by Nico Murphy
A story of the fun to be had in a mental hospital
|There was a set of double doors leading out to a smoking patio. Most of communal fun we had together as patients was out there, on the patio. The doors remained locked from the hours of nine o'clock in the morning to anywhere between the hours of two thirty and three o'clock. The pad lock hung there as if it was really a metaphor for the freedom that we had to hang up for the day. While waiting for our freedom, or at least the freedom we had conceptualized that turns out to be inhaling cigarette smoke and talking among ourselves in a nonclinical setting, we would attend various classes, meet with certain psychological professionals, and be assessed as per needed by the clinical staff. What a finely tuned machine it was to be in, in between the teeth of the gears. We were all holding steady at La Paloma at the Oaks. The Dove at the Oaks. It was located in the humid and muggy Memphis, TN.
As you can imagine, there was many stranger than other conversations, alongside some pretty normal conversations. The treatment center was for the mentally ill AND the chemically dependent. Now when addicts and alcoholics get together with the mentally ill, trouble is usually on the rise. It was a men and women facility, we both had our same sex dorms and contact was limited and in most cases forbidden. What fools I say, what fools?
Maybe I am wrong and maybe I am not, but usually, when you get men and women together in a social setting, there is sex involved. I know, I know, there is much more to a setting of a psychiatric hospital that is a social environment, but part of the healing process is the social aspects among patients.