All I remember were the wires – the strange form of apparatus attached to her head. Designed to send an electrical current through her sick brain to cure it. Or make it worse. An AC/DC frontal lobotomy for the disco era.
A temporary grasp on unreality. A last hope. When all else fails consider electricity.
I longed to push the button, pull the switch, thank the warden, increase the voltage, add water – whatever it would take for her to improve or just short-circuit the mortal coil. I was good with either direction this went. Where’s the bathtub and the plugged-in curling iron therapy?
“Hey doctor or whoever you are. What is this supposed to do?”
“It will ease her severe depression. But she may forget a few things.”
“Who you are, where she is, who she is.”
“Oh, is that all?!”
I was wondering if this brutal treatment was going to fry the brain inside her skull. Fry it even more than it was fried, already. I never remember anything positive coming out of electricity going through a head. Now I realize, at ten years-old, I was absolutely correct.
My sordid frames of reference then:
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) – Electrical current “encouraging” Caesar the talking ape to utter a human word.
Electrodes = bad.
And what the hell was an electrode anyway? Who cares, actually. Sounded intimidating.
“The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.” Another freak of nature kept alive by electricity (and maple syrup I think).
And of course, we remember Frankenstein and his bride. Overall, this electricity meeting up with lobes didn’t appear to conclude on a good note.
Naturally, electroconvulsive therapy (fancy name for electroshock treatment) was first introduced by Italians – Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini in 1938. Almost anything that my ethnic brethren delivers outside of pizza and art fails miserably. Oh well. Another good point for things not looking so hot post shock treatment.
In the 70’s electro-shock was employed for severe depression, mania, nymphomania (kidding), and it appears women felt more comfortable than men undergoing this form of torture. From what I recall it was common in my neighborhood. Maybe it was fluoride in the water; perhaps it was me chasing girls with used Kotex pads on a stick that caused young moms in the area to be depressed. Not sure. I’d do it all over again. No regrets.
All I knew then. All I know now – electrical current and a brain are not a match made in heaven.
1). How far will you go to forget? The bad stuff. Those who wronged you. Those who fooled you, those who caused distress, the failures, the words you can’t take back, the actions that hurt others, the actions that hurt you, the deaths, the illnesses, the bad attitudes, your weariness, the negative thoughts, the self-sabotage, the wine you spill, tears, milk, guts. Never forget the bad. The bad adds perspective, wisdom. The mental path you’ve followed, the pain, the failures are a form of beauty. The setbacks blossom empathy, forgiveness, strength. Flaws make you beautiful. Human. The bad stuff is the blood which bonds us.
Who the hell are you? You’re bad. You make mistakes. Love yourself for your faults.
2). What do you do to remember? The good junk. When your world is in sync. The break in the clouds, the deep breaths, the relief that comes from tiny blessings, the friendships, the beauty around you. How do you share that good? How do you reach out to those who need a positive word? The human voice, encouragement, devotion, laughter, listening. The good stuff is the heartbeat that keeps us going.
Who the hell are you? You’re good. You make others feel worthy. Share your strength with others.
3). How do you deal with the regret? Of bad money decisions? The money you threw away on stupid things? The investment you sold too soon or never got around to buying and it would have changed your life. What if I bought Apple stock in 2003? Well, you wouldn’t have purchased it then. Why? You’re impatient. Most investors think long term is two weeks. Have you made a purchase just to realize it wasn’t as terrific as you thought? Have you given away that great sweater you had to have two years ago and wore once? Think three times before you buy. Think twice before you invest, think twice before you sell. Seek out opinions that differ from yours.
Who the hell are you? You’re human. You make strange purchase decisions, your brain is not wired to invest. Ask for help. Seek opinions that disagree with your own. Live with money mistakes. Revisit them often. You’ll avoid them in the future.
4). What doesn’t mix, doesn’t mix. Electricity & brains, you & her, you & chocolate, you & alcohol, you & fried foods. Don’t force it. Learn to make peace with doesn’t mix in your life. What doesn’t mix causes friction (also not good for the frontal lobe). Work to accept what doesn’t mix. Move on.
Who the hell are you? You understand what doesn’t mix is not your fault, it’s just the way it is. Learn to cherish the inner peace of acceptance.
“Who are you?”
“It’s your son, mom – Rich.”
“I have a son? I always wanted a son. I always wanted someone to love.”
“Me too, mom, me too.”
And for a brief moment.
There was electricity between us.