On Friday I will be hauling myself back to that grim Psychiatric Unit for my therapy session. Those of us who have been there know what it is like. The white walls. The feeling of “institution.” The way no one in the waiting room speaks and all eyes are fixed on the wall, or floor, in shame as they wait for their name to be called. The florescent lit bathrooms that allow no possible way for one to hurt themselves. The dread people have as they stare at the floor and don’t talk to their therapist until they get to the closed room with the “session in progress” sign on the door. The stigma assigned to you just for being in that building.
I have been reading a book called Saving Max. It is about a young boy who is diagnosed with autism. He has suicidal tendencies (yes, there are a lot of triggers in the book…that is a warning for all of you who would be interested in reading it). One thing leads to another and his mom hauls him across the country to get admitted into a psychiatric hospital. So far, it is a VERY good read. Last night, I came across a quote that I want to share with you all because it is 100% true. In this quote, the mother character is describing what it is like to be in the psychiatric hospital. Here is the quote:
“She splashes cold water on her face and tries to breathe, but psychiatric hospitals are vacuums. You’re not supposed to breathe fresh air or feel the sun on your face. You’re supposed to be in a place where other people aren’t. A place where you can be controlled every minute. Where you can be watched and drugged-kept away from normal people and the entire normal world. In a place that is always painted white. The color of a blank. The wiped slate. A place that reduces you, erases the sick part of you and, along with it, the part that makes you human and precious-the part that permits you to feel joy and give joy in return. A quiet, unchallenging world, hermetically sealed with a thick, black ring around it. A place that doesn’t keep the dangers of the world from you, but your dangers from the world. A place where you can look at yourself in the mirror and see the truth-one that imprisons you for life.”
How many of us can agree with having felt this same exact way when attending therapy or being in a psychiatric unit? I know I have. I still do.