The Institute and the Adult (Trigger Warning)

I just wanted it to be in my head. I realized after losing a caregiver because the caregiver broke down mentally that I wanted the problem to be me. I was crying, struggling with the feelings that come with being vulnerable and endangered, struggling to get food, and the pain that comes with moving my body in ways it cannot really handle. I wanted it to be in my head.

If all the problems were in my head and were not real my life could be as it once was. For a moment I had everything, I had love, happiness, my health was improving for the first time and then… it was snatched away. I was starting to feel whole again. Then, I was snatched once more back from the brink of success. Even personally success in this world is a struggle for most people. The minority that masquerades as a majority has made it this way. I just wanted to go back to that place, I imagined it all.

Some of this comes from how much easier it seemed on the surface when all my disabilities were fragments of my mind, that nothing was really wrong with me. I just had to stop making it up. I just had to get a better grasp on reality. As I think in music and color rather than words, the thoughts surrounding that are truly discordant violin notes, the colors brackish. It’s a sensation of mocking. That life was a mockery of life. I was ill, and as long as it was in my head there was no hope of recovery.

If the issues with a caregiver turning violent were just in my head, then, I would still be in danger. That urge to put it all in a neat little package is dangerous. It’s a form of denial, though this denial is socially acceptable. It stems from my being medicalized at a young age. Nothing can just be, it must either have a cure or be a figment of my deluded little mind. Delusion can be comforting. Delusion means that there is nothing I can do about it but stop thinking. Reality requires action.

I am tired of action! I am still haunted by the sensations of my day. That prickling fear as I heard the first crash. I let it go on for a half an hour before I confirmed it. I let myself think it was just me being “jumpy.” Jumpy is code for triggered. I couldn’t ignore it when Sprite began to scream. Sprite, even when she signals things to me is a very quite service cat. She tends to use her paws and a soft flittery meow or a purr instead of a yowl. She yowled. The sounds in the other room were growing louder.

I had to choose. Do I risk my safety and my service animal’s saftey in order to retain this idea that every time I am afraid I am just being delusional? How many times did I do that with my ex-husband before I accepted that he was hurting me? I can’t be sure. However, today I didn’t let it get past once. I had to give up my delusions. I chose life.

Life is never easy. I suspect the main reason that the temporarily able bodied among us want our lives to be inspiring is they cannot concieve of happiness with a disability, as most of them are not happy. They spend their existance toiling for the gain of others. This is less so in countries outside of the US but, it is still a blatant reality. Some of these persons may also be in that same delusion about their ability, or other issues such as sexuality and gender. They waste their reality on delusion.

Since I became aware that therapists are not all knowing, and that my Mother has been desperatly wrong, I have faced delusion many times. Still it can over ride my own instinct to surive. I sit here in a room with the acrid odor of cleaning products, something that is avoided when they are used properly. The antisceptic odor makes me feel almost as if the institution is right there. That is the entire core of it.

If the issue is in my head, then I am outwardly safe. If it is in my head I can handle it. I can control it. If it is real, and no one believes me, I am at risk of being locked up. The core of my terror in speaking out today was in losing my freedoms, because a caregiver has more power than I do. After the agency head Robert spoke with my now ex caregiver today, he confirmed that she admitted she was over reacting to the situation. I don’t know what her future holds, but, I worry for her. I worry too, for anyone in danger that will stay there for fear of the instutition.

Some of the people who come across these words will state, “It can’t be that bad.” I still have nightmares, usually around the times when I have to fight the hardest for my right to merely breathe about the institutions. The place I was was actually not that bad compaired to many. Still all the labels thrown at me, the drugs that made my brain numb and my body bleed? Those were terrifying too. The threats that I would have electroshock therapy used on me if I didn’t behave a bit better. The behaviors that they threatened? Those all consisted of things like avoiding things that made my stomach hurt at lunch, having trouble sleeping, and having nightmares.

Some of the staff were wonderful. I remember their faces in flashes, and the comfort they brought. I remember the coldness of the beds, the tiny windows with bars, and the high fences where the only bit of reality I could see was the top of the bank building where my Aunt worked as a lawyer’s assistant. I remember more the cold showers, being watched. Not being allowed to pee without being watched. I remember the male staff with those. It was never female staff.

I remember the mean staff the most. I had to think hard to survive around them. Some locked me in isolation for tripping. Some punished me for not knowing a new rule that no one had bothered to announce. One in particular made fun of me for gaining weight when I started to eat again, after being a small child with an eating disorder. I managed to conform so they wouldn’t drug me by force. I took all the pills, even the ones that made me sick and lose time. I did my best.

I remember each tour of every facility. Once my mother was gone we got a second tour. We were shown the isolation room, the one with the bed and straps. We were shown their needles. We were told added rules. There of course are always the secrets and ways that a kind person in there may share on how to survive. Each place had it’s special etiquette. Yet always, in each one I was watched while bathing.

There was the one place that is technically an institution that I do not count as such. This is the only place that helped me. The difference there is I wasn’t treated like a waste of flesh but I was a person with needs, responsibilities, and the ability to help someone else.

It is thoughts of the institutions that hurt me that I think of when I must tell someone in authority a truth they dislike. It is threats of such places that keep me struggling to be somehow better than my reality. It is a terror that comes with knowing that as an adult the institutions are forever, and they are far worse than any I had as a child.

It is with that in mind that I wanted my fear to be something caused by a personal insanity. If that is the case, then I never have to speak up. I never have to say a word. I never have to fight. I don’t have to find a way to call for help. I can just mourn the loss of supposed sanity and keep trying to live on the “outside”.

The last place I left, I was told I would be locked up again with in five years. I was told I could never function as an adult in society, that I was hopeless. This was said by a therapist. This was the one institution that helped me. My mistake, the thing that earned me this ruling was telling the therapist, “I don’t think all my pain is somatic and I think it’s okay for me to be afraid I will fail.” My mistake was in believing that something was not a mental health concern, and in believing that I merit feeling what I feel.

I almost was not let free based on that conversation. This was also one of the better therapists of my childhood. Today, I declare myself free. None of it has been in my head. None of it will be. If something is in my head as a fear related to post traumas, depression, it does not mean I have to live in a cage. I promise myself now that I will not exchange freedom for a lie because I risk being caged. I am caged by those lies more effectively.

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1 Comment

  1. ((())) You stood up today. You fought for yourself; you alerted the authorities. You were listened to and respected. You were believed. These are large victories.


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