I knew I was dead. I was not quite sure how or why, I just knew. I had all my wits about me; yet I was dead. I tried to sense where I was. I took a deep breath but could only smell air; thick and suffocating. Nothing felt as it had felt before. Death carried with it an emptiness of my soul; a feeling that there was no depth to my being.
Prologue (1896) Roselle
I will be set up at the White Squirrel Arts Fest in Bowling Green, Ky on April 22, 2023 with my book, ASYLUM. This is the first year for this festival and it will be great. I will do a reading and also answer questions. Come join us! #mentalhealth #insanity #asylums #suffrage
I love everything about horror. The books, the movies, the shows! Jump scares, blood, guts, gore, ghosts, and zombies. I love it all. That is how I got into researching old insane asylums. Well, part of the reason. I will fill you in on the rest in another blog post. Where did the old scary movies take place? Most often in haunted houses and insane asylums. Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff are some of my favorites. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Haunting, Psycho, The Birds. The scariest movie I ever watched was my first horror movie (I was eight), Night of The Living Dead. It terrified me. Monsters can be scary, but real life people are by far the scariest. How I love horror!
Have you ever watched a movie that had raving reviews, and yet you walked away disappointed? Or read a book that received a one star review, yet you took a chance on it anyway because it sounded interesting, and you got to the end and thought it was the best book ever? I have, and quite often. Now mind you, when it comes to products, I always check the reviews. I don't want to buy something that is poorly made, falls apart before I get it opened, or comes with missing pieces. But I refuse to read a review of a book or a movie. There is where the subjectivity lies. I want to make my own judgement. To each his own.
Most mentally ill people in the 1800's were hidden away in prisons or alms houses. Many ashamed families locked their mentally ill family members away in their attic or basement. The Shuttered Room is a 1967 movie that is one of my all time favorites. Something lives in the shuttered room in the attic and that's all I will say. It is a great movie. The abuse of the mentally ill was horrid. Eventually a doctor named Dorothea Dix helped start the first real mental institutions. They were known as lunatic hospitals, madhouses, insane asylums. But before long they were overcrowded and understaffed. Many doctors conducted poorly tested treatments and conducted experiments that were nothing less than torture. Though today the mentally ill are somewhat better off, the stigma continues.
The more I researched, the more I fell in love with the history of insane asylums; and that took me to the injustices women endured within them. The battles women fought to be heard. It took two signatures to commit a woman (research has proven one signature in fact was sufficient), it took five signatures for a man to be committed. If a man wanted a mistress, his wife's money and inheritance, her property, her children, or just didn't agree with her ways, he could have her committed quite easily. He could rid himself of her and come out quite well off, while his wife suffered inside an insane asylum until she did become insane. The injustices women suffered at the hands of men brought me to write Asylum.
I will write any story you want to share, and post it on my blog. I will give you full credit for your story. I was told a story by a friend of mine (who has now passed away) about her grandmother that died in an asylum.
Mental Health carries with it a stigma that is both awful and unfair. Asylums were a catch all for many women who were fighting for their rights to be treated fairly and equally.
There will be weekly posts about different asylums. I have visited many, spent the night, taken tours, and learned their history. Amazing!
I look back not for excuses, but for answers. For as much as I'd like to rid myself of the past, I'm afraid that isn't possible. It thrives in my music and in my poems and in my dreams. It is alive in my soul. It is who I am.