I’m so tired… I’ve barely slept in the last two days, and when I do I tend to wake up all the time from some bizarre dream that I can never quite remember.
Dr. M (not divulging his full name for obvious reasons) was nice enough to give me a call back earlier today. I should have written this sooner as my memory is far from fresh and the lack of sleep certainly isn’t helping, but we had an interesting conversation nonetheless.
He said that Matt was one of the worst cases of PTSD he had seen in recent history, especially due to the turnaround time from what he called “the trigger event” to the state that Matt was in. Dr. M wasn’t the physician in charge of Matt, but he had worked with him on a few occasions, including upon his arrival to the hospital. Below is my attempt to retrieve our conversation from my memory:
Dr. M: “He looked awful. I mean, it just looked as if the boy hadn’t slept in a week. His medical examination showed that he had no physical reason that would prevent him from speaking, so we attempted to get him to communicate for some time. One of the orderlies mentioned that a blank journal was included in his belongings, so I decided to try to use it as a bit of a conversation starter. I asked him questions like ‘is this yours?,’ ‘what do these marks mean?,’ and the like, but he didn’t respond. All he did was gently raise his hand and hold it out to take the book. He very gently opened it and made a writing motion, so I gave him one of my pencils.”
LR: “And at this point, the book was blank?”
Dr. M: “Yes, barring the silver markings on the spine. The cover had some wear on it, as if it had been hit by a blade at a few points but not really cut through, but it was as new as you could expect any book like that out of Iraq to be.”
LR: “I see, sorry to interrupt.”
Dr. M: “Not at all. He began to draw what looked like an egg. It ended up being the head of the figure or whatever he was drawing, but he spent what seemed like an hour carefully drawing the head and hat of that thing. He paused for a moment and then started furiously scribbling all over the page. He at first seemed to be doing it almost artfully. He would occasionally stop and use his fingers to smudge the lines a bit, and then continue. Whenever any line or smudge intruded on that egg that looked like a head, he would immediately stop and erase the fraction within it before continuing along his way. The intensity with which he scribbled slowly increased until he seemed just incredibly panicked and started tearing through the page with strokes of the pencil. At that point I grabbed the book and tried to tell him to calm down, but when he just continued I pulled the book out of his hand and he just froze, staring at me like I had broken some trance.”
LR: “And you decided to continue using the book even after that?”
Dr. M: “That was Dr. W—-‘s decision. I believe he came back to it since Matt simply shut himself off as far as communication went, and that was the closest we could get to a response out of him.”
I asked him how to get ahold of Dr. W, but now I’m not so sure I want to know more. The more I dig into this, even after just a few days, the more uncertain I am that it’s a good idea. I can barely believe that Matt is gone, and here I am looking into essentially what led him to kill himself. What’s really sticking in my mind is that Dr. M once made a reference to the “rather… unique way in which he passed on.” I don’t want to know what that even means, but my mind is whirling with possibilities.