In 2011, after I was abused in Massachusetts General Hospital (illegally deprived of water), and to my therapist’s dismay (and pretty much everyone around me heard about it, since I would not be silent about what happened), I got stuck in Walden Behavioral Care, on the other side, the regular side, not Alcott, the other one, called Thoreau. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad for a psych unit. Others were far worse. Most of the staff were okay back then but most of the staff that were there are not there anymore. I cannot mention names, actually, because the “good ones,” in being decent to me, had to break rules to do so.
The social worker was hot and cold. Nice, then not so nice. Acted all compassionate, then, took it back. So I can’t say all that nice stuff about her. Wish I could. Like she acted like I had done “danger to self” because out of desperation “stolen” drinking water, just to keep myself hydrated, just to take care of myself. However, they were refusing me my necessary fluids, disregarding the possibility that I had a rare condition called diabetes insipidus. It took till 2012 for them to FINALLY listen. This kidney condition is caused by the pills that were given to me by a doctor, by the way. I took these pills as prescribed for years.
Anyway, I was trying so hard. I still had the typical good hospital/bad hospital mentality that many mental patients end up with. Sorry to say, this is a by-product of the system, and also a by-product of patient abuse. This is inevitable because after patient abuse, the abused patient seeks asylum elsewhere, hoping for “better.” It’s bound to happen. All I wanted was for someone to be nice. Doesn’t that make sense? I had assumed all my life (since I had great parents who did NOT abuse me) that people were kind by nature, that they had good intentions, and that what happened at MGH would not happen again! I figured that another hospital would be “better” simply because human beings were kind. If you grow up with the idea that humans are okay, you’d think this, too.
In fact, I was so shocked by what happened at MGH, the greatest hospital in the world, honestly I could not believe it, I was kinda numbed out and not even feeling anything. I was shell-shocked. I couldn’t feel. I was paralyzed emotionally, and at the same time, wildly angry at what they had done, and desperately thirsty, grabbing anything I could that remotely looked liquid to drink. Dehydration and resulting electrolyte imbalance, which is not a psych disorder, will make a person nuts anyway. I was not a danger to anyone, nor to myself. I was recovering from horrible abuse, and also, recovering physically from what they had done.
So there I was at Walden Behavioral Care. Some staff listened to me, heard what happened at MGH. They were guardedly sympathetic. I KNOW as a fact they really couldn’t extend themselves any further. They couldn’t say, “Julie, you should sue.” I wish they could have gone further, and handed me a list of attorneys. I know a few probably wished they could have, but in doing so, they would have risked their jobs.
I cried a lot. I cried every single day. I bawled. They let me, which was awfully nice. They didn’t call my crying a disease, which was also nice. Sadly, Dr. Brendel and my therapist had other plans for me. I have no clue what was going on outside of my little world in there. I was locked up 26 days. During that time I communicated with the social worker, Rachel, with my outside therapist a little, and with Dr. Brendel. How much did they communicate with each other?
It looks like they were well aware of my blogging and they wanted me silenced. I did not know, at the time, that Dr. Brendel was one of the leading writers and thinkers on what happens when doctors “Google” their patients. He’s written papers on this topic, papers on ethical issues surrounding this. For all I know, issues around my own blog have ended up in his books and papers.
One day, Brendel had me in his office. One other person was present, I think the social worker, but I am not sure. A woman, either her or a medical student. He said to me, “Can you sum up how you are doing in one word ONLY?”
I thought to myself, “He doesn’t want to hear any more about the abuse. He’s well aware of what happened! They all know! He doesn’t really want to hear how I am doing. He wants to hear nothing. I am crazy with this trauma. I can’t even deal with it. And no one wants to hear that. I can’t think straight right now.”
I answered, “Insane.” I was probably describing Brendel, not myself.
He said, “You’re not going to like what I’m going to say to you. Two words.” Then he paused. He said, “State hospital.”
I wasn’t expecting that.
Later, I found out he was sending an awful lot of patients to State, or trying to. I tried to find out why. Most were not, as they say, State material.” Why were so many being sent? Was this an insurance issue? Was it him? Why? Was it Walden? This, in fact, went on for years. Even in 2014 and 2015, patients who should NEVER have been sent to State were being sent from Walden to State. Almost like there was a direct line there.
Was this a financial issue? Undoubtedly. Someone was making money doing this. Sending so many patients to State was certainly not benefiting the patients. Someone was getting rich off of this. I have yet to get to the bottom of it. There is no care there. These places are prisons, and they put vulnerable patients at very serious risk.
Beyond that, in my case, I was sure the issue was silencing. Their aim was to silence me. Brendel and the others foresaw that although I functioned fine and was not a danger to myself no to anyone, I was indeed a danger. To them. To the local hospitals, and to the mental health profession as a guild entirely. What if the kid talks? Well?
They knew this. They knew I had long history. They knew I could remember stuff. They knew I wrote stuff down fastidiously. Brendel had a head on his shoulders. Oh, one of the few psychiatrists who does. So he had the foresight to know that Maybe The Kid Will Talk.
And hey, brothers, maybe we need to do something about her now, before she Squeals.
So it was 2011, and Dr. Brendel decided to have me locked up before I got feisty. Lock the kid up and keep her quiet before she really starts rolling.
Dear Dr. Brendel, YOU FAILED to silence me. You and your pals failed in every way to keep me from writing about the decades of harms I witnessed on the nutwards. I also saw good stuff happen at times. Yeah I write about that stuff, too. You lied to me when you claimed I “needed” the State Hospital. I didn’t.
No, you needed me to be there. Putting me in there was not for my own good, and not for the good of society, but for your own good, and for the good of psychiatry and the medical institutions you represented.