Here are some extracts from my memoir ‘The Dark Threads’. It all happened a long time ago but sometimes it seems like only yesterday. The photo of High Royds Hospital (formerly Menston Lunatic Asylum) gives me the creeps!
On rounding the bend in the long, winding driveway and catching a glimpse of the hospital looming up large and dark ahead of me in the pale light of evening, I stopped dead in my tracks.
The first few days in High Royds passed in a blur. My thoughts became fuzzy as the drugs took a firm hold, and I sank into the regimented routine of the institution. Up at seven. Bed at nine. And in between, a drowsy dream-state of longing for bedtime. I would wake in the morning to face another day stretching ahead of me like an endless, gloomy tunnel.
At OT, I sometimes escaped from the monotony of knitting dishcloths and making ashtrays by lingering in the toilet. The door wouldn’t lock but a measure of privacy for writing could be achieved by sitting on the floor with knees to chest, feet against the base of the pot and back against the door holding it firmly shut. This was where I sat, scribbling copious notes for my diary, pouring my heart out on wads of toilet paper.
The following extract comes towards the end of my book. Things were looking up for me:
On a wintry Saturday morning, I moved into my ‘furnished bed-sit, own kitchen, shared bathroom’ on the first floor of a large, old, shabby terraced house. A nail was protruding from the wall above the fireplace and I had just the right thing to hang on it. I pulled out of my bag a joke notice I’d brought back from Somerset: a white card with fancy black lettering on it which read ‘BLESS THIS MESS’. How appropriate, I thought, as I hung it on the wall, chuckling to myself. I knew my bed-sit wasn’t the kind of accommodation most people would get excited about but it was another step towards independence and, although the words ‘dilapidated dump’ would have been an apt description for it, nothing could take away my pleasure as I unpacked my bags and surveyed my new home.