Anyone who's ever lived with little kids knows that everyone in the house adapts to their needs. Goodbye, Dr. Dre in the car and (dis)tasteful nudes on the walls; hello, Barney on the TV and LEGOs under your bare feet. Well, an inpatient facility is a household like any other. That means that everyone lives like children.
The return of juice boxes is nice, but losing most of your adolescence makes for kind of a poor trade.
"There was a playroom with a bunch of toys and one TV and a chalkboard," says Nate. "If someone was acting up, there was a 'calm down room' where they put them until they calmed down. ... There was snack time and one hour of alone time every day. I normally took a nap, so it was basically nap time. It was lights out at 9 or 10 p.m., and a nurse would check to make sure you were actually sleeping; you couldn't even be reading a book or anything."
Basically, the nurse becomes your medically prescribed mommy.
A prescription parent comes with all kinds of legal requirements -- like feeding and housing you, but also educating you. Since a secure facility can't exactly send you out to the local public school every day, they have their own little school houses right there on campus. You've got children as young as 6 mixed in with teenagers, which means you're not likely to be engaged in a rousing discussion on Russian philosophers (it's ... uh ... it's been a while since we were in school).
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You get a timeout if you don't use all of the Chekhov's building blocks
you took out at the beginning of class.
"This teacher, messily dressed in a suit, would come in and teach us elementary math even though most of us were 14 to 16," Nate says.
Another former patient we spoke to, Nicole, reminisces, "They would give us those giant fuzzy posters, and they would encourage us to color or [use] Play-Doh or whatever. We had to make a project every period. When I came home, I had like five or six of those."
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Nothing ups your chances for an institution-free adulthood like learning absolutely no
marketable life skills at 16.