A funny thing happened to me on the way to prison the other day. Except it wasn’t a prison, and it definitely wasn’t funny. We went to the hospital for one of my manic episodes, which I thought I had under control but my loving, devoted husband believed needed urgent care. That’s where we get to the funny non-funny thing, at the ER. I was locked up (incarcerated) for hours while nearby nurses, security guards, and peace officers ignored my pleas for help, for the bathroom, for my husband, for, well, anything.
I went a little crazy, no doubt. So that’s on me. I banged the window on my door and even head-butted the glass once or twice, or maybe more. I was so desperate to use the bathroom that I relieved myself the only reasonable way I could under the circumstances: into the drain. And onto the drain. They let me shit on the drain in my room (cell) and someone who had been a part of the decision making process when they chose to ignore me came in and cleaned it up like it was the most natural thing in the world. The same someone whom I caught watching inappropriate, sexually explicit surveillance camera footage on his computer on that same night. Or day. I was lost in my windowless clockless cell, trapped by my prison walls, and drugged with who knows what to “calm me down”, so my timing is fuzzy. Have I mentioned that I’m bipolar? I was diagnosed at age forty, which is considered late for someone who is bipolar or manic-depressive or psychotic or mental or crazy or whatever other term is used to describe it. I am very good at calming myself down. I am very bad at being obediently silent when I need to fly out of a cooped up birdcage I’ve somehow become trapped in.
After, or maybe before, the turd incident/nurse, I was physically assaulted. I was forcibly pushed by the back of my head face first into a pillow by a security guard (or was it a peace officer? They were both in the room and it felt like both were pinning me down) because I’d clearly been so unruly and disobedient and had lost too many marbles that they decided my 115 pound petiteness was a threat to those just-doing-my-job, curls-for-girls security/peace/police officers. I think I was sexually assaulted too but that’s something I don’t fully remember because, you know, I’m bipolar. I was also coincidentally given a ton of unrememberable medicine and I do sometimes hear voices in my head (which more often than not turn out to be a fan or someone playing music next door) and sometimes my mind is so tricky that I might hallucinate something like a sexual assault. OR NOT. In any case, the hospital is investigating and I trust them to separate the wheat from the chaff. They already are.
So I’ve finally recognized the need to stand up and shout/sing METOO because even though I’ve always believed in the movement, I never felt I had to say it out loud since everyone I know already knew I was all in. I also, like most people I know, have of course experienced discrimination based on my gender, and more unwanted sexual advances than I care to remember, which made me naturally belong in the MeToo camp. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a feminist (even though that term scares some people) so I believe in gender equality, which is why I’m always so happy to see men join the movement whether they themselves have experienced sexual/physical assaults from men or women, or whether they MeToo it for the women (or men) they love and want to keep safe. MeToo is more than “just” women and it’s more than “all men are evil”. It has to be otherwise it wouldn’t be such a force. MeToo is you and me and him and her and them and us, together.
I never did shatter that glass window (ceiling) when I rammed my head into it during my incarceration, but I sure did get a lot of attention. Next time I’ll fight with words, my weapon of choice, and make sure that my non-diagnosed-as-crazy husband or a trustworthy nurse or doctor or someone who loves me is there to help me be heard. Next time I’ll sing MeToo sweetly if that’s what it takes. Because it’s true: Anything is possible, and together we CAN move mountains.
© Charise Jewell, 2018