Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Does That Make Me Crazy?

Here's a little known fact about yours truly.  Back in the blessed year of 1987 a skinny blond haired girl was admitted to the mental ward of St. Vincent Hospital in Portland Oregon.

Does that make me crazy?

Well - technically yes.  I was pretty crazy at the time.  I was anorexic and stubborn as a mule about it so my parents (under the direction of my doctor) did the only thing they could - sent me away to hopefully get better.  I can't imagine how difficult that was for them.  And as completely horrified as I was to be left alone in a hospital with a bunch of other crazies it was the thing that eventually helped me out of the horrible disease of anorexia. 

Now some 24 years later I'm able to look back on my experience at St. Vincent and find quite a bit of humor in it.  Here I was a sheltered, shy, little Christian girl thrust into a psychiatric ward.  And to make it even more interesting the adolescent wing had not been finished yet so I was mixed in with adults.  There were schizophrenics, suicidals, manic-depressives and eating disorder patients among others.  The treatment staff consisted of doctors from every ethnic, religious, and gender persuasion you can think of.  One of the therapists was Muslim and daily sported a turban.  Two more were Jewish - one with a wooden leg which I found highly fascinating.  And, I'm pretty sure the "teen group" therapist Bob was gay.

Recently I watched the movie "It's Kind of a Funny Story" and found myself identifying closely with the main character  - a 17 year old who admits himself into the psychiatric ward of his local hospital because he's suicidal.  I thought the movie did a pretty good job of showing what it's really like.  I found myself laughing out loud during a few scenes including one featuring his "roommate" and this one which finds him in a music therapy group. 

I would highly recommend this film to anyone.  It's funny and hopeful and even if you're not crazy like me you might find yourself relating. 

Strangely enough, I'm actually proud to call myself an alumni of 5 west at St. Vincent.  That experience was a big part of making me the person I am today.  It's an essential part of my story. 

So there you have it - sometimes crazy can end up being a good thing.

Some people never go crazy.  What truly horrible lives they must live. ~Charles Bukowski


  1. We just saw that movie a few weeks ago and really liked it. Nice to know they took the time to get their details right. Funny, the only part we had trouble believing was that they'd really put the teenagers in with the adults because the teen wing was under construction. Goes to show how much we know... ;)

  2. So very proud of you to get through that tough time. I will never forget it. You won!!