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Opinion & Essays - Jun, 1999 Issue #58

By: Stacey, Student
John Dewey Academy
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
(413) 528-9800
May 7, 1999

(This is a follow-up to Tom Bratter’s article “Escape From Psychiatric Prison” Woodbury Reports Issue #56, Feb-Mar. 1999, p. 8).

“No way in hell am I staying here, this guy is crazy!” I said as I returned for my second interview. I was convinced that I wouldn’t put myself through hell by staying at this crazy place. I started to cry in the back seat of my parent’s car as I thought about how foolish I had acted during my first interview. I knew I was sinking, fast. I was scared but was also too scared to change. I thought about how miserable I was but knew there was no way I was going to subject myself to that idiot and his “brainwashed” students.

After the first interview, I had returned to being a bus girl at a local restaurant. I had continued my routine of going to work, coming home to get high, sleep and maybe spend a few hours with my friends. Things really sucked. I had no energy, or at least barely enough to struggle through work to pay for gas, drugs and food. I always thought about life but never thought or wanted to live long enough to see anything happen with it.

I was a failure. I went from hospital to hospital to group home to residential treatment to day programs to rehabs and back to hospitals again. Those damn shrinks who I thought could help, did me harm. I was put on all sorts of medication, which drained my energy instead of helping my depression. I was sleeping almost twenty hours a day. I made several attempts to stop the poisons the doctors gave me, but it was to no avail. I was too weak and ‘snapped out’, cutting myself, only to return to the hospital. This would be an infinitive cycle until I ended up killing myself.

Two weeks after leaving John Dewey I met a girl who changed the rest of my life. What Austina didn’t know was by the horrible way she treated me, I would return to John Dewey. I spent three months with this girl. I was in a relationship I knew was self- destructive, but I didn’t want too get out of it for fear that I would be alone. I took the abuse and kept crawling back for more. Austina decided that since we were miserable, we couldn’t be together anymore. This broke my heart and scared me to death at the same time.

I returned to drugs after quitting during the time we were together. I did nothing but cry in bed all day. I stopped work. I prayed and begged and wished to die. I woke up crying almost every morning and cursed the God who permitted me to suffer like this. I would take my handful of pills. Sleeping was becoming less and less enjoyable. I had terrible nightmares that my father and brother raped me. I woke up angry and upset, not even wanting to face my father because of the repetitious nightmares starring him as my enemy. My favorite pastime was now turning unfavorable. What would I do now that I couldn’t even sleep to escape my pain? A month passed. I never thought the girl who abused me would save my life. Everywhere in my house that I would go, I would be haunted by the thought of The John Dewey Academy. I found brochures everywhere. I was so desperate I thought as a last resort I would return to this crazy school. I didn’t want hospitals, medication, and the recently recommended Electroshock Treatment. It was only after this epiphany of a broken heart that I would make the decision that would save my life. 

I desperately tried to hold back my tears and feeling of sheer terror and despair when I asked my mother for help. I knew this was my last chance. Everyone except my parents had given up on me and I knew my father was losing hope. I returned to John Dewey.

I walked in the huge wooden doors of the castle and knew this would be the hardest, most challenging process I would probably ever face. The kids welcomed me back and showed me the way of the school that I had missed out on by walking out of my first interview. It was so terrifying but for the first time I felt safe. Safe was a feeling that I hadn’t felt in a long time as a result of fearing myself. Tom smiled and in what I felt was an arrogant statement, told me he knew I would return. I gave him a fake smile in response. This place was crazy, and I was scared. I opted to stop six kinds of medication and was brain dead. For the next few weeks I saw a doctor and gradually was weaned off my poisons. It felt lousy for a long time and I was sick in bed for a few weeks.

Much to my surprise, I am still here. I am changing. Sometimes I still wish I didn’t have to wake up in the morning. I still wake up and cry sometimes because I feel like giving up and no longer fighting. Sometimes I feel like cutting myself again. This is when I have to remind myself why I am here and what I did to get here. I know I will be confronted with many challenges here and for the rest of my life, but I know by staying and working my butt off with everyday challenges, I can gain a life of happiness, accomplishment and pride that I only dreamed of.

Sometimes I dream I can succeed. I will one day look back and thank everyone who messed with me and who lost faith in me because they forced me to get the help I desperately needed. After I’m accepted by a great college, I will go to every hospital and confront every shrink to shout that they were dead wrong. I don’t need medication. I need peers to confront me. Each day I grow stronger. Each night, the dream I dream becomes more convincing. I am on my way. I gain momentum and strength. No, I want to live. I want to be able to help other people who felt like I did. I never want anyone to feel the agony and terror I did. I will succeed, I know what I have to do and I will do it. My life will start at nineteen.

Copyright © 1999, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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