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Category Archives: Violet Rain

Pretty Little Liar

*”If any item is discovered to be missing from another patient’s room or from the nurses station and Beth has taken it or is suspected to be guilty of stealing it, the nurses may use the same punishment that Beth would receive for stealing it.”

If anything was missing, it was always because I had stolen it. If I had anything new, it was always because I had stolen it.

I remember at Children’s Hospital, one day I brought along the book “Berenstein Bears, No Girls Allowed” but didn’t get it “checked in” with my things when I went through the armed guards at the door. When the staff saw that I had an extra item in my possession the pediatric unit was put on red-alert; “Beth has one more item than documents state she should, she has obviously been stealing again!”

My name had been written inside the front cover of the book but when the staff got ahold of it they immediately whited my name out like it was some sort of taboo and stamped “Children’s Hospital Psychiatric Ward” right there in big letters.

I lost all television privileges for a week, had to miss art classes for three days, and even lost the freedom to wear my own clothing. I was made to wear hospital scrubs until the nurses felt I had earned my clothing back. How do you decide when one has “earned” the right to their clothes?

When I told my mom and dad what had happened I remember crying. The hospital had taken one of my favorite books. Not only was I once again treated very unfairly and given the shit end of the stick, I had been pretty darn close to owning the entire “Berenstein Bear” collection and those people just set me back a book.

My folks’ reaction left something to be desired; They did not say a word. Everyone knows I never told the truth, I was always wrong, always dishonest. So, they just sat there and looked at me; That pretty little Liar.

*This is from a progress report date August 13, 1992. I just love that I am to be punished even if it is just suspected that I might be guilty. Was I ever given a break?

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A Teenager Protests

Not long ago I was asked if I knew that my behavior when I was younger was wrong. I was asked if I remembered the night that I attacked my father in our garage with a rake.

Yes, I knew that my behavior was wrong. I wasn’t oblivious. Of course I remembered that night in the garage, its also the night that I spent in jail.

I was a little taken aback by the first question. How could I not know that beating someone with a rake was wrong? Although I suppose in retrospect I can see how one might question my judgement at that time in my life. Especially considering that around that time my days were being spent beating the shit out of boys at school, cursing at teachers, spending every afternoon in detention, and constantly fighting with pretty much anyone who would cross me.

After this conversation I began to think about all of the years that I spent in all of those hospitals and group homes and the horrible behavior that occurred behind those walls. I knew in my mind why I behaved so terribly while there but I was never able to put it down into words.

It finally occurred to me: It was a protest. From day one, I was fighting for myself. I should not have been there, I did not deserve to be there, why would I just sit there and take it? I was was not even given a chance in the outside world so I fought for that chance.

I might liken it to employees of some big company who go on strike and stop working until they are given that raise or equal rights. They march and wave signs and make noise until someone takes notice and gives them not just what they want, but what they rightfully deserve. That’s what I was doing: Fighting for what I deserved.

During that time there were periods of good behavior. Amid one such period at my group home I was even named “Resident of the Month”. I was honored with a banquet and awarded a television among other things. Most people would agree that those are the periods when you are ‘trying hard’ and ‘working on yourself’ and ‘moving forward’. When you act out, you are said to be ‘regressing’ and ‘stepping backwards’.

I saw it as the opposite. If I was behaving well then I was giving up on my cause. I was sitting back and accepting that this was my life and this was where I belonged. I couldn’t fall victim to that. I had to ‘act out’ as they say. I had to make noise and be heard for the injustice that I was being subject to every day.

Professionals in the medical field did not see my behavior in the way that it was intended. They, like so many others just saw me as an out-of-control teenager. I expected as much.

While my protesting didn’t get me released back into society as I so rightfully deserved, I still do not regret having behaved the way that I did. In fact, I think I would rather have spent years alone and isolated behaving like a monster while fighting for what I deserved than have spent a few months acting like a phony, well-behaved angel just to be released early. At least I would have been true to myself.

School Days

I have always been an exceptionally smart person. Normally an A or B student, usually on the honor roll, and frequently testing for more advance classes. One could safely assume that a bright academic future was in store for me.

I made it through elementary school with what seemed like few problems. If there were ever issues they were never big enough to affect my schooling. I had a social life, friends who looked forward to seeing me, and teachers who actually enjoyed my company.

The onset of junior high was different. I’m not sure why but many things seemed to just change overnight. I personally noticed that I was suddenly too big for my britches. Frequently causing disturbances in class, I spent much of my time in detention. I also remember many days of skipping school all together.

I’m not sure why I behaved the way I did. I was not popular and wasn’t doing the things that I was doing to look cool. In fact, the only reason anybody knew who I was was because I was such a troublemaker.

I recall the only worthwhile thing about seventh grade was being a part of the yearbook staff. Being creative is something that always makes me feel good. I loved having a camera or a pencil and paper in my hand. I was also a part of a team. I felt like I had a purpose. When the school year ended I was even appointed editor for the following year. I thought it could only be a sign of great things to come.

Eighth grade got off to a good start. I had a few close friends and was relishing my time working on the yearbook. I am extremely proud to say that the year that I was editor is the only time in my school’s history where the yearbook took on a unique look. Among many things it was not their traditional red and white. The theme of the book was “We don’t fit the mold, we break it”. I explained to everyone that it is okay to break from tradition and be different. As a result we had a wonderfully different pale gray and navy blue yearbook.

Months passed with nothing horrible occurring. Since I was prone to trouble making I’m sure there was a detention or two in there, but overall there were no big issues for me. I met a young fellow named Ryan and he became my first “boyfriend”. We would talk on the phone and pass notes back and forth in English class. Things seemed so serious. All that talk of locker placement, math partners, the Smashing Pumpkins, and meeting at the mall…it all sounded so deep at the time.

January is when big problems began. I had told Ryan that I didn’t want him to be my boyfriend anymore and that didn’t sit well with him. Some men just can’t handle rejection.

Not long after, I began hearing people saying things about me behind my back in my English class. Ryan had been telling people about all of the sexually perverse things that I had in reality never done with him. I said something to my English teacher about this on numerous occasions and she paid it no attention. Her response was that it was all in my mind. What do you know, another adult that didn’t believe me. If she had believed me or even just listened to me, what happened next might have been prevented.

I walked into English class one day and saw Ryan standing there, he looked up at me and grinned. I sat down and said nothing. At the end of class I turned around and quietly said “Ryan, if you don’t keep your damn mouth shut I’m gonna kick your ass”. I suppose he thought it was just an empty threat, as the next day I walked into the classroom to Ryan standing in front of everyone saying things like “Liz likes to touch guy’s dicks” and “Liz feels me up and down all the time”. Just as anyone would be, I was furious when I heard this. Combine that with the embarrassment that I felt, I became irate.

As I had somewhat of a temper at the time I immediately grabbed him by his shirt and shoved him up against the wall. I screamed “I told you to shut the hell up or I was gonna kick your ass”. I threw him down on the ground and punched him over and over again. At one point he managed to get out from under me and run into another classroom, I caught up with him and continued beating him some more. Another boy ran over to try and stop me and attempted to grab my arm but I turned around and with one swift punch I took him out.

When all was said and done Ryan ended up with a bloody lip and eyebrow and I’m sure many bruises. He was also lucky enough to have bestowed upon him the reputation of being beaten up by a girl.

That was the last day that I remember attending that school. It wasn’t until after the fact that I realized this incident occurred on Valentine’s Day. Getting kicked out of school for beating up an ex-boyfriend on Valentine’s Day…sounds like something out of a movie.

Spending the rest of that semester home-schooled only brought more stress in my house which meant more family problems.

Once again I thought things were beginning to up for me however when upon realizing that I couldn’t return to my junior high/high school, my parent decided to put my creative abilities to use and applied for me to attend the Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School.

Going there for my interview, I remember thinking what an amazing place it was. We went on a tour of the entire school and I had never seen a place like it. This was school? We visited the photography department and I was simply taken aback. I walked into the darkroom and was speechless. I had never been in or actually ever seen an actual darkroom before but knew that was where I wanted to spend my time.

I desired so terribly to go there. It would be so nice to get a fresh start away from all of the old teachers, acquaintances, rumors, and bad memories. It would also be something that would keep my interest and look good on the college applications to the art schools that I knew I would go to someday.

A few weeks later I received an acceptance letter in the mail. It arrived with a class schedule and a bus assignment. Was this going to be the fresh start that I was hoping for and needing? I was so sure that it was, but once again I was wrong.

I ended up spending the entire summer in Hawthorn Hospital, the most draconian juvenile nut-hut there is. While imprisoned, I was given a diagnosis of having a “behavior disorder”. As a result, my high school experience would be even more shoddy than my junior high school experience.

I am an incredibly smart, extremely advanced person whose mental capacities are highly above average. Yet, I spent high school in a classroom with children who did not even know the alphabet. I will not deny that I had behavior issues but is that a reason to treat me like I didn’t know that one plus one equals two?

My tendency to “act out” got worse as my freshman and sophomore years went on, but I don’t know what else the teachers were expecting. I was stuck in a classroom with a group of stupid kids, being given work that a first grader could do. I was never being challenged or allowed to work up to anywhere near my full potential. How fair was that to me?

I was on medication at the time that made me very drowsy and some days it was almost impossible to stay awake. Combine that with how bored I was and I was frequently falling asleep. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I would explain to my teacher that it was my medication making me sleepy but according to her I was just lazy and didn’t care about anything. Detention was given every time someone fell asleep in class so needless to say I spent a lot of time in detention.

I have many recollections of getting very angry at my teachers for not listening to me when I would try to tell them about my work being too easy and my needs not being met. On many occasions I would get so tired of trying to explain things that “Fuck You” would end up coming out of my mouth due to pure frustration. I’d turn and walk out of the room to more detentions and even suspensions.

I endured two and a half years of this. At the end of my junior year I finally just said “Screw This”. I realized that I had had enough and was gaining nothing by being put through all of that misery every single day. It definitely would have been nice to have my high school diploma but I wasn’t going to subject myself to that daily agony for another nine months. In the end I earned my GED around the exact same time that I would have received my diploma.

A few years later I entered an art school just like my sights had been set on so many years before. I even got a chance to utilize a darkroom like the one that had impressed me so greatly when I was younger. I earned my Bachelors Degree in Photography and now have a beautifully framed diploma hanging on my wall.

Fighting Scars

Every time I get out of the shower and stand in front of the mirror, my eyes are always drawn to an “L” shaped scar on my neck. I always run my fingers across it as the skin is slightly raised but only on occasion do I think about where it came from.

I was once again alone with nobody on my side. Someone had lied and said that I had hit Cameisha with a glass dish which then shattered on top of her head (evidence of any broken glass was nowhere to be found), and that was the reason for her grabbing me with her talon-like fingernails and throwing me down on the floor. She climbed on top of me and in between yanking my hair and ripping holes in my clothes, she was slicing my face and neck to shreds.

Since our staff did not give two winks about me they took their jolly time coming to break up our fight. When they walked in the room there were six other girls just standing around watching. None of them had the decency to pull this lunatic off of me. After what seemed like forever, one of the staff finally grabbed her. Cameisha immediately feigned upset and distraught and the staff members played right into her little “woe is me” pity party.

I got up and stood there in a corner all alone, coated in blood from the cuts that were covering my face, neck, and arms. Cameisha’s fingernails could easily have been categorized as “lethal weapons” considering the amount of damage that they had caused me.

When the three staff members were done consoling their innocent angel who had been crying crocodile tears and claiming self defense, all of them turned to me. They began shouting at me saying how much trouble I was going to be in for beating her with the dishes (which were indeed non-existant had they even bothered to check) and how I brought all of this on myself.

I immediately ran out the door and down the street. Luckily I had an acquaintance who lived in the neighborhood so when I asked his mother to drive me to my parent’s house, she gladly said yes.

When I got to my parent’s house I walked into the backyard where my mom was stunned at my appearance. I’d imagine I looked somewhat like a modern day version of Frankenstein’s Monster. She asked what happened. As I told her the story she was shocked and angered. Before she cleaned me up she took pictures and said she was going to press charges. Against who? I didn’t know and I didn’t care.

All I could think about was that maybe this was my chance to leave the place where I was continuously being abused. Physically and verbally. Did my parents finally believe me? Did they finally see that I wasn’t lying? How could they not? Just looking at my bloody face and torn clothes was proof of the kind of situation that I was living in. Apparently not proof enough.

Within an hour they had taken me right back to the place where that bloody massacre had just occurred. I was amazed and extremely hurt. How could they bring me back knowing what had just happened to me inside those walls. Their reasoning behind that decision I will never know. I recently asked my mother why she took me back that night and she simply said, “I don’t know.”

For days, weeks, even months I went to school, sporting events, doctor appointments, and everywhere else with cuts and scabs covering my face. At first it was terribly embarrassing to set a foot out the door but eventually it became more and more comfortable and routine.

For multiple years I had small scars that hung around on my cheek, chin, and forehead. Fifteen years later those have faded and the one on my neck is the only one that remains.

It bothered me for a long time. I wished that it would go away as I did not want any reminders of that awful night. Now as time has gone on I am almost glad that it is still there. I look at it and am reminded of that night but now I see things in a different light. Instead of seeing it as something that I suffered through I see it as one more thing that I was strong enough to survive.

Part Two

Lamictal, Haldol, Paxil, Luvox, Lithium, Depakote, Nardil, Prozac, Clonodine, Despirimine, Effexor, Risperidol, Buspar, Eskalith, Zuprexa, Zoloft, Nizaril, Neurontin, Ritalin, Tegretol…twenty different medications, eighteen prescribed in less than a ten year time span.

ADD, ADHD, Major Affective Disorder, Behavior Disorder, Manic Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Impulsive Control Disorder, Developmental Disability Disorder…nine different diagnoses in a thirteen year period and none correct. All unfounded, all wrong, all given to me by a string of incompetent doctors whom I seemed to attract like none other. I swear I was surrounded by stupidity.

Example: What sane doctor would diagnose a thirteen year old adolescent with Borderline Personality Disorder? For those who are unaware, symptoms of BPD are almost identical those of basic puberty; mood swings, feeling misunderstood, insecure sense of who you are, self loathing, depression. Stupidity? I think so.

Example: What sane doctor keeps pumping a ten year old child full of medications that have proved unsuccessful, continuing to increase dosages while adding even more prescriptions to the already full cocktail? Something obviously wasn’t working, why not step back and make logical adjustments? More is not always better. According to records, there was a point around age eleven where I was on six medications at one time. Stupidity? You decide.

I have done research and found that sometimes taking multiple medications can have a counter affect and actually make a person’s problems worse, not better. I also heard from a doctor who told me that if a person is on more than five medications then there is a 25% chance that they can become sicker than before.

I am currently dealing with the hormone deficiency, hypothyroidism. It is under control but it is something that I will be on medication for for the rest of my life. I recently asked what may have been the cause and was shocked and angered at the answer I was given. The doctor asked me if I had ever taken Lithium. That is one of the unnecessary meds that my inept doctors had once prescribed. I said ‘yes’ and he responded ‘unfortunately, that’s probably it’.

Isn’t that nice? All of their stupidity still affecting me some thirteen years after I thought I had gotten the very last one out of my life…

Shitty First Draft

I have to get my story out. I’ve kept things in for a long time, ashamed to say anything about my life before age 20.  I don’t care who reads this. I don’t care that its lousy. It will be tweaked and perfected over time

I was admitted to Children’s Hospital for the first time when I was in forth grade. I remember being taken out of school early that day. Looking back, I cannot recall off of the top of my head what was so terrible about me at the time that would warrant my being placed in a juvenile nut-house. I will admit though that from what I do recall, life in the hospital wasn’t all that bad.

I was admitted to St.John’s for the first time when I was in fifth grade. The first in a long string of many, many stays at this hospital. In-patient and out-patient.

I was admitted to Hawthorn Hospital when I was in eighth grade. The worst hospital experience ever. They treat you like you’re in a prison. I was in a facility that could remind some of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. On more than one occasion I would spend hours strapped to a bed in a completely empty room. Looking back now I can only imagine how hopeless things must have seemed and how helpless I must have felt.

I moved to Marygrove in ninth grade I believe it was. Immediately I felt like an outsider. Every other girl that I lived with was poor and black. They were wards of the state whose parents were either dead, drunks, or druggies. Then there I was: a better-off white chick with two living, working, drug-free parents who just happens to act out on occasion. I was doomed from the moment I walked in the door.

Fast forward two years and I moved into Marygrove’s independent living house. A little bit more freedom but basically the same nightmare as before. Actually worse than before, just moved down a hill. I say worse than before for two reasons 1) There is less supervision so residents can get away with more including treating me like garbage. 2) All of the staff are racist black women as are all but one of the residents. That does not bode well for this suburban white girl.

After a year plus of verbal and physical abuse at Sequoia House I personally campaigned to get myself moved into an apartment program with a different group home. With little to no support from others and plenty of doubt and criticism cast upon me, I finally moved into my own place where I could begin the road to total recovery (from what exactly I’m not sure considering there was never anything wrong with me to begin with).

Finally able to take my life into my own hands…what a wonderful feeling. I still remember how fabulous it felt to tell my childhood psychiatrist that she was fired. After all those years of her having power over me, it was almost like finally being able to say “You don’t know whats best for me. Fuck You!” I’ve never thought about that before. She held the reins for so long. All of the drugs that I was put on. All of the hospitals and bogus diagnoses that I was given. For seven years. Throughout the worst time of my life she was the overlord. An incompetent doctor whose answer to things was to “fill her with drugs, lock her up, and call me in a few years”. No wonder it felt so good to fire her.

Taking the reins of my life into my own hands after so many years of being controlled by others…the most empowering feeling ever.

Second only to knowing that no matter how hard anyone tried, there was no way I was ever going to let anyone break me.

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rusche

[old french: beehive]

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