Eight years ago, I was criminally violated at a Catholic emergency room and psychiatric ward built by the nuns I had rejected in my youth. On the morning I was abducted from my home by police, ostensibly for being suicidal, I had stated on Facebook that I was literally trying to “save my life.” I was the opposite of suicidal.
How did this happen? I was set up by my EEOC documented, mentally abusive, now former employer, the state’s largest community college. Nearly a year prior, the school had begun psychologically gaslighting with accusations of me being suddenly crazy and dangerous based on nothing. I was accused of being a potential school shooter—without a gun, violent action or verbal threats of violence.
To keep my job, which the school never intended, I was forced to meet with two mandatory mercenary hack shrinks. After seven years and tenure, the school attacked my teaching, removed me from the classroom, and stopped paying me.
But why did this happen? I was an outspoken English teacher. I was silenced due to my views on teaching (that traditional methods teach students how not to read, how to fake it and get away with it) and to cover up teacher bullies and violations of the contract. Coworkers wanted to control the creation of the teaching schedule for their personal edge without my objections. Have you seen The Chair on Netflix? Any kid will tell you, teachers aren’t necessarily nice people.
But how could you get locked up without need? Most people still don’t get it and maybe assume I got what I deserved.
The school created a bogus paper trail, a false narrative, a big lie about me being suddenly mentally ill. Then, when the time was right, the school suicide swatted me.
The top school cop made reports of me being suicidal to my hometown police, based on comments I had posted on Facebook, which he misconstrued. Over the course of three phone calls to police dispatch, he made sure the cops were riled up.
Four white males were sent to pick up the crazy lady on the loose. They surrounded my house like a swat team. Police reports accessed through the Freedom of Information Act show that I was abducted from my home in handcuffs, in about six minutes.
As I suddenly noticed cops surrounding the house, I thought maybe I was being arrested because of what I had been reporting about the school on Facebook. Stupidly, I opened the front door. The lead cop told me, “Your employer called. They care about you.” I stepped onto the porch, thinking I needed witnesses. I tried to tell the cop that he was wrong and that he had been misled. Power dynamics and sexism plugged his ears.
The lead cop asked me twice, “Do you want to kill yourself?,” which is no way to say hello. The first time I answered instinctively, “No, I want you to kill me.” Bad time for sarcasm, but that’s me. Who else could I be? Naturally, I was very nervous, and alone. I thought he would remember that I had not called the cops. The second time he asked, I said I wanted “this” to stop, meaning the school’s attack. I did not mean my life.
The lead cop was poorly trained, by the look on his face afraid, and unprepared to listen. There was no attempt to de-escalate or talk things over. I was pushed back inside the house and jumped by police in front of the pictures of my recently deceased husband, handcuffed, dragged out of my home, and shoved in the back of a police car in my pajamas. It all happened too quickly. My dog and bird were left alone to fend for themselves. I was rightly terrified. I still am.
Absurdity. Hell on earth. Real.
I asked the cops where they were taking me. That’s when I learned that the conservative Catholics of my youth ran a psych ward at their hospital with the crappy reputation. Of all the bad ideas. I bet most city residents don’t realize—the same thing could happen to them.
First time in a police car: I performed. Sarcastically, I sang “God Bless America.” That’s me. As a female, I have been attacked for my personality in modern America using psychiatry and Catholicism as weapons. I have joked that I must have been Hitler in a former life, or at least his bookie. Maybe that’s not funny. What happened to me is not funny. Actual crucifixion would have been kinder, to end my torture more quickly.
I would not trust the nuns who raised me in lousy local Catholic schools with a dead hamster. I knew without being told that psychiatry is a mess. I knew I was in danger, not being helped.
The police pulled up to a back door of the emergency room. The lead cop driving was a simpleton. After he stopped, he turned to me in the back, handcuffed, and asked, like we were friends all of a sudden, Hey, do you know a Barry Fournier? His coworker in the passenger seat gave a him a look like mine that said, You’re an idiot. That exchange got me an extra shove from the lead cop as he pushed me toward my doom.
From the start, all things seemed wrong at the Catholic hospital, one not even my sheep Catholic mother turned to when her children needed care.
I wondered, why are we going into a back door? In the vestibule, clean towels were stacked; a bin of dirty towels needed washing. I was stolen goods being fenced.
Inside, it was dark, unlike any emergency room I’d ever seen. It was unpopulated. I was taken to a room without windows, no art, all beige.
I was undressed. I warned a hospital worker, the only one who recorded accurate medical notes, “You are raping my humanity.” In my medical records, all staff notes would later be erased by the notorious Catholics to cover up their crimes. The world has trusted the word of a corrupt religion over me.
I waited, and waited, and waited. There was no doctor present. The area was dark and nearly empty. I’d been taken to a ghost hospital.
A slight young white man guarded the door as he sat and read pulp fiction. I noted how small in stature he was. I was taller and bigger. I waited.
A white woman came in wearing scrubs. A young blond, younger than me by decades, younger like one of my community college students. I told her, “I hope you have a heart, mind and soul.” She did not. She was an intern. I know the names of all my attackers.
I ordered my medical records in 2013 and received a very large set with many pages of staff records. Again, when I was able, I ordered another set, in 2019, which was greatly reduced. All staff records had been erased and main documents had been altered to bury the facts: that I was not evaluated by the white male doctor who signed the clinical certificate and that he did not sign the student intern’s record (the one he was not supervising) until the next day.
I have never met the doctor who signed the paperwork to lock me up. I told the intern my employer was cause, not help. She did not believe me. No one has believed me, despite mounds of evidence (which would take so long to read). The intern did not evaluate me. No one evaluated me.
I asked all hospital staff I encountered to make phone calls. I was denied. The state mental health code states that phone calls should have been allowed.
I waited longer. No doctor ever came to evaluate me. I waited about another hour. The door to my cell was open. The young male guard had stepped away. In the dark unpopulated hallway, a computer stood unguarded and unlocked on a rolling cart. I made my decision quickly. The professionals no doubt would say I acted impulsively against my own interests. But I had to try to get the hell out of there before I was locked up. I stepped into the hall, started typing on the keyboard, and got as far as the Google logo, on my way to my email, when I was found.
Uproar. The young staff converged with a male goon squad. In modern life, I was shackled hand and foot essentially for doing my job as a teacher, for crusading about a reading crisis and putting students first. Enjoying his chance to manhandle, tackle and shackle me, a white male with a handlebar mustache smiled in my face in a dastardly way.
How dare my own society allow sexist and homophobic Catholics, of all the noted disreputable groups, to lock me up, illegally, without need—in a Catholic mental ward, of all the oxymorons (flying Jesus, eating god body and drinking god blood, infallibility of the Pope)—and get away with it?
Psychiatry and Catholicism have too much in common, both founded by men, upon questionable source materials.
When I was 13 years old, a young female whose mind and body were being smothered in Catholic school, I saw the movie The Exorcist. The sight of Linda Blair getting raped, I thought, with a crucifix—certainly not masturbating—stuck with me. The concept stayed dormant until I drew on it for a metaphor to tell my story. Raped by the church, raped by Jesus. A metaphor no one wants to hear, for a story no one wants to acknowledge.
The Exorcist got it all wrong. The Catholic Church is the demon to be exorcised, just like psychiatry needs to be rebuilt, to stop mind rape for cash.
I’ve come to think mind rape must be worse than vaginal rape. Women recover from vaginal rape to become lawyers, governors. People don’t recover so spectacularly from criminal psychiatry. Especially when the states and the world don’t recognize the existence of criminal psychiatry.
The intern thought she was helping me. The intern was torn. The intern played grown-up doctor and knocked me out. Afterward, she considered herself kind for unshackling me. (She read my mind; I’m reading hers.)
Unconscious. Lying on a gurney, a prisoner without any human or civil rights. Disrobed, knocked out by lorazepam, 6 mg, and haloperidol, 5 mg, over the course of many hours, unable to move. Me, Gina, my words and mind, were no longer necessary. The Catholic hospital had my body. I was human trafficked for $6,000 billed to my teacher’s medical insurance “Cadillac” coverage.
Illegally, involuntarily and unnecessarily, I was transferred from the emergency room, stripped of all agency. My person was admitted into a criminal psychiatric ward by a white male doctor I never met. Not once during the week I was held did the guy bother to stop by.
Day One, still Friday, I woke up as darkness was falling. For about six hours, my body had been stowed somewhere between the emergency room and the psychiatric ward. I didn’t know where I was for the first time in my adult life. I had been admitted to the mental ward without evaluation in an unconscious state. Violations of the mental health code were stacking up but did not matter then and still don’t matter now, it seems, to anyone but me.
A woman with dark skin appeared in my view. I woke up groggy to her face smiling at me disingenuously. There was nothing to be happy about. She told me with an east Indian accent that she would evaluate me later, when I was more awake, the next day. She lied. In pencil, I discovered five years later, the female psychiatrist wrote the second clinical certificate that night, or at some point over the weekend, without evaluating me. She cribbed her words from the police report and the intern’s paragraph, which was so poorly crafted, I am a forced to give it an “F.” The student intern spelled “delusional” incorrectly. I did not see my assigned psychiatrist again for another four days.
By this point in my life, 48 years old, I had seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest many times. Also Frances, with Jessica Lange. Maybe too many times? Had I jinxed myself? One of my favorite female artists is sculptor Camille Claudel, who was locked up in a mental ward for 30 years, the rest of her life, primarily due to the insistence of her Catholic mother and brother.
Growing up, my single mother taught me, not my brother, how to cry due to emotional distress. For the first two full days in the hospital, I cried. I cried until I cried myself sober and stable again. I did not swallow the drugs they gave me, not at first.
I can still see myself frantic at the crossroads of the main nurse station. To contact a lawyer or a friend, I tried to use the provided bank of old-fashioned phones to call out for help, but the police took my cellphone, and I had no phone numbers. I knew that feet away on campus with the Catholic hospital, which was named after a supposed saint/virgin and the concept of “mercy,” stood my crappy all-girl Catholic high school. Was I the only graduate ever to be locked up? Me, the most vocal Catholic critic?
Over the weekend, the part-time staff did not welcome me, as a new detainee, with any kind of orientation. I was mostly ignored. However, on Day Three, Sunday, one of the part-time staff persons, a woman I never saw again, let me use her shared office in order to access her computer so I could contact the outside world; a decided change in hospital procedure. I had asked to use Google to access email, but really, I wanted on Facebook.
I sent out distress messages that were seen. At home, a friend did her best to rescue my pets, brought me my least favorite jeans, and some needed hair care products. My assigned psychiatrist forbade any further use of Facebook.
The Humane Society sent a letter threatening to euthanize my dog due to abandonment. It was dated the day of my release.
Three girlfriends visited me that week. They wondered, why are you here? I told them why: I was set up. But that’s difficult to hear, apparently. One friend had attended the all-girl Catholic high school with me.
I no longer talk to these women. They could not understand, support or fight for me after I was released. I was not comfortable among them either. Maybe they wanted me to forget what happened. I can’t forget what happened. I needed to save my life, not forget. I still need to save my life.
Effectively, I had no family then and certainly have none now.
My sick husband had died just two months earlier. The school’s attack on me was an attack on us both. We had no children. I was targeted as I was because I have no children, no teenagers or young adults to vouch for me. America does not like middle-aged women without children. I am not Britney Spears or Drew Barrymore (both of whom I wish well).
Although I told the staff I did NOT want my mother’s involvement in my so-called treatment, my estranged Catholic mother asked to visit me. Allow her to watch me held slave by the Catholics at almost 50 years old? We had nothing to say to one another on the outside. There was no way I could allow her permission to visit me being held as a science experiment in torture. I said NO! I could feel myself shrink psychologically as the Catholics infantilized me.
I said I did not want my mother involved in my so-called treatment, yet medical records say my mother was “worried” and that I had “cut down” in the past.
What the hell does that mean?
Who lied with such poor syntax?
On Day Five, a Tuesday, briefly, once, before I saw my assigned psychiatrist for the second time, I met the patient rights advocate, who was hired by the hospital and required by state law. She gave me a copy of the white male emergency room doctor’s clinical certificate.
I read the doctor’s name, and said, who is this? I told her, I never met this guy. The patient rights advocate ignored me. She processed me very quickly. She began the Catholic hospital’s criminal cover-up.
According to state law, she was supposed to give me a copy of both clinical certificates, including the second one written by the female psychiatrist. She didn’t. It’s possible the second clinical certificate wasn’t yet written.
Five years later, the state’s Republican administration awarded the patient rights advocate top patient rights advocate in the state. As of this date, under Democrats, she chairs the state’s committee on patient rights advocates. She has the ability to re-open my investigation and save my life. She refuses to do so. This year, I asked the state’s female governor to review the patient rights advocate’s position. I was blown off.
I spent more time in the police squad car transported to the hospital than I did meeting with my assigned psychiatrist.
The next time I saw her, after a significant lapse of days, my assigned psychiatrist blithely explained that she had taken a long weekend’s drive to Pennsylvania, to visit family. She said this to my face. Which had stopped crying. I had begun playing my captor’s game in order to earn my escape. I began swallowing the harmful Big Pharma drugs when I learned that they were testing my blood to make sure they were sufficiently poisoning me.
I fake grinned for this woman, which is a big effort for me. But I took notes, too, on the back of the worksheets aimed at subservient minds that inmates were given after business hours to fill time. One with emojis named emotions. Like “frightened” and “angry.”
My diagnosis morphed over the week: suicidal, bipolar, addicted to alcohol and cannabis. The hospital used pysch ward patients to recruit patients for addiction treatment. One drive-by-doctor thanked me for an “interesting” evaluation and predicted I would be locked up again because I smoked pot. I was a card-holding legal medical marijuana patient at the time. Smoking pot was and is legal in Michigan.
Staff records stated that I was no longer suicidal before I was released. I had never been suicidal.
According to my assigned psychiatrist and official documentation, I was sorting things out while I practiced my decoupage skills and colored with the Catholics under lock and key, forbidden shoes.
What passed for mental health therapy? Nothing that anyone could honestly call therapeutic: disjointed group therapy, kindergarten art therapy, slight lectures aimed at immature minds, lame handouts about self-esteem. I was a college teacher who had been sent back to grade school, but not a very good one.
There was so little interaction with me that none of the staff notes, those created by my assigned psychiatrist or the in-house recruiters, included the facts of my marriage, my abusive employer or my all-girl Catholic high school education on campus. Because no one asked me or listened to me. I was superfluous.
On Wednesday, Day Six, a lawyer showed up in jogging clothes briefly after I had been promised release. Experienced inmates warned against fighting in court, where a judge could send you back to the nut house, or court-order psychiatry and dangerous psychiatric drugs.
On the morning I was promised release, Thursday, Day Seven, my assigned doctor did not show, as was her pattern. Loony bin psychiatrists all appeared to hold day jobs and moonlight elsewhere.
Don’t take offense at my term loony bin. I have learned that the name describes the wardens.
A nurse eventually signed my release. I ran out of the place, nervous as hell they’d recapture me. I still am.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.