When I was 15 years old, my parents had me institutionalized.
To be accurate, they called a doctor and I begged her to take me.
My life had become unbearable.
I had been seeing a psychiatrist since I was 11.
I began taking Prozac and Ambien by the age of 13.
My doctor would always say “There’s nothing wrong with you. Your feelings are normal. When you turn 18 you can begin building a life you want.”
I had just begun having sex, and I had a pregnancy scare.
I told my mother I might be pregnant, and she told my father who freaked out.
He took the house phone with him to work. Shut down the internet. I was on lockdown and forbidden to see Doug ever again. And I had to meet with the elders of their congregation.
I laid in bed for three solid days, crying. Trying to think of something.
I couldn’t sit through another panel of old men asking me about my body and deciding my shame.
Since I wouldn’t get out of bed, the elders came to our house.
My dad busted into my room and demanded I go downstairs.
I remember screaming “No!” and fighting him. He pushed and pulled me to the top of the stairs, and lost his grip. I crashed hard onto the landing, screaming and crying until my entire body began to shake.
When I came to, I was in an ambulance with an oxygen mask and a pink stuffed dragon.
I don’t remember the name of the facility, but I knew my boyfriend had been assigned here for drug rehabilitation before.
I was barefoot and in cutoff plaid shorts. My hair looked like a rats nest.
I certainly looked the part of crazy. I also decided I didn’t want to speak. I did not know how to get out of this or work this angle. I sat for hours with my parents, the elders and my older brother in the waiting room.
Finally the doctor wanted to talk to me alone.
After not speaking for hours, my voice was rough. “How do I get to stay?” I rasped.
She did not look surprised. She calmly replied “Hallucinations for one.”
“I saw things.” I declared.
And that was that.
I was safe.
The beauty of this facility was the security. Visitors needed a password to get in, and I got to choose who I gave it to.
I immediately called my boyfriend and his mother. They brought me gifts everyday and we could talk and laugh and play games during visiting hours. It was amazing.
My dad called the first day, sweetly asking for the password. The next day he called and tried to guilt me into giving it to him, saying my mother was worried sick. The third day he screamed and cursed me. I stopped taking his calls.
The girls I met were something else. The age ranged from 7 to 16. These ladies had been through hell and back. During group therapy I was nicknamed “Buddha” because I was so calm. Listening to these girls share about their lives soothed me. Me not having an opinion soothed them.
I remember one young girl was anorexic. Once she no longer had to be supervised while she ate, she followed me around like a puppy. Drinking when I drank, matching my lunch, bite for bite. I always made sure to have dessert when she did that.
I got to journal and paint and meet amazing people. I created a rhythm to my life that I could sway to. It was one of the best weeks of my life.
This was a huge lesson in that I could manipulate and lie to gain peace and power. A lesson that is taking years to unlearn.
Does wanting to be put away in a mental institution make you crazy? Probably.
I enjoyed every minute of it.