I remember my first time at Alcott. I remember a staff person came into my room one day and asked me how things were going. All at once, I burst into tears, saying, “I hate those kids.” She was rather shocked, and asked me why. I told her, “Because all they do is gossip. They gather in clusters and whisper like a bunch of junior high kids. I am old enough to be their mother or grandmother and I don’t belong here. This place is for children and I am not one.”
After a time, the staff recognized that what the kids were doing was harmful to those that were left out of the childish gossip and whispering. They got us all together, and asked the whisperers to stop.
The kids didn’t stop. The staff did the same thing again, another lecture. This time, they said if the cruel gossip didn’t stop, they’d listen on to all our conversations and monitor us.
This is a chronic problem wherever immature teens are gathered. It’s my understanding that the problem persists to this day at Alcott and was never solved. I know other older people who have been sent to Alcott who tell me the same thing, that some kids are okay, but many are cruel. They leave certain patients out of their childish clique, and those left out are targets of gossip. Older patients have told me they were called “Grandma” and laughed at.
I have no clue why I ended up being friends with any of those kids outside of Alcott. But I had it in my head that since they also had eating disorders, maybe it would be okay to be in a “group” with them on Facebook. Didn’t we have something in common? I felt that since I had no family of my own, I would think of them as family. This was a big major mistake on my part to think that any of them had grown up.
Nothing was any different. The gossip is just as cruel outside as in. If not, worse, because the Facebook venue encourages cruelty.
I do have friends who have a history of being in mental places, just like me. Sure we “compare notes.” Who wouldn’t? We might recommend a particular place or recommend against it, or discuss various ways to deal with certain problems, such as “the holidays.” In my note-comparing, I’ve heard all sorts of stories from people.
Here’s one: I’ve had friends, a number of people I know, who complained that a doctor “diagnosed” them based on talking to them for five minutes. They said it was demeaning. They said, “How can this person declare I am [bipolar, or whatever] if this person is barely listening? I felt insulted.”
I wonder, though. It seems the immature kids I met online who were at Alcott seem to do just the same thing as a form of cruel gossip. These are kids I don’t know, have never corresponded with nor spoken to nor messaged with. They are so mean that they decided to “diagnose” me based on one Facebook post. They are gossipy and cagey about it. They think they are so hip and cool to use shrink terminology. I’m not impressed at all. I know better than to “diagnose” anyone, cuz I know just how harmful diagnosis is.
Of course, all kids go through their “pretend shrink” phase. I went through it briefly in high school but decided that game wasn’t for me.
The cruel gossip goes on and on. I think those kids, if they love their “treatment” so much, should go right back to Alcott and continue their petty social life there. After all, that’s the main reason most continue to get readmitted. I think it would make them happy for all the pals to be together. Don’t they say they miss each other so much?
Those kids have all the Alcott patients as Facebook friends. In fact, the only friends they have are former Alcott patients. Ever notice how they keep ending up back there? They just won’t grow up. If they want in-person contact, all they have to do is make themselves sick, and get admitted. Then, of course, it’s party time all over again.
I wish I never had been put there. But then again, going to Alcott made me realize just how NOT to go about things. I learned how NOT to get well. I learned that this is a place where reasonable adults pick up childish habits, and become immature themselves. The bad habits are hard to shake. Meanwhile, while these kids have great fun together gossiping away, the Walden money-making racket milks their insurance dry. Very few seem aware of the larger picture.
I don’t blame the staff for being frustrated, nor do I blame the more mature patients for being totally disgusted. Forced care doesn’t work, and never will. In fact, if it’s forced, it’s not care.