Troubled Teen III: Institution!

Whenever I hear the word “institutionalized” my brain starts playing the old Suicidal Tendencies anthem. All I wanted was a Pepsi!!!!

Lately, someone has been exclaiming, “Sister Wolf was once institutionalized!” I assume this refers to the time I entered the juvenile justice system after running away from home. It’s a part of my life and my history as a rebellious teenager. It’s also a badge of honor that affirms how defiant I was, and still am.

In October 1967, my “husband” and I went to Washington DC along with thousands of other hippies whose aim was to gather at the Pentagon. In the background of the photo above, you might be able to see the National Guard lined up.   But never mind about them, just look at my fringed bag and my hippie love beads! What a time to be young and out of control!

Eventually, while hitchhiking in another city, we were questioned by the police and I couldn’t remember some dates on my fake birth certificate. I was taken to the local juvenile facility and held there until arrangements were made to fly me back home. All I remember about that place was the fried chicken and grits.

Back in California, I still refused to stop seeing my “husband,” who had valiantly hitchhiked his way across the country to be with me, risking a jail sentence.   My mother gave up and I was sent to a correctional school for girls, where we wore little uniforms and learned to accept authority. Some of us were cunning enough to pretend to learn it.

After a few months, I was allowed to spend weekends at home with my mom. I was usually relieved to get back to the school, where people were predictable and not bi-polar.

At 15, I went straight from the correctional school to London. During the day, I took my mom’s diet pills and scurried around Kensington Market. At night, I danced for hours on end at a disco bar in Earl’s Court.

Ah, I could write a book, couldn’t I? But that was my only brush with an “institution,” I am sorry to reveal to those who wanted more than a Pepsi.

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63 Responses to Troubled Teen III: Institution!

  1. Cricket9 says:

    Esme, I was on antidepressants for 8 months, taking extended lunch every Thursday to se a psychiatrist. My manager was absolutely supportive, and it did not affect my career in the slightest. I also happy to report that depression, so far, did not return after 14 years. If it ever does, I’m running to the doctor for a prescription right away. I had to deal with “well-meaning” people asking me in horrified tones “really, you ARE going to take these pills?, “Can’t you just snap out of it?” “Why are you depressed, you have everything going for you” and similar garbage. Hell yes, I took the pills and in a few weeks I was a different person living in a different, happier world. I’m sorry you did not help you needed, and you, Londongirl, should get a really good kick in the arse for being nasty, hateful and prejudiced piece of work.

  2. Sister Wolf says:

    Esme -Did she expect you to run for President?!? Jesus! That is nuts.

    Cricket9 – Are we living in the fucking dark ages here??? I am full of antidepressants, personally. Many of my friends are practically pharmacists at this point. We can tell you why Paxil is different from Welbutrin! It’s the alcoholics I’m hesitant to hang out with, not people on antidepressants.

  3. Esme Green says:

    Sister Wolf, I’m still working that out till this day! She is one crazy lady…

  4. Cricket9 says:

    SW, people on antidepressants (when it’s working) are great – serene, good-humored, level-headed, a pleasure to hang out with. Since I’m off pills, I’m less saintly now 🙁

  5. Kathleen says:

    SW and Cricket9- I can tell you that Paxil gives me a short temper, and Welbutrin made me so puking ill I lost 5 pounds in one week- but Lexapro is nice, smooth sailing for me.

  6. dana says:

    He did need some facial hair.

  7. Sister Wolf says:

    dana – Bait and Switch. That’s why it’s illegal (in California, at least.)

  8. votum says:

    Love the picture. Love the story.

  9. Audi says:

    I love this story, as I too was a rebellious teen for no good reason. My mom is actually really wonderful and always has been; it’s beyond me what exactly I was rebelling against. I appreciate your honesty about your past; there is nothing shameful in it at all.

    Oh, and londongirl: WHORE!

  10. Aimi says:

    You’re so cool, Sister Wolf. I was such a boring teenager myself in the early 2000s…totally uninspired. But then again I was also severly depressed and had terrible anxiety issues. And regarding londongirl’s comment, I don’t understand why people, in 2010, still feel the need to shame people for mental illness. Fucking bullshit.

  11. Abby says:

    I am a young adult who has been a troubled teen just like you guys……… I was abused, suicidal and into many drugs. Sex was all I knew and all I wanted.. Before I knew it, I was diagnosed with Genital Warts and a scare to future cancer… I learned a lot not to long ago and know that I was in a place of darkness… the one thing I learned was that knowing you’re not alone and many can relate is half the battle to severe depression. If any of you have any questions or just need to talk and don’t know who to ask, i’ve been in that place. Please e-mail me at

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