Cumberland Hall

May 4, 2011

      The story below was originally a comment I wrote to anothers’ post: titled Penetanguishene Psychiatric Facility.
       It would not let me post it as a comment, probaly due to its length.

       The story on her page affected me deeply; tears fell to be exact. I have always been significantly touched by stories about peoples’ lives. Sometimes to the point where it changes my lifes’ course drastically. So that is why I am sharing the following personal experience here.


       I feel deep sadness reading your experience of this mans’ pain. I was admitted to a mental institution four separate times and I too had extended periods of “unrelenting silence.”
       It seems I had a different reason each time. The first was because my whole concept of reality was shattered. Everything I held “true” was revealed to be false. Everything a lie. So I did not see any point making small talk. After all, everything I would normally say to folks was based on my relative truths, which where now groundless.
       The second time I was determined to focus simply on why I was there and getting “better.” So silence was a way of not being distracted from my goal.
       The third time a therapist told me that I was just immature. My problem was that I needed to grow up. He said he had read my file before talking to me and already knew what the problem was. No need for therapy or anything else to be done except for me to stop acting like a child.
       So at this point, there was absolutely no reason for me to speak because, “it didn’t matter what I said.” I saw the truth. I knew what the problem was. I just needed help sorting it out. But I wasn’t allowed to speak about the truth, so what’s the point in speaking at all.
       And maybe this is where the man you’re speaking of was coming from. Nobody wanted to accept his version of reality. He wasn’t allowed to “speak his truth.” So what is there  left to say once the truth is unacceptable? “How ’bout them white sox? Wow, what a beautiful day we’re having today?” Don’t think so.
       I didn’t see that therapist again until the day I was discharged. He said he had spoken to my previous therapist and had become enlightened on my condition (which also could have happened if he had spoken with me originally). He apologized for prejudging my situation. The apology did not help my condition. Therapy would have. I was recommitted a few days after discharge for a fourth time. 
       Their were therapists that did take the time to get to know me and my condition. Their compassion and knowledge helped change my life forever. And at one time, I too, thought and literally screamed, “I’ll never get better.” I begged too be locked up in a maximum security facility and never released. I thought I could never be fixed so just lock me away. Then I could never hurt someone again.
       My life is now dedicated to illuminating self-deception and showing others how to “get better”, in one form or another. But “getting better” is impossible if they can’t be heard. And if they can’t speak their truth, they will slowly die in silence. There is NOTHING more heart breaking, in my judgement, than a hollow soul….just waiting to die.
     There was another patient in there with me who was resigned to killing himself. His wife had just overdosed from heroin and he committed himself, to see if he could find a reason to live. The day before his discharge he said he had found none. He would go home and shoot an extra large dose of heroin. Maybe he could be with her again, he thought. But if not, there was no reason to stay here anyway. He asked if we (the group) could show him any reason to live. Not a word was spoken. I could have told him “you’ll get better.” But I didn’t believe it was the true.
     I read your lines and I think of him. I think of him and my heart turns to a mass of tears. I think how a life built on lies will eventually lead to a mistrust of everything; a stone heart. It’s time to let go the lies.

One Response to “Cumberland Hall”

  1. i’m wondering about that group woih…

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