Man walking in the city

This was the daily routine. Walking East to West, North to South in Manhattan.

I had been taking online classes the year prior and was able to complete my senior level courses with straight As. I even made it to the President’s list and brought my GPA up to 2.9. However, due to the issues with the Dean, my psychiatrist bailing out on me, and not having a car took a toll on me and by April I relapsed after 4 years of not having to go to a psychiatric ward.

The year began when I took a vacation to Havana, Cuba. The year prior, then President Barack Obama, had eased travel restrictions to Cuba. I had a strong feeling that I should take the opportunity while it lasted and made sure I go to Cuba before policies changed and restrictions were and if they would be put back in when Donald Trump took office.

I arrived in Cuba with 25 Canadian Dollars, I was told that my ATM card would work in Cuba by Citibank. I hailed a cab and asked the cab driver, William, if he could take me to a money exchange that would convert Cuban Dollars to Cuban Pesos. The Spanish lessons I had learned kicked in full force and it seemed like I was very fluent in Spanish. William brought me to a Dutch English professor who I recall saying “You’re a poor American in Cuba,” jokingly of course. We promised that until I would be able to arrange for funds I would get a bed to sleep in, food on the table, and my driver would take me around Havana. Of course because of the New Year’s holiday in Cuba the banks were closed until Tuesday, I had arrived on Sunday, New Year’s day at around 8 AM. The 25 Cuban Dollars lasted me until the next day when I spent my last 5 dollars buying two newspapers that I didn’t understand fully. I was going from ATM to ATM from one 5-Star hotel to another to see if my card would work. The next day came and I went to a Dutch bank where I was told American banks don’t work in Cuba because of the embargo. I booked a flight back to the states just so I could withdraw funds and come back. The next day there was the airport shooting at Fort Lauderdale International Airport which had breaking news coverage all across America. So the flight back to Havana was cancelled. Surprisingly enough, the flights weren’t cancelled until the second shooting had occurred (which never made it to mainstream news outlets, more on that later). The next day I was able to make it back to Cuba.

This post isn’t about my trip to Cuba or how much I enjoyed it nor how traumatized I was at Fort Lauderdale, it’s really a lengthy recap of my entire year. The trip to Cuba and the Fort Lauderdale incident I’ll save for another time.

After spending pleasant week in Havana I came back to my life- full of family issues. My brothers weren’t talking to me because I make poor judgment when it comes to vacation planning, the gun shooting at Fort Lauderdale didn’t help either. This went on for several days until my mother eased the tension between my brothers and myself. However, it was extra stress that was unnecessary given the fact that I had experienced a eyewitness gun shooting at the airport. Additionally, I had called to speak to my therapist at Farmingdale State College letting them know about what was going on to which I was told my case had been closed.

I had mentioned earlier in this post and my previous post about my issues with the Dean of Students; Dean Johnson. I had registered for 12 credits and was planning to take one additional required class to which I found out my account had been put on hold by Dean Johnson. If I had been able to register for that one class I would have graduated that Summer of last year, 2017. I made countless visits to her office, left voicemails, sent emails, nothing happened and the registration window was closed. It’s now Spring 2018 semester and I am taking a break from school so that I can sort things out in my life. I plan to return part time and take online classes as I’ve found that sometimes being on campus triggers my symptoms, additionally I had thought I would do well in the classroom environment I realized I have a problem sitting for an hour and fifteen minutes listening to a lecture before daydreaming into the abyss or walking out several times to smoke a cigarette. Aside from that, I was truly demotivated with the way Dean Johnson and Campus Mental Health Services was treating me. Suffolk County’s public transportation system was no help either.

I relapsed and ended in a psychiatric ward April, 2017. I don’t want to talk about how or what happened as I have mentioned that before and in my book, Trans Mongolian, I go more in depth of the auditory hallucinations I was having prior to being admitted and what went on in the psychiatric unit. All I can say is I dreaded every minute in the Psych Ward at South Oaks Hospital because I was making forward progress.

Rewinding back to President Donald Trump being sworn in on January 20th, 2017. I became a self-proclaimed photojournalist walking the streets of 5th Avenue, where Trump Tower is in New York City, taking photographs of what was going on. Surprisingly enough there wasn’t much at 3 AM. There had been some protests earlier in the night but nothing so big that I could report. I was revisiting Trump Tower from past November, 2016 when Donald Trump had won the election. I had taken photographs at that time as well which can be found on my photography blog

I ended up helping a drunk Brazilian guy, along with two Turkish tourists who joined in with me to lend a hand. The Brazilian guy was buying all these sandwiches for all the homeless people on 42nd Street at Times Square. We brought him outside, I treated him to a Bagel with Cream Cheese and some coffee to which he really liked much more than the McDonald’s he was having. The Turkish guys parted ways earlier. I asked him what it was he was trying to accomplish tonight. We talked as I walked him back to his hotel. I explained the situation to the Hotel Concierge and asked if I could stick around for a bit so that I can charge up my phone and camera. His hospitality went even farther as he told me that they would be opening up for breakfast shortly and I was welcome to stay for that as well.

After a full breakfast and my morning Adderall of 45 mg I was ready to protest and get some photojournalism done. The Women’s March was scheduled to take place early in the day and I was going to take part wholeheartedly. This is what I had come for. This is what I dedicated myself for the remainder of the year.

The first executive order, was the Muslim Travel Ban. Being Muslim and a self-proclaimed civil rights activist (did I forget about the photojournalism I’ve been doing?). I was so passionate about what I was doing I even made it on the evening news! Here’s a clip…

To be honest, I feel like I got caught up in this alternate universe I had created for my self-pleasure. When I look back on it now it was an escape from reality. I was living in my own little world. My previous dream of being a member of the press. I neglected my responsibility to my children and my wife; really because I felt neglected and was really depressed. I may have been productive and gaining fame but ultimately it was hurting my marriage.

My wife Mariam started working at a medical office soon after Musaab was born. I didn’t feel she needed to work nor was I against it. However, she had to get up early and my nights were spent taking the LIRR to the city or spending nights at home all by myself watching movie after movie on the Roku device that was able to plug-in my earphones and spent the night quietly in solitude. When 7 PM hit on the dot I knew my wife was going to be giving my son Ali his meds. When I would ask her if she could spend some time watching TV or go out on a midweek date 9 times out of 10 the answer would be I have to get up at 6 to Ali ready for school and have work all day. On those lucky nights where I would want to spend talking to my wife she would be snoring shortly after on my shoulder. This went on for months… To a point where my wife would get up in the morning and get upset that I keep repeating this behavior. Sometimes she would be calm about it but most of the time she put me through a guilt trip. Who was right and who was wrong I really don’t know. It was just that we accepted our different paths.

Our 7th Anniversary was coming up on June 24th, 2017. We both had a serious talk earlier about how our relationship is being affected and that we need to rekindle our relationship. That weekend started off in the right direction. Friday afternoon my wife came home early from work and we went to the beach. We walked over to Kismet on Fire Island from Field 5, holding hands along the way, talking and exploring, taking a ferry to Cherry Grove. I had Googled restaurants by the ocean front and one of them was The Sandcastle in Cherry Grove. Turned out we were the only straight couple at Cherry Grove and it was PRIDE week. We enjoyed it nonetheless. On our way back we would have had to walk back in the dark from Kismet to Field 5 which would have been a 45 minute walk. There were some regulars that joined us along the way on one of the stops the ferry made, and they asked the crew to drop us off by the lighthouse so that the walk is a bit lighter. It was a lovely evening we had spent.

Two days after, it was my turn, we were still celebrating our Anniversary weekend and I had won a private flight earlier in the year at a fundraiser during one of my visits to the city. We went to NYC and back, just the two of us (and of course the pilot), my wife was in shock during the entire hour long flight, circling around Statue of Liberty, flying by the new World Trade Center before heading back. She was so petrified that she forgot to hit the record button while she held the camera towards me for a good five minutes. I enjoyed it as I have a love-affair with airplane travel.

All of it quickly faded away and we were back on our own. I had gotten a job with Gap Inc. as a Brand Ambassador for Banana Republic. That settled me down for a little bit over the summer but it didn’t last long until I was recruited by a promotions company in September, 2017 representing designer fashion labels such as Ralph Lauren, David Bitton, Ray Ban and Express, to name a few of their clients. They had provided me with a bit over $5000 worth of clothing and accessories to attend parties and take pictures with people who were influencers on social media. I got paid much more than I had expected. The job did require me to be in the city late into Friday, Saturday, and sometimes even Sunday mornings. I was invited to private parties, club parties, store events, and really got to learn what kind of industry it is to influence others.

Mariam found it extremely sketchy that they had bought me all these clothes and didn’t understand how that form of marketing worked. She trusted me but didn’t trust others. Three weeks in I brought two of my coworkers over to my house as they had to drive back to Boston and really just wanted to wind down for a little bit, it was early in the morning and my wife was at work when she took a break to come home and see what I was up to. One of the guys was knocked out on my couch as he was the one that had to be driving to Boston. We were working but we were also exhausted from the weekend. Myself not as much as I wasn’t drinking. When Mariam came home she confronted both of my coworkers as to who they were and what were they doing all night. She even asked one of them if I was drinking. To which I felt insulted as she should have asked me instead of asking random strangers to which they didn’t even know the answer to. They couldn’t understand what the big deal was and she ended up calling 911. At that point I felt some aggressive behavior that was coming onto one of the guys, he explained to my wife that what she was doing was kidnapping and that she couldn’t hold them against their will. I slowly put my arm around my wife, asked her to calm down, and slowly walked with her away from our door. At the given opportunity my coworkers opened the door and left.

The cops arrived soon after.

Two cops barged in from the other entrance to our apartment asking for who called the cops. I told them it was my wife. She was outside fighting with my sister. The rookie cop came over and took my statement, I told him what happened, he didn’t make much of it and left. The senior officer, Officer Santiago, remained for a bit longer. Talked to my wife outside, came inside to tell me not to have company over that my wife doesn’t want. He continued talking to Mariam outside. I didn’t take it for much of a case until my mother-in-law started yelling from the her bedroom. I thought she was talking to my wife so I went outside to ask what was going on and why her mother was yelling for her. Officer Santiago suggested that I go to my mother’s house until things cooled down. I refused. I wasn’t a child or irresponsible that I should go stay with my mother and get a police escort to her house. Things were being blown out of proportion. He kept reiterating that I should go somewhere else for now. I told him fine, drop me off at the nearest diner but before I did that I needed my phone charger.

I went inside to find my mother-in-law yelling hysterically that she couldn’t find her phone and that her phone was missing. I grabbed my chargers and walked right back out and my mother-in-law followed me out yelling and screaming about how crazy I am, and how do this and that, I spend nights in Manhattan drinking, and that I am some kind of drug addict that has ruined my wife’s life. Officer Santiago asked Mariam what she was saying and she summarized by telling him she can’t find her phone and that I was hiding it. I was struck in awe. He asked me to show any phones I have in my pocket, confirmed none of them were her mother’s. He calmly asked me to get in his car and I complied.

When I got in the car my wife was trying to get some kind of message across. I think she knew that the accusation my mother-in-law made made her more of suspect. On top of that before getting in the car my landlord’s son tried to intervene and say something about how the cop doesn’t know what he’s doing and that I probably stole her phone to which I snapped and told him to go inside and smoke and sell weed. He ran right off and Officer Santiago explained he was just trying to help we already know everything about him.

Officer Santiago asked my wife to stand aside as she was trying to open the door to talk to him. He calmly asked me what was going on. I told him I have a condition. That I have a mental illness, schizophrenia to be exact, and it would be better for me to get checked out at the hospital as this incident is very stressful, really unnecessary, and making me anxious.

To which Officer Santiago replied, “Now that you said that I can help you.” It was an interesting 45 minute drive from my house to Stonybrook University Medical Center. Officer Santiago stopped on the way to pick up his partner, who had grabbed lunch for both of them, on the way we talked, joked, I kept asking if I could take a smoke break or if I could smoke in the car. It was fun while it lasted. When we got there the nurse checked me out, there was this other black kid about 10 years old who was there as well, this wasn’t your regular ER, this was the Psychiatric Emergency Room, and little did I know that I was in for the long haul. I had a feeling that this would take longer than expected, I even asked one last time if I could have a cigarette while we walked into the Emergency Room. I thanked Officer Santiago for his patience with myself and my wife and being kind enough to resolve the matter without taking me to mother’s house or worse, to jail for stealing a phone or some phony domestic abuse case he was either joking or serious about (I really should get the police report, this is back from October since the incident happened and it’s now March, 2018.) He kept telling me I’ll be fine, that I’ll be out in no time.

He left by saying that this was a very interesting experience for him and that I was a true character. He even thanked me! As soon as he left that feeling crept in, I wasn’t going to be out as soon as I thought, I didn’t have a psychiatric breakdown, or psychosis, or even a panic attack, I just wanted to get checked out. It was already towards late afternoon when the nurse asked me to get into my prisoner attire. The first day I was in denial, I was talking to the other people that I’m only here to get checked out, I have schizophrenia but I’m not hallucinating. I’ve been taking my medications on time, working, and going to school at the same time. I was anxious because I missed two mid-terms that day and in one of the classes I was already doing poorly. I was expecting to be discharged when The Doc came in. He said they have to monitor me for a day or two. I asked him for a day or two days? I told him I am not having symptoms and because of my condition people are taking advantage of it. He could care less.

The first day ended with some hope.

The second day ended with some hope. At this point in the evening I had just ended a conversation with someone over the phone and went to sit against the wall and started crying hysterically. One of the patients, Rose, came to me and said “it’s gonna be okay Adam and I’m sorry”. I wasn’t crying just because I was there, that was part of it. Being held against my will when I had voluntarily checked in. I was crying because everyday I kept telling my wife about how depressed I was and how I needed help. I kept telling her how lonely I felt even though I had so many people to talk to all day or all night. She just didn’t do anything about it. I still don’t have an answer as to why? Did she not care? Did she not know what to do? Was she just tired and didn’t want to deal with me? It’s been six months I still don’t understand that entire altercation.

The third day there was hope. They would discharge me the next day. Yes I was happy. But I was also panicking as to what was to come next. I had already dropped classes the previous semester because of a true psychiatric breakdown, this time I didn’t know where to start, this was my second relapse within 1 year regardless if it was a relapse or not. Stonybrook’s experience was one the worse for me. The doctors acted like they were heartless. The male nurse that was supposed to be taking care of me first few days seemed more like a prison guard, completely emotionless, no sympathy, no response, just another canned answer.