Fighting for the right to live the life I deserve

 Editor's Note:
There is another article by the author entitled
Fighting for the right to live the life I deserve. Part two,
which doesn't really fit the editorial purposes of this page, but is worth reading.


To pick just one horror story out of my eleven years with a diagnosed mental illness is very hard. From day one I have lived a hard life which in turn makes mental illness even harder to live with. Suffering mental, sexual and physical abuse throughout the majority of my life has made me a very paranoid and depressed person. One story that is and always has been stuck in my mind is when I lived in Phoenix Arizona. Shortly after I arrived in Phoenix my mother put me in residential treatment for my “ problem” as she put it. I was seventeen years old and had just come back to my mother after she had left me in another state and moved to Phoenix. She got the choice of going to jail or flying me out to where she was so she flew me out to where she was. I was admitted to the county hospital. When you walked onto the unit you had to go through two sets of locked doors the only way in or out were these doors but you had to have a key to go in or out. The unit was very small and very full all the time. All the windows were covered by steel grates. You could not see out the windows so there was no daylight. We did not go outside at all. The most activity we had was walking the main hall. Once a week we were allowed to go into the day room which we had to share with the adult patients across the hall. Even in the day room there was still very little day light because they had the windows covered with something that kept people from seeing in. This once a week activity was a great full one because we couldn’t see outside from our unit and this is the day that family could visit. After I had been there for about four weeks I was told by my doctor that my mother had given up her rights of me and that I was now award of the state. I was very upset and starting screaming and yelling and begging them to let me talk to her because I refused to believe this. Just then they called what is known as a code blue. This is a code that is called when a patient is out of control and needs to be restrained. I didn’t know that was what the code meant. The next thing I know there are several large men running towards me. Well being a person with an extensive abuse history my first thought was. I have to defend myself I don’t know what they are going to do to me and I don’t want to know. Just then I was tackled to the floor by these men taken into a room that had writing all over the walls and nothing but a bed that was bolted to the floor in it. This scared me even more I kept thinking they were going to rape me or beat me or god forbid kill me. I really started fighting back I refused to be hurt again and if they wanted to hurt me they were going to have fight on there hands.  I started frantically kicking and punching trying to get these people off of me I remember kicking one of them and later finding out that I broke his nose in two places. When I had kicked the one staff member I was injected with something that knocked me out.


Several hours later I woke up in what is called a six point restraint. I could see through the window out into the hall way where there was a clock and I had been in there for about five hours. I noticed that my hands were turning purple from lack blood flow to them. I started trying to get out of the restraints, my feet and my arms were tied to this bed that was bolted to the floor and I had another strap across my chest. The restraints they had put me in were leather and had big metal locking buckles on them. I managed to manipulate my right hand just enough to squeeze it out of one strap then I started working on the others. With in a matter of minutes I was free and very upset that I had been left in here for over five hours unconscious. Just then one of the staff members had walked by and noticed that I had gotten out of the restraints and went running to the office. Another code was called and once again several large men came running in my direction. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. In my opinion I was saving my life because my hands were so purple and cold. I tried to talk to them and they wouldn’t have anything to do with me. They just scooped me up slammed me back on the bed and restrained me once again. I was also sedated once again. I spent the next five days in restraints. The only time I got out of them is when I had to go to the bathroom or I got myself out of them. Even if I did have to use the bathroom it was very hard to get the staff’s attention because there were two big doors that led into the room I was in. They left those doors closed at all times while I was in there. I would have to yell and scream just get someone in there to help me. Sometimes it would take a few hours to get anyone in there to help me. I don’t know if it was because they could not hear me or it was just simply that they did not care.


I spent twelve weeks in this hospital. I remember leaving and when I walked outside I was blinded by the daylight because it had been so long since I had seen it. From that hospital I went on to three other treatment centers until I was eighteen and signed myself out of treatment completely. A few years later I learned that the hospital I spent five days restrained in was shut down for cruelty to the patients. I just wish they would have done it sooner.