Tell us all about the person you were when you were sixteen. If you haven’t yet hit sixteen, tell us about the person you want to be at sixteen.
Ahhh sixteen: the worst year of my life. I’ve had other bad years but that one was the worst. I’ve detailed much of it on my Stelazine Diaries which cover the end of being sixteen and the beginning of seventeen. Seventeen was quite a bit better but sixteen sucked all the way around.
This was my Denny’s Uniform but that is not me. I was heavier and had longer hair for one.
To start off, I was fired on my sixteenth birthday. I was working as a hostess at Denny’s on weekends for extra cash while in school. I wore the lovely uniform posted above. I had fine hair bleached to brassy awfulness and I would put it up in a little ponytail to work but I had a co worker with tons of shiny black hair who would put hers in a complicated up do to put anyone to shame. She hated me. She got into an argument with me that day and I ended up getting fired (not her of course). On my birthday.
At home my parents were disappointed but willing to take me out to dinner that night anyway. It was a Middle Eastern place where you got to sit on the floor and eat with your hands. It was fun. It was virtually the only good thing that happened to me that year–that, and escaping the hospital.
The hospital was months away but the events that precipitated it were already brewing.
I’m still weirded out how a semi-normal teen like myself ended up in the State Hospital anyway….
Even my gift that year sucked. I had wanted new skis and there they were! I was happy but they were not as nice as I saw the other kids had and then my Dad had to pipe up and say they were very much on sale and HE had bought an identical pair for himself at that low price. Whose birthday was it , Dad? It was sort of fun later on having matching skis the few times left I went skiing with the folks, especially since our skis were nearly the same length and almost impossible to tell apart. Shortish Dad and tall daughter.
It was only the beginning, however. A month or two later my folks took me to a new shrink (a husband and wife team only blocks away from the aforementioned Denny’s). I was entering my Junior Year in High School on a bad note not having had finished my Sophomore Year due to running away. My old shrink decided to not take me back and my parents had not found anyone else suitable. I had somehow scared off one counselor and another shrink wanted to treat me for five days a week for five years at 100 bucks a pop back in the early 1980s which was incredible. He must have had a Yacht to pay off. Well, my parents found these guys. I think they were a Jewish couple, even.
The wife was my psychiatrist and she was older, sour, and a bit mean I thought. They ran a bunch of tests on me including the famous Inkblot (remember just answer no to every question–you see nothing–and then you pass). It took two days and they (also expensive) billed my parents accordingly. They came up with “Borderline Disorder” a sort of trashcan diagnosis that was not very well known then. I think they were still playing with the DSM II at that point. They told my folks I was nuts and needed drugs. At first all I got was a mild antianxiety pill but soon after the Stelazine came out.
Since that time I have hardly ever gotten the same “diagnosis” twice although they keep getting worse and worse as time goes on.
I was going to school and I had found another new job to fail at by then. Soon the pills started to take effect and I found school and work and the new diet I had started (at a diet center no less!) (See s previous post for that diet. ) way too much. Soon I also had a support group called Recovery, Inc. which still operates to attend two nights a week. It was too much. The pills made me lazy and depressed and all I wanted to do was sleep. The demands of school, work, dieting, and the support group were too much.
After Christmas Break I could not fathom going back to school. The pills had me in their grip and I could not concentrate on school or anything else. I ran away the Sunday night before school started, ended up about 100 miles away and called my mother to come get me the following afternoon. She made it in an hour to the truckstop where I awaited.
Back to school I went. It got no better. I don’t know what precipitated it when I decided to take the pills. I was very depressed, felt fat, and felt life was passing me by already. I don’t remember a particular argument or setback though. I took 20 Stelazine and lay in my bed. A few minutes later my mother came to my door asking if I had taken pills. I was aghast. How did she know? She said “something” told her I had taken the pills and to check up on me. I believe it was the Holy Spirit. My mother never believed in God but “something” got her attention that day.
We got into the car and raced to the hospital where I was given that black nasty charcoal to drink and then admitted to a room until a psych bed could be found. I got a bed in a psych ward (one of the few that is still in operation here) and my folks went home. It was not such a bad place and I would have stayed if I had known what laid ahead.
Teens and adults were together in the ward but only the teens got to go on outings. I think we went bowling, to a movie, to the ballet and to a restaurant the week I was there. There was also a morning walk in the large park across the street every day. The ward was also unlocked (a rarity today) but only had one door to go in and out. There was also art therapy and group therapy. There was a girl in there with me who went to my school who had also gotten bad harassment due to a physical abnormality. The same kids that drove me to run away and onto shrink’s couches had led her to attempt suicide.
As usual the kids hated me, one in particular. Have you noticed, ti’s, that one particular bully is always the worst at your jobs, on your block, etc…? I have. After awhile ( a whole week) no one was talking to me on the ward anymore except a few adults. I decided to run during the morning walk. While everyone walked ahead and chatted with the counselors I lagged back and waited for my cue. When everyone had turned the corner and was out of sight I ran to the edge of the park and put my thumb out. Someone stopped.
I somehow ended up in far Northern California before I was caught by police hitchhiking out of a small town. I was depressed. I had hooked up with a man and we were going to Canada? or something but we decided or he decided we should split apart because we were not getting rides. Well, I got a ride all right. To jail.
I was photographed and fingerprinted like a real criminal. I guess I was a crim as I had stolen a candy bar at a store earlier that day. I was put into a cell by myself and put on “suicide watch” with a camera on at all times (I was very loudly against cameras recording people in public when they first started appearing as I regard cameras as punitive) except going to the bathroom. I was segregated from the other kids as I had not committed a crime. I had said nothing about the candy bar.
After two days there I was put on a plane, in handcuffs, with a chaperone to fly “home”. My father met me at the connecting flight in San Francisco. He made promises to me that I would go free once the plane landed and I did not have to go back to school, I could live on my own, etc…it was all a lie. I was taken to our Juvenile Hall which is only blocks from where I live now (done on Perpose?) and kept there until a psychiatric bed was made available. I got the joy of having a full cavity search every time the parents came to visit. Showers were supervised, too.
The official story was that psych beds were nowhere to be found…at least that is what was told me. The reality was, that I was going to the state hospital’s locked adolescent ward. I would spend the next 3 months of my life there until I took off on pass one fine summer evening.
I spent the first month on suicide watch with no privileges. I had to sleep in front of the nurses station. There were groups there and “one on ones” with counselors. We also had to attend school a few hours each weekday. School was on the ward. There was a yard with a 20 foot high fence. That was it for the outdoors if you had no privileges.
Finally I got a few privileges. I got to sleep in a “regular” bedroom with 3 other girls. One of them tried to show me how to light a cigarette with pencil lead and an outlet. Another gave me a “head rush” by squeezing my neck. The ward bully was in my room. She snuck under my bed and raised the mattress and pretended to be a ghost. I did not react. The meds made me almost a zombie. I was getting them in liquid form now so I don’t even know how much I was getting.
Finally I was allowed to go off unit for meetings with my on staff shrink and my one on one counselor. Then, I was allowed to go to the main cafeteria that featured (gasp) real silverware and plates and a coffeepot. Later I got to go on outings to the store, a local park, and a convenience store. I think I was even allowed to be on grounds alone once. I was still miserable but it was less miserable to be there. I finally got to go on day only passes with the parents. The first pass I cried the whole time knowing they were going to take me back to the lockup.
I was getting bored with ward life and it was decided I could do “industrial therapy” which at that time consisted of piece work. I got accompanied to the building. After a couple of hours of some boring thing I walked to the door to go outside just to look at the sky and the greening trees. I walked back in but I had gotten reported.
The ward staff, especially the bitch that ran the ward, came down on me. No more industrial therapy. I went on an outing to a movie to only later find out I had not been approved for it. Outings had been suspended except the scheduled pass home on the weekend. Things seemed to be getting worse. What was next? Sleeping in front of the nurses station again? Not only that, but my on ward shrink had decided I would have to spend a total of six months there and would only let me out as the new school year was beginning. Right back to the school where all the problems started. No dice.
On pass with my grandmother I asked to go use the restroom, went and locked myself in my grandma’s bedroom while they were at table and squeezed out a small window and ran to the busy street in front of her house. I put my thumb out. Someone picked me up.
I ran for three weeks in fear because I knew if I was found it was back to the locked ward for me. I ended up as far as New Orleans but for some reason found myself going back towards home even though I was pretty sure what would happen. I had nowhere to go and could not just keep on running. I got home on a warm summer evening and called my parents.
I was surprised when they said they would not lock me up anymore and that all I had to do was make a contract of behavior at Social Services. I was too mad at my folks to come home so I stayed at my Aunt’s 3 months before she got sick of me. This and not getting caught “on the road” during those 3 weeks was the miracle. I believed in God, really, for the first time. There had been no way that I got out of this mess except for Divine Intervention. I started believing then but did not really follow through until over a decade later.
Back to the story: I was almost 17 then. I started the journal I posted on this blog about two weeks after I came back to town. The first entry was on July 4. Freedom of sorts, but not for long. I had no idea about targetting. Yet.
Now, I’m Sixteen three times over and my life is in the toilet. Maybe those years had something to do with it.
The perps have threatened me not to write this post.
The perps across the street are going around acting like they have hacked my email.