A guy who calls himself Badmash posted a comment on my article, Deviate…, asking me to post more on the subject. I wasn’t exactly sure which subject he meant, and replied with the following comment:
You mean on mental health? I’ve been through their system, so I could say a lot on it. The question is, can I say anything more that is entertaining and/or relevant to the lives of my readers?
Then, I realised the answer. Yes, I can tell the story of how I went through that God-forsaken system. It won’t be relevant, so I can’t call the articles under this series editorials, but I can make it entertaining. As a writer, I not only know how to do that, but enjoy doing it. It will be as true as any other true story I tell, but if you are friends with a writer, you know they tend to embellish the story for entertainment purposes. I will try not to change anything that compromises the integrity of the story (mostly just writing another draft of a story that history already wrote), but a word of warning is that I have to redact names of patients within the system. Not because it’s illegal to post them (after all, it’s illegal to post names of workers too, but I’ll post them if I remember), but because I respect my fellow victims of this injustice. The names of clients will be changed to protect their identities.
So, all that said, the following series, Ceej: A Mental Breakdown, is based on a true story, and will be updated at my own leisure. I also maintain the copyright to this series because it’s more artistic than political. That goes for all future episodes of the series.
Part I: The First Step Is Admissions…
My parents had always treated me as if something was wrong with me. From forcing me to take medications and see professional help for longer than I can remember to treating me differently from my brother on behavioural issues. Let’s go back to May of 1999, shall we?
At the time, I was living in Huntsville, Alabama, United States. I know what you’re thinking. That the place is a shithole. And you’re right. You’re right. Maybe not for the same reasons you’re thinking of, but a cesspool nonetheless. But, it was home, damn it. Or was it?
I had been kicked out of my home a few months prior because my mother couldn’t tell the difference between my saying she had lied, and my calling her a liar. I had drained my savings, meant for paying for university, on staying in a cheap motel with the inflated expectations that I would eventually be allowed back at home.
With no money left, and less than a week paid for at the motel, I had to find a job. I found one. Incidentally, the same job I had quit a few days before being kicked out of the house. This was the worst job I had ever worked back then, and it still is today. I still don’t know why I went crawling back. I would rather have been homeless than receive what was coming next.
On top of the already shit workload, a real bitch of a manger worked there. Candy was her name. She hated me and had no qualms about letting that affect her work performance. Consequentially, it also affected mine. One night, I had had about enough of her shit, after she told me to stop talking while talking was part of the task at hand, and I did something stupid. Very stupid.
I was young. I was emotional. I was on medication. These don’t make me regret it any less, but at least they allow me to understand why I would do what I did.
I spiked my hair, put a list of names in my back pocket, and a knife in my belt loop. I changed my whole demeanour. I didn’t talk, but I didn’t have to. My performance was that good. Yep. It was good enough that Candy got so scared, she sent me home. I should have known better than to come back the next day, though. Especially when police cars were in the parking lot. I should have realised they were there for me.
I was fired. I was given the choice to get in my father’s car and go to Huntsville Hospital, or to get in the police car and go to jail.
In hindsight, I should have chosen the latter option. I broke no laws and jail would have been more pleasant. In my mind, though, I could straighten all this out with a simple explanation. I mean, after all, I was only acting. I was only playing a part. The mental health industry is designed to help people be happy and healthy. They are, right? Right? Riding silently in my father’s Mazda, I didn’t realise how wrong I was, thinking I’d be sleeping in my bed tonight.
No. It wasn’t going to be fixed that night. It wasn’t going to be fixed eleven years later. Nothing was ever the same again.