He’s So High
During a bad bout of hypomania
I check in voluntarily
to emergency, wanting to admit
myself to the psych ward
of St. Paul’s Hospital.
The psych nurse who is assessing my intake asks:
“So what brings you here today?”
“I have this song stuck in my head
that is driving me crazy,” I reply.
“Can you give me some meds
to make this song stop repeating
over and over again in my head
like a scratched record?”
“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard such a request.
We don’t normally admit someone
to the psych ward for something so minor as this.
That’s what you call an ‘earworm,’
when you can’t get a song out of your head.
Everyone gets songs stuck in their heads.
It’s not a symptom of mental illness,
and we certainly don’t treat it with meds.
By the way, out of curiosity, what’s the song?”
“It’s a song by Tal Bachman called ‘She’s So High.’
It goes like this:
’Cause she's so high High above me She's so lovely She's so high Like Cleopatra Joan of Arc or Aphrodite”
“Yeah, I know that song.
I’ve heard it on the radio.
It’s a pretty catchy tune.
Now you’ve got it stuck in my head.”
“Well, it’s making me so high I’m hypomanic.
I’m so high, I can’t come down.
Please, please, please, I beg you.
Admit me to the psych ward.”
“Son,” he says, deadpan. “Go home.”
Kagan Goh is a Vancouver-based Chinese-Canadian multidisciplinary artist: award-winning filmmaker, published author, spoken-word poet, playwright, actor, and mental health advocate and activist. He was diagnosed with manic depression at the age of twenty-three, in 1993. Kagan has been invited to perform at readings, festivals and on radio, and has published in numerous anthologies, periodicals, and magazines. In 2012, Select Books in Singapore published his poetic memoir, focused upon his relationship with his esteemed father, Who Let in the Sky? In Kagan Goh’s follow-up memoir, Surviving Samsara, he recounts his struggles with manic depression, breaking the silence around mental illness.