The Priory: Part 1

What to expect when you arrive at the Priory? I had no idea. Particularly when it came to the other inpatients. They really were a mixed bag. There were shopaholics, narcissists, coke heads, winos, burned out executives and plenty, plenty of despair. That’s what really pervades. The misery. It seeps along the corridors and permeates the walls. It soaks into the carpets and clings to the ceiling. Like nicotine stains from decades of heavy smoke, you can almost see it sticking there.

This aura of despair isn’t exactly conducive to wellbeing. But I’m not sure much there is conducive to being well. Patients are encouraged to sit still all day in airless rooms full of emotions. They fly around, pointy-edged and abrasive, so you leave the group session feeling like you’re full of splinters.

It’s really surreal, going from these warm, feeling-filled bubbles out into the bright light for lunch breaks or coffee. Imagine listening to some of the most horrible stories, people’s innermost demons being unleashed, and then just sitting down to lunch and making small talk with the same people. It’s so fucked up. I honestly can’t describe how bizarre. You bare your soul one moment, and talk about the weather the next.

But pain is the one thing we all had in common. It bound us together. We may have arrived by different paths; drinking, getting high or attempting suicide, but we were all looking to escape something. And then we found ourselves there, staring whatever we’d been running from in the face. And this meant we had a sense of camaraderie. Everyone there was doing impossibly difficult, frightening work.

Whether they were someone I would normally get to know out in the real world or not, I felt for them, and they me. I willed them to fight and to be OK and I wanted to help them in any way I could. What emerges from this? Friendship of course.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mark says:

    Reading your site sat in bed late night, lost job, lost me, stopped alcohol my only friend, depressed, people who say they understand don’t, so give a hint a push in the right direction. I am a nice guy on anti d obviously…. no abused or anything just lost.


    1. Laura Black says:

      I am so sorry to hear you’re struggling Mark. I’ve been there and still go there sometimes now. I don’t want to offer empty platitudes and insult your intelligence by saying ‘sit it out and you’ll feel better’. Because I know that being in that place is too horrible for anything better to even feel possible. Please just know that you’re not the only one suffering like this. Keep reaching out to people, even strangers like me. And try not to fight yourself too much. You might feel lost right now, but I want to tell you I have felt utterly lost and alone, but I have also found new connections, better, closer, more authentic ones on the journey to finding myself again. I wish you well. Please be kind to yourself. Laura


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