There are two scenic paintings on the walls here. The pictures almost look like windows, but for the absence of frames. They feature two different seasons, winter and fall, it's nice that way, as if you are looking at the same world at different times of the year without waiting for the leaves to fall on their own free will and give way to the cold purity of winter. There is a single lamp, casting a dull light over the room, it has created several little shadows over the insignificant objects upon the desk. After closer observation I realize there is but one object, a single off-white mug. The floor appears to be wood, but it's merely a representation by meticulously detailed tiling. The mood is one of silent peacefulness. A penetrating simplicity, of sorts. I deduce that it must be either early morning or late evening, for there is no light coming in beneath the door and I saw the skylight in the hallway as I came in. The plant in the corner adds a bit to an atmosphere of not tension but near nothingness. Everything seems to be tall here, the trees in the paintings, the chair tucked in behind the desk, and even the simple little lamp. The plant is a spiked tropical, it reaches almost three feet up the wall and looks almost obscenely perfect in relation to the rest of the room. This place is shrowded in a dark mystery and I can't quite place why, or how it is that I arrived here..

A room in mental institutions to which patients are sent, dragged, or carried when staff consider them violent, self-injurious, or simply annoying. The room may contain a bare floor, a mattress, a table, or a bed. The patient may be stripped, tied down with restraints, wrapped in a wet blanket, drugged, or left on his own. He may stay there from hours to days. There is generally a small observation window or mirror through which staff or patients can view the inmate. Also known as the seclusion or isolation room. Similar to solitary confinement.

Although America has laws in place to restrict the use of such rooms on the whims of staff, they range from difficult to impossible to enforce.

The Quiet Room is also the title of a book by Lori Schiller, documenting her recovery from schizophrenia.

I am sitting in the corner of the dayroom, minding my own business. Not talking to anyone, not looking at anything, not moving. The other patients are loudly socializing. I wouldn't know how to indicate interest even if I wanted to, so I don't.

I can feel the staff approaching before I see them. Maybe it's the way everything goes quiet around them, and people edge away. They squat around my chair in a semicircle and say my name. I don't respond. They tell me I'm misbehaving by sitting there. I still don't respond, so they grab me.

This isn't a new routine. Being grabbed freaks me out. I struggle. They hold tighter. I kick and twist. They clear everyone else out of the room. "Code stat" goes out over the intercom. Oh shit.

People come running into the unit, and several of them pin me to the floor, twisting my arms. One of them sits on me. It's hard to breathe. I do what any sane person would do: I scream and struggle until I'm out of breath. Or try. They hit me and tell me to shut up. "Your attention-seeking histrionics are scaring the other patients." Apparently it's not okay for kids to scream when they're being sat on.

I'm still screaming when eight of them carry me into a little room and tie me to a bed. One leather cuff on each limb. A leather belt across my waist, the wrist cuffs tied to it. Another strap across my chest. That one's made out of canvas instead of leather. I try to bite it off. They laugh. "At least you're not screaming anymore." No, I'm past screaming. I'm quietly panicking and trying to get my mind anywhere but where I am.

After they're done securing the straps, they leave the room. "We'll check every fifteen minutes. If you're quiet, we'll start letting you out." They shut a door with a little observation window on it. Through it, I can see a clock.

An hour goes by, and I can see no faces at the observation window. I hear a lot of voices though: The staff are gossiping, as usual, about the patients. They even try to come up with diagnoses, although none of them are technically qualified to do it. When they talk about me, it's mainly to say there's no point in wasting time on me. You can't do anything for people like me, and there are motivated patients in here who deserve their attention more and will likely only spend a few days in the nuthouse anyway. I'm not getting better, this annoys them, and I'll end up in a chronic care institution eventually, they say. They seem divided on whether I am very crazy or just very disagreeable. I wonder whether I should be scared or not. I'm mostly emotionally numb; I'm way too used to this.

I have an itch. I can't scratch it with my hands tied. I compress my right hand tightly and try to work it out of the wrist restraint. I succeed. Right about then, a psychiatric technician looks in. She looks mad. More faces appear at the window.

As the door opens, I try to put my hand back in the cuff. It won't fit. A psych tech stands over me with her hands on her hips. "That's enough of your bullshit. We don't have to tolerate this kind of behavior." She motions to the others, and they unclip the wrist restraints from the waist belt. One of them roughly grabs my right wrist and restrains it, tighter this time, and tightens the restraint on my left wrist. They attach the wrist cuffs to the straps on the bed, and yank my arms down as far as they go. One of my shoulders feels nearly dislocated.

They leave again. My hands are numb, there's pain shooting down my arms, and I feel exposed with nothing protecting the front of my body. I start screaming again. One of them looks in and shakes her head at me. I look at my wrists, but she's gone. I panic.

Pretty soon, they're in here with a needle. Standard routine. They pull my pants down, turn me to the side, and give me a shot. It doesn't hurt, and it doesn't calm me down. I keep screaming, chanting phrases that usually calm me down. In fifteen minutes, they're back with another shot. They keep this up for a few hours. I keep up the screaming. And sweating. Somewhere in there, I ask for water. "We're busy charting right now." I try to shut my mouth, but I freak out and start chanting again.

Deciding to change the drug, they come in with another shot. I don't feel any calmer, but it's harder to move and think. My muscles tense up, but I can't struggle. "Good. That one worked. It's hard to get any work done with all that yelling." One of them sees my mouth still muttering the phrases. She points it out to the other one. They laugh as they leave the room.

I start getting tired. While I'm on the edge of sleep, they look in again. They comment on how well-behaved I am now, how I'm almost likable at times like this. I wonder if this is why they call it a quiet room. I try to puzzle out what I've done wrong to get put in here all the time. Then brain fog sets in and I fall asleep.


This is undoubtedly a composite of several similar experiences. I appear to have dealt with this stuff by remembering these events in fragments, which is probably just as well because remembering them all at once could cause trouble. However, every fragment is true and most probably happened more than once.

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