So this weekend Mike and I went to see "Johnny" in yet another phsyicatric ward. Though the voyage for Mike and I there was very humorous, with going to 3 wrong places, several wrong turns (my fault) and lots of unmarked roadways, we finally made it to where he was taken. Unfortunately visiting hours had just ended. We might make another attempt during the week.

But I think Johnny’s journey there has been much harder, so much more confusing and something that will remain with him for the rest of his life. Though having not seen or spoken to a doctor, my own impression is that he may have some form of schizophrenia. Apparently it is much more common among young men our age than it would seem.

Johnny, went to one of the top high schools in New York, then went on to a near-Ivy League university. Where, we are told he had lots of friends, he did well and he was on the crew team.

But while at school things started getting weird. I think we should have noticed it but, hindsight being 20/20. He would come home for breaks, and think that gangs were after him. He did live in a shitty neighborhood, and he was a very sharp dresser. But being from the area, weirder things could happen. After graduation, he abruptly left New York for California. Was it just running away form the gangs? Or just John (Editors note: Nice catch Mark) doing something just cause it would be cool.

He later came back, worked for an investment banker. The world was all ahead of him. But there was a superseded incident with his sister, then another with his sister in Florida. All off a sudden his Mom is trying to find a place fore him to get help.

I was working at the Office of Mental Health at the time and we were able to put them in touch with some people. And it just got worse and worse. After missing some scheduled appointments, he was put away in Elmhurst hospital. When we went to see him, all he wanted was to get the word out, that he was being held against his will. He was 26 years old, and charged with no crime, but he couldn’t leave.

Eventually he was released, and then he disappeared. He reappeared sporadically, hanging out with Mike. When anyone asked what was going on he got really defensive. And would disappear for a few more weeks. Eventually he was staying in College Point, he was storing his suitcase at Mike’s.

A few days ago, Mom got a collect call it was from Johnny. He was in a hospital in Yonkers. He wanted someone to call the Civilian Review Board, to complain about the brutal way that the police who took him to the hospital treated him. I have no idea why he was taken in. Supposedly he was at an aunt’s house, and his mother shows up and the Police were called. That’s all I know.

I am pretty confident that he needs some kind of professional help. And that he needs medication to keep the chemical levels balanced in his head. I’m not sure this is the way. Mental illness is much more accepted these days, but 3 trips to institutions in a year. That might be too much. As many people our age know finding a job in this economy is hard enough, just imaging trying to find a job and having to explain these gaps in employment. I am not sure that he will ever be able to recover from this.

I remember when this issue first came up, I looked up a lot of stuff on Schizophrenia, on the web, and it is very common among men in my age range. Why? I guess I am lucky that the revolvers chamber was empty when it was pointed straight at my head, and the heads of most of my friends. But for Johnny, the gun was loaded and no one really knows what to do,

Knowing how quickly and without warning the mind can seeming get away form someone, I have made a short list of things I need to do before I’m 30. I’ll work on the full list and carry it around with me.

  • Learn to play my guitar

  • Finish comic book with Mike

  • Drink Absinth – or legal alternative

  • Pierce or tattoo myself

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