Being in a mental hospital is like being on vacation and somehow getting stuck on a roller coaster. It’s like saying, “Thank you for dropping me off at Disney World, but can someone help me off an it’s a small world ride?” In my situation it was a vacation from abuse, but it was a very very weird ride. It did nothing for me, mental health/healing from trauma wise. Putting me in a mental hospital was just a temporary fix for my mother and father. It was their answer. Dumb asses that they were. Pause for quick sum up…Daughter gets molested. Daughter tells parents. Parents do nothing extraordinary to help daughter. Daughter attempts suicide. Parents put her in mental hospital. Daughter gets out of mental hospital to face THE SAME MAN WHO ABUSED HER. Hence me calling them dumb asses. I mean did they really think THAT was the solution? It was the ONLY solution that required them to do NOTHING! So I experienced the odd experience of Grant Center Hospital.
Grant Center hospital was a joke, but it did get me away from the abuser.
I remember unpacking my things. Everything I brought in was inventoried. To get any of my belongings I had to sign them in or out. This was to protect us and monitor us. Too bad this wasn’t followed up with actual monitoring because the moment some of the patients got their hair spray they either drank it or huffed it. But I got inventoried, pretty much everything taken away except the clothes I was wearing, and sent in to the lunch room to eat. I knew this idea would not work. I had already been stripped of control. Abuse strips you. Now this place was going to try and control everything I did and that was somehow going to empower me? Yeah, no. I knew this place was not going to fix anything. But I was there, on the weird ride, So I entered the lunch room and learned right away that if nothing else, this was some sort of luxury food heaven. I could just go through the line and get whatever food I wanted. Most delicious food ever. Funny how that is a memory of something 30 years ago, the food. I loved the food. Is Disney’s food good? Maybe while at Disney it is because vacation food that you don’t have to cook is good. I wonder.
I think it was your standard mental hospital back then: Group therapy, individual therapy, secret relationships, counsellors that offered you pot on the side, art therapy, physical fitness, school work, and the common theme that we needed to bullshit our way out of here as soon as possible. I had mixed feelings though. It was safe there. I also felt incredibly scared and vulnerable there. It was a place that I discovered would play no part in healing from trauma. They sucked. I could have conjured up therapy better than that when I was 7. But I fell in love, I made good friends, and for a short time, I didn’t have to face anything that reminded me of home.
I fell in love with Zack. He had a Mohawk, eyeliner, and leather bracelets. He looked like a rebel but was nothing of the sort. He had a heart of gold. He showed me I could be loved. I was lovable. I cherish that young boy in my heart still. He introduced me to The Cure. If I hear pictures of you, I will forever tear up. It is the one flashback I welcome. I go back to a time that a boy grabbed my hand, a record, and put it on the turn table. I can still hear the ticking of the record player when that song played. He took me away from everything bad. He told me to just focus on the music and on him and forget about everything else. He gave my mind, body and spirt, rest. I loved him for that.
Zack grew up to be a superstar chef of the stars, a photographer, and phenomenal artist. I looked at pictures of him and in that smile was reminded of the gifts he gave me way back then in that seemingly worthless excuse for a mental hospital. It really was a joke of a place. I can’t emphasize that enough. It wasn’t healthy for any of us. But the kids there found solace in each other’s friendship. So I guess it was a pretty good vacation after all.
I got out, went home, and stepped right back into the reasons I attempted suicide in the first place. But I’ve got memories of a boy who loved me and those I really do cherish. If you can find some little good in all that bad, you’re going to be okay. Zack was my little bit of good surrounded by some of the worst I have ever experienced. He was that little bit of light.
He passed away a few years ago. He was cycling in Thailand I believe when he had a heart attack. There was a funeral for him here in the town I live in as well as out in California. I couldn’t find a ride. I was really upset I couldn’t go. But later I thought it was best it worked out that way. I’d like to remember him how I remember him now, not how you think of someone after going to their funeral. I know his light is still shining. I just want to remember him that way. I always will.