I am Kiska. At least that’s what I called myself. I don’t remember a lot of what happened during that time.
The first thing I remember is waking up in the morning lying in my bed at home. I wasn’t in school. I was fourteen years old, I should’ve been in school, but something bad had happened to me, and I was at home, trying to get better. But, I wasn’t getting any better. I think I was getting worse. I don’t really know. I slept a lot.
Sometime later, I woke up again, but this time I was on the couch in the family room. The couch is over 40 years old, smells all musty and my chest hurts always hurts when I lie on it, but it’s all there is. At first I remember that I could still get up and move around, and talk to my family. But after awhile I couldn’t walk anymore – my Mummy would have to carry me through to the family room, and back again to my bedroom in the evenings. I couldn’t even bathe myself; I remember lying in the bath one evening, too limp to move, not really caring where I was, while my Mummy washed me down.
I stopped talking to the people around me, my family. Nothing they said made any sense to me.
I started hearing other voices talking to me. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them talking to me – they were just voices outside my head. They were saying terribly mean things and scaring me. They kept telling me that they were coming for me; they were going to hurt me. They told me to hurt myself. They kept telling me to hurt myself, to cut myself, to kill myself. I would take a knife out of the kitchen and cut the inside of my thighs. Sometimes, I would cut my sex. The voices would tell me to cut my cunt out.
Sitting at the table one evening, staring dazedly at the food Mummy had put in front of me, some of the voices started telling me that Mummy was trying to poison me. The other voices said the food was fine.
I threw the plate on the floor. “Stop trying to poison me, I hate you.” I screamed, held my hands to my ears and fell to the floor, into the mess of my recently rejected dinner. I was hysterical, in tears, screaming at the voices to stop. “Shut up, stop it, just go away, stop talking, stop it…”
They were hateful voices and I remember being so terrified of them. I tried hiding away from them inside my head; imagining secret places, hidden down long, dark corridors where I thought no one could see or hear me. I would hide in these secret places, being as quiet as possible, but they always found me, and I had to run away and find a deeper hiding place.
For awhile all I can remember was running and hiding, being hounded by those hurtful voices, always finding me, always telling me to hurt myself. I would run for as long as I could, until I was exhausted, and then I would lie down, curl up and go to sleep on the floor. When I woke up, the voices would be back, whispering their hatred in my ears and I would start running again… until I was too tired to run anymore.
I am Kiska. I remember hiding inside my head, hiding from those hateful voices. I remember running blindly, tears streaming down my face, sobbing, begging the voices to stop, and then falling down. One day I fell over, blackness slowly enveloping me, my thoughts disappearing, everything around me disappearing.
I woke up surrounded by voices, normal voices. I had absolutely no idea where I was. I opened my eyes and looked around: I wasn’t in my bedroom; I wasn’t in the family room; and I wasn’t in any of the secret hiding places in my head.
I was lying in a bed, head slightly lifted up. I looked down; I was covered in a strange, blue blanket. I looked up; electronic machines were bolted to the wall above my head, or hooked onto bright shiny poles, close to my bed. A small beep sounded every second from one of the machines.
My hands lay on the blankets. A cable ran down from one of the machines next to me, and ended taped to one of my fingers. I had no idea what it was for. A tube ran from a needle in the back of my other hand, through a machine on a pole next to my bed, and into a bag of clear fluid hanging above my head.
I was tired. I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep again.
The next time I woke up, someone was talking to me.
“Mirrischka, can you hear me, dear?” the voice asked.
Who’s Mirrischka, I thought to myself, I’m Kiska. I opened my eyes anyway and just nodded my head. Standing next to my bed was a nurse. I decided that I was in hospital. She smiled at me.
I looked around the room. There were other people lying on beds neatly arranged the room. Some were awake others were asleep. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.
The next time I woke up, an old man was standing next to my bed. He was wearing a white coat and he was reading something from a big yellow folder.
“Don’t touch me.” I remember shouting at him, suddenly terrified. “Leave me alone. Stay away from me. Please, please don’t hurt me.” I started crying hysterically.
He looked at me. “It’s OK, Mirrischka, I’m a doctor, and you’re OK.” He adjusted something on the tube in my arm, and I drifted away into a dreamless sleep, not feeling frightened anymore.
Next time I woke up in the bath, naked. I looked around startled, but I was alone. The warm water was relaxing and I drifted off back to sleep.
I started waking up more and more often. Sometimes during the day, in my bed, surrounded by the noises of the nurses and other patients. Sometimes, I woke up in the dead of the night, a light glow filtering in through the windows. The windows were covered in a metal grill so the weak light from outside cast a lattice shadow across the ceiling. It was nice and relaxing to stare at that shadow.
Sometimes I woke up and a doctor would be standing there. He wanted to talk to me. I didn’t really understand what he was saying most of the time.
One night I woke up. It was dark but there was a strong wind blowing outside. The shadow on the ceiling shifted violently as the wind gusted around the building. I heard somebody whisper to me, very quietly. I looked around, but everyone else was fast asleep. The voice whispered louder. I started to get scared and pulled the covers over my head.
The voices were back. They started to whisper and argue just outside my head again; sometimes when I was in bed, sometimes when I was eating, other times when I was just sitting around in the hospital lounge. I told the doctor. He asked lots of questions: what were they saying; where were they coming from; did you recognize the voices; where they scary?
Two other doctors also started to come and talk to me. Sometimes, they’d talk to me at my bed, other times I’d go through to their offices. I think they were offices. There was a desk, a chair behind the desk, and chairs in front of the desk. There were lots of books on shelves around the walls. A few certificates were mounted on the walls. I had a close look at one, once. It said the doctor was a clinical psychiatrist.
The voices were getting louder again, arguing with each other, and saying hurtful, hateful things to me. I started to get scared all the time, and angry. I started to swear at the nurses and the doctors.
“Get your fucking hands off me. Don’t touch me. Stay away from me.” I screamed at the nurses and doctors from my bed all the time. I ripped the tube and needle out of my hand. “They say you’re poisoning me,” I screamed at the nurse.
I started hitting them and throwing things at them, whatever I could find next to my bed. When the nurses tried to take me for a bath, I would hit and scratch them, or stab them with a plastic fork that I’d been given at mealtime. The voices were telling me that the nurses were going to drown me, or rape me in the bath. I had to fight to protect myself. I was scared.
I viciously attacked one of the nurses one day. The voices in my head told me she was going to hurt me, she was going to kill me. I was very angry. I grabbed a chair and threw it at her. Then I jumped on her and scratched her face, hit her and pulled her hair out.
They put me in my own room after that, by myself. They would lock the door every time I was in the room. I hated that. I hated the locked door. I hated being locked up. But, I hated the voices even more. They were in the room with me. I screamed at them to leave me alone, to shut up, to go away, but they just carried on whispering at me from the corners of the room, behind and above my head, all day and all night.
I couldn’t eat. A nurse would bring some food to my room. I remember being given Jungle Oats, Oom Salie’s bread with peanut butter, and toast with fish paste at various times. I’d start to eat but halfway through the meal, I’d get nauseous and vomit it all up. I started losing weight. They put a tube in my nose and pushed it all the way down to my stomach. I gagged when they put it in; it was horrible. But they started feeding me through the tube after that. I still vomited a lot after they fed me though.
When the doctors came to speak to me, I begged them to help me. Through streaming eyes, and wet, tousled hair, I begged them to stop the voices. They talked to me, but the voices talked, laughed and argued over them.
The doctors told me that they were going to have to send me away; to an institute that could treat me, on a long-term basis. I think they’d given up on being able to help me.
I shook my head and cried hopelessly, angrily.