Tag Archives: mental health

Unique, Volume 3

By Stacey Lehrer

EDITOR’S NOTE: Get caught up here on Unique’s story.

They eventually won the appeal, allowing Unique to continue staying in the SCL placement. By that point I’d watched Unique’s worst fear of totally losing control play out. She couldn’t have any kind of conversation that made sense, and often didn’t seem to know who I was. When I visited that summer she was convinced that she had just been in an awful car accident, and that she had all kinds of broken bones and wounds. She sobbed that she didn’t want me to see her like that. Not long after that, she stopped talking completely, for a period of several months. I still called her every day, and had one-sided conversations, to the sound of her breathing, or sometimes crying. In the middle of that, she moved to a new city, to a new house, with new staff who didn’t know her as anybody other than this silent person. The staff were confused about why I would be calling her.  One guy, who barely spoke English, took a full year to understand that I was her friend. Other staff caught on faster and got used to my calls. One guy talked to me so often that he started answering the phone in a falsetto when I called to try to trick me.

Continue reading Unique, Volume 3

The Imposter

by Djemima

Why do you pretend to be something you are not is the question that echoed out within my head as I laid there in the cold. It was clear that they had discovered that I wasn’t truly who I was and all the things I did were just luck. And just as luck fades so did my great feats of intelligence. They faded out leaving me blank and in a haze of panic.

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Unique, Volume 2

By Stacey Lehrer

EDITOR’S NOTE: Get caught up here on Unique’s story.

The summer I visited Unique in a rural Appalachian town was the first time I went to see her on my own. There were some indications that the agency wasn’t the best or safest, but Unique said that things were okay. Later that summer I started having trouble getting in touch with her – every time I called, the staff would tell me she wasn’t there. I eventually found out that she was in the hospital, her first psych hospitalization in years. It was the beginning of a very different phase of her life. The next few years were a constant cycle of hospitalizations. She was chronically suicidal, desperate to find a way to end the pain she was feeling. I got really good at tracking her down, and at getting the staff in various psych units to let me talk to her even though I never had the magic “code number” at the start of each new stay. She was in one rural psych unit often enough that the staff recognized my voice and didn’t even ask for the code number anymore. She started saying things that didn’t quite make sense, talking about the agency administrators bugging her phone and stealing her belongings and stalking her. The agency was shut down not long after, so it’s not too far-fetched that there was some sketchiness happening and her brain was trying to find a way to make sense of it.

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Unique, Volume 1

By Stacey Lehrer

Unique always used to talk about writing a book about her life. She worked on it off and on for years, often telling me about a chapter she was working on or what part she planned to write about next. It’s been years since she had a working computer; I don’t know what happened to her writing. But I do know that she wanted people to hear her story. I can’t speak to what happened in Unique’s life in the time before I knew her, although I’ve heard enough about it that I feel like I have a pretty good idea. But I can tell her story as it connects with mine, in the 14 years since we met. I’m leaving out some of the more intensely personal details, to respect her privacy, but hoping to share her story (and, in part, our story) as she wished.

Continue reading Unique, Volume 1