I have lived in a psychiatric clinic for 10 years and I had a wonderful childhood... I know what you are asking yourself: WHY. HOW. I can feel your curiosity growing. I am very tempted to keep the mystery and not giving you any details but if so, it would not be a blog article.
Let me put your confusion away... Hi, Fanny writing here and this is my story!
How it began?
My mom was working in this clinic in France for over 20 years. Her job was to help patients with their creativity, through arts and relaxation. She was working with people suffering of alcoholism, anorexia / bulimia, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder and other mental illnesses. The clinic was a big property with a park, a little forest, two manors, few houses for employees and other structures.
A benefit from her job was to be able to rent, for a very small amount, one of those houses and live on site. I was 5 when we moved in. The house was very small, I had my own little bedroom but my mom was living in the living room, not the best but we were happy.
The mystery is over, as you can read I wasn't there because of mental issues. My only problem was to be an heavy sleepwalker when I was young (which made me several times getting ready for school at midnight and even made my mom running after me at night in the street).
I was never bored
Even if we were living in the city, the clinic had a lot of greenery and I spent my time outside as much as I could. From climbing trees and building shacks, to rescuing little animals such as birds, mice, cats and even a dog once (you could have called me Snow White without the great voice), I could not get bored. I remember exploring the clinic like if I was adventurer or hiding from people I was on a mission. I build slides from wooden boards, which wasn't a success: my friend ended up with a 1 cm splinter in his bum. And when I needed some quite time to relax or sulk, I was always going to the same tree. That was my spot, my peaceful location and it broke my heart when I heard they destroyed it few years ago.
Even if the patients there had severe mental illnesses, everybody knew me and I never felt any insecurity, never got into trouble even though I was creating them sometimes. As an only child, it was pretty easy for me to find creative ways to spend my free times when I didn't have my friends to play with me. My favourite activity was to block the paths people where walking on, hide in trees and scare them when they were close enough. Did people kept calling me a sweet angel after that? Actually yes they did!
The other galaxy: One of the patient believed my mom was the queen of an alien tribe from an unknown planet, far away from our galaxy. But she sweared to never revealed my mom's secret!
Power rangers: Another person believed he was one of the Power Rangers. I remember hearing that guy every morning in the park, screaming one of their famous lines and fighting against the air. This guy always made my mornings brighter!
The one with the big heart: My mom had the authorization to bring a small group to the farmers market every Wednesday. One day on the way to the location, one of the patient fell in love with a big red strawberry stuffed toy and decided to love it for the rest of his life!
I remember people being happy but unfortunately I also heard and saw some dramatic moments, things such has death and violence I was too young to fully understand.
Acceptance you will learn
The great part of growing up in this type of environment, surrendered by psychological illnesses was I had to learn and understand that sometimes the brain does not work properly and people are suffering from it. I learnt to smile at instead of making fun of people who are different. It taught me acceptance, kindness and opened my mind on topics that can be quit taboo.