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.