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to destroy his mental stability. Jason tried drinking more alcohol than usual in the hopes that somehow a drunken stupor would quell the savage beasts within him. However, to Jason’s dismay this caused the energies of fear and self-loathing to burn like a wildfire, threatening to destroy everything in its path. In fact, if Jason drank past a certain point, his darkest thoughts would appear as a horrible apparition of suicide, offering its devastating solution.
He was spiraling downward and he was desperately in need of help. He made contact with the VA Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Jason was anxious to rid himself of the dark and malicious enemy that still gripped his heart and mind so tightly. In moments of weakness, he wondered if he was actually haunted by a hideous minion from hell that had possessed him in the battlefields of Viet Nam. “No, that could not be true.” he told himself, but doubt was his constant companion. At times he felt that his mind might be breaking down, and if that happened he would finally and completely succumb to the evil wraith lurking inside him. He remembered the moment when he almost fell apart as Luke lay slain on the battlefield. Now that he was home, would he finally breakdown into mental chaos and never return to sanity?
Jason was greatly concerned that the evil influence of the dark specter was becoming an omnipresent force in his current life, as it had been in Viet Nam. He vividly remembered how it seemed like the menacing grip of the hellish hand had encompassed the entire landscape of the war, bringing down an entire country in its reign of terror and utter depravity. At times, he was having a difficult time distinguishing between the reality of understanding these feelings as symptoms of his severe emotional anguish, and on the other hand, believing in the reality of having a dark and gruesome influence from one of the minions of hell living inside his chest. His ability to distinguish between basic reality and displaced delusion had become tenuous. Was suicide the only solution to eradicating the evil monster that seemed to be living inside him?
Jason had decided to seek professional help. He drove to San Antonio to keep his initial appointment with the VA psychiatrist, Dr. Franz. During the session Jason was revealing of his symptoms, especially his trouble with nightmares and poor sleep. However, he was not as open regarding the use of alcohol as a failed attempt at self-medication. Nor was he immediately revealing of his fragile hold on reality and the belief that there may be an actual demon living inside his heart. After all, he did not want the psychiatrist to think he was crazy! Jason was, however, basically honest in answering the questions posed by Dr. Franz. And to a very important question, he responded, “Yes, I have occasionally had thoughts of suicide.”
Sensing the anguish and despair in Jason’s voice, Dr. Franz became especially concerned about Jason’s suicidal ruminations. His next question to Jason was like an arrow sent singing through the air, unerringly aimed at the center of the intended target. Dr. Franz simply asked Jason why he had not yet committed suicide. “What prevents you from taking your own life?” Dr. Franz inquired. Jason responded quite honestly that his love for Levi, his 2 year old son, was the reason he would never commit suicide. His desire to continue living with Levi, and everything that meant was the antidote to any suicidal impulses. Essentially, suicide would mean separation from Levi, and this was the most unbearable and impossible idea for Jason. His love for Levi and his interest in Levi’s well-being would surmount all obstacles. Jason needed to be Levi’s father, for Levi’s sake. He loved Levi dearly.
Dr. Franz was pleased at Jason’s resolve to go on living because of his loving attachment to his son, because it showed that Jason’s core drive was towards life and not death. Dr. Franz prescribed an antidepressant to Jason and asked him to return for a follow-up appointment in one week. Thus, a therapeutic relationship, based on trust and openness was beginning to take shape. Both doctor and patient felt hopeful that the inherent forces of basic goodness would prevail over the darkness that had threatened to snuff out the candle of Jason’s light. It was time for that candle to shine with a steady flame, instead of flickering weakly, as if on the verge of being extinguished.
Within Jason an epic battle was being fought. The great battle was enacted as the beatific forces of light and love, were pitted against the malevolent forces of deceit and dark hate. This battle was enacted on the killing fields of Viet Nam, and within Jason as an individual. Jason fought for his survival during the war on every battlefield, holding onto the hope that he would prevail and return to the loving arms of his wife and child. What he had not expected was that after he returned home, there would be an equally difficult battle for survival, in which his heart and mind became the theater of war. The most difficult part for Jason was distinguishing what was real in his life, as opposed to an unreal sense that the darkness of the killing fields was about to engulf his inner being, in the same way it had overwhelmed him during the war. Jason struggled, knowing the emotional pain and mental agony was real, and he told himself the monstrous specter of darkness was not real, or was it? He was still plagued with doubt.
He was like a patient with a high fever. When a patient has a fever he knows he is ill and in need of help from a doctor. If the fever becomes intense, a point is breached were the patient becomes delirious and has difficulty distinguishing between reality and delusion, but he may still be aware that he is very ill and in dire need of medicinal treatment. If the fever becomes even higher, it may further erode the patency of the patient’s mind, whereby he is robbed of the insight that he is ill and needing help. A fever can drop a healthy man to his knees and if it progresses unchecked the outcome can be devastating, to the point of threatening total ruin of one’s grip on reality. At its worst, a high fever causes a strong man to succumb to delirium and death. Such was Jason’s plight.
Dr. Franz understood that Jason was in a precarious situation, like a patient with a high fever needing immediate intervention. Therapy and antidepressants take time, but Jason was in a perilous condition and above all else there was no room for him to get worse. Knowing this, Dr. Franz warned Jason against using alcohol, as it would make his symptoms worse. Jason had sensed this already, but hearing the doctor’s prohibition against drinking, fortified him with the resolve he needed to actually put down the bottle. Jason had begun to experience the marvel of therapy, which can be like a soothing poultice, healing the wounds of weariness and war. In between therapy appointments, he would imagine hearing Dr. Franz’s comforting voice telling him to remain calm, and reminding him that alcohol would only make matters worse. He also reminisced on Dr. Franz’s approving smile. Somehow, the healing process of therapy was beginning to work.
Jason felt relieved that recovery was a possibility. He was able to trust Dr. Franz and was hopeful that the doctor could somehow save him from the cruel darkness that threatened to destroy him. Instead of thinking about drinking, Jason thought about Dr. Franz and the things he had said. He always looked forward to the respite of the next appointment with Dr. Franz. Receiving Dr. Franz approval was of utmost importance. Jason felt he would do almost anything to gain his approving glance. Seeking his psychiatrist approval went hand in hand with Jason’s realization that visitations from the dark minion of fear were reduced by drinking less. The battle against the wrathful hand of hatred would not be won by consuming more alcohol. It would be won by drinking less and continuing in the process of therapy. He was beginning to feel a slowly improving sense of well-being and a decreased presence of the darkness in his chest. He no longer felt emotionally decimated. The wounds within his heart were beginning to heal.
For Jason, the healing process of therapy continued for a number of years. As time went by, he was more able to talk about the nightmarish events of the war. He had witnessed too much bloodshed and death. When Jason had returned from the killing fields he thought it inappropriate to speak of the massacres he had witnessed. However, slowly and within the containment of therapy with Dr. Franz, he was able to recount the murderous events of the killing fields. This served as a potent relief valve for Jason, a way of let
ting go of thoughts and memories that are really too dreadful to hold. As time and healing progressed, he was able to smile again and have periods of time when he was not obsessed with the notion that he was inhabited by a dark wraith from the portal of hell. His mind was feeling sound again, which was wondrous because it freed him to give love and attention to Charlene and Levi. In fact, it seemed like the entire family unit was getting better as a result of his successful work in therapy.
The Golden Fleece
During one therapy session, Dr. Franz asked Jason if he was familiar with the story of Jason and the Argonauts, from Greek mythology. Jason replied, “No.” He had never delved into the study of Greek mythology. Dr. Franz went on to briefly explain that in the ancient story, a hero named Jason had been on a long and arduous journey to find the Golden Fleece. If he was successful in his quest, he would return home with the Golden Fleece, offering it as a gift for the king. Dr. Franz asked Jason if this story might resonate with something inside him. Furthermore, Dr. Franz asked what the