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A Question of Mental Health

(The scene is the entryway of an ubiquitous mental health facility somewhere in Western Colorado. It is just after lunch and most of the patients are engaged in therapeutic siesta which could last well into medication hour and/or dinner.)

21st Century Man: Pardon me, but I’d like to inquire about admission.

Nurse Thorazine: Sorry, we’re full. Go away.

21st Century Man: But I’m nuts.

Nurse Thorazeen: Can you prove it?

21st Man: Well, I’m out of control most of the time. I just pulled in the reins to make it down here. I could go off at any moment.

Nurse: That’s what they all say.

21st Man: OK. You win. I’ll prove it. Watch this…

(The 21st Century Man proceeds to eat all of the #2 pencils carefully arranged on the admittance desk then begins banging his head on the reception counter…harder and harder with each repetition.)

Nurse: All right! All right…that’s just about enough of that shameful display. You’ll wake up the clients. Just because you eat a few pencils and bang your head on the desk doesn’t necessarily mean you’re crazy.

21st Man: Well then, tell me, what does then?

Nurse: A history of mental illness would be nice. Have you ever been under psychiatric care?

21st Man: Not that I can recall. Wait, I did talk to a school counselor once, about twenty-five years ago.

Nurse: Can you document it?

21st: I doubt whether anyone keeps records that far back.

Nurse: Hmmmm. I’d like to help you but rules are rules and it’s about time for this meeting to end. You must have the proper credentials or we can’t admit you. Do you have any idea how many people come in here everyday claiming to be nuts?

21st: But I am really nuts!

Nurse: Now there’s no reason to raise our voice. You think you are special?

21st: Didn’t you ever see Catch 22 where the hero cannot convince the battalion shrink that he’s crazy enough for a section 8 after uncountable bombing missions, just because he is sane enough to seek one?

Nurse: He probably failed to produce the required paperwork.

21st: Where would I get that…the proper paperwork.

Nurse: We have doctors here that can perform an initial diagnosis, but they are all quite busy right now. If you insist on pursuing this why not take a seat. You’ll find a wide array of medications in the ash trays because, of course, this is a non-smoking facility. Do you smoke?

21st: No

Nurse: Do you have insurance. 

21st: Yes, I pay over $750 per month but it doesn’t cover mental health.

Nurse: It’s up to you. I have to get back to work.

21st: Oh well, I guess I’ll wait for the initial diagnosis. I’ll be just as crazy in an hour as I am right now.