From the February 2001 magazine.

From Handcuffs to Hope

I was a low-bottom drunk, having hit as low a bottom as any drunk can hit and live to tell about it.

I was a patient in the state mental hospital, having been committed to that desolate place by my mother. She had been called by the police to come and get me. I had been fished out of Lake Erie by the Coast Guard after my latest suicide attempt, put in handcuffs because my behavior swung from sweet and docile one minute, waving and smiling at the crowds gathered for the regatta, to being violent and uncontrollable in an instant. On land, I was handcuffed to a metal table. I was completely crazed from alcohol. When my mother tried to get me to go with her, I started screaming obscenities at her, as I did at everyone who came near me. I did not recognize my own mother. She was led away sobbing by the police and I was put in a drunk tank. The next day, there was a court proceeding, which is still foggy in my mind because for the most part I was in a complete blackout. People seemed to float around the room like ghosts; someone in a black robe sat at the front of the room, and a woman sat there weeping. I remember a long ride in the back of a police car with two other shackled prisoners.

-- Pauline B.

Royal Palm Beach, Florida

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