I Was Wrongfully and Involuntarily Committed to a Psychiatric Hospital
An anonymous phone call triggered my paranoia, and I quickly found myself trapped in psych ward for three days.
The author of this narrative has written several pieces for us before. Here, we bring you inside of an adventure of his from years ago. We hope you understand that, like all of our pieces, it is one person's experience, suffused with one person's opinions. I, myself, have also had some unsatisfactory encounters with the American mental health care system, but they've been overwhelmingly positive: from my diagnoses to my 25-year-relationship with my therapist. No matter your preconceptions, we hope you enjoy the following.
– Colin St. John, Editor-in-Chief
Of all the horrors going through my mind during my brief imprisonment at a “behavioral health facility,” perhaps the most terrifying was the thought that I might end up swallowed by the “mental health” system forever. No job. No family. No kids or grandkids. No purpose. Nothing to look forward to except endless drugs and sedation. No growing old or retiring in the countryside. Just a zombie-like existence locked up and medicated in a nuthouse. Forever.
Those three days of torture, euphemistically described as an “involuntary examination” in an insane asylum, were without question the most horrific of my entire life. Nothing has ever terrified me in that way, before or since. In fact, it’s hard to think of anything that even comes remotely close. It was three days of hell, and even that doesn’t do it justice.
Pray that you never end up in one of those ghastly places.
Before I tell you the details of what it was like inside, some background on how I ended up trapped there is in order. The story is as nutty as anything you’ve ever heard. And without getting into all the details, I’ll tell you that even I don’t fully understand what happened, or why. It was surreal, and I remember it like it was yesterday.
I Messed With the Wrong People, and There Were Consequences
It all began toward the end of my time in college. Some friends and I—at least I thought they were my friends—started a relatively successful and influential college newspaper. As we grew, and started looking under more rocks, we stumbled on some extremely serious crimes being perpetrated by powerful people in local government: Crimes that people would kill to conceal.
One day, I received a strange phone call from a man claiming to be a local Freemason. I had never heard from him before, and I never heard from him again. But he said he was my “friend” and was just calling to warn me that I was in danger due to what we were working on at the newspaper. Basically, he said that if I didn’t stop, unnamed people would either kill me, get me locked up in jail, or have me thrown into a mental institution. He said not to bother calling the cops. They were in on it, too.
As a 20-year-old college student and a baby Christian, this was all absolutely terrifying. I called my dad. He recommended calling the cops, but I never did—they were supposedly in on it, what the heck good would that do? Eventually, I started getting extremely concerned, perhaps even paranoid. The lack of sleep, from a combination of too much Adderall and too much work, didn’t help matters. And even though there is some mental haze surrounding it, to this day, I’m absolutely convinced that these local criminals of the vilest sort were, at the very least, trying to intimidate me.
My Lies Caught Up With Me and Earned Me an Involuntary Commitment
At some point, after a trip to Europe during which I thought people were following me, it became difficult to know what was real and what was just a figment of my imagination. Upon my return, in a stupid effort to try to cover my ass from the people supposedly out to get me, I pretended like I was now working with various federal law-enforcement agencies and even Interpol.
Returning to my college town following the whirlwind trip through multiple European countries—including a stop in Scandinavia to see my future wife, who thought I was losing my mind when I told her what was going on—I shared my troubling experiences with my partners at our college paper. I also shared my bullshit story about working with the feds and Interpol with them, and even told them that I would defend myself with force if somebody tried to take me down. (What a tough guy.) That was a huge mistake.
Suddenly, a couple of sheriff’s deputies showed up at my friend’s apartment asking for me. Right away, I identified myself. And then, like an idiot, I shared my bullshit story with them, too. All I could think about was the phone call warning me about my fate if I did not back down, and so my assumption was that this was it, I was doomed. Desperately trying to bullshit the deputies, I told them that I was on a mission for unnamed federal and international agencies to root out a criminal conspiracy in the area, and that journalism was merely my cover story.
They didn’t believe me. In fact, they thought I was nuts. And because I had guns in my truck, and refused to provide any evidence that I was actually working with any legitimate law-enforcement agency, they asked me if I would consent to a psychiatric exam. “No way,” I told them. “Let me talk to the sheriff so we can clear this all up.”
Long story short: They put handcuffs on me and took me in under a state statute, allowing a person to be held for a few days for an involuntary mental health exam if it is believed the person may be a threat to themselves or others. The ride in the back of the patrol car felt like it took forever. I was sure I was being taken to the nuthouse, just like the creepy “friend” on the phone had promised would happen.
What Is It Like Being Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital? Absolute Hell
The intake clerk demanded everything from me when I arrived—including my necklace and rings. At every step of the way, I demanded that I be allowed to speak with an attorney, frantically quoting federal statutes I had memorized about the deprivation of rights under color of law being a major federal crime. I think it scared them. They finally let me call a friend who was a legal expert, and I told him my bullshit story, too. He contacted my family and let them know, which may have been what saved me.
Because I arrived late at night, the orderlies took me to my shared room without being seen by a shrink first. I would not get to see a psychiatrist until the next day. Trying to sleep in a situation like that is like trying to sleep on a nest of fire ants while covered in peanut butter—it’s absolutely, positively impossible. Another sleepless night, my mind racing, imagining every horrific scenario possible.
The next day, I met with a psychiatrist. He read my intake report and asked me about it. Thinking he was in on the effort to get me, I had nothing to say other than I wanted to be let out, that there was nothing wrong with me, my rights must be respected, and I fully intended to pursue justice as soon as I got out of there.
Soon after, he concluded I had bipolar disorder and prescribed Zyprexa for me, a powerful anti-psychotic. Thinking it would paralyze me and allow these creeps to do whatever they wanted, I refused to take anything. (To this day, I believe the disorders and diagnoses used by psychiatrists are even bigger bullshit than my story about working for the feds.)
In fact, after learning years later how these alleged “disorders” were invented—psychiatrists literally get together and vote on this crap, and if there are enough votes, they add it to their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual—I could not believe anybody could take this seriously. Scientology and I have virtually nothing in common, but its exposure of psychiatry’s lunacy is its broken-clock-is-right-twice-a-day moment.
Psychiatric Hospitals Are All About Power and Control
The power dynamics in the nuthouse were unlike anything I ever experienced in my life. And I believe people need to learn more about this abusive system immediately.
There was a very clear hierarchy. At the top were the psychiatrists, who held unlimited and total power over the lives and fates of those at the lower rungs. They could set you free. Or they could lock you up forever. I think the power gets to their heads, at least for a lot of them.
Under them, the orderlies. A lot of them were drunk on power, too. If you resisted their commands, you could find yourself tackled, locked up and even pumped full of sedatives that were the equivalent of a mental straightjacket. There was a kind nurse that I still remember, but other than that, it was horrific. It made me think of the infamous Milgram experiment in which volunteers were willing to zap people. Prisons probably have similar dynamics, though I couldn’t tell you for sure. Similar hierarchies existed among those trapped inside.
There was one evil, giant guy in there, who was very clearly friendly with the orderlies and seemed to have lots of special privileges. He really freaked me out. Other patients warned me about him. The word was that he was in there voluntarily because it gave him access to “fresh meat.” Apparently he could come and go as he pleased. Even though nobody told me explicitly, I assumed he had been abusing my roommate, who never said a single word the whole time I was in there.
The entire ordeal was freaky beyond belief. And thanks to that phone call, and the attitude of the psychiatrist, I was concerned that I might end up trapped in a hellhole like that facility forever. Eventually, one of the other young guys trapped in there explained to me what the secret was to getting out: Just agree with the shrink on everything and throw yourself at his mercy. So I tried that the next day. It worked like a charm, and my discharge papers were prepared shortly after that.
As part of that agreement, though, I finally took one of the pills the quack had prescribed for me to show my submission to his “authoritay,” in the immortal words of Eric Cartman. The only thing I can compare that pill to is a (temporary, thank God!) mental lobotomy. It left me completely incapacitated. It was like slowing your brain down to a snail’s pace.
Turns Out, the Conspirators Weren’t Responsible for My Involuntary Admission
Getting out was the greatest feeling in the world. It may have helped that my dad knew someone on the board of the company that ran the facility. But I still think the real trick to getting out was just agreeing with the chief quack.
The story has another twist. It was not shadowy conspirators who called the cops and got me thrown into that hell, it was my supposed friends and colleagues. When I finally found out they’d called the cops, it was a devastating realization, and heartbreaking, too.
To this day I suspect ulterior motives: They had already made clear that they wanted to seize control of the newspaper from me. There had been an increasing divergence in our views. My two top deputies were homosexual libertarians, and even though I was also a libertarian, I had become a Christian. They wanted to promote the LGBT agenda with the paper. I wanted to promote the Bible.
After I got out, we found out that our ad sales director had been sabotaging our ad sales. Not long after that, he asked me if I wanted to join Freemasonry—a secret society that supposedly doesn’t even invite people to join. Obviously, I said no.
The Truth May Haunt Me Forever, But I’m Never Going Back There
Perhaps I’ll never know the full truth about everything that happened in that ordeal, or why. To this day, I still don’t pretend to fully comprehend it all. But God used it in remarkable ways. And it taught me some very valuable lessons. Starting with: Avoid the psychiatric industry and their Big Pharma co-conspirators at all costs.
It has become fashionable to fret about how the homeless problem could supposedly be solved simply by building more mental hospitals and locking up more people in them. But after spending a few days in one, I can say ending up in a place like that is a fate I would not wish on my worst enemy.
I still wonder how many people locked up in insane asylums are saner than most of us on the outside. Probably tons—maybe most of them. How many beautiful minds have been rotted out by poison masquerading as medication will never be known, but I bet it’s a whole lot.
What I do know for sure now is that the mental health system is absolutely, positively, batshit crazy. I know some people claim to have benefited from the services of psychiatrists. But as far as I’m concerned, the whole field is a bunch of quackery, if not a giant criminal operation to peddle dangerous drugs and make big bucks.
My advice: Avoid it at all costs. Open up a Bible instead.