The 1970’s a time when asylums still existed, a time of ominous gloomy buildings and for me one very scary building, that of High Royds Hospital in West Yorkshire.
I remember it well, I remember because I was scared, I remember because no one seemed to care, those memories haunt me still and I was only visiting.
My mum had been diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia, and had been ill for some time, she spent some time in hospitals in Leeds but was finally consigned to High Royds.
I was young when I visited and remember snapshots which stick in my mind and remain vivid with me today. It’s sad. I think that’s what I feel , when I think about those times I just cry.
The drive it seemed never ending and my sister was dancing around and I wanted her to stop, she was trying to make us laugh but the fear, the fear I wanted her to stop, we always laughed it’s how we coped its how I coped, just stop…..
My brother and sisters and me visited my mum, we got two buses from Leeds and arrived at the drive… I remember the first time, I was young, and we walked towards the huge building, I was so scared, the unknown and yet knowing my mum was so ill. I wanted her to be well, I wanted her to be my mum.
That visit, we couldn’t find the ward , we all walked in to somewhere I remember a girl in white floating around asking us why are you here? Her face smiling but not quite with us, no staff in sight, I saw people sitting, sitting no movement, not right, numbed people not moving except for the girl in white floating.
We found my mum I can’t remember how I was so scared I think I’ve blocked it out she sat her head bowed not speaking not moving in a room full of smoke, I can’t remember but snapshots no one helping, spiralling smoke, head down, empty shell, no one there, ECT, drugged.
I ask my self now where were the staff ? Hiding in the office contributing to the haze?
My mum still can’t lift her head, she was left in High Royds head bent in a room full of smoke.
I hated that place .