In May it will have been ten years since my unjustified lock-up in the loony bin. Ten years. Luckily, I don’t think about it every day anymore. Sometimes weeks will go by before I think about it again. But when something triggers the memory it sticks around for a few hours at least. It’s hours of “what could I have done differently?” And the only answer that comes is “leave earlier.” However, it’s ridiculous to blame myself. I did not call the police and lie about an attempted suicide. Other people did that. There is nothing to forgive myself for.
I don’t precisely remember the exact circumstances of the days before or the days after.
I remember that my “friend” had hit on my then fiancee and that I didn’t want to talk to her anymore. That was what started this entire thing; the silent treatment. After I succinctly told my “friend” that she should stop sending me text messages…
I wouldn’t respond to her text messages or answer her phone calls. And she was pissed off about it. I had just seen my fiancee that morning before he left for work. I had even told him not to go to work so that we could talk about it, but he refused.
(I should interject here that I was raising my fiancee’s daughter for him, and she was in the house at the time. So, not only did they do this to me, they exposed an innocent child to this situation.)
My fiancee’s daughter had just had lunch and I put her in bed for a nap. (She was pre school-age at the time.) My fiancee had sent me a text to let me know that he had sent my “friend” over to check on me since I wasn’t responding to their texts.
Then I received a text from my fiancee. “I’m coming home.”
Right after I heard a knock on the door. Then I heard the front door open. And foot steps up the stairs. I assumed it was my “friend”. So I went to my bedroom and shut the door. Knowing that he would be home soon, too, I thought, “Good. He can deal with her.”
I mean, who thinks, “I know her friend propositioned me and she’s the last person Liz wants to see, but I’m going to send her over anyway”?
There was some ruckus, but I couldn’t really tell what was going on. Then there was a knock on the bedroom door. “LSPD. Open the door.” Someone was pulling a prank on me! Then I heard another knock. Followed again by, “LSPD. Open the door, Ma’am.” I didn’t recognize the voice, so I got up and opened the door.
There was a female Police Officer standing there with her gun out. As soon as she saw that I was unarmed she put her gun back in her holster and asked me to step out to the living room. Of course I did.
Following her out to the living room I saw that my fiancee’s daughter was no longer in her room. Our apartment was empty except for the Police Officers; one female, two males. The men were leaning on the back of the couch. The female officer sent them to search the bedroom. She told me that it was reported that I was suicidal and asked if there were any weapons in the room. I informed her that my fiancee had a gun, but that he kept it locked up. She nodded, “we were told there was a gun in there with you.”
“I’m not suicidal,” I said. It took everything in me to choke back all of the anger and fear that was pumping through my entire body.
“In most cases people don’t admit that they’re suicidal,” she replied.
The male officers came out of the bedroom with the gun case and some poetry I had written. They handed the papers to the female officer. She asked why my poems were about harming myself. I told her that I used to self-mutilate, but that a previous psychiatrist had me write my feelings down instead of acting them out and that’s what that was. They weren’t even new. I told her that I wasn’t suicidal and that’s not what those poems were about and that if she actually read them she’d see that.
She started spouting off crap about a mandatory hold. Again, I told her that I wasn’t suicidal and that my fiancee and “friend” were just mad at me, because I wouldn’t talk to them. She actually scoffed at me.
I mean, OF COURSE SHE DID! What kind of crazy people report an attempted suicide just because you give them the silent treatment???
Well, horrible people do; people who can’t stand to be ignored; people who want to make you pay for sticking up for yourself; people who have no morals or sense of common decency.
I was handcuffed and escorted out of my apartment in front of my fiancee, my “friend” and my fiancee’s poor little girl. She watched the woman that had raised her for the past year be put in a police car and driven away.
When I was taken in it took them a few hours to sort me out. I sat in a glass room for observation – so they could make sure that I wasn’t going to slit my throat while they were trying to assign me a room. So, I did what I would do if I was sitting anywhere bored out of my mind. I braided my hair. I sang to myself. I looked at my nails. I just sat and waited. I watched the people walk by. I watched them look at me with sadness. I wanted to scream “I’M NOT SUICIDAL!” But I knew it wouldn’t help.
Eventually they brought me upstairs to the actual mental facility. I was assigned a room, but I had nothing with me, nothing to put away. They introduced me to my roommate, a very nice lady that realized I had nothing and offered anything she had. After a few hours of just wandering around the floor I received a phone call from my mother.
“Oh, Lizzy, I’m so sorry. I knew they had done something just awful to you. I know you’re not suicidal. If I could get you out of there I would come get you right now, but they won’t let me. This is absolutely ridiculous…”
She went on, but I don’t remember all of it. My sadness and frustration faded away. I felt horrible for my mother. I couldn’t imagine how she must have felt knowing this horrible thing was happening to her daughter and not being able to do anything about it.
A while later I got a phone call from my fiancee… “It was [your friend’s] idea! I didn’t know what else to do! You wouldn’t talk to me!” He was crying. Keep in mind that we had just talked that morning. (This is the same guy that inspired Promises, Promises, by the way – if you remember that story.)
I don’t remember crying at all. I remember feeling numb – like I was watching a movie of someone else’s life.
After the first day the fog lifted and I remember feeling like I had more control over my life in that mental hospital than I had ever had with my fiancee. I remember some of the people that I met and thinking that it was good that there was a facility like this to help them. I remember meeting different people and feeling bad that they were dumped there by family members that didn’t want to help them. I don’t remember feeling sorry for myself, though. Just angry.
I was released after seventy-two hours. They had to admit that I didn’t seem suicidal and I passed all of the mental health evaluations.
They did tell me, though, that they wanted me to stay with my fiancee. They had been duped to believe that he was the only one looking out for my best interests. HA! I would’ve laughed, but I was just so intent on getting out of there that I agreed.
After I attempted to settle back in at our apartment my fiancee got a phone call from my “friend”. I grabbed his phone and answered it.
“Liz?” she asked. She sounded scared.
“What are you doing answering [fiancee’s] phone? I thought you were still in the hospital.” Her voice was quivering.
“I escaped and now I’m holding him hostage.” I hung up.
She called the police. They showed up and my fiancee went downstairs to talk to them as I watched out the window laughing. I know it’s not that funny to some people, but I have wicked sense of humor.
I left my fiancée about a year later. Poetically enough, it was on our two-year anniversary.
… And I currently have harassment charges against my “friend”, because she still doesn’t know when to quit.
Ten years ago in May I was released from the mental hospital. I think about it every once in a while.
In the end I know that people like that will never be able to win. They’ll never be able to harm me in any way that really matters. I still have my wicked sense of humor, and my strength, and my belief in the goodness of people.
When you spend your life trying to bring other people down you spend your life wasted.
You can do what you want, but I have much better uses for my time.
I have left out names for legal reasons. These people do post about me, by name, constantly, but I don’t do things based on what other people do. I do things based on what feels right to me. Putting their names in here isn’t going to do me any good. It is my right to share this story, though. It is my story. It is something that happened to me and I am going to talk about it.
As Anne Lamott said, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”