This is a post about my first time spending approximately a month in a psychiatric hospital for young people after I tried to commit suicide more than 5 times. I can’t recall how old I was but I think I might have been in high school (that time frame is a little hazy).
I once read somewhere that you shouldn’t paint your walls yellow because that will cause depression. I never understood the reasons why until I spent a few weeks in a psychiatric hospital for young people. Most of us that were in there didn’t have to be in there. I kept to myself most of the time. Yet, I quickly learned that I had to begin socializing with others because not socializing with others in a psychiatric hospital is considered pathological. Oh, the irony. Being a young female, I had to follow certain rules like not be in the same room as a male without proper supervision. It didn’t take long for me to learn why this rule was in place. There were sexual advances by the opposite sex that were made even when there was proper supervision.
My room was average sized. I often fantasized about running away. The furniture was too heavy to rearrange, and probably for good reason. Luckily, I had a room that was all to myself. It was not far from the nurses’ desk either which sat in the middle of the hospital floor. I couldn’t keep any personal belongings in the room except my clothes and teddy bear. The one thing I wanted to do but could not was to smudge or have traditional medicines.
I didn’t get along with my psychiatrist. In fact, I hated him. He reminded me of my racist principle in elementary school (then again who wasn’t racist and in a position of authority my elementary school). I never talked to him when he entered the room. I was forced to go to this hospital. I didn’t have a choice. The only choice I had was to not talk to people I preferred not to talk too, and I definitely put that silence to good use.
After a month of staying at this place, the things that I learned while I was in there was learn how to play crib (thanks to my dad). Oddly, I am not good at math (even addition which is required for crib), but became quite good at this game. I probably would have never learned how to play this game if I didn’t go to this hospital. I remember having a few day passes with my dad. I am thankful for that too. We went to this really neat place that had amazing pizza. Then again, anything would have been better than hospital food I had been consuming for those few weeks.
I also learned why they tell you not to paint your room yellow. My room at this hospital and all other rooms were painted yellow. This horrendous color of yellow. At the top of the ceiling was this cheap wall-paper that had seashells images intermittently placed in sand. Sometimes I fantasized that I was at the beach waiting to go back home. Unfortunately, if anything this shade of yellow, just reminded you of the awful place that you were in. Places like these are not made to salubrious for one’s soul, mind, or body. These places keep people sick or at the very least medicated to the point of being zombies. These places are not places of health. They are places of sickness and violence. These places keep individuals that the larger society cannot control or that their families cannot handle in a place that restrains them. If you do not act a certain way, you will be marked as being sick. If you do not answer their questions the way the books tell them to be answered, you will be marked as unhealthy or unwilling to become better.
I didn’t receive the help that I needed. The only thing that I learned was how to answer their questions so that I could get what I wanted, or mimic the symptoms that they wanted to see in order to get the things that I wanted. The only thing that I wanted was to be free from the pain that I was feeling. Yet, they couldn’t help me because they couldn’t listen to what I really wanted to say. They only wanted to listen to the things that they wanted to hear and the things that they wanted to see. The things that books tell them to watch out for. I also learned was why they paint the walls yellow: To keep the sick, sick.