I was committed here March to June 2004. It was the most insane experience I’ve ever lived through. I was majorly depressed and highly suicidal and self mutilated, but my issues paled compared to my peers there. I was in AP Calculus classes and they barely had basics on Algebra. Everyone lived together regardless the severity of their mental illness. I remember thinking this is the place kids go when society abuses and discards you, and doesn’t know else to do with you. The dregs of society. So much abuse. So many sad hurting children. Also a good portion of intercity kids with severe ODD and violence issues. I was heavily medicated, and the medication rotated in what seemed like biweekly. Must have been on a half dozen or more medications at any given time for depression or anxiety or ADHD or bipolar or borderline or whatever else they diagnosed me with. I felt so sorry for my peers. The kids were mostly innocent and sweet, just severely traumatized and abused. Even as a teen hearing their stories in group therapy completely broke my heart. I remember the staff was okay. The more educated, the better they treated us. But they all ultimately treated everyone with suspicion, as if they were defective humans, and so there was no escaping their diagnoses. Many children tried killing themselves. Lots of fighting. Lots of self mutilation. The food was abhorrent. Worse than prison. It was a very dilapidated campus. Snack time was one of the few joys. And spotting deer on the lawn from our housing windows. Boys and girls were separated, but joined for meals in the cafeteria. Most of these memories are repressed. They are hidden deep within me. I remember the moans and screams at night. I remember the smells. I remember waking to the nurse taking my vitals every morning, before slipping back to sleep. I remember the horrific stories of abuse by the kids there. I remember standing in long medication lines morning, noon and night, and occasionally discovering new pills in the Dixie cup. I remember getting privileges to call my parents with the staff phone, and listening to my mother sobbing, promising me she’ll get me out. I remember feeling numb, but also feeling resolute about doing whatever it took to radically change my life so that I’d never end up somewhere like here again.

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