Outpatient - A Story Based on True Events

Discussion in 'Writers' Corner' started by Joniia, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Hello!

    I'm Jonii and I decided that I would like to share a short-ish story I'm very proud of. I wrote it about a year and a half ago now, but I still love it just as much as I did when I first completed it, even if the writing is lacking compared to my current skill level. I've briefly read through it before posting it here, and I am aware of some grammatical issues and such, but I may do a complete and total revision if I decide to get this published at some point.

    Anyway, I'll be posting the preface with the synopsis of what it is based on as well as the first chapter here today, and if I get positive responses, I will post all of the chapters! (There are about 12 or so) Now, no use in delaying it further - here you are! (Also, I forgot to mention that some words seemed forced and are bolded because this was a project in which I had to include those terms! woops.)

    TW: Hospitals, Mental Illness, General TW for mentioned sensitive topics

    Dr. William Sargant performed experiments and ‘cures’ to over five-hundred patients, mostly young women, in the 1960s and 70s. These experiments included preforming ECTs and injecting patients with drugs and giving them sleeping pills to make them drowsy, immobile, and emotionless. Patients, when not getting an ECT, were kept in a dark room called the sleep room. These tests were conducted at St. Thomas Hospital in the United Kingdom. Patients, besides being removed from the room for ECTs, were taken out once a week to see visitors, who would normally be family, or to be fed small amounts of food and even less water. They were bathed once a week and were not able to do anything without assistance. The sleep room is considered ‘the room of nightmares’ by former patients, and is described as dark, dank, and something only the patients and employees knew about. These experiments were meant to cure mental health problems, and the patients had to prove to Dr. Sargant that they were cured miraculously before they could be discharged or picked up by friends or family. Almost all the patients lost all sense of self and left with more problems than they arrived with. While most women who were kept for the standard amount of time or left early kept most of their memories, some who were in the hospital for yearly increments lost many important memories and either didn’t recover them or needed help to do so. Most did end up remembering most things, but some had to make memories all over again. This story depicts a young, successful businesswoman who must adjust back to life and remember her husband and life after spending two years in this institution.

    The only thing I saw before I was pulled into the overwhelming fluorescent lighting of the rest of the hospital was the dark, emptiness of the sleep room. How long had I been in there? Last time I was out couldn’t have been that long ago, for it was when the chocolate man had visited me. He always brought the sweetest milk chocolate from Switzerland, the kind that melted on your tongue. I always tried to keep the beautiful purple wrappers, but the nurses always took it from me. They told me I could hurt myself. Why would I hurt myself? The doctors hurt me enough. I tried thinking of the chocolate man while they pulled me floor to floor, my vision becoming slightly less blurred each level, the forced sleeping pills wearing off. The movement didn’t stop until I was sat into a chair at the end of a table. A nurse, with gorgeous red hair told me this was my chance to leave. I didn’t remember asking to leave, but I don’t remember much anymore. Maybe I did.

    The door slammed open and a few doctors walked in. I recognized a couple, ones that have given me injections a few weeks before now. Though, I didn’t know their names. Memories and thoughts commingled like that. They all watched me, not looking away until the door creaked open. I knew who it was, even behind the tinted glass. It was Him, Him who even the newest girls in the sleep room didn’t mention. Him, the man who I saw on the newspapers the chocolate man brought with him, praising him for finding a cure to mental illness. Or, at least, trying to. That wasn’t the case, however. I don’t remember much of anything before I was admitted to the hospital, but I don’t remember being worse off then I am now. Then he walked in, the doctor nearest the door standing to shake his hand, “Hello, Dr. William Sargant,” William shook his hand, taking a seat, “This is Annette Frances, 26.” The young doctor sat back down, and William turned to look at me, disgust in his eyes, but his smile dancing across his face.

    “Did you enjoy the ECT, Ms. Frances? Did it help you? Are you better, now?” his voice was the one I heard in my nightmares, though this was the third time I had met him, and he had only spoken little that I remember. I wanted to tell him that no, I was not better, but I knew how this worked. During the times I wasn’t asleep or drugged, I would whisper to the girl next to me, the one who had kept trying to leave, fighting, pushing herself too hard. She got a meeting, like this, she had said, she said she couldn’t leave because she told the truth, the superfluous truth. I only remembered this because the thought of this meeting played over and over, one of the only other things beside my brief meetings with the chocolate man that I remembered. I took a deep breath, composing myself. I may have still had some sort of drug in my system, but I wanted out of here, even though I didn’t ask for a meeting. I smiled, as best I could, while he looked at my face, from my now gaunt cheeks to my dark under eyes. I would look voracious to people on the streets, but all he saw, and would see, was the beauty of his ECT working so well.

    “Oh, yes, sir, Dr. Sargant, sir,” I tried to act as sweet as I could, but I hadn’t drunk anything yet, and my throat was scratchy and rough, making me sound like a chain-smoker, “Oh, Dr. Sargant, sir, the ECT worked so well, I think I’m cured. Oh, I would love to go home now, to show my family and tell my friends. They’ll be so taken away by your work, Dr. Sargant, and all your colleagues under you. Don’t you think? Don’t you think I’m cured?”

    “You’re sure?” a couple doctors nodded, but William looked through the files in front of him, “You don’t feel any depression, any separation or social anxiety?” I shook my head. As far as William was concerned, I was just peachy.

    “No, no, no, of course not! It’s because of you! You’ve cured me, you have. Really. I can’t prove it anymore than I am now.”

    “Well, if that is the case, I suppose we can bring your stay to a cessation, though you did admit yourself,” he looked around the table, looking for agreement. All the doctors nodded, and he did so in return, “Yes, we will end your stay, and assign your discharge for tomorrow,” peering back down at the file, he laughed, “Perhaps we can get Mr. Frances here by the morning from Switzerland.” It was then that I had an inkling that, maybe, the chocolate man was Mr. Frances. I didn’t remember any pre-admission memories, so I wasn’t exactly sure who this Mr. Frances was. But, I did know he would be my savior.
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  2. Loved reading this :)
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  3. This was very interesting, and I enjoyed reading it. :D

    Thanks for sharing!
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