A girl called Sophie (The Broken Girl)

A guest post by the Broken Girl

A girl called Sophie

The first time I saw the inside of a mental hospital I was about 13 years old. Pretty much just a big kid. My mum was the patient. The first time all I remember was the security system. This was a tiny room with just two doors in each end. A nurse would lock herself into the room, then let in visitors, lock you in the tiny room and then lock you into the wing itself.

She went back in a few years later when I was about 17. I remember her trying to set me up with another patient. He was a few years older than me and in there because of a drug induced psychosis. He had trashed a car among other things and when he got out he looked forward to a massive debt. Meeting him made me terrified of trying out drugs. So some may say that some good came out of it.

Never did I imagine that some years later I’d be the one getting visitors.

I don’t remember much from when I was admitted. I remember my dad being a nervous wreck, smoking his way though a pack of cigarettes and I remember another girl getting admitted along with me. She was bipolar. She came in very hyper saying “I need help. I just spent £300 on batteries!”. I still to this day wonder about what anyone would use so many batteries for.

It’s not really a bad place. Just a hospital ward with insane people. I was one of them. The food wasn’t bad and I had my own room with a connected bathroom. I got settled in. My parents brought me books, not that I could concentrate long enough to read them but just having them there was a comfort. I hung out with battery girl. She would tell me about how she wanted to have her own hair salon when she got out. I just nodded at the right times and made a few agreeing noises.

She wanted to hire me as a hairdresser. When I had my breakdown I cut off my hair. Kitchen scissors. It looked like hell. My mum got me out for a few hours and took me to get it kind of fixed. I never had the heart to tell battery girl. She thought I was cool and edgy when all I was aiming for was to display my shame.

One day one of the nurses came to me. They were getting a new girl but they didn’t have room for her. Would I mind sharing? That’s how I met “Sophie”. She was a cool girl. I would hang around her a bit like a lost puppy hoping she’d be my friend and for the two weeks she was there she was.

I remember walking around with her, her telling me about how she had brought her passport and she planned on getting out, taking her car and driving to Spain where she had an aunt. She’d of course take me with her. And somehow having an idea of escape and a glimmer of hope made it all a bit more bearable. I could live with the crazy elderly lady who called me slutty for wearing tank tops, screamed in the tv room and called 999 to get the heat turned up. I knew I had an out.

But my friend was depressed. One night she was in bed crying her heart out. The nurses were busy. I’d myself been left alone by an impatient nurse when I couldn’t stop crying, so I took things in my own hands. I went to her and I stroked her hair and I sang for her until she stopped crying. A nurse later told me that the doctors were impressed by the fact that even though I was pretty much rock bottom I still had the energy to help someone else. I was sad to see her go. But happy she was better. I’ve never spoken to her again and I sometimes still wonder where she is and what she’s doing.

Wondering if she made it.



23 thoughts on “A girl called Sophie (The Broken Girl)

  1. Very touching.

    Spike Milligan was one of my favourite creatives. He suffered; yet was proud enough to boast that he was “One of the few people to possess a certificate to prove he was sane.”

    Hopefully, this’ll lift you ……

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had very hard concentration problems for a some time. Just when watching a film I had to be able to see the DVD machine’s display so I could think only 50 mins left and so on.
      I am so happy to be able to finish a book or a film these days. It is a great way to escape life for a bit.


      • Wonderfully written and insightful posting BG. I hope you’re feeling well even now and in the future to have a family of your own if you haven’t already done so.

        Re watching a movie: if you have the equivalent of Netflix (On-Demand Streaming) you might type in a selection of TV series that you think you might like, and then try watching their first episodes. If you find one you like from anywhere in the late 90s onwards that lasted more than 2 or 3 seasons, you’ll usually find that they’re a sort of “Super-Movie” — a movie that might last 150 hours as you get to know the characters, their families, and their lives… but all nicely divided into little 40-minute “chunks” so you never need to feel that you’re sitting down and “making a commitment” to watch something for 90 minutes or 2 hours. Meanwhile, if you’re in a mood where you really want to take your mind off things and housework just ain’t cutting it and you can’t concentrate enough for a book… you can watch 2, 3, or a half dozen episodes in a row.

        I’d been basically living without a TV in my life for about a dozen years, and then, a year ago last Christmas I got a nice 40″ flatscreen set with an easy built-in capacity for watching Netflix for $8/month or any of the other channels with on-demand TV and movies. Since then I’ve generally spent an hour or two a day (and on some rainy lazy days maybe three or four!) watching catch-up episodes of everything from Bones to Breaking Bad etc etc from Episode 1 to Episode XXX (In the case of Bones, about 200 episodes till I caught up to the present!)

        Give it a try if you can get it where you are! The funny thing is that after watching a few series like that, movies simply seem too short and superficial by comparison. When you’re accustomed to having dozens of hours to build an appreciation for a character’s life, feelings, motivations, fears, problems, weaknesses, and quirks… it’s hard to develop much connection to the usual cardboard cut-out characters you see in a stand-alone movie.

        OK! Best wishes m’lady!


        Liked by 2 people

        • I do this a lot, on Project Free, on my laptop. There is some really good stuff. British, Australian, Canadian and American. Mostly about 45 minutes, and you can see the timeline progressing. You can also Pause if you need to do something.
          It has it’s quirks of Adverts and Buffering but you fast learn to negotiate that.
          More details if required.


        • Thank you!

          I have Netflix. I’ve been very happy about it. I have started a lot of different tv series and then after some seasons I’ve lost interest or I’ve bought them on dvd and never gotten round to watching them. With Netflix I don’t have to feel bad if I just watch half a film or a few episodes. I won’t have spent a lot of money buying something that’ll end up collecting dust.

          At the moment I’m watching Doctor Who. I have an albino African pygme hedgehog and I take him up in the evening and I’ll pet him whilst we watch an episode or two.


  2. I am nEVER without a book. even when the journey is only ten minutes long.

    You never know when the train may break down for an hour!

    And that since i was seven years old. 🙂


    • When my boarding school did a yearbook mine said “never seen without a book”. My mother is a librarian and my dad used to joke that they had a part of the local library at home.
      I have different handbags. Not to fit different outfits, but to fit different sized books.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. My partner has done time in a ward like the one your mention, doing time is how he describes it, in actuality he quite liked it, no pressure from the influences that cause him to land there in the first place.
    He finds concentration for more than milliseconds almost impossible and only rarely manages to finish a book, mainly because the voices in his head talk all the time and he can never concentrate long enough to read over the internal racket.
    I just found him crashed out on the couch this morning because he had taken his pills before going to bed and never made it up the stairs.
    I have found the best thing to do, is let him do what he wants, in his way and in his own time that limits his anxieties and makes coping with daily life easier for him.
    It can make life quite lonely on occasion but as his psychiatrist and key worker inform me, since being with me he is the most stable he has ever been in his 52 years, I know I am doing something right and that’s enough for me.
    He is a wonderful, kind man, very misunderstood and has been used and abused all his life by one person or another, just because they thought he should change.
    It’s amazing what a difference one person can make in another’s life and I am thankful everyday that we found each other.

    Liked by 1 person

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