Buffalo Psyche Ward

Reads: 118  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

What one woman's first hand experience was of the Buffalo psychiatric hospital in 1987, her observations and thoughts about the whole ordeal.

  Most of the lights in the building were dark. The walk up to the front of the building was lined with high trees. My friend made her way up the walk. I had fallen behind, looking up to the dim windows through the dark limbs. My friend got to the door, heaved it open and stood waiting for me. I was scared as hell.

 The lobby was huge. Walls of curling wood and plaster were broken and peeling. There were some withered, dusty plants. Magazines accumulated all over the place, discarded heaps of Old Times and Newsweek mostly. No one read them. I did not much feel like weeping but wasn’t so sure either, that a sudden cloudburst might not overtake me. I should explain right away that I didn’t belong here.

  Patients must have room mates; we were not to be left alone. The little rooms with the dormitory bunks, colored bed spreads were not to be a refuge. We were expected to be out in the communal areas of the ward. Street dress was the rule; shoes. Inmates were not supposed to sit around in wrappers and slippers. 

  One patient wanted to fix her face up. The face that emerged was clownish, whorish; heavy, dark and theatrical. She got up and began to prowl up and down. Up and down. Privileges meant permission to leave the ward but not the hospital- to go to the canteen downstairs for instance or to the dining room downstairs.

  “Inmates" were drugged to the point of stupidity, then patted on the shoulder and urged to get it all out. On the ward we were under the pressure to please; everyone understood this, it was basic. If you didn’t please, you didn’t get out.At times it seemed to me that I was standing on the threshold of two worlds, and neither was particularly desirable.

It occurred to me that that this might be what is meant by a breakdown. In due time most of us would fatten up on the starchy hospital food, get some sleep on the carefully rationed pills, calm our anxieties or inner violence with drugs, i.e., we would “get better” ...

One patient: “I came here for a rest.” That was Alice. “just a rest.” Thin, dark, beautiful and hostile. Then there was Pattie. “I just needed a place to stay.” That’s what Connie always insisted. “I have everything I own in the world here.” And she really did seem to check in and out as if the hospital were her hotel.

It all boiled down to the same thing; no one belonged here. It was a familiar tune, you heard it over and over. Then there was me. Shrugging it off. “It doesn’t matter, I’ll be out of here soon.” We are all subject to scrutiny.

Everyone knows what it would be to crack up, to go crazy. You will stop functioning and start screaming. But what if it is not like that? What if the term is literal? Maybe it really is a sickness of the brain. The disease attacking the actual physical site. Maybe the mind protests its condition; sends out the signals, pain and retreat. (Ailments of the depressed).


Submitted: January 16, 2021

© Copyright 2021 oday.the.author. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

Boosted Content from Other Authors

Short Story / Non-Fiction

Writing Contest / Flash Fiction

Short Story / Flash Fiction

Other Content by oday.the.author

Short Story / Young Adult