I had no idea about Carrie Fisher before her passing. She was a firecracker! And it came to light that she too was bipolar, so I went to Half Price Books and picked up her memoir. Where she says,
“I was invited to go to a mental hospital. And, you know, you don’t want to be rude, so you go. This is a very exclusive invitation. I mean, hello- have you ever been invited to a mental hospital? So, you see, it’s very exclusive. It’s sort of like an invitation to the White House- only you meet a better class of people in the mental hospital.”
When I was hospitalized for the first time in Cambridge, MA it was also by an invitation, from my roommate at the time. Makes sense someone else should suggest it the first time around- not unlike sex or rollerskating. All new things seem scary before you try them.
I can’t remember the specifics of my roommates’ proposition but I know she agreed to watch my puppy and I Googled the bus route to Cambridge Hospital and went. I brought a tote with my ukulele, colored pencils, a sketchbook, my make up, some clothes. I was ready.
I was the tortured artist headed to the mental hospital. “How cliche,” I thought.
And what she says about the class of people you meet there is true. If you are into honest, passionate, mysterious people you will meet them at the hospital, not the political arena. Once the initial taboo wore off, going to the mental hospital became a kind of mini-vacation.
Granted I was not in the right frame of mind to worry about the medical bills, but I did enjoy not working a day job and meeting fascinating people. There was a piano there to play on, snacks at anytime, coffee, cards to play, amazing stories to hear from your fellow inmates. It really wasn’t scary at all. It was a break from reality, and who likes reality?