There comes a time when you’re in the Nut when you really start thinking that it’s about time to get out.  It comes sometime after they get your drugs straight and you’re stabilized.  This means perforce that they’ve got you on one or more anti-psychotics, in my case, Risperdal, because the anti-psychotics have the marvelous ability to start working immediately, unlike anti-depressants, which usually take up to two weeks to begin having what they call in the Nut a “beneficial effect.”  Risperdal’s beneficial effect is to calm you down and get you off your high horse of paranoia or grandiosity or hallucinations or all three.  One is bad enough.  Two is pushing it.  All three?  When you’ve got two running straight ahead at a pretty good clip, three doesn’t sound that bad, unless the little voice you hear in your head is giving you a long list of bad things to do in your spare time.

Calming down isn’t as easy as it sounds, even under the influence of a fairly strong anti-psychotic like Risperdal.  You’re lying there on your nut bed staring at the blank walls lit by your heavily fortified overhead fluorescent light, and not much comes to mind other than what put you in the Nut to begin with.  It’s always somebody else’s fault, most definitely not yours.  There are people out there who don’t understand you, people who are not on your side, people who have only ill will in their hearts toward you.  Instead of heartbreak, this causes anger, which is not good for getting yourself off the nut bed and out of the Nut.  No matter how justified, anger just doesn’t get it in the Nut.  Nobody wants to hear about all the unfairness you’re suffering from.  Nobody wants to hear how persecuted you are.  Nobody wants to hear you bellow up at them from the bottom of your particular well, because they’re all down in wells of their own, and all that echoing co-bellowing makes your head spin and their heads spin, and that’s not good for anyone getting out of the Nut, including you.

There are lots of people to talk to in the Nut, beginning with the other nuts all around you.  There is the nursing staff, charged with doling out the drugs that are getting you stabilized and all fit for duty Outside.  There are the nurses assistants, who tend to be young fellows of rather large countenance and calm disposition.  There are the psychological social workers who come in and give two hours of Group in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.  But most of all there is the staff psychiatrist, the one Power among them who can actually sign the piece of paper that gets you out of the Nut.  He or she is an individual of unusually good cheer and very concerned about your mental health and general well-being.  This is not what you came into the Nut to hear, because you’ve been hearing it from practically everyone around you long enough that it’s part of what drove you into the Nut in the first place.  Are you beginning to get the picture here?  Kind of a hamster wheel effect don’t you see?  You’re feeling all persecuted and misunderstood and yet everyone is pretending they’re so concerned and worried about you, what’s the matter with you, why are you saying these things, why are you crying when there’s nothing to cry about, all that kind of stuff, and then you get in the Nut and here’s another one all concerned and worried about you and wondering why you’re feeling the way you feel.  It’s a conspiracy, is what it is.  A conspiracy of caring souls who just don’t understand how deep the cuts are, these understanding smiles, all of a sudden everyone understands you, and yeah, they want what’s best for you, and how do you think your medication is working, and how do you feel tonight as compared with how you felt this morning?  How do you feel this morning compared with how you felt last night?  How do you tell them the cuts are so deep your soul is bleeding out all over the floor and have any chance of getting out of the nut?  You can’t, is the correct answer.  And correct answers are what everyone is looking for.  How do you feel tonight?  Better than you felt this morning.  A lot better.  About those meds?  They’re working just fine, they adjusted your Zoloft yesterday and gave you an extra dose of Ambien last night, and man things could be better but they’re looking up, that’s for sure.

After awhile, you get into the Nut rhythm and the answers are right there, you don’t have to think about them anymore, and you start to wonder, is this shit working?  Am I really feeling better or am I just getting the program.  Jessie says it’s a little of both.  You are feeling better, and yeah, the doc does kind of get it, a little teeny bit around the edges he kind of gets it.  So you begin to look for the signs, a tiny crack in the smile, something that will betray the truth of whether or not he gets it.  But there are no cracks in the smile, no cracks in the system, just the meds and the nut bed and the bare walls and the fortified fluorescent and Group four times a day and rest period and snack time and the soft shuffle of house shoes across the linoleum.

Songs start coming to you at odd hours, lying there on the nut bed.  Good Times, the version by the Rolling Stones, a cry from the darkness of a misunderstood youth.  You can dig misunderstood even if you can’t dig youth.  When was the last time anyone really understood you, anyway?   When was the last time you were heard?  When was the last time you weren’t blamed for everything turning to shit?  Am I ever going to get out of this Nut?  The meds must be working, because even the unanswered questions are soothing.

La-la-la all night long,

Come on and let the good times roll

We gonna stay here till we soothe our soul,

If it takes all night long.

The evening sun is sinking low

The clock on the wall says it’s time to go

I’ve got my plans I don’t know about you

I tell you exactly what I’m gonna do

Get in the groove and let the good times roll

We’re gonna stay here tell we soothe our soul

If it takes all night long.

It might be one o’clock, it might be three

Time don’t mean that much to me

Ain’t felt this good since I don’t know when

I might not feel this good again.

So c’mon let the good times roll

We’re gonna stay here till we soothe our soul

If it takes all night long.

All night, all night

All night, all night long

Somebody said it might take all night long

All night, all night, whoa.

C’mon let the good times roll

We’re gonna stay here till we soothe our soul

If it takes all night long.

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  1. Lucian,

    I’ve copied the link (below) to the latest post on my website. It’s based on your article in the NYT about our beloved David Petraeus. I’m West Point class of 1977, and spent 14 months in Iraq as a contractor from 2006-2007. I’d love to mail you a copy of my book, “America’s Failure In Iraq: Intervention to Withdrawal 1991-2010.” Please send your address if you’d like a copy.

    Mike O’Brien

    • Mike, I’m not going to post my email addres in this comments section. I went on your blog to see if there was some way to contact you, but couldn’t find anything other than subscribing to your blog. Go over to my facebook page and “friend” me and I’ll send you a private message with my email address and street address.
      Otherwise, thanks for your thoughtful comments on the Petraeus piece. I’ve been amazed at how much positive reaction I’ve gotten, some of it from unexpected quarters.

  2. Bill Shockley

     /  November 27, 2012

    Some of us 12 stepped it out of the blood and emotional hells.
    Some OD’d.
    Some are still tokkin.

    Me, I’m a RN or went from taking to giving with no smoking or drinking.

    Trust me, it’s easier.
    And Truth is still the path of least resistance.
    Wounds heal.

    The past is gone, the future is uncertain, the present is just an illusion for all who make a shambles of body, mind, society and events. It is not about me or you.

    I just cut the ass of a ’74 Minnie Winnie to make a motorcycle hauling platform and tuned up the 360. If I get the exhaust manifolds on tomorrow it will run again…the plan is to travel West, ride my motorcycle on the jeep trails and camp around Moab, find the hot springs and a woman who wants an interdependent but intimate relationship. Care to come along?

    Fuck man, life could be a lot worse.

    Jesus loves the little children, but he has a bad memory.
    He doesn’t sleep well at night…he’s narcoleptic.

    BTW I refused induction in ’69…you…come on man, let’s hear your story.
    With love.
    Bill Shockley
    Tomahawk, Wisconsin
    715 966 2001

  3. Hudson Marquez

     /  November 27, 2012

    Man, you have nailed the hamster cage. When in my Nut, I start lying right away. I hear that song in the original by Shirley and Lee. Which reminds me of all the tragic “Lees” I’ve know which has me scrambling for Nuerontin Ambien and Seroquel cocktail.
    Go on with your bad self, Luc!!

  4. Tim Truscott

     /  December 2, 2012

    I read your New York Times Op-Ed piece with great interest:

    We’re in trouble in this country on many levels. We’re living in a Land of Make-Believe. We have a Make-Believe military, a Make-Believe CIA and a Make-Believe Congress all being funded by a Make-Believe economy.

    A friend told me he had heard a sports reporter interviewed concerning the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. The reporter essentially said that many media folks knew what was going on, but that they also knew that if they were to raise the subject with Armstrong they would never get an interview again. So the public was kept in the dark.

    This is a prevalent problem across the country, probably the world: The celebrities and political figures “own” the media. We have that problem on the local level here in Albany, as well. The reporters for the local newspaper know (because they’ve been told) that if they don’t “play ball” with our five-term Mayor, they won’t get invited to news conferences and won’t get any stories to print. Hence, the tough questions never get asked and The People never get a new Mayor.

    I e-mailed your Op-Ed piece to a number of friends. Several of them responded with, “That guy sounds like you!” Perhaps the acerbic tone is in the genes.

  5. Denise Brown

     /  December 4, 2012

    What happened to you Lucian? I look forward to not only additions to this book, but your comments as well…you haven’t responded to anyone in over a week…You ok?

  6. I’ve been busy with chickens, getting chicken tractor moved, getting them settled into new location…it’s a lot of work. I’m onto Chapter 18 now. Couple of days. Thanks for asking.

  7. Lucian, I’d like to interview you for a public affairs show on NPR affiliate in Aspen. Please contact me if you’re interested.

  8. Pete Cronk

     /  December 20, 2012

    Lucian, Coming soon, “Long-Range Patrol to The Wall,” the after-action report on Nov 9-10-11 in Wash. DC. It talks up your memoir/blog. After reading your Prologue over again for about the fourth time, I cued up Judy Garland’s ” Anyplace I Hang My Hat Us Home.”

    • Thanks Cronk. Send me the after action report when it’s ready. I’m ready to read it and correct factual errors, such as foodstuffs being found on eyeglasses upon awakening or not.

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