In my last post, I described the events leading up to my first long-term institutionalization at Red Rock Canyon School. I will now describe a bit of my experience at this “psychiatric residential treatment center”.
Drugged and Flown to Utah
It’s hard to describe my 14 long months at Red Rock, let alone condense it into a readable format. A lot of the time blurred together, as the days were long and monotonous, interrupted with moments of anxiety, anger and fear.
I remember getting to Red Rock, though. A lot of kids in the program told stories of literally being kidnapped; taken from their beds in the middle of the night; accosted by huge men carrying sometimes pepper spray and often plastic cuffs; being forced out of the house, with only a tearful goodbye; not knowing where they were going. This isn’t my story exactly.
My dad decided to accompany me to Utah. How strange, I thought. I had never been to Utah before. He said that we were going to visit a couple of friends he had there. I was ok with that. “Here, take this,” he said to me as he handed me 400 mg of Seroquel, twice the amount I usually took at night. Strange, I didn’t take my psychiatric meds when I was in the hotel…
The Intake Process
I’m sure I slept throughout most of the long flight, and I awoke, very much disoriented, at this strange place, at some unknown hour, although it was the night. I was led into this room, almost like a hotel lobby, with these two people looking at me like they have been awaiting my arrival. I didn’t know what was going on, until they started asking me all these questions. This was the intake process. They made it very clear to me that I would be staying there for “as long as it takes”. I was in a bedraggled state at the time. I had dyed-blond hair and two eyebrow rings that they said would have to come out. Protesting insistently, trying to cling onto any piece of myself, I said no. Their reply was, well, if you don’t take them out yourself, we will take them out for you. I believe my father was gone at this time. I don’t remember saying goodbye to him.
After my intake, which lasted, for how long? I can’t say, I was led into my new room: a dormitory style sleeping area; a combination of psychiatric facility and old hotel; equipped with bunk beds dressed with thin maroon comforters and a large vanity with the light always on. Privacy in the restroom was a privilege that must be earned, I learned quickly. As I was a new resident, I would be put on suicide watch, as they couldn’t trust me just yet. This meant that I would have to sleep in the front most part of the living quarters, near the vanity where the light was always on. It didn’t matter though, I was given enough Seroquel to keep me asleep.
The World of Red Rock Canyon School
I was soon introduced into the world of Red Rock Canyon School, amidst the vast red hills of Utah, in the small city of St. George. We were broken up into “units” marked by colored shirts. I was on the purple unit, or whatever it was called at the time. I remember the staff holding these giant black walkie-talkies in case one of us got out of control. Each morning we were led out in a single file line, no talking, look straight forward, with one staff up front and one in the back.
We were like a demented flock of geese.
Everything, even things you would think are fundamental rights, like privacy, had to be earned. I couldn’t speak with my family for the first three weeks; and after that, I earned a phone call to be made during therapy time and then I had to follow the rules. I couldn’t “manipulate” “trash-talk” the program, ask to go home, etc. etc. In my next post, I explain how we spent our days at Red Rock Canyon School.
Do you know someone who has been kidnapped and sent to Red Rock Canyon School?
Or have you heard stories about Red Rock Canyon School? Please comment below and tell us your stories!