Eloise Asylum is a huge part of my life. As the Asylum Attendant, this is the only home I will ever know. Lately, Eloise has been on my mind a lot. I thought I would share a little history behind the asylum and of course some creepy photos. Eloise began as a poorhouse in 1839 in Westland, Michigan. At first, Eloise had very few residents (only 35 to begin with). Gradually, the grounds were expanded and more and more people came to live here. By 1868, a separate building was erected to house the insane. This was the start of the asylum. At its height, the Eloise complex sat on 902 acres of land and housed about 10,000 inmates, I mean patients. Forgot for a minute whether this was an asylum or a prison… Eloise was essentially its own self-sustaining city. It was huge and had a schoolhouse, fire/police department, bakery, powerhouse, railroad station, and even an amusement hall. Many of the staff lived on the grounds. There was no need for anyone to leave Eloise for anything, which was great because you wouldn’t want the general public to know what was really going on behind the iron gates. An elaborate tunnel system was constructed under the grounds as well. This made it possible for attendants to transport patients from one building to another. Looks like fun, huh? Overcrowding quickly became a problem at Eloise, but it was fine because some patients just ended up sleeping on the floor. 125 women would have to share 5 toilets. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was used on patients at Eloise starting in the 1950s. I have read that it can help people with severe depression, but knowing that ECT electrically induces seizures in people is unsettling to me. I don’t care how safe people try to make it sound. I’m not buying it. No wonder some of the patients made their own shanks for protection… There was also television therapy. We still use that today to control unruly children and entertain the elderly. Sad, but true. Birthdays were also celebrated in the asylum. The bakery produced cakes for patient’s birthdays, which was a sweet thing to do. An interesting fact that I discovered about Eloise was that a patient pageant was put on in 1936. I don’t know what it involved, but that sure sounds like a strange thing to occur at an asylum. Patients putting on a show… I can’t decide if that’s cute or super messed up. At least Eloise had cool sewer lids. Eloise closed in 1984 and most of the buildings were demolished. A few still remain and they tell a story of pain and despair. I know that not much about mental illness was understood during the asylum era, but I am shocked at the way the mentally ill were treated in the past. Locked wards, leather restraints, spinning chairs, lobotomies…how was this allowed? It was allowed because society didn’t care. As long as the insane (or the bothersome sane people) were removed and out of sight, it didn’t matter what happened to them. These patients suffered alone in silence and I think their story deserves to be told. I won’t let Eloise be forgotten. To lighten the mood, here is an Emilie Autumn performance. I think it’s relevant since I’m discussing a Victorian insane asylum. She’s pretty much responsible for my love of all things asylum-related. Who doesn’t love crazy girls dancing around in corsets and copious amounts of glitter? Good times.