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April 6, 2002:

Walking Down a One Way Street

by Kelvin Christie
Page layout by Justin Young


I remember my first hospitalization for my temper like it was yesterday. I was 11. I was terrified. I felt that, if I weren't crazy, the medication they wanted to give me would turn me into a vegetable. My mother had warned the first time I take the medication it would ruin me for life.

It took four grownups to hold me down as I was given an inter-muscular injection (figure it out). I almost wet my pants.

But it turned out my mother was wrong. I didn't know that a mental hospital was any thing like it turned out to be. Well anyway, it was almost as normal as the outside world. The residents of the hospital there were all about gang banging (Fighting over gang colors) and thugging.

I was taken to the hospital because I had lost control in my Brooklyn middle school where I wanted to hurt this kid in particular, and I wouldn't stop until I got to him. Yes, that day was hectic. Instead of bringing me home or calling my mother to bring me home, they brought me to King's County Hospital and then called my mother that I was at the hospital.

When I was there, I felt like an asthma patient struggling to breathe. Why did I have to go that far? Now I am trapped inside of an asylum and maybe I won't leave normal again.

When my mother showed up, I felt like running into her arms, but I didn't for some strange reason. I don't know if I was too proud or what, but inside I felt like crying. Knowing my mother's arms were open like the gates of heaven to me, I shed a tear. I didn't want anyone to see me cry, so I hid my tears along with my fears.

Well, I didn't do any more crying for being there; I guess I had gotten hard after resisting my mother's pampering. When it was my turn to see the doctor, he told me to go to the "J" building the next day.

When I reached the J building, I felt I was going to be admitted regardless of what I said or did. You can say that I was paranoid from being there. It had gotten to the point I couldn't distinguish fear from anger. Why did the doctor get on the phone and a security guard stop at the doctor's door? Well, I said to myself I was going to be admitted no matter what happened so I must escape from this treacherous mad house.

When I thought the security guard had left, I tried to leave the doctor's office. Then he pops up right in my face, and asked, "What are you doing?" He guided me back into the doctor's office. I lost control again, and trashed her office. That is when the guards came running in from everywhere to restrain me. When they were preparing the needle for me. I was like a mouse in a corner in the presence of danger, especially when they approached me with the needle to give me an injection. I screamed and wailed like a newborn baby until the medication wouldn't let me cry anymore.

When I woke up in the hospital, I was like, "Where am I?" The place was colorful and strange to me: it caused a chilly feeling in my spine.

The years of being institutionalized within the hospital didn't scare me as much as the first time I had been admitted. Being hospitalized became a part of my daily routine.

As I began to age within the hospital I rebelled against being there and the medication. I rebelled like a mad bull roaming the streets of Mexico. When they gave me the medication, I would be so tired I couldn't rebel any more. But what the hell, that wouldn't stop me for too long. After they would give me the medication, I would yell, "Wait until I wake up, I'm going to raise hell."

The more I rebelled the more they would raise my medication. They raised my medication so high I could hardly stay up.

I have been arrested multiple times, but one day I got up and wanted to hurt anyone who wasn't giving me respect and was stuffing medication down my mouth. It had gotten to the point where everyone was afraid of me.

I guess, one day they were thinking of their patients' welfare and theirs. When I had attacked my psychiatric doctor, for not wanting to lower my medication. He had wailed for the psychteck (folks that walk around the hospital to maintain order) like a toddler wailing for his mama. When they had medicated me that time, I told the doctor," I'm going to hurt you when I wake up."

When I woke up, there were the hospital police with handcuffs waiting for me. I didn't care because I had got arrested before and I was member of a gang. So I didn't cry and I felt no need to cry.

Before I knew it I was at the police precinct thinking of what I had done with no remorse behind it. My arresting officer asked me what am I doing with my life? Alone, he was complementing me that I am a very smart young man.

When I had got to jail I was thinking how could I get out. I was worried about my last court cases, though they would ring it up when it was my turn to see the judge. I didn't want him, the judge, to look at me as a stubborn mule when I got to court.

I didn't want to plead guilty because my state of mind began to change slowly but surely. Fighting for others individual's clothing and their commissary goods wasn't something I wanted to do any more. Worrying if I would get back safe from the gym or from court wasn't what I wanted on my mind. I wanted to think about where I would be in a positive way for the next 20 years.

When it was my turn to go to court that morning I was paranoid. You can say that a lot of people knew who I was, so I was kind of scared of what the outcome might be on the jail bus. My heart was pumping about 20 miles an hour. I didn't know what to do with myself to calm myself down. However, I did take my morning shower to look decent in the eyes of the court.

Earlier in the day, when I was at the table in the Rikers Island cafeteria with some of my gang members, I thought to myself, "What am I getting out of being in a gang?" I wanted to look one of them within their eyes and say, "I don't want to be a part of this nonsense any more," but I didn't. I shied away. My feelings left a burden on my shoulder the size of California.

I reached the intake room where they would hold you for court or the new comers. I saw one of my fellow gang members that I was really cool with like in the movie "Thelma and Louise." I greeted him with an open heart the best way I knew how to. I was kind of uncertain to just come up and tell him I didn't want to bang any more. So we just shared a cancer stick and were talking about all our foes that we beat silly.

As time went by, I told him I was dropping my flag. Then he looked at me like he had seen a ghost or something. Then I told him I felt banging wasn't for me anymore. Then he said he felt what I had said and that it was ok. He didn't ask or try to stop me from "dropping my flag."

When I was standing in front of the judge, I was a nervous wreck. My lawyer tried to help me keep my cool in the courtroom. He would say things to keep me from being negative. But I could still feel tension building. I had still felt that same negative thought; I am going to get locked up.

When the judge said that I was not guilty and not crazy, I felt like I was on top of the world. I have been waiting for years just to hear that within my ears, "Not crazy."

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A poem

Who am I ?

I have been over mountains and hills
Walking through destruction
Who am I?
I am that street thug with a vision
I am no robber nor thief
I am just violent I am glad to say
I am violent than to say I am crazy
They who speak behind my back
What can I say they lack
Hey they have a lack of heart
And they do not know these streets


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