If you let someone take control of your destiny, it is the end – Téléphone (The human bomb)
While I was supposed to spend only a few days in Thuir, or a maximum of one week, according to the psychiatric nurse, the psychiatrist who made the expert assessment, concluded that I needed to be kept for an indeterminate period. I was freaked out because since I already had an 18 months hospitalization my legal rights for a sick leave were already taken; there were only eighteen months left, but I expected not to stay too long there because what could they possibly have against me? I wasn´t able to see the expert assessment during my whole stay at the hospital but I could see it once I was out, when I read it I felt that something wasn’t right so I went to see a lawyer, but all of this I found out later, much later. The only way to suspend the enforced hospitalization was to go see a judge of freedoms (a judge specialized in deciding if someone has to be set in custody during the investigation of his case). I’m not a jurist, but I asked myself why it was necessary to go see a judge to suspend the enforcement when there had not been any judgement that decided about my internment? I went to the court of law to appear before the first hearing as a common prisoner. Obviously, the president of the university wasn’t courageous enough to show himself to the subpoena, even if he was the one responsible for my internment, so it was Mrs. Chemarin, a direction’s secretary, who sat there.
They assigned me a public defender and the audience started. It was unreal; I was taken into justice and I did not even know what the reason was; When the judge asked the charging party to justify the motif of the application, Mrs. Chemarin who was disturbed and uncertain, she once again invoked the “principle of precaution”, she added that the university’s community was deeply disturbed by the crime committed by the Chinese student who suffered from psychiatric disorders, and by consequence due to my psychiatric backgrounds linked to my depression, the university was “worried” about me and acted for my best. I did not have any words to respond to that and my lawyer restricted himself to expose my service records to show there was anything to fear of me, once again, I’m not a lawyer, but I wanted to respond it was discrimination, because there is no link between a temporary depressive person and a psychopath who suffered from schizophrenia and takes action on it. So, if a colored man commits a crime, we will have the right to be scared by all the colored men? Perhaps it was asking too much to my public defender… I had the impression that the audience was a mockery everything seemed prepared in advance. The next events bore me out; I passed in front of the judges of freedoms at least four times and the president of the university never showed himself to the hearings. I discovered when I was out, that my lawyer, the one who defended me instead of the public defender, taught courses at the University of Perpignan and she was close to the people that did all they could to get rid of me using psychiatry as an excuse. The trap was almost perfect.
When Colette returned from India, she tried to contact me in vain, since she did not receive any news from me, she was at first worried but later she thought I was in some mission abroad, then she cursed me, saying that I had certainly left her to start a new affair with another woman;.A few weeks went by and she found out that I was interned in a psychiatric hospital, she did not do anything to get me out of there, she probably was the only person capable of doing something considering all the statements of love she made to me throughout our story. One day the psychiatric announced that a woman named Colette had called me, since I wasn’t in condition to talk he didn’t put me through with her but he did write down her message for me: “I found out about your internment which really makes me sad but I met somebody else. I’m sorry” I told myself that for somebody who affirmed that I was the man of her life, the one she waited for so long and the one for whom she would cross mountains, she was discouraged very quick, stop talking to me about love…
The most difficult part was that I had already been there before and I knew what it was like so my physical and psychological condition got worse very fast. I was forced to take medication five times a day, the worse I was, the more pills they gave me… and I was even worse. After a few months of forced medication, I lost my toenails, I lost some teeth trying to chew the sort of meat of the refectory, I started having auditory and visual hallucinations at night, making it impossible for me to sleep, every time I turned the lights off I saw fluorescent shapes on the walls and when I closed my eyes I could hear voices and music in my head, I was prisoner of my body so I rather stayed awake, In a few words, I was becoming crazy which justified the hospitalization against my will. I was aware that the evil-minded psychiatrists had the terrible power to create the psychiatric illness, the one that they try to treat with medication and that only make things worse. I had a tendency to stay away from other patients, especially with those who met me in my first stay and recognized me, In fact I was ashamed, for them, I was part of their family which was very hard for me to accept.
Just a few friends came to see me in my second stay in Thuir including my best friend Jean-Paul from Aix-en-Provence who made a very pertinent remark: “Are you sure this is the right place for you?” At the moment I did not lend myself to it and above all I did not have any other choice, I understood later that I had no chance to get out of Thuir. My secretary, Marie-Claire Bastry and my colleague Walter Briec came to see me, even though I was very happy for their visit, I felt unease for receiving them there, but they were smart enough to act as if they saw nothing, even if the whole “hospital’s show” could gave you the sensation of having all your veins going cold. One of the bad things was that I got used to that show, but the worst was that I got used to the loss of liberty so much I was afraid to get out of the hospital. Psychiatrists were stunned by the fact that I did not ask for permission to go out on weekends but I could not see the point on doing it anymore. But above all, I was scared and ashamed to go out; however if I didn’t ask for permission, this was going to delay my exit from the hospital as well as the length of my sick leave. I risked the permanent psychiatric invalidity with all the terrible consequences that goes with it: losing my job, losing the custody of my children and losing my right to vote.
I made a request to be able to go out on weekends; I needed to take care of it in advance because the request was examined by the prefect, we needed to justify the request by giving particular goals so I told them I had two objectives: going to the campus because Marie-Claire told me that I needed to change office and going to see my children that I hadn’t seen in months. The psychiatrist approved the second objective but he didn’t completely agree with the first; he spent his time saying that maybe I should start considering to have a career change. I got a permission to go out from Saturday at 8h till Sunday at 19h, nurses carefully explained to me that if I did not show myself to the hospital on Sunday at the time scheduled; it was going to be the police that would come looking for me, I did not even respond to that upsetting remark. I took the bus to go the university, when I was inside the bus, I had the impression of having a big “mentally ill” tag stamped down on my forehead and everybody was looking at it, I was becoming paranoiac; I got down on the bus stop just in front of the main entrance of the campus, I walked to my workplace and I saw the security coming to me, they were ordered to expel me from campus if I showed myself, I was distressed but I wasn’t mad at them, it wasn’t their fault, in fact, I had known them for a long time because they used to see me working very late; they were sorry but they were forced to follow orders, so I left the campus and I went to my home to pick up the car, I went to Alenya, Pascale’s house, and finally to see my kids but this time the shower was freezing cold. When Pascale opened the door, she told me that I wasn’t welcomed and that my children did not want to see me, I remained still, speechless, holding my tears in front of her and then I returned home, I realized I had nothing to do outside, so I took the bus and I went back to my place… the hospital. Surprised, the nurses asked me why I shortened my permission and I responded: “Nobody is waiting for me outside, nobody!” At that moment I wanted to end up my life… and I almost did it.
The hearings in front of the judge of freedoms were going to be held one time a month at the hospital, after three hearings I was discouraged; I called a lawyer to replace the public defender, to my misfortune, the new lawyer did not defend me better; I discovered lately that this lawyer was linked with the university, so after five hearings that led to the refusal of the suspension of the enforced hospitalization I was completely discouraged and I told myself that I was never going to leave that hospital, I was scared of the outside world and I refused to take the permissions they proposed me, my days were reduced to wander in the inside courtyard picking up cigarette butts or spending my time watching over and over again the videos of the D17 channel that I already knew by heart. Just like in prison, the cigarettes problematic became the only issue I had in mind, since nobody came to bring me cartons like other patients, I had to find urgent solutions, I must say that before my psychiatric episodes I wasn’t a smoker, but back then smoking brought me some reassurance from everything that was happening, we had the possibility to go out on the village two times per week to go buy cigarettes, with the condition of being accompanied – not to say escorted- by nurses, but for me, it was more of a traumatizing experience, in fact, going to the real world with free people and then knowing we needed to come back to the hospital a half an hour later was a permanent torture.
One day, a patient received the visit of his family who came and brought him some things: food and cigarettes, when I saw the cigarettes I came closer and it only took one look to understand each other, he came closer looking at my watch, I had a wonderful watch that a friend gave me one time when I went to Paris, she bought it at the Lafayette galleries on the Hausmann Boulevard to thank me for a service that I did for her, I loved that watch and I still miss it today, but at that moment and considering where I was, time didn’t exist anymore I lost track of time and I didn’t have any agenda to manage. The same day passed over and over to the point that I didn´t know whether we were on Monday or Thursday, in February or April, I couldn´t care less for time, time wasn’t valuable back then, in fact that is the definition of time: when we are dead, time doesn’t exist anymore and in there I was a living-dead. We are conscious about the absence of time, however, smoking was an urgent need for me, a cigarette was so valuable that I smoked cigarette butts behind the back of the nurses who supervised us, so we made an exchange: I gave him my watch and he gave me three cigarette’s cartons the worst thing was that I thanked him for the exchange. Cigarettes became my daily occupation especially when I was running low, without knowing I had a night ritual. They called us at 18:30h to wait in front of the pharmacy to get our medication, we spent more time waiting at our tour at the pharmacy’s counter than at the refectory for dinner; After dinner, I dashed to my bench, hopping not to be disturbed only to enjoy my cigarette as I looked into the sky, at 19:20h I went to my room to rest, All my nights were the same, I panicked, when at the end of afternoons, I realized that I didn´t have a cigarette for my ritual, so I took it on myself to ask other patient for cigarettes.
Among the side effects of the treatment, there were also the physical injuries, I could see how my toenails were falling, it had been a while since I felt my teeth become loose and one day at the refectory, three of them fell out on my plate, I was shaken, it was like I had just gone through a gene mutation, I tried to put my teeth back in their place because the gaping in my mouth annoyed me, I stayed like that for days but my teeth continued to fall out, so one afternoon, when I was in the inside courtyard I came close to the fence and as I cried I threw my teeth as far as possible. The most difficult part about all this mutation, that transformed me from man to subhuman was the loss of my libido, I told myself that at fifty years I wasn’t a man anymore, It wasn’t at the hospital that I was going to have desires or feelings anyway, but the lonely pleasures were gone away too. There is no better way to pull down a man and to destroy his dignity than that. I was angry against the entire world for having forgotten of me, I was mad at God whose existence I doubted and on the other hand I was sure that hell existed because I was in it.
Job face à ses épreuves
There was also the patient who had only one thing in mind: to run away, I assisted to an escape tentative which was interrupted by a troop of nurses, which reminded me the rugby team flinging themselves at the opponent to tackle him. There were suicides on the wing that caused a bustling of people running form one side to another, which was a big change from our mechanical routine, however all this was completely normal for the other patients. There was the isolation room where a patient was strapped to his bed, we never saw him, at lunch time we could only see the nurses take a meal on a tray that they brought to the isolation room. Meal time became a real nightmare, in fact because of the medication treatment food was tasteless and I had lost my appetite, nurses attempted to make me finish my plate and I was sick of compotes that were served as dessert. One time, I refused to eat my compote and I got up from the table, suddenly a nurse started to follow me saying my name, I did not turn back but she asked me to sit down and open my mouth forcing me to eat the product like if I was a stubborn kid, paradoxically enough I put on weight, normally I weighted 65 kilos and now I weighted 83kilos I was sure it was because of the medication and because of my lack of physical activity I used to be hyperactive and now I was completely sedentary.
I started to fell psychologically in the deep abysses of solitude, Me, who used to travel around the world, was going to do the most fundamental journey; the interior journey we do when we don’t have any other possibilities to go somewhere or any other distractions or amusements likely to pollute our minds, I thought about the end of the film “The Big Blue” when the hero decides to dive with the intention of not coming to the surface while his father was dead in the bottom of the ocean, I thought about the film “Abyss” when the hero decides to sacrifice himself by going to the abyss with a special diving suit, knowing there is no going to be enough oxygen to come to the surface, I know that we don´t ever come back of such interior trip but I could not accept the idea that I was condemned to spend the rest of my life on the psychiatric universe, I was ready to take that trip without coming back, I was ready to do the journey and go inside of the darkest side of my soul. I lost the power of speech for months, I was scared of water even if angry nurses grabbed my hand to wash me, I almost became a dead body which compromised my way out of the hospital, I continued falling into the depth of my broken soul, exorcising my nightmares and settling a score with my pass, then just like in the film Abyss, I cannot explain how, but there in the deep and in that absolute nothingness, I saw a glow… and I went back up.
Seeing my humor getting better, the psychiatrists proposed to me I should continue my hospitalization in the day Hospital Oasis, I spent six months with the team of the day hospital taking the rhythm of the different activities that I already knew (music workshop, writing workshop, psychodramas, and discussion groups) I decided to play along this time because my job at the university was at risk because my sick leave time was almost over however I did not want to do it, my heart wasn’t there. I had regular meetings with a psychologist who made me pass different intelligence test, I became a real guinea pig to whom they asked to recognize drawings, to comment on images or to classify letters even if I held more degrees that the person who made me go through all those humiliating tests. Seeing that, my mood wasn’t getting better despite my newfound freedom – which was relative- the psychiatrist made me come to his office to tell me that since the medications had no effect on my depression, we needed to consider a more radical solution, I responded that medication could not “treat” an illness that didn’t exist but that on the other hand, I was having all the side effects of such medication, with a gesture he wiped out the argument responding that I was in denial, however I insisted telling him that what I needed was not the medication but arguments to explain why I was hospitalized.
Then, I asked him what the “radical solution” was, he responded: ECT, or regularly known as electroconvulsive therapy; That moment was a real shock for me because, after being chemically destroyed, my brain was going to be burnt with electric shocks, the psychiatrist laughed at me trying to reassure me, saying the treatment nowadays, had nothing to do with treatments of the fifties that everybody had in mind. Anyway, he added, if I did not accept the ECT – electroconvulsive therapy- I could be sent to Thuir again, and then he added that the facilities necessaries to do that treatment did not exist in Perpignan so I was going to be transferred to Toulouse or Montpellier. When I heard the word “Montpellier”, I could not say exactly why but I had a ray of hope inside me, I needed to take that opportunity to get out of Thuir and Perpignan’s influence; I could not end up in a place worse than those anyway, Something had to happen because there was not much time left before the expiration of my sick-leave. I decided to accept. The psychiatrist told me that the waiting list could be very long but he was going to do everything he could to find an available bed in Montpellier or Toulouse, three days later, the psychiatrist announced to me that a room was available in a specialized Clinique in Montpellier, my first reaction was that of anxiety: already ?! But I prepared myself, with a heavy heart, to affront that treatment: twelve electroshock sessions were prepared for me.
My stay at the psychiatric Hospital of Thuir
The psychiatric hospital of Thuir was an annex building of the hospital of Perpignan. Thuir is a nice small town, a nice place to live even if for me Thuir was no longer a welcoming destination, my souvenirs of that village were the most horrible ones. Beside the fact that I was deprived of my freedom and my life, I would like to talk about the treatment conditions of the psychiatric universe in France in 2015. Even if there are patients who are interned for legitimate reasons, they go through treatments that are not legitimate at all… We all have in mind the way that prisoners are treated in the Turkish or Moroccan prisons and we say to each other that those treatments happen in other countries unscrupulous about human rights and where the development standards are different, admittedly, this does not excuse the bad treatment given to prisoners but you understand the statement.
But that which I endured and saw, happened in France, just a few kilometers away from the University and from my home, it happened in the country of the human rights where everybody strike up “I’m Charlie” including the one who was responsible for my hospitalization.
From the moment you enter to that lugubrious place, they give you a shock treatment so that, after a few days, you are not yourself anymore. As for me, I was going to be a prisoner for twelve long months followed by six months in a day hospital which wasn’t much better because you are half-free and being half-free is not being free at all; at first, they force you to use a blue pajama until the psychiatrist authorizes you to dress as “civilian”, then we are left in the emptiness of stopped-time because it is the same day that repeats itself indefinitely and where you lose all notion of time, we powerlessly suffer the craziness of a day that never ends, the only point of reference, is the medication take; in the morning, the afternoon, the evening and then at 22h. At night, a night watchman opens the door every hour. It is impossible to sleep anyway, when there are patients screaming and hitting the walls. The one time only that I felt asleep, the nurse on duty came to wake me up to give me the sleeping pill in conformity with the regulation which needed to be followed to the letter.
In that place where you lose your identity, people did not call me Mister Caccomo or professor anymore. One day that I was tired of all that psychological mistreatment, I asked nurses to call me Doctor Caccomo because that is the way my American colleagues called me and which is a custom abroad for people who have a PhD, but the personnel slightly laughed about me, for them, if I was there, it should have been good reasons validated by psychiatrists, who were the kings in that place. The side effects of medications unleashed: auditory and visual hallucinations, decrease of motor functions, incontinency, nail and teeth loss… little by little we lose our dignity and humanity and we progressively assist to our own decline. One day, it was the personnel who had to wash me when they noticed I had urinated in my bed. In my stay, I also assisted to two suicides and to one escape tentative, I went back to my room in shock, asking myself what I was doing there. We spent our day in the inside courtyard thinking about cigarettes all the time, trying to find cigarette butts and hiding from the nurses who watch all the time. Me, who was used to teach conferences, to go to big hotels and to prestigious events because of my activities in the university had now become a zombie and I could not recognize myself anymore. Psychiatrist skillfully convinced me that I needed to forget about my career, when I tried to respond, my arguments were considered as “symptoms of delusion” when I stopped talking my silence was considered as a “symptoms characteristic of a decompensating phase” In fact everything I said or not said had a psychiatric tag. When you are in the claws of psychiatry, everything you say or don’t say can be turned against you, how could they really considered the fact that I caught a mental illness just like you get the flu or you have cancer, at fifty years old, me who took care of myself, without anyone’s help, since I was eighteen?
Food was tasteless in my mouth and eating became a mechanical and painful action, nurses forced me to eat with a small spoon, the unavoidable compote they served for the dessert and that I hated so much and just like kids, at 16h they took us to the refectory to have a snack… after having swallowed the medicines. For Christmas, nurses came to my room where I hid most of the time: they shaved me and cut my hair, then at 20h we went to the refectory to drink Champony or Coca-Cola with the rest of the personal and then at 20:30h I was in bed. In my stay, we dined at 19h and then at 19:20h we were already in bed.
Every Wednesday, a chaplain or a priest came to visit the patients in case someone wanted to confess. But every time they came around me I avoided them. There were some patients in isolation, attached to their bed that we never saw, the only thing we saw were the nurses bringing the meal on a tray to their room. Every time I had a hearing in front of a judge of freedoms, my condition was worse. Therefore, the judge kept me in internment for five sessions to the point that I lost all my hopes of getting out of that hell. I thought I was never going to go out because I needed a miracle to escape from the psychiatric invalidity. But the miracle happened.
My stay at the Clinique Rech in Montpellier
« We build homes for fools to believe those who are not locked they still have reason » – Montaigne-
I was transferred on April 4th 2014, to the Clinic Rech in Montpellier in a taxi-ambulance. During the journey from Perpignan to Montpellier, the driver tried to have a conversation with me but I did not know how to discuss anymore, I could not speak anymore, my vocal cords did not work and the sound I could make made my voice tremble, but above all, I was scared. They explained to me that ECT was a procedure that needed general anesthesia but, since I was a child, I was scared of sleeping and never waking up again, on the other hand, they finally returned my cell phone, which they confiscated during my internment, and I could finally communicate, but since I could not speak I sent text messages to my friends who did not know what to think or do after receiving messages that said: “Help me, I need help, I’m not crazy but they want to electrocute me” I did not receive any answer obviously, I became aware that I was out of the circuit.
When I arrived to the Clinique, a young doctor welcomed me very nicely and they placed me in my room, right away I could feel that the welcoming, the atmosphere and the place were very calming. It was like that place of peace was full with positive energy. The comparison between the Hospital of Thuir and this clinic was like day and night, being here was like being at a four star holiday cottage. They explained to me that it was a private clinic and I needed to assume the financial costs of my stay if my mutual found did not cover it, that explained everything: the room’s quality, the presence of a cafeteria and a self-service instead of a refectory with an imposed menu – I was so happy to be able to choose between ice-cream or a floating island for dessert- and above all the warm human relations that I missed so much, from the “simple” employee, to the nurses or to the psychiatrists, everybody was attentive to patients, inside of me I thought I was finally in a good place and my hopes to pull through reappeared. However I stayed aside from other patients who were in groups outside sitting on the benches, I chose a bench in the back of the park, under the statue of a saint where I smoked my cigarettes, but I was ready to hear the conversations of some patients that to me seemed interesting and sometimes very smart. One young patient named Julie came to see me, she sat on my bench asking me if it was okay if she sat next to me to smoke, I responded that there was no problem, she even gave me a cigarette and then asked why I was in that clinic, I told her that it was for electroconvulsive therapy, she responded without hesitation: “It is not electroshocks that you need but love…”
I spent my first night at the clinic knowing that the next day I was going to meet the psychiatrist who was going to take care of the ECT procedure. Formerly, they ran cardiac exams to check if my heart was strong enough to resist the ECT session which did not reassured me at all, the cardiologist affirmed that my heart was perfect, I responded: “At least that!” The next day, the doctor Billet, a new psychiatrist entered in the room and introduced himself, I did not say anything, so he stared at me, with this nice and warming look, I tried to say some words, but then he saw that my voice trembled, I let him know that I was a singer and he smiled, he even called me Professor Caccomo, I felt that I was in good hands and the following events just confirmed it. The psychiatrist decided to end up the treatment prescribed by his colleagues of Perpignan and he cancelled the ECT sessions saying that it wasn’t necessary, when he left the room to continue visiting the other patients, I sit down on the bed, and I started crying of happiness and release, I had just escaped from electroshocks. I spent eighteen months in the hands of the psychiatrists of Perpignan within twelve months in Thuir followed by six months in Oasis. I had a few time left to have the chance to get back to work at the university, I had everything to play for in there, which was what I promised myself to say to the psychiatrist, who explained to me that he made the patient’s round every morning, That is what he did it with every patient of the clinic.
Little by little I started to recover and I was progressively fitting in the group composed by the other patients, participating to their ritual discussion after meals, while we smoked our cigarettes in our benches, I was even becoming friend with some of the patients who had very interesting conversations and with whom I could talk about philosophy, politics or art, It was very surprising. I told myself that idiots were outside and that we “treated” the most originals one. When they learned about my real job, I became a sort of guide for them and they called me “Mister The teacher” Nurses took care of me too, one of them noticed me from the first day I arrived and she told me later that she noticed me because I was different from the others, that I had an inside force and that I wasn’t going to stay there for long. I called some friends that lived in Montpellier who came to see me, bringing me books and cigarettes. One day, when the cleaning lady was cleaning my room and I was sitting in my bed lost in my thought, she said to me: “I clean this room for 20 years I have seen business men, engineers and teachers destroyed by life but all of them left, Look at the books you have on your desk and remember what your job is outside. You will go out too, trust my experience…” She put her hand in my shoulder seeing that I couldn’t contain all my repressed emotions. In one instant, she made me feel better with her words than the eighteen months of therapy with the psychiatrists of Perpignan never could. I was aware that I escaped from electroshocks but my stay in that place allowed me to electroshock myself.
However the abrupt stop of taking medicine made me go into a “totally normal manic phase”, according to the psychiatrists, linked to the giving up process, so they transferred me to the protected wing of the clinic for fifteen days. I spent a few days in isolation but I don’t have any souvenir of it. I went from a period of endless inhibition, of melancholy and silence, to a period of delirium and intense extroversion, just like if a barrier inside me broke putting an end to the silence that the internment imposed me. When that euphoria phase ended I could have my room on the open wing, there was a little white desk in front of my bed and for the first time I decided to open the drawers, a little miracle happened, like a sign form heaven, there were this little blank agenda and a little notebook waiting for me, I asked the nurses for a pen and I started writing in my notebook and in the agenda. Time wasn’t senseless anymore: I felt like I was living again. The clinic was an open environment so we could go to town as far as we respected the hours for lunch, the meeting with the psychiatrists and the different activities, however I still wasn’t ready to go outside. I went only to the area around the clinic to withdraw some money, buy cigarettes or take a coffee on the street corner’s café, I was scared of the idea of taking the tramway to go to town. In the evening, the group of patients was voluntarily in front of the TV in order to watch a film together and everybody was happy to comment about the movie. The soccer’s world cup was announced which meant there was going to be a nice environment.
I spent all my afternoon in the park, It was a very calm place where I could sit in the same bench that welcomed me the first time I arrived, I decreed it was my bench and everybody respected it. On the bench next to me, every day at the same time, an advanced age but very elegant patient was reading a book, in front, a man visited his brother every afternoon and they had very deep conversations on different subjects. One day, I got a text message on my phone from somebody called Isabelle, who proposed to come visit me if I agreed. During all that period, I did not have access to a computer so I stopped writing in my blog against my will, on my Facebook page and all the other social networks that I generally used posting economic chronicles or photos, the thing was that before my hospitalization, Isabelle was one of my loyal readers who sent me messages once in a while, I understood that she was a real fan, and message to message we became friends, but at the time, my heart belonged to Colette so I did not pay attention to her advances.
That day, I was in a different mood and like Colette continued her life with somebody else, I accepted that Isabelle, who I had never seen before, came to visit me. She offered herself to bring me some stuff next Saturday, meanwhile, I took the initiative to speak to the psychologist of the clinic, it was a very beautiful woman and she was really there to listen to me, during our meeting, she let me know something shocking : since I was transferred to that clinic, my hospitalization was no longer enforced, I could not believe it because I hadn’t pass in front of a judge of freedom like in Thuir, I went to see the nurses to confirm the information; I was extremely excited when the nurse on duty confirmed it: the enforcement was automatically lifted from the moment I accepted to come there. I exulted. Next morning during Doctor Billet round I asked him: “That means that I could have my job back ?” The psychiatrist responded: “You need to have in mind professor Caccomo, that we don’t have the intention of keeping you here and that you will have your job back at the university. Why do you always ask me about that ?” So I responded: “Because your colleague from Perpignan spent months telling me the opposite and I ended up believing it…”
My meeting on Saturday arrived and I was excited but anxious too, I hadn’t seen a woman for months and I started to question myself about my look because the different treatments had many consequences on my physical look, I took the opportunity to go see a hairdresser in the city center of Montpellier in company with Julie because I wasn’t ready to go to places far from the clinic by my own, Julie was very happy for me because she thought I changed. She as many other patients, were there when I arrived for the first time to the clinic on April 4th2014, and at that moment I looked like a zombie, scared and corrupted. She herself went through very notorious transformation, Julie was a young bipolar female who suffered regular periods of anxiety which made her come to the clinic since she was very young; she was very beautiful even if she tried to hide it dressing almost like a boy. Since our discussions, she started to be more confident about herself doing a supra human effort to show herself to advantage, which was so good for her so I encouraged her to open up herself to others, In fact, every patient hid a terrible and passionate story that I tried to discover every time I spoke to them. Some men had very important professional status in their professional lives outside of the clinic, however they seemed destroyed because of a divorce, a professional betrayal or another accident of life, I understood that I wasn’t surrounded by “crazy people”. On the opposite some of them were very sensitive and original people with great personalities, Julie said to me: “You see? I told you that you didn’t need electroshocks and that love was, for you, the best remedy, the best medicine ever” I responded to her that love was the one responsible for many of my misfortunes, the main illness that I tried to cure.
My meeting with Isabelle was at 14h on the parking lot of the clinic, she was coming from Alès where she lived, I ate at the cafeteria with Julie and some other patients with whom I formed a group and we were very close to each other. There was an aged man, who loved to talk about philosophy and French and who wanted to know about economics when I told him that I was an economic teacher at the university, I remembered how ashamed I was of telling others about my career, but in that clinic I got my confidence back. When I told them, the patients were curious to know about my functions and my degrees. At first they did not believe it: how a doctor in economic science, a lecturer at the university could be in that place with them? That question haunted me for a long time… After lunch, we went to the park to our respective benches to smoke our cigarettes waiting for Isabelle, then I received a text message : she was already there, I told her to go to the park and I walked to meet her, and I saw her just like in a movie, walking shyly while her feminine silhouette moved from side to side. Step by step we got closer to each other as we increased the speed on our steps just as we were happy to see each other, at first we were scared of being disappointed of each other, but on the opposite when it happened, it was releasing. When we got inside, I asked the nurses if she could come with me to my room, the other patients were speechless, impressed by the beauty of my visitor, Julie asked me if she was my girlfriend and I said yes, I put all the things that she brought me in my room; there were clothes, books, bags of cookies and chocolate, then we sat on the bed to talk and to shyly caress her, things were good between us and inside, I could feel the shivers of those carnal moments reactivate again, I was alive again.
I felt a little unease when I proposed her to go for a walk on the back of the park, where there was a vegetal labyrinth and benches radiated by the sun, it was a calm place where I had found the peace and the strength that I needed when I first went there. Enforced internment isolated me from the society, but I was surprised of my connection with nature, the movement of clouds, the blast of air or the birdsongs, I could perceive the slightest change in the natural environment, I had nothing else do to in Thuir, which refined my senses, but when I came back to the social life, reintegrating myself in the group of patients and the personnel of the clinic, I was aware that this faculty made me more attentive to others, and not only to their words or moods, but also to the slight gesture or emotion, it was a whole new sensitive experience for me, which I needed to manage because of all the new information. We walked on the park and then we sat on the bench where I lit a cigarette, it was the end of the afternoon while we thought we had stopped time, she had to go so I walked her to her car and before leaving she gave me a kiss, promising me she was going to come back as soon as possible; Her car was leaving the parking lot while I followed her doing big gestures to say her goodbye until the car disappeared from my sight. When I got back to the park, I bumped into my favorite nurse, the one that told me that I was different from the other patients, and I told her: “Did you see? She loves me !” The nurse was happy for me because she noticed my fast recovery, confirmed by my psychiatrist, and she made a remark that at the moment I did not pay too much attention to: “Don’t get carried away so fast and think about yourself first. Don’t forget what I told you last time: don’t do like the other patients who can’t live outside. Don’t get used to live here even if we do everything to make you feel good as possible. Your life is outside and it is waiting for you. Don’t institutionalize yourself…”
A few days later, the psychiatrist proposed to me I should take my first permission, he told me that it was time for me to spend a weekend with my kids, I hadn’t seen my kids in more than 18 months and I really missed them, but I was still afraid to be out of the clinic all by myself, so going to Perpignan on my own was a difficult task to do, so, I told the psychiatrist: “Yes, but my kids live in Perpignan!” he smiled at me and he said: “That is not a problem, there are trains right?” I told myself that if I refused to take that opportunity, it could risk my exit from the clinic when the new school year was so close. I accepted even if I was scared to affront that moment of temporary freedom, he agreed to let me go for the weekend on the condition that I had to be back on Sunday at 19h. Meanwhile, when I was still enjoying the moment of peace and meditation on my bench, I saw a young girl, who seemed very nice, coming. She introduced herself : she was a chaplain and a theology student in Montpellier, she told me she heard of me and she wanted to meet me; she asked me if she didn’t bother me and I responded it was okay we talked for a long time and before leaving, she gave me a book and asked me if I agreed to read a chapter and to tell her what I thought about it. She wanted to see me again to continue our talk so we agreed to see each other twice a week at the same time in the same bench, discussing with her made me so much good, I could feel how every time she came she gave me good energy, but at the same time, my own experience made her good because she told me that she raised her two kids by her own after her partner left.
The weekend arrived, and for a twist of fate, I saw on the television that the S.N.C.F (French Train Company) was on strike, I was afraid of taking the train but there I got more than I bargained for… Saturday morning, after having taken breakfast in my room and preparing some stuffs, I affronted the outside world. While I had spent years traveling like a globetrotter, I was this time stressed out by the idea to go to Montpellier to take a tramway to go to the train station, I stared at people because it felt so good to look at all those new faces, everybody was taken by their daily routine, like I was before, but I was amazed by everything, I was happy for simply being alive or, I must say for living again. At the train station, everybody panicked, they were worried for not having a train, insulting each other for the slightest things, I was in despair, In the past, I would have been mad just like them, but it was so ridiculous for me now, there were other things much more serious in life, they could not imagine how lucky they were for not having to swallow medicine, to be free while, at the same time, at just a few kilometers far, some patients were having electroshock sessions. I started to think about them.
All the high-speed trains were stopped, but for my luck, I could get into a regional train going to Perpignan. Being on a platform again reminded me of my professional journeys and it made me be more confident. I loved to travel, enjoy the ambiance of the platforms or waiting in airports. I told myself I wanted to live all that again, I got in the train, I knew that journey by heart because I came to Montpellier very often for professional matters, but this time, I felt like I was traveling for the first time, I was amazed by the beauty of landscapes that passed before my eyes, especially when we arrived to the Pyrenées Orientales, where we could pass next to the sea as if we were floating on the blue water, or to contemplate the majestic Mont Canigou with its cloudy summit, the Catalan Kilimanjaro. When I arrived to Perpignan, I grabbed a bus to go home, take the car and go pick up my kids, whom I did not warn that I was coming when I was on the train, they were so happy to see me again, inside me, I was so angry with Pascale for not having come to visit me in Montpellier with them, later on I was going to know why… Seeing them again was so touching, I could renew the fusional relationship, the one that I built for years with my kids.
Despite everything, I was shocked, Jason was 14 years and I could not recognize him right away, I took them to the coves of Paulilles, a paradise place that is inaccessible in the summer; it was one of the happiest times of my life, in the evening, I took them back to her mother’s because I wanted to clean the house that I deserted for months. Next morning, I got down to work, I cleared out my mail box which was filled with prospectus, bills, imposition reminder and a letter from Paris that caught my eyes, the letter was from February 12th 2014. It was a letter from the writing house Ellipses, a big editor of books for universities in Paris, who wanted me to be part of their catalogue, specifying this: “We would be honored to count you as one of our authors” I preciously conserved that letter. I cleaned the whole house, which stunk out because it had been closed for months and I weeded the garden, which had become a real jungle. I took pleasure again to react, to do useful things and to feel active just like I have always been before going to the Hospital in Thuir and becoming a vegetable. When I returned to the clinic on Sunday, I met my favorite nurse who asked me if everything had been good, I responded that everything was perfect so she jumped of joy and said to me: “Yes! You achieved an important victory Jean Louis!”
The psychiatrist was very happy to know that my permission had been good and he proposed me to take another one the next weekend, he asked me what I would like to do, and I responded that I would like to go to Alès to spend the weekend with Isabelle, he gave his agreement and I told Isabelle who was very excited. As an exception, the psychiatrist allowed me to go from Friday to Sunday, since I did not have authorization to drive because of my treatment, we set up that Isabelle was going to come and pick me up on Friday night and she committed to bring me back on Sunday. I secretly told myself that for the first time in months, I was going to spend two nights in the bed of a beautiful woman, however, after the terrifying and traumatizing experience with Marine, the fact that Colette abandoned me and the use of intensive medication in Thuir, I did not know how I was going to react. I was scared of women or more precisely I was scared of not being worthy of her. I spend a nice week, every day I found enthusiasm and hope again; the psychiatrists and the nurses were happy of my spectacular recovery. I participated to sport activities and once, I even accepted to participate in the speech group activity, encouraged by Doctor Billet. The soccer world cup began and us, watching the sportive encounters in front of the TV became a group ritual. When the chaplain came to see me, as foretold, to ask me about my permission I talked to her about my kids showing her some pictures on my cell phone, she was amazed by my kids, then I talked to her about Isabelle, expressing my fears and doubts, to have her woman’s advice, she was touched by the fact that I opened up to her giving her my confidence and she told me to let things happen in their time, to let things go.
I spent all Friday hopping up and down with impatience for Isabelle, who arrived at 18h as foretold, she took me to her place in Alès, but during the journey I did not say much, I was focused looking at the landscape, she was very focused but smiling like always, we were embarrassed, just like two budding teenagers. When we arrived, a dog –Samba- and two cats, whose names I forgot, were waiting for us, she lived in a small modest apartment, elegantly decorated, there wasn’t a place for a room so we needed to use the couch as bed, the residence was located at a charming hamlet in the countryside of Alès, she made me feel comfortable right away and she offered herself to cook dinner so I went to the balcony to enjoy that moment; how nice it was to spend those moments out of the hospital! I shivered to the idea that I almost got used to the routine of the psychiatric internment; her pets were intrigued by the new intruder but they liked me right away.
Then we dinned together, she told me about her life, she was already a grandmother because she had her daughter when she was twenty and she worked at LeClerc so she had a very demanding schedule. I understood that her life essentially revolved around her job and her pets, which took her a lot of time, she told me that she followed my pilgrimage and my analysis on the social networks for a long time and that she admired me, I asked her if she was disappointed when she first met me, and she responded, blushing like a little girl, that she was delighted. As for me, I tried to delay the fatal moment when we were going to go to the unique bed together but it was late and she was tired. We comfortably lay down on the bed, under the sheets one next to the other, but we were immobile and frozen, then she slid her hand all over my body and I felt shivers of pleasure and stress at the same time, as I let her do it, feeling her authorized and encouraged, her furtive caress became much more audacious, I slid my arm behind her head and I let her continued to do, feeling my desire increase, she smiled and put her hand on my penis that started to tremble, which did not happen since my hospitalization, because I must say that all the treatment that I got all over those months in Thuir was a chemical castration and it was not figuratively speaking. The treatment had taken and broken my voice, it destroyed my libido depriving me from my two vital organs… I knew that my voice was coming back little by little which was essential for me because it was my work tool as professor, conference and singer, but I did not know about the rest…
And involuntarily, I had this premature and miraculous ejaculation, just like a teenager discovering himself, I was so ashamed because it only lasted a few minutes so I asked her to forgive me, but at the same time, the pleasure was real, she responded with a nice smile: “Don’t worry, it is normal…” I was released, the next day we had a picnic on the countryside, next to a stream, with Samba, it was a splendid spring day where we talked about everything; the weekend was like a parenthesis of joy until she brought me back to the clinic, where I got just in time to eat dinner at the cafeteria. The nurses that received me gave me the treatment while asking if everything has been good, at the cafeteria, the other patients were curious to know how my weekend was but I stayed mysterious and evasive with a little sparkle in my eyes that everybody noticed. I told myself that a new and beautiful story was beginning and I hoped that this time she was going to be the one. But my hopes were going to be broken once again.
The miraculously renaissance
The woman who will really love you, will never going to try to change you, she will only going to understand you.
On June 19th, 2014, when I was walking on the clinic I crossed my psychiatrist who suddenly, without stop walking, said to me: “By the way, Professor Caccomo, tomorrow you are out” I stood still as if a lightning just fall on me. It took me a few seconds to process the information but then I bumped into the first nurse that I saw and told her the news. She grabbed me in her arms saying: “You see, I told you since the first day. You are very strong. I’m so happy for you” I did not see time passing in that place but the psychiatrist, without knowing, just gave me the best present ever because my birthday and the music festival were soon. I spent my fifties alone in a sordid and lugubrious room with yellow walls in the hospital of Thuir, having as only gift, a post card from my mother but this time I was going to celebrate my fifty-one years outside, in freedom. This newfound freedom was going to be the best gift ever. I thought that besides health and happiness, freedom is also one of the things that we appreciate until we don’t have it anymore. On the outside, free people wait for a birthday present without seeing they already have a precious gift: their freedom.
I got back to my room to write on my notebook the things that I needed to do when I was going to be out, in order to take all my functions back for the start of the year at the university. Suddenly, I remembered Sylvie, the nurse at the hospital in Thuir, who told me that I should stop thinking about being there for the start of the year and that I needed to prepare myself for that reality. It is true that if I had stayed in their hands, their damned predictions would have come true. I realized that in two months, the doctor Billet, from the clinic in Montpellier, did what in eighteen months the psychiatrist in Perpignan couldn’t. Then I had a terrible and terrifying feeling, what if they had succeeded… what if their goal was not to make me definitely invalid? I promised myself to clear that up once I was going to be outside.
I needed to move out and to finally close the chapter of my past because my house reminded me the failed tentative to build a new family with Marine. I needed to start thinking about the courses for the upcoming year and to start writing a new economic book. In fact after bringing to the clinic the letter from the editing house Ellipses, I contacted the director and I apologized for responding so late but I explained him that I was ready to submit him a new book project. And so, my project was accepted. The book was in my head, it was actually a course about Economic history that I gave to the students of first years for longtime, and I just needed to write it down. The day that I was getting out from the clinic, the psychiatrist explained to me that I was still going to have an aftercare and that I needed to have a monthly consultation in which he was going to give me the prescription for the lithium. I accepted, with a heavy heart, because I rather follow his treatment and not the one from the doctors in Perpignan. What I had a bad time trying to understand, was that I needed to continue taking lithium even if he told me that he was going to reduce doses. This also meant that I needed to have a blood test every month. A nurse made me fill a satisfaction survey and without hesitating, I checked “very good” in every question. I had a bitter smile by the idea that in the hospital of Thuir they never gave me the same survey… Even if the press of Perpignan didn’t heap praise on the medical treatments given by that facility, they didn’t ask the patient for their opinion even if the suicides and other escape tentative witnessed of another different reality. The doctor Billet gave me my medical file in which there was the report he wrote for his colleague in Perpignan when I was transferred to the clinic. It was clear when you read the report, even if he didn’t say it tacitly for corporatist solidarity I supposed, that he gainsaid the diagnosis and recommendations of his colleagues. And he was totally right.
Before getting back to Perpignan, Isabelle proposed to me to spend a week with her to celebrate my birthday and enjoy the music festival in Alès. I thought it was a great idea and the perfect occasion to get to know each other better. She only had in her mind, the idea that I was this fragile patient send to a clinic but I wanted her to discover the free and strong man that I was before and that I still was. And this was going to be exactly the problem between us. Isabelle came pick me up definitely from the clinic Rech on June 20th 2014, after having filled all the formalities. She warned me that she wasn’t on vacations but I told her that if I could use her computer to work, her absence was not going to be a problem for me. I needed to write and connect myself again with the world. I could see how Isabelle had a demanding work rhythm: she got up at 5h and she returned home at 13h very exhausted. We had lunch, we took samba for a walk and then she needed a nap to recover and prepare her for the next day. During her absence, I enjoyed calm to begin my new book project for Ellipses but also for keeping my social networks updated in order to make my friends know that I was fine. I noticed that there were just a few books and CD in her house which distressed me, but then I forgot that little detail.
The evening of the music festival we went to Alès to go watch some concerts, I was delighted, there were groups and choirs in every corner or in every café, we walked hand in hand like if we were already an old couple. After spending a few days at her house, I had an odd feeling, a sort of unease hard to explain but real, which she started to notice, I told myself that her life style was everything I had put so much energy to flee, if I entered her life, it was like entering a prison which was going to kill the real feelings I had for her. I could not resign myself to leave a prison – the psychiatric internment- to jump into another even if her arms were so soft and warm. Even if we live in a golden prison, a golden prison remains a prison that is what Colette told me once. My intuition didn’t take long to be confirmed by her harmless remarks, which were very important for me considering all my love experiences form the past. Sometimes I went to the balcony to smoke and to watch my favorite music videos on my cell phone in order to extract from my mind all those D17 videos that I watched over and over when I was in Thuir. She looked at me and said: “I’m here. Can you think about something else other than your music!?” right away I had the memory of Marine, who could not stand me playing the piano because, according to her, it was a way for me to think about my ex… One time when I was reactivating my Facebook account to be in contact with my friends again, since I have always done before my hospitalization – and it was actually that way that Isabelle met me- she said: “Are you talking to other women?” I started telling myself that Isabelle was never going to stand my life as a free man in Perpignan if she didn’t trust me.
There was another crippling element for me but I did not dare to tell her because it was a sensitive subject for her: her pets. The apartment was quite small and was overcrowded by her dog, her cats and us. She had rescued her dog from the SPA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and it probably was mistreated because it was traumatized and not trained because it couldn’t be far from her owner. Because she lived alone, that was not a problem for her to the point that her dog slept on the bed. We could say that her dog and she formed a couple. She even told me that she preferred to be in company with animals than humans. And I really believed her because her phone never rang and I never saw a friend, man or woman, during my stay at her house. I replied that I liked people but it didn’t mean that I didn’t like animals. However pets need to be trained because any other way we ended up becoming their slaves. It was her life choice: she was a slave of her work and pets. Because of my life style, that took me to travel a lot, I decided to not have pets because I wasn’t going to be able to take care of it; I accepted to have Chouppi just to make my kids happy. I suffered too much when I was a kid because my father took the excuse of our domestic animals- cat, dogs and canary- for not going on vacations. My dad took so much care of his aviary, filled with all kind of bird species, that my mother told him once: “You love those birds more than your own kids…”
It was evident that if I eventually had a serious relationship with Isabelle I could not ask her to abandon her pets; it was out of question. But on the other hand, she couldn’t ask me to sacrifice my career projects because of her immobility linked to her work and her pets, which were big chains for me. I have already made those sacrifices with Pascale, but she was the mother of my children. The thing is that every time I had a spontaneous desire of getting closer to Isabelle to grab her in my arms and slump into bed, Samba jumped into the bed to lick my hands or my face and play with us that all my ardent desire disappeared. After taking the dog out to urinate next to the pavement, once or twice every two seconds, I started to have enough of the twice per day imposed ritual. It wasn’t really my thing, this is why I never had a dog and I preferred the company of cats who were more independent. One night when she asked me to take the dog out with her, I nicely responded her that I rather work on my book project if it was okay for her, but that she could go without me. So thinking that I was going to talk to another woman while she was absent, she responded: “You don’t like samba !” I did not want to respond to such lack of understanding.
She proposed to me to go see her parents, who lived near, and I voluntary accepted because sometimes I had the feeling that I suffocated in her place. I wanted to see the world. We never had the time to go out because of her schedules or the imposed confines of her pets. What shocked me once again was the fact that her telephone never rang: no friend called her. I would have liked to know her friends to know more about her life and hobbies and specially not being all the time face to face blissfully contemplating each other. I was so thirsty of having my social life again, to be back to the society of humans, friends, musician’s friends, colleagues and others, I yearned to come back to Perpignan, where I got a lot of things to do and above all, my kids were waiting for me. Her parents were very charming and welcoming and they liked me right away. I had a blast discussing with her father who seemed to be very happy of having found a voluble interlocutor like him. I hadn’t spoke for months but now that the dyke was broken, I could not stop all the words coming out of my mouth, especially when having someone as prompt to continue talking.
I was delighted of having met her parents because it allowed me to fresh up my mind and open myself to new people. Then my birthday arrived on June 23, and Isabelle concocted a special menu with champagne. The psychiatrist gave me the authorization to drink champagne for that special day. It was the two of us celebrating my birthday but I was a little sad because I wasn’t with my children. I had a feeling of guilt: I was celebrating my birthday in Alès with a woman that entered in my life a few weeks ago instead than with my kids, whom I did not see from month because of my internment. I told Isabelle that the next day I needed to go back to Perpignan. She told me that she was on vacations for three weeks in August, and if I accepted she could come to Perpignan to see me during all that time. I agreed but I did not dare to ask her the sensitive question: “Are you going to come with your pets?”
The start of the University year and the tentative of re-internment
Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice, shame on me. – English Proverb
I move in to my new apartment on August 2014. I was so excited to move into a new apartment, which was in the third floor and just two minutes far from the University, in a quiet neighborhood that looked like a little Spanish village. It wasn’t very big but not small either and every room was modern and lighted up. The sunlight that invaded every room was in harmony with the light that came out of me. Marie-Claire, so happy of finding me in shape, helped me to unpack. I set up a meeting with Christine Pagnon, the director of the IAE for her to give me my educational service again. It wasn’t supposed to be difficult because the psychiatrist told me to begin with therapeutic half-time, which was going to let me time enough to continue with my book project. However, I felt unease during our meeting even if she said she was happy of my return at the university. She explained to me that it wasn’t going to be possible to get back all my teaching hours. I gently explained to her that it wasn’t my problem and that I did not do charitable works, or reclaimed half-time (what I did a lot with Cyrille Mandou, the former director, before the change of the direction board). In fact I knew that one of my colleagues, Fabienne, took a sick-leave because of a breast cancer and she got back all her hours and even more without any problem. As a government employee, judged capable to return to work, I had to do all my hours in order to not have any issues with the HRD (Human Resources Director). After haggling like a storekeeper, I could have the requested hours even if I couldn’t get back all my ex courses so I needed to prepare new courses. Ironically, I lost the Economic History course which was my support to write my new books for universities for the Ellipses edition. I installed in my new office that I shared with one of my colleagues, Bernadin Solonandrasana. The first day arrived and I was apprehensive, but Marie-Claire, who has always been very attentive, made everything to reassure me; after all I have taught for more than twenty years. And everything was fine and I was so happy to be again in a teaching room the students were delighted and very attentive. Nobody asked me about the psychiatry and I never mentioned it.
Like the Doctor Billet asked me to do it, I had to go Oasis – the day hospital of Perpignan- to explain that I was still in Montpellier’s charge and I didn’t have to give them or the hospital of Thuir, accounts of anything. I arranged a meeting with Mister Maryse Pechevis, a lawyer specialized in abusive psychiatric internment, to who I wanted to submit my medical file because there were a lot of elements in that matter that seemed awkward to me. Since I was scared of going by myself to Oasis –after all, the last time I went there they didn’t let me go and I found myself interned-, I called my surgeon friend, Michel Marthouret from Grenoble, to ask him to come with me. As he had been a very good friend for years, he came without hesitate telling me that I did well to call him. I went to Oasis with Michel to explain my situation to the psychiatrists. I was received by doctor Ghribi, the one who signed the ECT prescription, and who didn’t approved my friend’s presence. I immediately told him that he was a doctor, a surgeon, and he agreed to accept his presence. It was precisely the doctor Ghribi, the psychiatrist who prescribed the resort of electroshocks that his colleague in Montpellier, doctor Billet, disapproved and cancelled.
The tension was tangible but I remained calm. I explained him that I went to Montpellier once per month for my consultation with doctor Billet and to get the prescription of lithium that I continued taking in minimal doses. The new wasn’t received with enthusiasm because it has been agreed, before my stay in Montpellier, that Oasis was going to take back my care. The psychiatrist responded: “But it isn’t convenient for you to go to Montpellier if we are nearer….” Between us, the fact that the hospital is nearer didn’t reassure me at all, and the pursuit of events was going to confirm my fears. Since the psychiatrist didn’t understand my decision and that he insisted so much to the point that I was ashamed, I made him understand that I rather be in care by competent people, who are always there to listen to me even if they are far, instead of being in care of fierce people who only destroyed me… A long silence invaded the room and Michel broke the ice diplomatically arguing in my favor. The psychiatrist finally abdicated and let those words come out of his mouth: “You are free to choose de doctor you want” and I put an end to our meeting saying: “I like to hear you say that” I had just made me a new enemy…
Because I was unease I decided to talk to my lawyer. I didn’t feel in security and I was scared to sink into paranoia. I must say that from the elements that I gave him- medical file, assessment of the psychiatrist who validated my enforced internment and my CV-, we took legal action against the president of the university, who made the internment request, and the hospital, which validated the request even if the arguments were slight, for not saying dubious. An according to my lawyer, specialized in that field, an employer cannot commit one of his employees at least of having an objective and serious reason to do it, and even in that case it is very difficult to do it. All this was confirmed by a legal report transmitted by the European Court Of Human Rights. The breaches to the procedure were so many that it couldn’t be due to mistakes or lack of expertise; this sad fact had a chilling effect on me. They deliberately wanted to get rid of me using the most despicable methods. While I was suffering the humiliation and degradation of internment, all of them were having dinners in town, going to the galas of the University, on missions abroad or the darkest parties. I even learned that the president of the university was at the Elysée to receive the Medal of Merit from the hand of the president Francois Hollande himself. I had to live with that idea while having that feeling of vengeance inside of me but I wanted to clear up my file to claim justice, the truth and to seek redress for all the damages sustained by me and my kids. Moreover, because of that internment, getting the custody of my kids back was a big problem. Without this, I could never turn the page and move forward. I spent so many years building so many things for this university, to sign so many books and articles in its name and that was the way I was treated and rewarded. I told myself with a little bitterness inside, that I gave up to so many jobs offers abroad, which were better paid, and in France I was stopped to get a promotion and interned in psychiatry.
One day I met Roger Bastrios on the campus, a colleague who took up again the orchestra of the university. I have always had a sincere and warm friendship with Roger who was always very simple and spontaneous, he was an erudite but also a very good musician even if he underestimated himself sometimes. He was from Digne too, we were on the same high school in Digne and in the same university in Aix-en-Provence but I didn’t know him because he was older than me. Roger warmly embraced me and told me that I could re-integrate the orchestra when I wanted, and that’s what I did and I participate again to the rehearsals that were held every Thursday in the rehearsal room of the Student’s House (Maison de l’etdudiant). Finally everything was good; I started up again my musical activities, my courses were fine and I was writing my new book. Christmas was looming on the horizon without mishap. From November, my psychiatrist agreed to change my therapeutic half-time into a normal full-time. I had almost everything back but the most essential that was to have the custody of my kids was still missing. Since the decision of the family court judge on October 12th 2009, I had the alternated custody of my kids and I didn’t need to give child support. However, because of my hospitalizations I couldn’t take the alternate custody, so I was forced to give to the mother of my kids a child support of 350€ for every kid.
Beyond the financial considerations that were incidentally not insignificant, because the internments caused important financial damages, I wanted above all live with my kids and contribute to their education particularly now that they were teenagers and almost man. Moreover, among my three kids, there were two musicians and one future economist so I wanted to pursue and to intensify all the transmission work that I began with them. There was so much time to catch up because my internment had consequences on my kids too. Robin didn’t have his high school degree and he ventured into soft drugs and alcohol. Tom had multiplied his absences to school while he was about to pass his Economic high school degree, the one he did not have. At high school, he had to affront the look or remarks of his classmates when those talked to him about his crazy father interned in Thuir. This is why for the new school year I set up a meeting with the principal of Tom’s high school. When I presented myself to the secretary, the principal was coming out of his office so I told him I was the father of Tom Caccomo. So he said: “Aahh Tom Caccomo, he is a phenomenon that one…” he made come into his office telling me he only had ten minutes because he had a very busy agenda. I told him straight: “I’m not going to talk to you about Tom Caccomo but about his father” And I told him my story. Our meeting lasted 45 minutes. At the end of my exposition, the principal did not know what to say. He remained silent and then he added: “I understand much better now because I did not know all those elements”. I told him that it was not the kind of things that you tell everybody about. It is so much better to be somewhere else than in a psychiatric hospital. I continued saying that I did not come to say all this to excuse Tom, but for him and the pedagogical team understand his situation better. Then I ended up saying that I was now there and that I was going to take in charge my child’s education, because I was in the best position to prepare him for the economic test. He agreed and saluted me with great respect.
I wanted that the Christmas and New Year holidays this year were one of the most special in order to celebrate my freedom. I went to Digne to my mother’s house with Tom and Jason ; Robin couldn’t come because of his work at Weldom. I saw my little sister Christine and all her charming family. Unfortunately my brother Serge wrote me off and my sister Veronique was happy of my misfortunes. I could feel inside, that he always blame me for my path even if I didn’t try to prove anything to anybody – only to my father- but I only wanted to live my life and accomplish my destiny. Christine has always been proud of her big brother, she was deeply touched by my internment and her husband was a perfect affective support for her and for me too. When I saw my niece Winona and my nephew Maxence they were so different. How time could slip through our hands when we don’t master our own destiny. I saw my friends when I was a teenager, Patrick Reverchon, David Rossi and Jean Baptiste Giraud, with whom I was in contact thanks to Facebook; we haven’t seen each other in more than thirty years but our complicity remained the same, like if it was yesterday the last time that we saw each other even if our paths were so different. I presented them my kids and we started talking about everything we did when we were teenagers in Digne. My kids discovered the young boisterous but also passionate boy that I already was back then. We said goodbye promising to see each other’s again and to stay in touch. They wanted to come to see me in Perpignan. After Christmas, I left my kids with Mady and I returned to Perpignan because I had planned to spend the San Silvestre’s night in Barcelona with a friend that didn’t want to be alone. It was a magical night and just Barcelona keeps the secret.
Courses started again in January 2015, the first semester passed like a lightning and my confidence was stronger every week. I got back in touch with the police officers of the DGSE (Arm of the Defense Ministry in Charge of International Intelligence), with whom I collaborate for the course of Economic Intelligence in my “International Trading” master degree. I knew Jean Francois, the commandant of the 66section (section in Perpignan), very well also as his agents, whom I got the opportunity to listen at the awareness conferences of the economic intelligence practices and the “Economic War”. I was sensitive to those questions, because I broached the subject on my PhD thesis twenty years ago. However this subject became a national Priority under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, who fusion the DST (International security service) and the RG (French international security police) to create the DGSE that besides the fight against terrorism, was going to be in charge of the Economic intelligence. Meeting the commandant in his office in town reminded me the atmosphere of my father’s police department, so I told him that my father had been a member too. Everything seemed to be good in my life but I could feel like a sort of anxiety that ruined a little my apparent serenity. When I told my friends that I feared to be hospitalized again, they didn’t understand my fears and told me that I was too paranoiac. However I knew what I was talking about: they had already come to look for me without any particular reason and nobody worried about it. What I feared the most arrived completely by surprise even if I could feel it already. Even if we expect for the worst, we don’t want it to happen.
It was the middle of January 2015, a Friday to be more precise and I luckily left my house at 7:30 in the morning to go to the tobacco store to buy cigarettes before going to take a coffee on the campus. I wanted to prepare the course I was going to give at 10h. I went to my office and my cellphone rang: it was the nurses from the day hospital Oasis. I asked them why they were calling me so early. They responded they were in front of my house and that they were looking for me. I almost fell backwards. I sit on my chair and I locked the office. I told them that I was about to give classes so that I wasn’t available for the moment. So they responded: “It seems that they are some problems with your box mail” I immediately understood that they wanted to interned me again, however this time I was aware of everything and I wasn’t going to let them take me so easily as the last time. I asked them what were they talking about and they told me to go to the HRD of the university and then to the day Hospital of my neighborhood. So that is what I did after asking Marie-Claire to cancel my course. I crossed the campus to go to the official building of the DRH while calling my lawyer. I also called doctor Billet form the clinic at Montpellier asking him directly if he was the one who called for a new internment procedure; he was taken aback and said: “But what are talking about? We saw each other las week and everything was okay with you” So with a desperate tone I told him: “The nurses from the hospital of Thuir came looking for me today at 8h” I made all the efforts to calm down, because unlike “normal” people, I didn’t have the right to express anger or any kind of feeling even if I couldn’t control a little hand shake related to stress and to the treatment. I was received by the responsible of the Human resources department, Madam Isabelle Claverie-Horgues, who I have never seen before. She was distant and looking down on me while I asked her some explanations: why the university wanted to interned me again ? Which was the reason this time ? And she responded me with these terrible words: “Don’t take it like that; we are worried about you”
I was in shock and I couldn’t believe it ; they used the same argument last time and they were doing it again. I responded: “Because you think that going to Thuir made me good? Would you like to go for a week?” I continued saying that she had any authority to take care of my health especially when it was doctor Billet who took care of me and who told me that everything was fine. She affirmed that I was lying, so I told her: “I just talk to him Madam; I can call again so you can ask him” She was destabilized and she responded: “It is not necessary” So I told her that she would do better to take care of her own business and I was going to deal with mines, that I was at the university for work and nothing else. Then she started to venture into turbulent water by saying: “Apparently you don’t sleep much at night and you like to drink” With that she reached the top; I was in shock but I remained calm even if it was reason enough to blow a fuse, and I responded: “I do whatever I want with my private life Madam. Do I ask you with who did you spend the night with?” And because she was running low of arguments, she insinuated that my course of the day before did not happen in the best way and that students complained about it.
She was using once again the same argument that they used when they interned me without proofs and without legitimacy; we can make say whatever we want to students if we put a pressure on them, what they didn’t doubt to do. And unluckily for her, the day before I gave my course of Economic Intelligence and my students were thrilled when I told them that there was going to be an intervention from the agents of the DGSE themselves to illustrate the course. When I told this to the director of the Human resources department, she said: “Do you hear yourself talking Mister Caccomo, do you really believe in everything you say pretending that you work with the DGSE?” She just got caught in my trap because I immediately grabbed my cellphone put it in speaker. In fact last night, I had called the commandant of the 66 section to schedule the days of their conferences. I dialed the number giving as a pretext a schedule’s change, the HRD responsible thought that I was making fun of her. The receptionist of the police station answered and while the responsible was listening to our conversation, I presented myself and asked her to please put me in contact with the commandant of the DGSE saying his name in a familiar tone. Suddenly I heard: “Jean Louis what happens, we spoke yesterday is there any problem?” I gazed the HRD’s responsible and I said: “No everything is okay, I wanted to inform you about a change in the schedule but don’t worry we will do that later, I don’t bother you anymore” I worked with the commandant and his team for a while now – they were musicians too- and I needed to justify myself in front of a stranger who didn’t even know the work of her personnel but pretended to “worry about my health”, which wasn’t even her responsibility. Before leaving, I give her a message for the president, because I knew that it wasn’t her fault personally: “You will have to explain all this because this time you have reached the limit: This is harassment.”
I left the Human resources’ office and I went to the day hospital of my neighborhood like the nurses told me that morning. Before doing that I called my press attaché, Solweig, to come with me and we went to the head nurse’s office. I recognized him immediately; I had seen him before when I was in Thuir and he told me, like if nothing had happened, that his son was one of my students. This didn’t relax me at all and then he received us in his office to give us some explanations. They came to look for me after the director of the IAE, Madam Pagnon, gave a “description”. I asked what a “description” meant but the head nurse evaded the question. I gave him the number of the doctor Billet and while we were discussing with the head nurse with my press attaché witnessing of my stability and my health all over our collaboration, he admitted that there wasn’t any reason to proceed to a new internment. So I asked him: “So why did you try then?” He responded something that broke my heart: “Like you have already been two times in Thuir, we can hospitalize you on simple request of your university at any moment” I got up and told him: “I don’t think so!” I didn’t have the choice and now that I knew where the danger was coming from, I needed to eradicate the danger definitely using the justice of my country, even if I didn’t trust it very much. It was obvious that I could not resign myself to live the rest of my life with the sword of Damocles hanging over me. However the threat was clearly formulated and I knew the origin too.
I needed to take action so I decided to make it a public affair . The first time I was hospitalized, nobody was aware of it and the only information given to my family and closest friends was the official speech of the ones who got me hospitalized in the first place. I contacted the press and posted videos on the social networks using the old principle that the best defense is a good offense, but it was a legal offense because I contented myself with telling the facts without insulting or slander anybody. Because they couldn’t attack me frontally, the university proceeded to a more insidious ways of harassment. I was convoked two times to the occupational medicine, where they told me that it was for my best and for the best of the university to not make waves, that it wasn’t good for the image of the university. I told myself that I heard that argument before for the corruption matter of the IAE of Toulon. Before going to the medical examination, because I knew that the president wanted to hospitalize me for any medical reasons at all costs, I contacted my doctor, who was also the family doctor for over ten years, doctor Ristorcelli. He was a serious and competent man with a deep humanity. He knew me well and he accepted to see me.
Finding that I was completely healthy, he gave me a certificate saying that I was fit for work, in case that the occupational medicine said the opposite. The occupational medicine had to say that I was perfectly healthy. Like the President of the university couldn’t achieve his ends, he attacked my PhD students, who were already call in question by madam Pagnon, who cancelled the thesis inscription of Tatiana, a brilliant Russian PhD student, who wanted to work with me about the part of the Economic Intelligence in the Economics Growth of Russia. Her inscription file has been validated by the administration and by the director of the laboratory, Walter Briec, in accordance with the current procedures of the university. The president of the university was out of his prerogatives because in his will of trying to settle his differences he was actually threatening the scientific activity of the laboratory, which was one of the most important on the university but also in the world. It wasn’t professional or ethical, but after everything I discovered about him, nothing surprised me anymore. The worse thing was that Tatiana was now in an irregular situation and she risked being expulsed from the territory. Since I felt that I was personally responsible for that, I needed to do everything to help her. I had finally programmed the conference with the agents of the DGSE so I announced the dates to my students who were impatient to listen to them. One day, the commandant called me saying that the president of the university thought it was a great idea of mine but that he cancelled the conferences for “security reasons”. It thought it was completely ironic to cancel….a good idea. As the students had to do an internship and that courses were almost finishing, I couldn’t schedule the conferences again. Like this, I had to wait every single day for a new low blow which didn’t take long to come… in fact when I was reading the newspaper “L’independant” –which name didn’t suit it, because they never gave me the opportunity to respond to the accusations of the president, contrary to the newspaper Midi-Libre-, I saw an article where the president announced with great pomp the new “Tourism” master degree in collaboration, for not saying complicity, with the directress Christine Pagnon. He had clearly taken my course model on which I was working for years after having create the “Banking and Insurance” master degree.
The director of the Laboratory, Walter Briec feeling exasperated also as sicken because he also suffered the constant harassment from the direction and the presidency since he was on the head of the laboratory, told me that madam Pagnon put pressure on him to write a letter saying that I had aggressive behaviors on the campus. Of course he never wrote that letter, because it would have been a perjury but on the other hand, he wrote an official letter, that he sent on the internal mail, to the HRD certifying that: “I have never had aggressive behaviors recently or even before my hospitalization and that I was one of the most productive elements of the laboratory” There was never an answer from the HRD but Walter put himself in danger for me.
So as a matter of urgency, the president of the university summoned a board meeting where he delivered a unanimous vote against me, indicating that the university was suing me for libel. Some colleagues refused to seat to that unforeseen board so they assigned their proxies. My bitterness reached the top when I found out that the director of communication, Aline Tessier, a woman that I appreciated a lot and with whom I discussed before going on missions when I needed to take material to promote the university, suggested “to set up a strategy to put students against me” The only problem is that I’m one of the few teachers who are invited to the students’ parties; and however students were not dupes of stratagem they felt disgusted about it. In this way, I was going to use my last cents, to pay the clinic of Montpellier and the justice fees, to repair all the damages caused by a man who used the university’s money to destroy me. However in that battle, I didn’t have the choice, it was me or him… If freedom didn’t have a price, I knew from now on that the lack of freedom had a price. For me it was no longer an exchange of philosophical considerations on a TV set or in the classrooms, it was a reality that was going to be registered in my heart and soul forever.
Economist at Perpignan University – France
27 juny 2015