J. Peters


Excerpt from: Peters, J. (2020). Wales High School: First Diagnosis. Authorhouse.

“Quiet Time on 7 North”
“Quiet Time on 7 North”
Taken: 2003
Photographer: Jane Peters
B/W image. A young Jacques Peters is sitting down at a wooden table reading white/tan indiscrete papers. His right and is laying palm down on the papers, and some other papers are strewn about that are unidentifiable. His eyes seemingly closed or are focused firmly on the reading material in front of him. Jacques is resting his head comfortably on his left hand. In the background is a large locked dark window.

“No!” I yelled out. I desperately needed some space from everyone. BANG! BANG! BANG! But my protest was futile. My father broke down my bedroom door, and my parents rushed into my room. Without thinking too much, I ran out and down the stairs, looking for a place to hide. My mom and dad were close on my heels. I panicked and made a run for the front door. My dad grabbed me and wrestled me back into the house. I was more confused than ever. When I turned back toward them, I saw my mom paging through the phone book as fast as her hands could move. My dad said, “Call the operator and ask for hospitals. NOW!” I was frightened, but I knew it was in my best interest to stay quiet. “Yes, it’s my son,” my mom told the person on the phone, and then closed the door to her room. She emerged a few moments later and said, “Let’s go!” And we got into the car. As we pulled away from the house, I had no idea it would be another life-changing moment. 

We drove to a nearby city and pulled into a newly built facility. We rolled up to a security guard. “We are here for our son. Where is admissions?” The security guard directed us up the road to a building with a sign in front: ADMISSIONS. My heart was racing in panic-stricken fear of what was ahead. We walked up to the building and pressed a buzzer. It was a sound I would become familiar with and would grow to loathe. 

Security guards in quasi-military uniforms opened the door slowly and creepily, like in a horror film. Once inside, we stopped at a check-in desk, where a clerk took my parents’ insurance information and directed us to a waiting room at the end of the corridor. I asked my parents for some change and began calling my friends on the phone just outside the waiting room. I told them that I was in a hospital and described the circumstances that had led up to what was my first stay in a psychiatric hospital. 

My parents and I met with someone on staff, then I met alone with another staff member. Each time I was asked to explain what had happened prior to us coming to the hospital. After a few interviews, we sat and waited. I thought, “They will never take me. I am not sick. I am certainly not crazy.” Then a social worker walked into the waiting room with a wrist bracelet that had my name, and I cried out, “No! No!” 

“We need to figure out what’s going on with you, Jacques. This is only temporary,” my parents said. But I was freaking out and shouting, “Nobody understands!” Then two security guards took me into a small room and searched me. They took everything, including my belt, my watch, and my cigarettes. Just when I felt I had hit the lowest point in quicker intervals than seemed possible, they opened a door and told me to say goodbye to my family. 

“Mom? Dad?”
“We’ll be back tomorrow.”
“Let’s go!” said the guards, and we walked through the inner channels of the hospital to a room with a sign on the door declaring it as SEVEN NORTH. 

This room was to be my new temporary home. But a piece of me has never left. 

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About the Author

J. Peters’s battle with Schizophrenia began at New London University in his last semester of college. J. Peters was discharged from Greater Liberty State Hospital Center in July of 2008, after spending six months there. His recovery was swift, but not painless, and certainly difficult. Today, J. Peters teaches Family Oriented therapy to social work students at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. J. Peters blogs daily on his site mentalhealthaffairs.blog and for psychreg.org. Mr. Peters has published several journal articles on recovery and mental health, and three books: University on Watch, Small Fingernails, and Wales High School. He is also a board member of the newspaper CITY VOICES, https://www.cityvoicesonline.org/. J. Peters currently sits on the CAB committee (Consumer Advisory Board) for the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene in NYC. He also participates regularly with the RAC (Regional Advisory Committee) for the Office of Mental Health (OMH) as a peer advocate.