I had a home once. A room of my own, housemates and a program I loved to go to.
I rode the bus, had friends and a place to socialize and learn new skills. Then one day, something happened. I can’t remember what exactly. But suddenly that life was over. I was in an unfamiliar place. All my possessions, gone. Even my beautiful clothing. Now all I had were pajamas, a robe, and slippers. I had a room, but it wasn’t mine. Not really. I had none of my decorations or things. What happened? I had an open wound on my face. It really itched, so I would scratch it. I was surrounded by others. They had robes too. There were a lot of nurses and staff also. Where was I?
It turns out I was locked in a psychiatric unit, but why? Had I done something wrong? Was I in trouble? I didn’t understand and no one seemed able to give me a good explanation. At least not one that I understood. People kept bossing me around. I hate that. It makes me angry, and I would get so upset sometimes I would lash out, scream, hit, kick, call others bad names. What else could I do? It was so frustrating. When I was “bad,” they would give me a shot. It would make me very, very sleepy. Other times they would place me on the bed and tie my hands and feet to the bed – sometimes overnight. After a few days, I realized this was not ending anytime soon. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Months turned into years. Was this it? Was this my life now?
One day some visitors came to see me. What did they want? They asked me a lot of questions. They seemed interested in what I thought and listened to what I had to say. That was nice. But then they left. Did I say something wrong? Who were they? A few weeks later, they were back. More questions, but this time they told me about a new home they had opened and would I like to move there. Were they kidding? Yes, please! Can we go now? “Not yet, but soon,” they told me.
Would I have my own room? Could I decorate it myself? So many questions. More weeks went by, and I didn’t see them again. But a new person came. I hadn’t met her before, but she was nice. She said she was here to get to know me before I would move to the new home. That was progress at least. I would still have outbursts and occasionally would get those shots that made me so sleepy and being tied down was still a thing, but at least there was hope now. The wounds on my face were still open, still itchy. I hate that. It’s been a problem for over two years now.
Then, one day, it happened. The nice people who had asked me so many questions cam back for me. They took me to their car. I was tired but excited. I was outside – finally. It had been more than two years since I had been outside. I could smell flowers, feel the breeze on my skin, then sun on my face. Was this real or my mind playing tricks on me. It only took a few minutes to get to my new home. It was beautiful – very big – and I had my own room. I could wait to decorate. Pink, I thought. I love pink. The back yard is so big! I have a bunch of fruit trees and even some roses. Some cats climb over the fence to see me sometimes. I look for them every day.
I still have outbursts sometimes, but no one tries to give me one of those sleepy shots or, worse, tie me to the bed. People seem interested in what I thought and felt, what I wanted to do, what I wanted out of life. This was great. I was able to go out into the community again. I go to the park to feed the ducks and see the dogs at the park. I met my local firemen. They were very good looking, and I told them so. We took pictures of my visit. They invited me back, so I gave them a picture of me from my last visit and I baked them some cookies. I’m glad they know who I am now. So, if I ever need help, I won’t be a stranger. Life isn’t perfect, but whose is? But life is better now, so much better. That wound on my face even cleared up after a few weeks, and I’m beautiful again, inside and out.
ResCare Community Living Client