Welcome to the Nuthouse


Fairview Psych Ward - North Building

This is Fairview-University’s inpatient psych building. Located on the lovely banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, it gives us nutty, lock-ups a stellar view of the winding river as a teaser. Some of us want to jump in (but can’t because of insanely strong windows) and others simply wish to get the hell out.  We check ourselves in for “help” or by outside forces (cops, family members, courts) and quickly realize that being surrounded by crazies makes us crazier.

This building houses several units or stations as they are referred to. On December 31st, 2000 I was admitted to station 30 after a suicide attempt.  (I know- Happy Freaking New Year!  I really know how to start a party.) Back then, Station 30 was referred to as the depressive ward.  Station 22 – schizophrenics and psychotics.  Now, these aren’t official classifications, but in my experience as a patient and visitor, these stereotypes held true.

Since that time, the ward has been outfitted with popular movies and books and even a Wii! Back then, it was all broken board games, puzzles with missing pieces, and old VHS tapes from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Maybe a crossword puzzle or two partially filled in.  Though the general feel and tone was a far cry from “Cuckoo’s Nest” fame.

Fairview is a short-term facility (3 days – 3 weeks) while the State hospital is where you will find longer-term, court ordered inmates.  However, shock therapy was, and still is, performed in the basement.  It’s regained popularity over the years, like trends in DSM diagnosing. Borderline Personality Disorder and Manic-Depression (Now Bi-Polar.  I like the former name myself) and Schizo-affective disorder (a blending of schizophrenia and Bi-Polar.) Like skinny jeans and hipster beards,the mental health industry falls prey to fads.

I tried to check myself back in a five years ago (since they got all the new games and bells and whistles.) But, I wasn’t only classified as Bi-Polar then. I was also addicted.  Which meant I was shuffled off to detox where everyone was sick or grouchy or hallucinating. If you think the psych ward is depressing, try detox.  I would rather hang out with someone fresh on the heels of a suicide attempt than an addict kicking dope or in the throws of delirium tremens.

This is where my story “SMILE” begins………


4 Responses to “Welcome to the Nuthouse”

  1. 1 BehindMyBooks

    Very well written, I look forward to reading more.

  2. 3 GretchenZ.

    Thanks for sharing. ❤

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