As a teenager I was locked against my will in a state-run mental institution that was so hellish that (for just one example) the drug-addicted “mental health technicians” left to run the place on weekend nights sold the patients to local deviants and violent perverts who would come in, fork over forty dollars cash, and then be left alone with their rented mental patient victims to do to them whatever they wanted.
I was tortured in that place. On several occasions (and, again, this is just one example) I was pumped full of Haldol, strapped face down by my hands and feet onto a metal bed frame in a freezing cold room, and left there for 24-hours.
Strapped down like that, one of my main concerns was literally choking to death on the great volumes of my own drool caused the Haldol. While lying there, unable to move my hands or feet from the spread-eagle position I was locked in, I listened to the storms of screams and wails of the violated patients coming from the nearby shower room, where they have all those handy pipes and fixtures for chaining people to. Where there was all that running hot and cold water, and all those easily cleaned tiles.
Throughout one such night I listened for hours to a guy strapped down like I was in the room beside mine, as, screaming and crying, he chewed his way all the way through his grungy bed mattress, which, like mine, was encased in thick clear plastic.
On weekend nights I got strapped down so that I wouldn’t interfere with the night crew making their extra money by selling mental patients to sexual sadists.
Ever tried to fight after someone jabs into your thigh a hypodermic filled with Haldol or Thorazine? Don’t. You’ll lose.
When all this happened to me I was nineteen years old. I was in the asylum for six weeks—which was as long as they could legally hold anyone against their will. The particular place I was in was so bad the state shut it down about two months after I got out of there. If you know anything about state-run mental institutions, you know how bad that means it was.
While in that hell hole I telephoned my dad in Los Angeles, and desperately begged him to come get me out. If he had just walked in the door of the place, they’d have instantly released me: they only kept people who no one came to claim. So I begged him to do that extremely simple thing: just walk in the door, demand my release, and wait while they came to get me. Then he could fly right back to L.A., and I’d be free again to resume my happy life. It wouldn’t have taken him a day to do it.
But he refused me. He was only a two-hour airplane flight away—and, as a senior officer in a huge corporation, he was certainly free to come help me. But he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t even talk to the “hospital” people on the phone about releasing me—which, as I repeatedly and desperately told him, probably would have done the trick. The people who ran the asylum didn’t want a “patient” there whom anyone real would claim or care about: their bread and butter was the homeless and truly crazy. They were happy to release the patients someone came for; as a replacement they’d just go snag them some homeless person nobody cared about.
At the time of my “arrest” I had a good job. I had an apartment. I had friends. I was taking guitar lessons, actively doing amateur photography. I had a life. I wasn’t crazy. The cops had picked me up in a park I was hanging out in one night after I got off a graveyard shift at work. Whenever the mental “hospital” had an empty bed, they called the cops to pick someone up to fill that bed, because they weren’t about to go without the $800 per day Medical paid them for every occupied bed. They’d get an empty bed; they’d call the cops; the cops would pick up anyone and pull ‘em in; and the hospital would keep the ones no one came to claim, for at least six weeks.
And one unfortunate night, I was one of those they picked up.
Anyway, the administrative mechanics of how the place worked is too … well, actually, that’s about it.
But my dad, who knew perfectly well that I wasn’t crazy—who knew I’d just gotten trapped in this thing—thought I should just wait it out. Basically, he just couldn’t be bothered.
I’m just now getting ready to fly across the country, to help my dad try to at least in some way acknowledge that he simply cannot live alone any more.
Leaving me in that decrepit, evil asylum isn’t the worst thing my dad ever did to me. But it’s a definite contender.
But I’ll go to my father, and care for him, and clean him up, and continue to try to get him to move to California to be near my wife and me. And through it all, I will treat him with unflagging love and respect.
And I will do that—happily, actually—because I’m a Christian.