Tuesday, March 30, 2010


My mother is a case.  I wonder sometimes if she's bipolar or schizophrenic or something.  From an early age she would tell me about her visions and the angels that came to speak with her.  She told me all of her children had visited her before they were born and that I had begged God to be her daughter.  She had some kind of breakdown when I was 12, locked herself in a bathroom for days and refused to eat, said it was her Garden of Gethsemane trial, claimed she was on the verge of being translated...  Yeah.  Good times.

The thing that sucks about being raised a devout Christian is that scriptures give validity to that kind of thing.  You don't know if you're dealing with a truly crazy person or if you just don't have enough faith to experience these things for yourself.  When she raised her hand to a square and called me Satan, I had to wonder if maybe I was possessed of a devil.  Maybe I always had been and was used to it?

At 14 I was put into a mental hospital.  It started with a visit to a psychiatrist about migraine headaches.  A few days later I left school early for an overnight hospital stay, again because of my headaches.  Only it wasn't.  They took all of my belongings (including my shoes), put me in a smock and locked me in a room with barred windows.  I was there for 6 weeks and no one ever told me why.  At the end of the first week they asked if I felt better and wanted to go home.  I was angry with my parents for lying to me.  I said no.

I don't remember a lot about that stay.  I remember going to group therapy and being told I was in denial because I couldn't come up with a reason for being there.  The other kids were suicidal, bulimic, severely depressed.  I was hyperactive.  No one was yelling at me, no one was hitting me, I was allowed to drink soda.  It was almost like a vacation.  I suppose I really was in denial.  I didn't want to talk about the darkness at home.  It was so much easier to push that away and not think about it.

They say crazy people are convinced of their own sanity.  Since being hospitalized I often doubt mine.  Was/is something truly wrong with me?  Or was that incident just part of the epic power struggle between me and my parents?  I'd like to think it's the latter but this nagging thought keeps coming back: they wouldn't have kept you there if you weren't just a little bit crazy.  And maybe I am.  Maybe it's hereditary.


km said...

Everyone is crazy. Seriously... One of my worst nightmares is being locked into a mental hospital. At the same time, I imagine it would be restful. You were probably taught from an early age - even if it wasn't said out loud - not to betray your family by talking about the crazy. And religion has a whole lot to do with that. Your parents are supposed to be the people you can trust, who teach you how to navigate the world. When they betray that trust, it's no wonder you are left confused and unable to discern between what is real and what isn't.

One of a dozen said...

I think you've hit on something there about trust and betrayal and not being able to discern reality. When I lost my trust in my parents I became suspicious and cynical. I have a hard time trusting anyone now. Because so much of my mom's psychosis was centered around church I found I couldn't untangle truth from fiction. Her version of truth freaked me out. I decided I was better off rejecting religion, and I still think that was the right decision for me.

Being put in a mental hospital is a nightmare. My experience wasn't too bad, but that's because I was compliant. I saw other teens get wrapped up in restraints and put into padded rooms. I played by the rules and after a while I earned back my clothes and shoes. I had plenty of books to read. I could watch movies or play ping pong in the common area. But the nightmare is that once you've been labeled you are judged by that label - and I had no idea what my label said!