility with a number of novels. Unlike every other patient here, he actually made plans towards checking himself into this place. He didn’t just wake up one morning in an unfamiliar hospital ward, groggy from sedatives.

I met him for the first time a number of weeks ago. It was in the evening. He walked into the common room, and was introduced as fellow inpatient at the facility.

He was significantly older than any of us. He appeared to be in his late fifties. Clean-shaven head with some gray in his light goatee.

I was very happy to see that he brought books. I had run out of things to read.


Withdrawal symptoms.

That was why he was here.

Distilled spirits.

Those used to be very central to his life. For decades.

He said he began drinking as a child, as an act of rebellion.

Adults were always saying do not drink alcohol, you’re too young. Do not go near it, it’s not for you.

That made us determined to do it, and to satisfy our curiosity about what was so special about that alcohol thing everyone seemed so intent on keeping us away from.

In my mind I was wondering how principally rebellious behavior generally appears in retrospect, especially when the “adults” who were being rebelled against, are at the time long dead.

Like, if you define yourself as the opposite of something, then who are you when that thing ceases to exist?

At some point there was cause to reduce his consumption of alcohol. Abstinence caused him to have seizures. At that point it was pretty clear he needed some help.


I’ve been reading this book. This Crime fiction book. By some guy. Dean Koontz or something. First time I ever came across the name.

The book is about this immensely famous actor and his young son whom the (apparently non-negotiable) travel obligations of his career, have estranged him from.

He attempts to compensate for the lack of father-son quality time with lavish and expensive presents. The strategy does not seem to be working too well.

At some point there’s some sort of a security threat. Some stranger parking his car by the road, to throw death-threat packages over the fence of their expansive compound- Something like that.

So far it’s been a pretty interesting book.


There is a word stuck in my head.

“Profligate”.

I wonder what in the name of God the word means. I came across it while reading another book- also obtained from Mister Dayo’s stash.

This one was written by Bryce Courtenay. Another name I had never heard of before.

It was also an interesting one.

There was this family: The husband, I think died when the ship-assembly factory where he worked, accidentally sealed him in the hull of a ship where he was making some final touches.

The manager of the company- some guy who was trying to impress his father who founded the company- something like that: He was made aware of the possibility a worker was sealed in the hull. However he declined from reopening the ship to confirm.

Some sort of a logistical complication.

These ships need to be delivered somewhere today, reopening a finished ship will cause delays and my father will continue to see me as a failure—- Some tensive family backstory like that.

I don’t think the hull of the ship was ever unriveted. The guy inside probably suffocated to death. Extremely sad stuff.


“Profligate.” Do you know what “profligate” means, Mister Dayo?

Hm. “Profligate.”

He pronounces the word differently. He puts the stress on the last syllable. Pronounces it “profliGATE”. I pronounce it “PROFligate”.

Mister Dayo looks into space for a while. At some point he indicates that he does not know what the word means.

I think it’s a negative word though. I came across the expression “profligate wretch” a number of times in the book. So it most likely is not a compliment.

This is definitely one unexpected source of annoyance.

Like, it’s not like I ever sat down to imagine what suddenly finding myself in a psychiatric facility would feel like,

but I think even if I did that- the frustrating inability to look up new words wouldn’t at all be on my list of things that would get me annoyed during my coerced stay.

It’s a very surprising source of annoyance.

I make a mental note to request a dictionary from the administration. Life is very bad. This word has been stuck in my head for days now.

Usually I would just look the word up on Google and would instantly have the needed information. Now I have to languish in this agony of semantic ambiguity for days.

This life.


That was not the end of that family’s misfortunes. The Bryce Courtenay book family.

After the father died in the sealed hull at the ship-assembly factory, the mother desperately searched for a source of income. I don’t think she ever even got to know how her husband died- I don’t think so.

She was invited for an interview after a series of grueling frustrations. It was for a secretarial position.

After a pretty nerve-racking interview with her potential employer, she was given the job. Soso pounds per month.

She was so happy.

I myself was happy for her. Now at least she would have some funds to take care of both herself and her young son.

Then there was a plot twist:

On her way back from the interview she was accosted by some cruel men. They were evidently very envious of her anticipated financial upliftment. They assaulted her, pushed her to the ground and stomped on her hands with their very hard-soled shoes. They ended up breaking pretty much all of her fingers.

She lay there on the ground, deflated- all hope extinguished, fingers gruesomely broken and deformed- her job appointment letter drifting through the air as it was idly blown about by an apathetic breeze.

Her fingers would never be able to work a typewriter ever again. At least not at any level of proficiency that would make her useful as a secretary.

I felt defeated.

She had been through so much. She went through so much to get that job.

I think she was to resume the very next day- She was skipping down the road from her new office when she came across this inestimably ruinous actuality.

Oh God.


Mister Dayo used to play hockey. Field hockey.

At some point he became a coach. He recently retired.

He says his pension is paid into his bank account on a regular basis. Says his time here just means he’ll be unable to make even more money.

He seems pretty calm. Came here on his own terms. Has no pressing matters in the outside world to attend to.

I on the other hand, am livid on the inside.

I have my life to live. I have stuff to get done. I have some serious life-defining things to do! What am I doing here? Whose misguided, miscalculated, condescending, unilateral paternalism landed me here?

What in the name of God am I doing in this place???

But I try to avoid overt outbursts of this anger and frustration.

That’s the thing with suddenly finding yourself in a psychiatric facility: It is assumed that there is something wrong with you, and so the burden on proof is on you to prove that there isn’t.

Loud, impassioned displays of anger and frustration will only lend more weight to the perspective that you have a psychological problem.

And so I keep fuming on the inside.


At some point, Mister Dayo and I talk about his wife. He says at some point she left to go start hanging out with some guy.

He says he’s not bothered at all about it. Says the last time he saw her, she looked very old. So she doesn’t even seem to be doing all that well.

Hm.

As we discuss, I quietly wonder what “This woman now looks old” feels like for someone in their late fifties. I honestly have no idea.


The FIFA World Cup is ongoing. Mister Dayo says he has a deep-seated hatred for football. Says he thoroughly hates the sport.

He told me of something that happened a number of decades ago. The Nigerian field hockey team had just advanced to a new stage of an international competition. I think they were to travel to Chad or Congo or something, for the next stage.

And then to his utter dismay, the government decided to withdraw the pledged financial support for the hockey team. They did this, so they would have more money to fund the football team- which wasn’t even doing all that well in their own competition.

Football killed my sport.

I feel his resentment.


We all gather in the common room to watch the FIFA World Cup matches though. It’s not like there’s that much else to do.

Plus there are the usual soccer legends who are always a pleasure to watch. There’s Christiano Ronaldo. There’s Lionel Messi.

And then there are some new guys. There’s this Mbappe guy with France who does some pretty magical stuff with his speed.

I wonder how this year’s World Cup tournament is going to turn out. I wonder.


Image: From a 2015 Halloween house party in San Francisco.

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