My First 50 Weeks Inside Belle Park
Sometimes, you get tossed in the children’s psych ward, but only so long as the insurance company foots the bill. Problem is: it can fuck you up for life.
The day I was “deposited” at Belle Park Hospital happened to be my mother’s birthday. I’ve always found this semi-hysterical, as she institutionalized me at least partially for trying to kill her. I was released 364 days later, to which my mother remarked “this is the best birthday gift I could’ve asked for.”
Before the doors to the children’s wing swung shut, locking away my ten-year-old self, my parents seemed to want to apologize for the action by making an unannounced stop at Chuck-e-Cheese’s. It was Thursday, before noon, and we were the only ones there.
As a child, I was excessively violent and uncontrollable and tried to kill both of my parents. I can easily see why a “mental health care solution” – I was told repeatedly to never call it a hospital! – seemed like a good, if not the only, solution for me. The children’s wing only housed twelve patients and was at capacity when I was officially committed in June 1985, so I enjoyed my summer as I normally did (free), until a bed opened up in the insurance approved institution. All I could do was remember those long, endless summer days, as I laid down on an old, sticky mattress after all of my belongings had been separated into multiple piles, then separated from me. There, I entered a 72 hour suicide watch like the other patients, so even my jeans were contraband. I was constantly under observation so that I would not kill myself.
Alone. This was not the first time I had felt alone, but it was the first time I felt alone for one year straight. And when I returned to the world, that feeling never went away. Inside, I learned to hide everything. My precise feelings got me in trouble, so I answered “oh, I’m good,” whenever I was angry, depressed, whatever really. I was even punished for my imagination. I was called out and placed in isolation for seeing wings on things, for noticing potential lying dormant everywhere, for understanding that my spoon could be both weapon and key.