Timeline of Events Inside the System
Inside the System is a blog series about mental health, being hospitalised, fellow patients, and the things I've experienced last few months. I started to write because I had no idea how to deal with what was happening, and because I wanted something I could read back, that would remind me where I never want to be again in my life, emotionally.
The Inside The System series is part of Project Blue is a Wave.
There's a new girl. She's somewhere in her early twenties. The first time she entered the psychiatric ward, I thought she was an intern. She walked by while we were eating, turned to the group, and said: "I'll introduce myself later, I don't want to disturb you during dinner!"
Her hair was nice, her clothing on point. She carried a handbag with her, and seemed very confident, and well put together. As if she was only visiting. Apparently looks can deceive.
A little later, the new girl walks up to me.
"I worked with patients and now I'm here as a patient," she says. "How ridiculous is that? I worked in psychiatry, and now I'm here! Hi, I'm Rebecca Sealing."
"Pieke Roelofs," I reply.
"Pieke Roelofs?" she asks, while touching her secretary glasses. "Photography Pieke Roelofs?"
"I've stalked you!" Rebecca shouts in my face. "I know who you are! I've stalked your Hyves page. Your pictures are so beautiful!"
Hyves was a Dutch social network years ago. I used to have a lot of clients from my area who used Hyves, and tagged me in the pictures I took of them. Apparently this is a small world.
"Right, thank you," I say.
"What am I saying!" Rebecca laughs. "I stalked your Hyves page! Listen, this chick I know did a photoshoot with you. She was tagged in your pictures. Marla Thomas?"
"Oh, yeah. I did a photoshoot with her."
"I've stalked all your pictures," Rebecca says. "Please don't think I'm a stalker though. I just did it because you took Marla's pictures. God I must look like a stalker now huh!"
"Well, I did a lot of photoshoots back then with people from this area. It's not that odd if you saw a tagged picture and wanted to know more."
Rebecca laughs, and sits down.
"Where are you from then?" she asks.
"X," I say.
"X?! I'm from X too! This is a conspiracy! I was really dreading someone from X being here too."
"Same," I say. "Or people who know my parents."
Rebecca and I talk about our home-town, Hyves and her arch enemy Marla. Apparently it's a different Marla than the Marla she mentioned before. She talks about both Marla's in the conversation, which sometimes causes confusion, both for me, and her also, it seems.
Rebecca appears to be incredibly open. She makes me feel very comfortable with her, within minutes. She's expressive, and uses her hands and glasses a lot to communicate.
"So I told this guy, hey, I'm the King and Queen of Sittard," she says, while moving her glasses to the tip of her nose.
"I can't believe I said that," she laughs. "He's just so full of himself."
She tells me stories about our village like I've never heard before. The good, the bad. The shame culture, the families, the fights. It sounds all foreign to me. I wonder how much of the social aspect from my hometown I missed while I was living there, and why.
"And they said all that shit about me and my sibling!" she says. "What crazy person would fuck a horse? Where do they come up with this?"
"That's sick," I say. "It must have been hard hearing people spreading those lies."
She tells me about one of her best friends and her father, who had to go into hiding because someone wanted to kill them. It's a story I actually remember from the paper and other people from my village, so I'm not doubting her. It had something to do with the father being involved with the police or some case.
"What if he gets out and comes after me!" she says. "She stayed with me, you know? When they were hiding. I'm the best friend of. What if I'm in his system now as well? What is this assassin is after me now! You know, it's why the police is tapping my phone. To keep me safe."
She waves her phone in front of me.
I'm not sure how to take everything she just said. I know parts of the story to be true, but the police tapping her phone seems a bit ridiculous. Also, I have no proof of the girl being her friend, but it sounds plausible.
For some reason a local super model who's from out village too, comes up in the conversation next. Rebecca tells me the super model is one of her best friends.
"I was there when they scouted her in Paris," she says. "She's doing so well now. She's the sweetest girl, but she always worries about me. I haven't told her yet where I am because I don't want to worry her. She's going through a hard time too."
When Rebecca finds out I spoke with her model friend once during the Hyves period, she starts joking about conspiracies again.
"You know her, you know Marla, you're from X, I stalked you.. This all seems connected!" she laughs. "I'm going mad. Oh well, look where I am. You know, I'm just going to pretend I'm on vacation. As if this is a hotel."
Rebecca talks a lot and I don't mind hearing her talk. She's full of energy and straight to the point. No sugar-coating, no buttering up. The more she talks, the more she takes me out of my mind.
I wonder is she suffers from psychosis.
Later, in the small smoke-room at the ward, I meet Rebecca again and find out why she's here.
"They diagnosed me with bipolar disorder," Rebecca says, while taking another cigarette between her fingers.
"I think it's bullshit. They misdiagnosed my mother before, and only when my dad and I pushed for a new evaluation, she got one, and got diagnosed with ADHD. Don't let anyone here give you a wrong diagnosis girl. If you don't agree with it, fight it. Fucking bipolar disorder," she says. "I'm NEVER depressed. I told them! I told them, fuck, I've NEVER been depressed in my life!"
"Bipolar is the manic-depressive personality disorder right?" I ask.
"Yes!" she shouts, "And I'm never depressed, that's what I mean! Never! Yes I might be manic and sometimes get psychotic, but I'm never depressed. I'm getting a second opinion."
"You suffer from psychosis?" I ask. "What's that like? Do you see or hear things?"
"No, it's not like that at all," Rebecca says. "I think too much. That's the problem. And then my brain just keeps spinning and spinning and I connect too many things that shouldn't be connected. And then I get confused about what did and didn't happen, to me or my family and friends. Small details, nothing big."
"So it's based on real things?"
"Yeah. Always. I don't see crazy things or hear voices."
"That must be hard. I can't imagine what that's like," I say.
"It sucks, because I can always remember my psychosis very well. Everything. But when looking back, I can see why I was all wrong at the time. It comes in episodes, when I have a lot of stress. That's why I'm here now. To take the pressure off my parents. Why are you here?"
"Depression," I say.
I lit up another cigarette. Rebecca points at her phone.
"The police is always listening. Remember that when you talk to me, if you don't want to share certain things with them."
She looks very serious, and waits for me to continue the conversation.
"Alright. Well, yeah, ehm. I'm here since-"
The doors opens, and a middle-aged woman with short blonde hair walks in. She sits on a chair next to us, and looks for her cigarettes.
"Eh, so what eh-" I begin.
"That's what he said and I just really don't agree!" Rebecca barks at me.
She winks, opens her photo folder on her phone, and shows me a picture.
I admire her perceptiveness, and look at her screen.
"That's Zena. My best friend that had to go into hiding," Rebecca says.
She shows me a couple of pictures of her and her friends, and, a picture of her and the model we talked about earlier. It's obviously no fan-photo, but a friend-photo, of the girl and her on the beach.
"I think her agency is after me," Rebecca says. "They want to include me in some way. You know her sister works for them also? I was tagged in some pictures on Instagram, I think they want me to join. Just like MTV. They want me to be cover of the month. It's why I've been getting so many Facebook friend requests. I'm famous in China I tell you! Someone tagged me everywhere on someone's profile, and now I get so many weird people who want to talk to me. Friend requests from all those far away countries, Pakistan and whatnot."
The woman with the short, blonde hair, shoots a look of distrust at Rebecca.
"They're after me," Rebecca continues, "but I just want to write my thesis. I don't have time for this bullshit. MTV was filming last week in the Hosk, while I was out there with my girls. They want me to be cover of the month, but I don't have time. I need to write this damn thesis. I need to write my book. I'm writing a book on psychiatry. On everything that's wrong with it. Hell, I'm from the field, the things I've seen. All the money is going to charity. I don't need money, I just want to help people."
The woman snorts, but Rebecca doesn't seem to notice. She talks quickly, takes deep tokes from her cigarette, and waves her manicured hands graciously while talking. She's a beautiful young lady, who seems very social and aware of other people's emotions, like she noticed my hesitating moment earlier. I'm annoyed the woman just walked in during this topic. She must think Rebecca is quite arrogant and self-obsessed. I've talked to Rebecca for a while now though, and can see she's not arrogant at all. Just, confused, sometimes. Paranoid. She tries to solve puzzles with both real and fictive pieces of truth, combined.
I'm starting to understand more how her psychosis works.
The story about her best friend being in danger, and the super model being one of her best friends, seem to be true. Those are the real facts. The police tapping her phone and big companies trying to scout her, seem a bridge too far. Those are not facts, but figments of her imagination, probably. I wonder if I should bring it up, or not. Maybe logic is the best way to solve this.
"People tag each other on Instagram or Facebook all the time. It's not unusual when you then get a lot of friend-requests from strangers due to it. Especially not if they start sharing your pictures," I say.
Rebecca seems to consider this.
"Yeah.. You're probably right. Was I taking it too far again?" she asks. "Maybe I should stop accepting people. I have 2000 Facebook friends now. I have no idea how to delete those people," she says.
"I can help you if you want to," I say.
"If you could, that would be amazing!" she says. "Thank you."
She lights my new cigarette, winks again, and puts her phone on stand-by.
Written with permission of Rebecca. Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
Timeline of Events Inside the System