The Holy Ghost


***** For Readers who have been with this blogject since the beginning this is a unique post. All the way back in the Rules post I mentioned I had been grappling with whether to tell the story thematically where I could jump all around my personal history out of order, or whether to write it chronologically. This post was the primary reason why I made the decision to write it chronologically. There is a piece of information that I need to hit the Reader viscerally. I want a chemical change to occur in the brain. The mood I am going for is: Dread/Doom/Terror. I have seeded the first 30 posts with a particular theme again and again and again I keep mentioning how the success of the show had been withheld. I harp on it constantly. This post is what I’m trying to set up. It is my hope that as a writer I made the right execution, but often when you cut together a film a year later all the scenes you string together sometimes the jump scare/punchline you’re going for works and other times it falls flat. You are almost certainly going to know this moment when it arrives in the narrative but because I’m me and looking for specific feedback (all other feedback is allowed too!) I want to know if this moment in the narrative delivers the pop or not. I will place a giant red asterisk

*

after the moment. If any readers who have been following the material closely find that this moment flies or flops for them I would appreciate data to see whether I just wasted the last year of my life unnecessarily or not. Thank you. This message will not appear in later drafts.*****

THE HOLY GHOST

They had brought her to the front of the church… in her wheelchair.

She had some rare disease that doctors were frustrated to even identify. The whole church had her on our prayer lists for years. Everyone had sympathy for the family and many, many, many prayers would be prayed for her well-being over the years as her health would get better and than setback after setback.

But this day, she had been brought to the front of the church during the service and a special prayer was prayed for her by the church elders.



This was my understanding of what it meant to be sick as a Christian.


You get sick– REALLY sick– and the church will pray for you.
They will prioritize you.


You will have hands lain upon you and all the Mercies of God will be called upon as a hundred families join in unison to beseech God Almighty to stop His shenanigans with rotating the earth and keeping His eye on the sparrow and that the power of these prayers and the community of love that prayed them would prove that their God was a God of Mercy and Miracles and Compassion.

That the Fellowship and Unity of this Church– this extension of God’s Holy Spirit– where The Church is now the living embodiment of God, God’s presence is right in this building with this congregation and they have the depth of their faith to trust that God in His wisdom would heal this beautiful child so she could be freed from medical prison and live a good life.

And she would get better some time later! It works!

PRAISE JESUS!



As I left the hospital and returned back to my normal life, I suspected that at my first Sunday back in church this is the fate that inevitably awaited me.

I was certain, based on prior behavior, that my religious parent must have blown up the prayer chain with worries about my health problems. And that dozens– maybe even hundreds– of people were almost certainly praying for me to get better! There hadn’t too many other kids that got seriously ill in the years I was at this small neighborhood church. And so my being sick was a rare event and I guess I have to be prepared to be the center of attention while people physically lay hands on me and vocally pray for my healing and well-being as they call out to god.

RIGHT?!?

My first Sunday back, ready to do the sound and lights and the thing that I notice is that absolutely nobody is approaching me, talking to me, even looking at me.

I see an elder I know and I start to approach and he sees me coming and this unfamiliar look on his face appears where every Sunday prior for 6 years since we had moved to California this elder had smiled and always engaged me in conversation… he intentionally avoids me by seeing someone else and pretending he needed to talk to them about something… but he side eyes me as he’s talking to the other person in a way that’s odd.

An important thing to consider is that I was one of the main two dozen kids at this church. Like reliably always there. Never missed a Sunday. Never missed Youth Group. Always did the lighting for the worship band… this was my second home.

I knew everybody. I was the kid that they would get to read the Bible verses on Easter when they wanted the innocent children to stand on the stage and one by one take turns reading verses… I got larger amounts of text. I was that kid. The one that was an obnoxiously quick learner and could parrot and be the puppet.

And while I never really enjoyed being the center of attention for religious stuff I did like performing. So… as much as I don’t really want to have hands lain on me or be prayed for my healing, I can probably rely on my performance ability to fake it. I’ll just have to gut it out for Jesus.

The service starts. I slide my light faders one by one for whatever solemn hymn/pop song is being sung (probably something about how Jesus is the Shepherd and We are The Sheep sung un-ironically)… it won’t be long now… Usually after the first worship set the associate pastor or some other elder will stand and lead a prayer before the pastor delivers a sermon. That will be the moment. That’s when they’ll call me up.



Get ready.

Tuck in shirt in the control booth.

Look at some metal thing hoping the reflection will show nothing in my teeth in case I have to fake smile.

Final song done…

the elder is approaching the stage…

this is the moment…

And then…



Nothing.



The elder gets up and does the standard prayer and the pastor takes the stage as the worship band members all take their seats.


What the frick?!?



That’s… weird.

Huh.

Well, maybe they’ll do it AFTER the sermon…



Dear Readers, do you think they did it after the sermon?

I’ll give you 3 guesses.



I would not be called to the front of church for a special healing prayer for my sickness.



Not that day.



Or any other day.



For the next 30 years.

This is the story of:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN NOBODY CARES THAT YOU’RE SICK & DYING



This kind of shook me.



Wait. Wasn’t I just in a hospital for a whole week?

Didn’t my religious parent call every single person she knew in church and every state we’ve ever lived in to work those phone lines for healing intercession?

It’s weird… why won’t anyone look me in the eyes? Why am I getting scowls? Or people that were once friends are now avoiding.

WHERE ARE THE HUGS?!?



It wasn’t rude. It wasn’t even overt. Nobody made a show of it. It was the subtlest thing ever. Where I wasn’t sure if something had changed or not. Maybe I’m just perceiving things differently… maybe it’s the new medication I’m on? But, I’m not getting a lick of interest for why I wasn’t here the Sunday before. And every time I would ever stay home sick for a week the other kids would remark, “good to see you back/why weren’t you here/etc”

This time?

Crickets.

And all the smiles I used to see every Sunday? All the pats on the head for being the GoldenChild™… nothing. Do you know what it’s like to be used to being in an environment that is an extension of your family and to expect and rely upon the idea that these people LOVE YOU.

And then when you most need them…

that community of love…

it fails to materialize.



How is this possible?

I have the Holy Spirit in me.

I’m SavedDave™.

I’m one of you all!


Where is the loving kindness?

Where are the tender mercies?

Where is the love being poured into me?

WHO IS GOING TO ANOINT ME GOSHDANGIT?



It was amazing how quickly– like a switch being turned off– the reception I got after being in the hospital.

Back then the concept of “ghosting” wasn’t a term, but certainly that is the way that Fricking Evangelicals™ shun you.

With the JayDubs and the Mormons and the Scientologists and all the other cults, there is a clear tactic of shunning. I have friends that were shunned by the JWs and Mormons when they were teens and ended up being kicked out of the home and being homeless. And when they and I have discussed our different experiences with shunning… theirs was more clear. It was instantaneous and easy to understand.

It was traumatic and abusive and awful, but at least you knew what was happening. It was honest and truthful instead of hidden and deceptive.

With Fricking Evangelical™ shunning it is a very, very different tactic.



Evangies ghost you.

They slowly stop showing interest.

It’s not official.

There are no orders from on high or labels of “suppressive persons”.

They just kinda start avoiding you.

They call less.

The conversations at church are shorter.

People are conveniently busy when you want to talk.



It’s 1993 and I have no idea that the church does not believe that mental illness is a thing. And they actually believe that I am either demon possessed or a massively fricked up sinner. I won’t know this for some time to come yet.

Because the important thing to remember here is I AM NOT MENTALLY ILL. That’s for crazy people. And I’m clearly not one of those I HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ME. I was just stressed! But the people at church don’t know that!

Surely, I can score some free sympathy love bombs, eh?

All these families who I’ve been to the homes of and played with their kids and broken bread and gone to summer bible camp with and VBS with are all waiting for me to come home from the hospital so they can shower me with love and affection so that I can heal (even though I don’t need it).

And yet… that’s… not… happening.



Huh.

It’s like the hospital.

I get why they don’t allow flowers and cards and teddy bears because you might strangle yourself or slash your wrists in the hospital with a stuffed animal or get well card.

But… but SURELY ONCE YOU GET OUT PEOPLE WILL CARE ABOUT YOU AND SHOW YOU LOVE SO YOU CAN HEAL.

Right?

RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT?!?

Surely a modern church proclaiming the love of God Almighty and the power of Jesus Christ where every member is filled with the Holy Spirit will bestow their love upon me for all I’ve done for them when I get sick… right?



RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?



Well… uh… maybe they forgot?

Or maybe my religious parent told them to not make a big deal out of it.

They did call all of them, didn’t they?

Didn’t? They?



Well, maybe next week will be the week they’ll care.



Foreshadowing Narrator: They would not care the next week either.

And I will start learning something in my oblivious denial…

People don’t talk about this illness.

Not. one. bit.

Wanna know how many get well cards I’ve received in 30 years?

Wanna know how many times Fricking Evangelicals™ have showered me with prayers and healing and flowers and meal trains and gofundmes?



In 30 years I’ve never seen it.

Not. Ever.

Not. One. Single. Time.

Not for me or any other patient with these life threatening illnesses.


But in the flow of this story… my illness is maybe 10 days old here.

Surely my church will care about me, right?

I’ve got the Holy Spirit in me, right?

I’m SavedDave™!

You love me, right?

Right?

Unbeknownst to me, something is happening in my brain at this precise moment of God’s Perfect Comedic Timing™.

That little pill called Paxil is starting to upload into my noggin. This new miracle drug.

Today, antidepressants come with a warning that you may be at risk of having a rebound suicide attempt in the first few weeks after starting SSRI’s.

In fact, there would be a scandal that would occur around the issues of prescribing SSRI’s– and specifically Paxil– to teenagers.



BUT NOBODY KNEW THIS YET IN NOVEMBER 1993.

This. drug. was. brand. new.



There would be a clinical study the following year that… uh… well…

How about you click on that article a couple lines down?

And then remember, I was prescribed this drug in November 1993.

Look at the dates on this trial.

And please… if you care about Dave… spend 2 minutes jumping down this rabbit hole:

Study 329



Go ahead… I’ll wait…



Did you read the part about the fraud?



*nods slowly while peeling an apple with a pocketknife*



So, here’s where things get tricky.



Because my memory is utterly shattered of the events of these next 3 weeks of my life. The order of things is jumbled. And so I am going to not care about order… I’m going for narrative.

And if I get some of the order wrong well… SO DID THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS.

And if the Infallible Bible™ can get things out of order then surely I’m allowed to, right God?

This is the Whale Vomit story you wanted me tell, remember?



In 2004 the FDA will issue a black box warning that the drug Paxil should not be prescribed to adolescents.

A thing that would not be known in November 1993– because SSRI’s were so new– is that many, many young patients were dying from these drugs.



Gather round, sheep….

*eats slice of apple off pocketknife blade*

… See when someone attempts suicide, in the days and weeks after that event the patient is typically completely wrecked in terms of executive function and mood disorder.

These are the two basic parts of the behavioral brain functioning system: Executive Function and Mood.

Executive Function is how you decide what to eat for breakfast every morning. It’s how you decide to to take a shower or clean your room. Tie your shoes.

Mood is how you feel. And your behaviors that stem from mood. I’m feeling happy so I hug my cat.

In both cases of getting breakfast and hugging the cat the brain is making behavioral decision but for very different reasons.

With Major Depression… the mood crashes. And the behavioral elements that are affected by the feeling of Depression are in play. This is why we don’t shower. Don’t eat. Lay around. The mood of the Depression is so intense it overwhelms the brain. And it dominates and kills your Executive Function. So you can’t make decisions. (It’s why it’s been hard to write the blog for the last few months for me.)



AND MAKING DECISIONS IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF SUICIDE.



You can’t kill yourself unless you have a plan.

Even an impulse is a plan.

Ohthere’sabusjumpinfrontofit!

Instantaneous plan.

But a plan nonetheless.



When you have attempted suicide you are usually so intensely depressed afterwards that your mood level of Depression is like 107 on a scale of 1 to 10.

And super duper depressed people who have just tried to kill themselves are typically unlikely to do it again because their Executive Function is now shattered.

This is actually a good thing.

We don’t want Depressed people to keep trying.



But there’s a problem.



This new drug Paxil is really good at bringing back the Executive Function of the brain. Good, right? We want the Executive Function to come back. That’s what the drug is supposed to do.

BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT.

That 107 on scale of 1 to 10 level Depression… that hasn’t really gotten better yet. The Mood Disorder is not keeping pace with the Executive Function.

And so my 107 Depression is still completely bottomed out. BUT MY EXECUTIVE FUNCTION IS CAPABLE OF MAKING PLANS AGAIN.

Which means… I am dangerously unstable.

I really should probably be in a hospital for a whole month, but this is the USA and FRICK YOU, MENTALLY ILL SICK PERSON. This is the country of fast cars, fast food, fast genocide, and fast healing! You gotta get back to work after all. This country don’t like moochers.

And so here is a 16 year old kid… who has just been prescribed Paxil… an SSRI that can increase suicidal behavior, but you read the Study 329 stuff, right?



IT IS ILLEGAL TO PRESCRIBE THIS DRUG TO ADOLESCENTS NOW.



And. I. am. one. of. the. reasons. why.



It is around 2-3 weeks after my first attempt… and the Paxil has titrated up.

And guess what?


Focus called.



They want you again.


Drive down to Burbank.


Through the front doors.


Hey there’s a new celebrity with Marc Grau on the wall!



I can not remember which happens first.

The session.

Or the 2nd attempt/hospitalization.



But I will walk into this session suffering from an affliction known as:

I’m about to kill myself and I really love these people.

And we’re recording.


Adventures In Odyssey: Episode 262: A Prayer for George Barclay
Adventures In Odyssey: Episode 264: Making the Grade

I recall it was a double session I think? And I have absolutely no memory of any of the content of these episodes. I am literally a medicated fricking zombie. I have just had a suicide attempt a couple weeks earlier and largely am still in that head space.

It also could be that the second hospitalization occurs between two sessions? I literally have no clue.

I remember having another attempt and being hospitalized.

AND I REMEMBER BEING TERRIFIED THAT I COULD DIE AT ANY MOMENT BECAUSE THE PAXIL IS MAKING ME UNSTABLE AS FRICK.



AND I REMEMBER HAVING THE OVERWHELMING URGE TO TELL HAL SMITH THAT I LOVED HIM LIKE A GRANDFATHER.



I remember being really worried around the second attempt, which makes me think it happened AFTER the hospitalization. It would make more sense that the second attempt spooked the crap outta me and I might have been more enthusiastic and vocal about what was happening to me.

But it could also have been prior because I’d wanted to tell him for years. I loved the man. To me this was my family. I spent more time in my life with Hal Smith than I did my own Grandma who lived in Tennessee. And not being prepared for the industry… and nobody ensuring I had professionals around me to protect my emotional understanding… I deeply deeply loved AND STILL DO the people that I worked with.

And I was legit terrified that I might die. I’m unstable. Paxil is making pharmaceutical history in my brain while these episodes are being recorded.



I’m worried I’m going to kill myself.



And there’s Hal.



And he needs to know how I feel before I die.



I waited until it was just the two of us. I was never very good saying things that were deeply emotional for real. For pretend? That’s easy. But real emotions? There’s a reason this kid is killing himself. I’m a broken mess. My psychology is shattered.

Finally… I think it was a two episode day… so somewhere towards the end of the day the moment occurs.

It’s just me and Hal in the greenroom in the Lounge of Legends.



“Hal…?”



He looked up and smiled.



I don’t remember the full blurt out… but I remember saying…



“I love you like my grandfather.”



And Hal Smith said to Dave Griffin



“I know.”



It was not Han Solo being dipped into carbonite smugly taunting the Princess.



It was a man from an era where you never said those words.

Because you never needed to.

The people you love KNOW you love them.

It doesn’t need to be said.

And this is what he’s teaching me in my moment of bonkers instability.



It’s okay kid.
You don’t need to tell me cuz I already know.
And right back at ya.
Love you, too.



That was the “I know”.

And I’ll never forget it.

In my heart I believe this event took place AFTER the second hospitalization. But for the purposes of this narrative I’m going to place this conversation before what I am now about to write.

If this was a memoir I would end it here. On the sentimental note where Dave Griffin and Hal Smith have just told each other they love each other after 7 years of working together. It tugs at all the heart strings. In no way would you EVER WANT TO BURY SUCH AN AMAZING MOMENT OF HUMAN EXPRESSION OF LOVE IN THE MIDDLE OF A BLOG POST.



BUT. THIS. IS. NOT. A. MEMOIR.
THIS. IS. ART. AS. A. WEAPON.



Because… this next part needs its own time to breathe in the head of the reader.

2nd attempt.
&
2nd hospitalization.

(in the span of 3 weeks)



It was late at night again.

It’s always at night.

I would be taken to a different hospital with no pool table.

It will be here in this second hospital when God’s Perfect Comedic Timing™ will completely destroy my life.



I maybe could have gotten better if people understood the problems with Paxil then and understanding SSRI rebound and whatnot.

But in December of 1993 nobody knows about any of that.

And so not only am I making medical history by having a rebound suicide attempt as an adolescent on Paxil 3 weeks after starting taking it…

But I also am about to enter into a conundrum that to the best of my knowledge only one person on earth has ever experienced.



(If you can find any other person on the face of the Earth who has gone through this please have them email me so we can start a support group for people who go through these things.)



A thing to understand about psychiatric hospitals and acute care is that the attending psychiatrists do not have much time to spend with patients.

When you first go into a psychiatric hospital a doctor will asses you and attempt, if you do not have a diagnosis, to give you a rudimentary diagnosis to get you prescribed on a course of medication to help you out of your problem.

1993 is an interesting time in psychiatry. There is beginning to be a greater understanding of the divisions between depression and manic depression– in 1993 this has been given a relatively new name Bipolar. They don’t know about type 1/2 yet. As you’ll soon see.

The identification of illnesses is growing. But sometimes the overlap of symptoms during this era makes misdiagnosis a constant.

And in a hospital setting the attending psychiatrist shows up once/twice a week. Maybe there’s a rotating psych on call for the weekend. But these psychs take care of the whole wing. All 20-some patients. And the psych is only here for 2 hours.

How much time is that per patient?

And so it’s not unusual for patients to sit with a psych for <5 minutes be given a quick diagnosis and a prescription scribbled on a pad will be handed to the nurses station when you’re done.

These psychiatrists, I genuinely feel for them. This work is s***. The patients are pissed. Or in denial. Or give them the runaround. Or are catatonic. It’s thankless work for sure.



What happens next is not the fault of… the Doctor.



What happens next is the fault of…

Focus on the Family™ & Adventures In Odyssey™ Production Teams.



This will be the moment that really changes my life forever.



The first thing a Psych will tend to do is give a basic assessment.

They’ll do this by asking you a series of questions to assess your memory function, your state of reality/delusion, do you have cognitive issues, etc. So the questions are pretty basic and boring and seemingly not intended to trip you up.

But when you’ve just had a second suicide attempt (I’m still technically healing from the first one btw) and have the double shock of realizing those meds did not magically solve the problem THAT DOESN’T EXIST… and now the PROBLEM THAT DOESN’T EXIST IS SEEMING TO EXIST RATHER HARD RIGHT NOW… makes it hard to think.

My brain is fricking mashed potatoes at this point. Answering questions is difficult. My words are scrambled. Not thinking clearly. Hard to talk.

ALSO. TOTALLY SUICIDAL AND I DON’T REALLY CARE SO I’M NOT PAYING ATTENTION…

There’s a LOT of stuff happening in my head as this conversation plays out.

The conversation I am about to write you goes far smoother than the real one.



What’s the date?

December 1993.



What city do you live in?

Claremont, CA.



Who is the President of the United States?

Bill Clinton.



Can you name the president before him?

George Bush.



Keep going…

Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Roosevelt



Okgood. How old are you?

16.



What year in school?

Sophomore
(remember my religious parent held me back so I was technically a year older than my grade).



Then the questions shift to the here and now.



How are you sleeping?

How are you eating?

How is school?

Do you have any hobbies?

Play sports?

It was a nothing question.
I shoulda just said nothing.

Instead I say…



I’m an actor.



Oh? The theater. That’s lovely.

No, on the radio.


What do you mean “on the radio”?

I’m an actor on a radio show.



*psychiatrist eyebrow furrows*

You are saying you are an actor on the radio?

Yes.



In real life?

Yes I just recorded this week.



What is your show called?

Adventures in Odyssey.



I’ve never heard of it...

Nobody has apparently.



You’re on the radio right now?

Yeah. Probably.
(it was late at night which confused him more)



Where? What city?

Um… all of them I think.



Here in Greater LA all the cities?


Well, yeah… but, I meant around the world.



You are an actor on the radio all over the world?
You must be famous.

I guess so.



You have fans?

Yeah.



Do you get fan mail?


*blinks*

*blinks again*



W-What… was… the question?

*

*mouth dry as frick*

Do. You. Get. Fan. Mail?


Uhhh….


You have fans they must send you fan mail.



Uhhhhh… well I don’t get the fan mail.



**His tone is changing. He’s scribbling in his pad. He’s shifted in his chair.**



I’m too tired to process what’s happening at first.



And then it happens.

The moment in my life God ACTUALLY abandons me.



The Psychiatrist now starts challenging me.
His inner detective has suddenly spied a red flag.



Actors are on tv. Stage. Not radio.

This is an oldtimey kinda thing. Like in the old days. Radio theater. With voices. You hear the acting.



Are you hearing these voices now?



What?



The voices. Are you hearing these voices now?



What??! No. No, no, no, no. I work in Voiceover. I work with actors that play cartoons. I know the cartoon guys.



The cartoon guys are your friends?



Yeah.



Do you see these cartoons?



All the time.



Are they in this room right now?



What? No. Uh what do you mean?



Are you hearing the voices right now? Do you see the cartoons here?



No. I’m… NOOOOOOOOOOO.

No you’re not understanding.

This is a real thing.

I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP.

The Doctor is staring straight into my brain.

I am the most fascinating patient this man has had all month.


If your show plays all over the world…

it must play here in LA.



I’m sure it does.



And here it is… the precise moment being Jimmy Barclay destroyed my life.



What station?

What?



What station does your show play on here in L.A.?



Uhhh….



He sets down the pad and crosses his arms and leans back in his chair.

He’s sure of himself now.



What station does the show you act on play on the radio?



I… I… don’t know.

please god don’t do this to me



Do you know what day and time your show is on?



No. Please. I swear this is real.



When is your show on?



I. don’t. know.

Have you ever heard of the term Delusions of Grandeur?



Yes, I have and this is real I SWEAR.



You are telling me you are famous…
But you get no fan mail.

You are telling me you are on radio stations all over the world…
But you can not name a single one.

How long have you been on this show?



Since I was 10.



For YEARS?!?

You’ve been on a show for years and don’t know anything about it?

If you’ve been on a show for years you must be rich.

Are you rich?



PLEASE GOD DON’T DO THIS.



No. I’m not rich.



Dear Readers… remember how my entire journey in suicide was literally partly because I had recently worked with Earl Boen?



And Earl Boen’s most famous character role?

Playing the Psychiatrist who DID NOT BELIEVE Sarah Connor is being chased by robots from the future.



And I want you to imagine the one of a kind irony as I’m literally– I had just worked with him a month earlier and I can’t stop playing the scene in my head from the first film where he thinks she’s crazy and is belittling her.

And the same thing is happening to me right now.



BUT THIS IS NOT A MOVIE.

THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING TO THE ACTOR WHO PLAYED JIMMY BARCLAY.



All the ways that Focus withheld proof of success of the show are now destroying me.

I can’t prove a fricking thing.



And the internet does not exist in 1993. There is no googling this and seeing my picture pop up in dozens of websites. There is no Wikipedia article about me (sadly now taken down by someone mean). There are no cell phones.

In 1993 I’m still not even being credited on the show itself. Never. The only way you know who I am is if you went to Pomona and saw my picture with my name next to it in person.

And to the best of my knowledge they never had a pic of me in Colorado.

For reasons that become clear very soon.



But I don’t exist.

The show doesn’t exist.

Remember, bumping into Rodney Rathbone in the first hospital IS THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I EVER ENCOUNTERED ANY TRACE OF AIO IN REAL LIFE.



And this Doctor sees right through my obvious attempts to lie to him to hide my severe illness.



I’m just like every other surly teen who lies to him. Who is delusional.



And because this doctor does not yet know and understand the problem with my suicide attempt is actually Paxil annihilating my grey matter… he thinks it’s because I’ve been misdiagnosed.



I’m not suffering from Major Depressive Disorder.



He thinks I’m Bipolar and Schizoeffective.



And he yanks me off Paxil… and puts me on Lithium and Resperdol.



In under a month I have been placed on Paxil, had it titrate up into my brain, had it cause a massive suicidal event, and now without any bothering to wean off– an entirely new chemical cocktail is going to be the new plan.



This decision ends my childhood.



This decision functionally would end my education.



This decision would nearly kill me a year later.



God. did. not. stop. this. decision. from. happening.



God Almighty…

After 6 years of literally thankless and rewardless service doing a show to spread His Glory around the world…



God allows the Actor who played Jimmy Barclay to be misdiagnosed specifically BECAUSE HE PLAYED JIMMY BARCLAY.



Let me say it another way…

If I had NEVER played that part…

Then even if everything else happens the same way and I end up in front of this same Psych having just been regular Dave and never been an actor…

The decision that Doc probably makes is to switch me to a much safer anti-depressant.

The diagnosis wouldn’t change.



But BECAUSE I had done the show…

BECAUSE all evidence of success of the show had been withheld…

BECAUSE I had this part of my life that literally drove me mad because I could never prove it to anyone…

A month earlier God gave me an Actor in the hospital to show me how much He loved me.

Odyssey protected me.

Here God ghosts me.

Just like His followers.



God Almighty just sits back and watches

while Dave Griffin’s

brain

and life

and future career

get annihilated

because I had played Jimmy Barclay.



And that omnipotent motherfucker was just fine with that.




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17 responses to “The Holy Ghost”

  1. Susanna H Avatar
    Susanna H

    Daaammmmnnn Dave. DAMN. (This is not a defense of Focus, but I’m not giving the psychiatrist a pass here. He should have known that mentally ill patients can often report parts of their lives that are true in so much as they can explain them, but may not make sense to someone else without additional context. He should have known to communicate with a parent about your “delusions.” He should have not jumped to conclusions but given more space and time to ask questions you COULD answer: “Who produces this show?” “Do you have ANY evidence of your participation?” (Because you did! Audio tapes. You weren’t credited on them, but following that trail might have gotten you both somewhere more productive). Etc.

    I am so sorry that happened to you. “Where is God in moments like this?” Is my BIGGEST faith question, no lie. I still have to think He is there somewhere, because thinking He isn’t and we’re all just scratching out an existence by ourselves is worse for me. But I haven’t lived through what you describe, so that’s easy for me to say.
    I am so glad you are still writing! I think your dramatic moment does land, though if I’m honest, I might not have caught on as quickly without the cue from the asterisk.

    One more thing: I know you don’t remember the content of the episodes “A prayer for George Barclay” and “Making the Grade,” but I owned them on tape as a kid. I can quote them. And those are exactly the kind of episodes I referenced in my earlier comment when I said that older Jimmy is jaded and cynical and checked out in a way you CAN HEAR IN HIS (your!) VOICE. You are still great. Those episodes are great. But if you were basically recording on muscle memory and talent… that makes sense. Jimmy sounds like he is world weary in a way that MAKES SENSE.
    All the love to you. Keep up the fight.

    1. dave Avatar

      Spoilers! You CAN hear it in my voice, right? Jimmy is not feeling very well here. Can barely emote. I’ll get more into that in the next posts, but you caught it and, yes, it IS real.

      As to the Psych messing up, there were more factors present that I’ll get into shortly, but the way system is set up, he basically makes a rather astute call.

      And in these settings, this hospital experience was a short 72 hours. The Psych never even meets with the parents. He’s there for an emergency diagnosis. Maybe it’s the weekend. Maybe he’s the on call and is just supposed to give an emergency correction of course diagnosis.

      There’s also a part of this where these docs are like… temporary placeholder diagnosticians. Their goal is to somewhat stabilize you enough to kick you back into society without getting sued. And then your primary psychiatrist is the one that’s supposed to really find out what’s wrong with you. THis work is the triage ICU of mental illness. It’s fast, there’s lots of patients cycling in and out at odd hours.

      And this was 30 years ago. The ability to understand how symptoms present is far, faaaaaaar better now.

      Then… you’d be misdiagnosed as a standard expectation. It was part of ruling out what you had by process of elimination. Oh that drug made you kill yourself? Must be a bad diagnosis. Not that the drug is bad.

      It was a very confusing time in the field.

      And I was a surly teen who can barely talk. I was half the problem as well in my inability to communicate and my anxiety suddenly spiking.

  2. chanagon Avatar
    chanagon

    Oh nooooooooo.

    I think you wanted feedback on the writing, so: this is masterful. If it weren’t true, it would be a brilliant “comedy” of errors.

    (Side note: my dad has worked in a bunch of psychiatric institutions, and he has a story, the details of which I am most likely mixing up a bit, from many years ago where a patient would always talk about how rich he was, all his possessions, etc., and for some reason everyone assumed these were typical delusional claims…until he was picked up by private helicopter on his release date. I’m not sure how the staff could not have known this, but like you say, times were different then and not all information was shared or immediately searchable.)

    Anyway: I never saw this coming and my head is exploding. I said “comedy” above because for some reason my brain finds mix-up scenarios funnier than just about anything else, but when I put myself in your place and remember the real context, it is completely terrifying.

    And the rest of the post (save for Hal Smith, what a delight) is a chilling reminder of how much evangelical culture is not about love, but image and control. No wonder Jesus hung out with prostitutes instead of pharisees.

    1. chanagon Avatar
      chanagon

      (also, Study 329 itself is jawdropping)

      1. dave Avatar

        Riiiight? That’s some scary stuff right there. And I was caught in the middle of it all and wouldn’t know for YEARS what was happening.

    2. dave Avatar

      Oh it IS funny AF to God, too! I have to assume that somewhere the God of The Universe is getting high and laughing at his blacklight poster of Jimmy in the red hat.

      I want to walk that fine line of funny and tense and horror. Because it’s ALL of those things.

      My story is a helluva comedy of errors. Every person is doing everything from a place of good intentions and it’s killing this poor kid. The Idiocracy of it all. Like this is a comedy AND a horror story for sure.

      Laughing at it… if I’m not laughing I’m sobbing hard. And that’s the constant dichotomy of being a mental health patient in the world of evangelicals and USA. Like… no one cares about you. You are dying. Your life gets measurably worse every day AND you will blamed for it all.

      If you weren’t already crazy… it would drive you crazy. And we wonder why mental health patients laugh at the walls.

  3. Devon Avatar
    Devon

    What an absolutely gutting drop. Like I felt nauseated in that moment. There are few things in stories that irk be on such a primal level as people being disbelieved on something true that /should/ be provable, or mass amnesia plots handled poorly. I certainly understand the incredibly weight of the value of time for doctors in seeing individual patients, and how terribly rushed everything is forced to be by an understaffed world, but I really do have to fault a doctor for writing this off a schizoaffective without, you know, inquiring with your parents or anyone else who could corroborate or deny your claims. Especially when living so close to Burbank and LA; you’d think that actors coming through wouldn’t be uncommon.

    You certainly gave the stomach-sinking feeling you wanted, though. I felt like I was clawing at the screen as the doctor kept on with those questions.

    1. dave Avatar

      Nausea is what I’m going for! Achievement unlocked!!

      There was more to the diagnosis… I’ll touch on it in the next post.

      And even though we lived close to LA/Burbank… we lived just far enough away that we weren’t really in the LA culture Hollywood game. And my parents were not that type at all… so even though it was 40 miles away… may as well have been on the moon because psychologically my family was 4,000 miles away from it all.

      And this is what drove much of the tensions between my family and I. To me, the industry is right there and all these people are waiting for me to get into it. And for my folks who grew up in Tennessee and Michigan and North Carolina… even though we live near the industry these are not Industry people and don’t think like it.

      Doubly so for mental health hospital staffers and doctors.

  4. Jonathan W Avatar
    Jonathan W

    So glad to see you see back with new entries!

    If the visceral feeling of the * moment you were going for was engulfing dread, you nailed it. The nightmarish absurdity and helplessness of the situation evoke feelings of sleep paralysis, or sinking slowly into a body of water.

    It seems so strange to me how you were both so close to the show but yet so removed from it as the same time. As a fan, I knew down to the day and hour when I could hear AIO on the radio. I even knew when it would air on the AM stations versus FM. This may have been largely oweing to the fact that we didn’t actually buy the tapes but would record the shows onto blank cassettes as they aired for my own personal audio library (which meant I had a copy of episodes like Pamela has a Problem long before they were finally released in the Lost Episodes collection).

    But on the other hand, while I may have known the Focus’ postal codes by heart, I had no idea what were the names of the actors, such as yourself, who played the characters (and wouldn’t until the Complete Guide came before the show’s first hiatus).

    I’m curious how your realization about how horribly Focus treated you came about, considering you were invited to reprise Jimmy’s character in 2004 and 2008 and make an appearance on the Official AIO Podcast in 2013.

    Looking forward to the rest of this story’s unfolding. Who knew that behind the scenes of Adventures of Odyssey was a stranger than fiction horror story.

    1. dave Avatar

      Thank you for the confirmation! Yes that’s precisely what I’m hoping the readers will feel and thank you, thank you, thank you for confirming that it worked for you! Yesssssss.

      You bring up good points. So they did give me a sheet once that had the local radio stations, but I could never find the right time and station. And our family wasn’t a radio family. The only way the radio was ever on was in the car maybe. So to find the station I’d have to go out to the car with my sheet of paper and scan the dials… it was a headache.

      And I had the tapes sent to me, so I never really was that interested in the rest of the series. I’ve got my episodes and as far as I’m concerned Adventures in Odyssey is really Adventures of Jimmy. So I tried to find it, but my efforts once foiled were largely forgotten.

      To the final point… oof… now you’re onto something that is really hard for me to talk about publicly.

      Sometimes… we still want the love of those that don’t love us when we’re raised in abusive situations. And with mental health patients… you keep trying to claw back the life that is eroding away from you. This is even more likely when you are an actor and have a part created just for you… I don’t have that anywhere else in my life!

      This is the ONLY source where I can go to get the dopamine hit to do the art form I’m a genius at. And once it starts falling away… a panic sets in. A desperation. PLEASE LET ME HAVE IT AGAIN.

      I really wish I didn’t have to out myself as this desperate… one of the reasons I don’t talk about this stuff ever. It feels pathetic and weak to talk about how desperately I wanted it back when it was hurting me.

      Syd Barrett is an apt metaphor for me and we’ll get into that. But when he arrives at the Wish You Were Here sessions… THAT is Dave Griffin desperately wanting to get back the part of his life that has been yanked away.

      It really won’t be until after 2016 and Trump that the final nails arrive and my view of it all is permanently changed. But the real moment of eye opening occurs for me at the 20th reunion that I crashed.

      So… consider… we’re 6 years in here? It’ll be another 14 years before certain things become clear to me.

      And as a mental health patient the abuse I’m experiencing is often twisted back onto the patient so you assume that the reason you’re experiencing all this negativity IS YOUR FAULT. An idea an evangelical system reinforces 1000% you sinner, you.

      And that is the story I’m here to tell. That entire head change of it all. It’s why we got volumes of info coming if I live long enough to write it all lol.

  5. Amy Avatar
    Amy

    Dave, you are, among other wonderful things, an amazing storyteller. This story is heartrending, and the fact that it is your story is positively devastating. My worst nightmares are the ones where I try to run, but I’m caught unable to move; I try to scream, but I have no voice. The sense of helplessness you felt, the betrayal you experienced comes through clearly, yet dramatically. Excellent writing of this horrible story. My favorite: “THIS. IS. NOT. A. MEMOIR. THIS. IS. ART. AS. A. WEAPON.” Your art is as beautiful as your subject is grotesque. I am, again, so glad you are still here, telling this tale, calling to account those who did so much to destroy the powerless in the name of Jesus. ♥

    1. dave Avatar

      Thank you soooooooooo much for your kind words of affirmation and encouragement. I will re-read this comment for the rest of my life.

      It’s so empowering to finally get to interact with an audience and actually get to hear from them!! For 35 years I never got any feedback. And so, to me notes and responses like yours are the applause I never got to hear all those years ago.

      And I want to say thank you from the bottom of my soul. To see someone write out the words “your art is beautiful” when for so long I’ve been stymied and unable to raise funding and you wander the earth banging your head into obstacle after obstacle and wonder “am I even any good at this? Why do I feel compelled to keep going when every door shuts?” (volume 4-5 stuff)

      It’s been a brutal part of the destruction of my psyche for all my life. To have any kind of positive validation seems… it’s actually kinda hard for me to process the compliments. I don’t have much practice lol.

      Very unused to compliments. Which is funny… and sad.

      Thank you so much!

  6. Jay Davis Avatar

    The opening was really relatable for me. I fell away from the church I attended for many of my teen and young adult years. Coming out as gay kind of sealed the deal I wasn’t going back. (Going for mom’s memorial service felt very awkward. Don’t get me wrong, they’re nice people, but there’s an air of “you’re not one of us anymore.”)

    But as much as I began to see that they didn’t really care or reach out, your story is chilling in that your life was in the balance. Over and over. And it’s absolutely insane that your Odyssey job made a part of the treatment worse.

    Dave, I’m definitely taking in your story, but let me say I’m glad you’re still here to tell it, even though I get the world we inhabit is absolutely insane. And I applaud you for not shying away from calling out the cultures that really haven’t helped and in many cases, made things worse.

    1. dave Avatar

      Are they nice people, though? They smile a lot and don’t swear… and have good manners… but are they really nice?

      If you’re mentally ill? If you’re queer? If you’re different? Are ya treated with love by these nice people?

      That’s the rabbit hole we’re about to go down.

      Thank you for your words of affirmation and support. Appreciate you.

  7. Rose Avatar
    Rose

    In 2008, I got your autograph in my copy of “The Complete Guide to Odyssey.” It’s sad but also incredibly fascinating to hear your perspective of the behind-the-scenes throughout your time working on the show.

    Regarding mental health, I don’t believe Christians are the only people that are a problem (I’m not saying they /aren’t/ a problem, they’re just not the /only/ problem). From my experience, it doesn’t matter what a person believes; they get tired of you being “depressed” or having “anxiety.” So I feel like I have to keep it to myself. It’s incredibly isolating, and I feel ashamed and embarrassed that I struggle with this. I rarely open up about my true feelings and fight with anxiety and depression because 95% of the time, I’m sluffed off, looked at funny, or made to feel like a burden or incapable.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and writing it so captivatingly.

    1. dave Avatar

      Christians are definitely not the only group that are a problem… as my story goes on I learn that the one group that all groups shit on is mental health. Every demographic is awful to mental health. Every. Single. Demographic.

      The reason why christians are so much worse is because they project themselves as loving the weak and suffering. And they absolutely won’t lift a finger for you if you struggle with mental illness.

      I think part of it is that they have to reject concepts of mental illness because their system inherently makes people that way. The whole system is narcissistic and obsessive compulsive. And I think there are a lot of undiagnosed people in that system that use the system as their therapy/crutch as a way to dodge responsibility for the harm they do.

      And this is true of all religions. Not just christians. But my experience is with that crowd. I’m sure if I had been born in Saudi Arabia and appeared on the muslim version of AIO I’d be critiquing them just as hard now.

      But you’re correct… it’s not just them. It’s everybody.

      I hope I was nice to you when I signed your book 🙂

  8. Other Dave Avatar
    Other Dave

    This is one of the more dramatic moments I can think of in all this so far, besides you just plopping the number “5150” in front of us.

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