teenage mental patient

i wanna tell you
what it's like to be a teenage mental patient
to have your every movement
your every uttered word
then to be accused of paranoia
when you point this out

in order to get out you have to lie
it's torture and
after enough pain
you learn what do to
you learn the way they want you to act
you walk the walk, and talk the talk
and smile and take your meds
and speak of goal-set-ting
and job get-ting

you can always tell the new admits
wild-eyed and still high on crack, coke, speed
or in a dazed stupor
after a botched suicide attempt
after a self-mutilation gone too far
gauzy white bandages encircling

i saw a hefty 14-year old gangsta girl
so engulfed with anger and indignation
at her incarceration
it took two grown women and men to subdue her
in such cases
they hold you down
and tranquilize you
like an animal
like the unreachable wounded animal
they consider you to be

cause so-called crazy kids
aren't allowed to be kids
are forced to be patients
you are drugged
and victimized

this is all for your own good
cause you are sick
something gone wrong with your brain
we'll fix it with meds
and institutional bard
and forced aa meetings
we'll treat you goddamnit
whether you want it or not

it's not life on the streets,
or being a poor immigrant kid
it's not daddy's touching
it's not mommy's drinking
your brain is broken
and we'll fix it with drugs
we'll fix it all with drugs
the newest drugs
the legal drugs
just don't get caught with the ones
that make you feel good
they're not allowed in here

oak grove institute was a mad warehouse
for troublesome kids of all sorts
jason was 10 and had tourette's syndrome
jack was a cross-dressing nirvana fan
andy hit his mother
marie was developmentally disabled
kizzie and lil brazy were hood rats
angie was a beautiful black gothic girl
sue idolized michael jackson "obsessively
sarah-lynn had satan worshipers for parents
sue and sarah-lynn loved one another
for which they were put on
20 bart-restriction

and me
let's just say i was a depressed
medium-to-high suicide risk
i wore too much eye-liner and fishnet stockings
skipped school sometimes
and was almost editor-in-chief
of my high school paper
before they locked me up

i remember us crazy girls
wild with boredom and rage
scraping anarchy symbols
into our skin
with an eraser
the only weapon we possessed
watching scab turn into scar
growing bitter and old inside
watching the days go by

i remember sneaking clove cigarettes
on the roof with jack
sucking down those cigarettes
as fast as we could
pausing for awkward kisses
praying to god that we don't
get caught
cause you ain't allowed
to love no one in there
yeah, they look down on that in there

we were released, all of us, one by one
sentences determined by
1) our insurance policies and
2) our acting abilities

sent back to the places and the people
the lives we were trapped in
that fucked us up in the first place

cause we live in a quick-fix patch-it-up world
and there were no easy solutions
for the kids we were
there are no easy solutions
for the thousands of kids
still behind locked doors
in the back wards

and that's what it's like
to be a teenage mental patient

by leah ida harris

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