You see... I had been recently laid off, but that’s not why I wound up in the loony bin, or not entirely, anyway.
I used to work for a big company and had kick-ass health insurance, which I took 100% advantage of. I saw every doctor I’d ever dreamed of. I went to the chiropractor weekly…I tried alternative drug treatments…I had two colonoscopies. I really lived it up!
I didn’t realize this would come back to bite me in the butt, no pun intended. When I got laid off, I couldn’t get health coverage, well not the cheap kind anyway.
As it turned out, my accumulation of doctor visits for indigestion and back tension revealed that I was very, very anxious. So, I joined the club and started taking medication. Shortly thereafter, I got laid off from my job, which interestingly was a big source of my unease. However, I soon discovered that another big instigator of anxiety is being unemployed and having no idea where your life is headed, so I decided to stick with the meds. Now, I didn’t know what to do. No job—no insurance, and my anxiety medication needed to be refilled ASAP! With insurance it was $8 and without, $180. This was making me very anxious.
I decided to research free clinics and found one that sounded good. It called itself a walk-in clinic; the only problem was, you can’t exactly walk out. The woman on the phone said the process would take about three hours. I figured I’d bring my laptop and get some work done. I figured wrong. I was met at the front entrance by a security guard who promptly took away my laptop, cell phone, iPod, keys, and any other sharp objects. From there I was rushed back into some sort of interrogation room where a nurse asked me a million questions and took my vitals. He kept commenting on how well I speak. I felt really good about myself until I saw my competition. The other patients were a hot mess. One girl wasn’t wearing any shoes and was foaming a little at the mouth, and she was the most together of the bunch.
After the interrogation, the nurse brought me into a holding room that consisted of a bunch of Lazy Boys circled around a TV. Luckily there was a marathon playing on TV of Jersey Shore. Watching it in a psych ward was interesting. I mean, these weren’t exactly the best role models for us mental patients. They are a bunch of dysfunctional people abusing alcohol; they should have been in there too!
Hours passed without anyone saying anything to me, besides one nurse who came in to ask me where I got my boots. “Steve Madden,” I replied. Did she really like them or did she think I didn’t deserve free psych meds because I own boots from this season? “They were a gift,” I added.
By hour four, I was getting hungry and starting to feel a little anxious. Plus, I was pumped up on hours of back to back Jersey Shores. I went to take my last anxiety pill, but then remembered that, too, had been confiscated. Now I really started getting restless. I decided to walk into the lobby to see where I was in the queue and whether I could get my pill. The second I stepped out of the waiting room, the shoe nurse yelled, “Ma’am you can not be out here! We are processing! We will call you when we’re ready for you!” Now get back in your pen.
This didn’t exactly help to soothe my nerves. Now I was anxious and pissed off. Worst of all, I was growing hungrier by the minute and when I am really hungry, there’s no telling what I am capable of. To quote JWoww from Jersey Shore, “I could knock a bitch out.”
I was terrified that I’d wind up lashing out, and the shoe nurse would run in and stick me with some sedative, and admit me for good. I started picturing my life there in the insane asylum. I would try to convince the staff that I was actually sane, but no one would believe me because they all saw Shutter Island. I imagined becoming best friends with the shoeless-foaming-mouth-girl and teaching her how to speak well like me—oops! I mean, speak well like I do. Playing this scenario out sent my anxiety through the roof! Then I started laughing like a crazy person. I mean, I had come there to get relief from my anxiety and now everything about the place was sending me over the edge.
Finally, they called my name for discharge and I discovered the real reason the shoe nurse didn’t want me out in the lobby. There was no breach of security—she was just online shopping! For my boots! She was on the Steve Madden website! Girls, we’re all the same.
When I walked outside with my free drugs, five hours later, I had a $68 parking ticket. I was really about to lose my marbles until I calculated that it was still a $112 savings, plus I got a new client. Yep, when the first nurse was asking me all those intake questions, I stated that I was a Comedy Writer/Script Doctor/Unemployed. Turns out, he just finished writing his first feature film and would love my feedback. Only in Hollywood!