They say that people who are in jail become “institutionalized”. They may make it out, but they will always end up back inside.
That’s sort of how it was being locked up in the psychiatric hospital, which I blogged about in a previous post called The Day My Life Was Put on Pause. My first visit there was 30 days. It was a very structured environment. We had a tight schedule that we stuck to every day. We got up at 6:30. Breakfast at 8. School from 9-12. Lunch. Physical therapy or gym time. Then various classes from Biofeedback to therapy groups, to sessions with your Psychologist or Psychiatrist. Then dinner. Lastly TV time before bed which was 10pm.
My psychiatrist was a strange quirky man, who was also the Chief of Staff at Las Encinas Hospital (not where I was). He had Trichotillomania, which if you aren’t familiar with that compulsion… he would sit in our sessions and pull out his eyelashes and eyebrows. It was weird.
Anyways, after my 30 day visit, I was home for about 2 weeks before I ran away from home again and was staying with my boyfriend (whom I met in the hospital). That lasted for about another 2 weeks before I called my psychiatrist and asked him to pick me up and take me back to the hospital. I missed the safe and secure feeling I had there. I was behind 2 huge locked doors and the windows had bars. I felt protected from the outside world.
I did probably another 3 weeks there before I was released into my parents care again. This time when I got out, I started having what I later learned were panic attacks. I had horrible fears of home invasion burglaries, or being horribly murdered. I didn’t feel safe. My parents left windows open at night. Anyone could have climbed in the windows to kill us all. I couldn’t sleep at night and during the day I had to sit outside all day. I was afraid to be in the house when my parents weren’t home. My anxiety began then as well. I was super high strung. I couldn’t watch commercials that advertised scary movies and I had to fall asleep with my light and radio on. It was the MOST horrible feeling ever and unlike anything I had ever felt before. I finally left home again. And then ended up back in the hospital less than a month later. This went on for quite some time. I was in the hospital 5 different times over the course of a year.
I now understand the “institutionalized” concept. I think… being locked up can become a “safe” environment and you become used to the routine. Now 15 years old, I had been pulled out of my life. The pause button was hit. But life outside of the locked doors of the hospital, life went on.
I was 16 before I was finally out of that place. By then, I had missed an entire year of high school and winter formals and friendships. Everything was different. I also wasn’t quite sure how to interact with people anymore and became withdrawn.
I spent my 16th birthday in the hospital and my parents were tired of fighting me to conform to their dictator-like rules and regulations. Punishments added up for rules broken and at one point I was grounded for like 4 months. It was all too much. So they decided to send me away. For good. Provo Canyon School in Utah. It was basically a psychiatric intensive love on program for troubled teens. I was horrified… I had to do something about this. I was not about to be sent to some military like boarding school.
But what to do…?