Frankie & Alice

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Frankie & Alice is a drama film set in the 1970’s relating the true story of a young African American woman named Frankie (played by Halle Berry) who has Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID (which used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder). Frankie works in a strip club as a go-go dancer and prides herself on her ability to step outside her body while she performs so that it’s not really her doing the stripping. This dissociation is revealed further when Frankie gets into a fight with a lover after being triggered by a doll on the floor. She seems to take on a completely different personality and ends up getting committed to a psychiatric hospital. Laying half-nude in the middle of a busy street is going to cause attention, after all. In the hospital, Frankie meets Dr. Oz, who’s convinced she’s not just another druggie on the streets having a meltdown. He ultimately diagnoses her with DID after uncovering her other two alters (names for other personalities), Genius and Alice. Genius is a super intelligent child who’s afraid of Alice, the white older woman who’s racist and despises her host Frankie. Frankie & Alice is definitely not a boring film.

I was drawn to this film because I love psychology. Dissociative Identity Disorder has long been an over-talked about topic because it’s so controversial. Anyone remember the film Sybil? I recall watching it in shock and I think that’s why it’s such an infamous disorder. The revelations fascinate people. There was shock value in Frankie & Alice, but I knew there would be and I eagerly anticipated the source of Frankie’s trauma. Not a super original concept for a film, but Halle’s acting was superb. It’s not easy to portray three vastly different people within one film and she pulled it off.

Frankie & Alice originally came out four years ago, but was only released to a wide audience recently. I thought Halle looked super young in the film and figured out why when I started researching it. Critics seem to hate the film, but I disagree with them. The film wasn’t outstanding, but I was entertained. Watching Frankie’s treatment progression, her interactions with the other patients, and her job at the strip club was fun. Frankie manages to get herself in trouble often when she transitions from one personality to the next. The viewer never can tell what will set her off.

I expect that Halle will be nominated come award season. She deserves recognition for her portrayal of Frankie. I recommend Frankie & Alice to anyone who has an interest in psychology or enjoys a comeback story.

Eloise: The Film

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In the back of my mind, I always believed that the story of my second home, Eloise Asylum, would make a great film. And I just learned that’s it’s actually happening! Holy shit!

Eloise

I want to tree-branch for a moment before I go into the film. I try to pay attention to which of my posts get the most views or searches. My posts on Eloise Asylum and Eloise Cemetery have consistently been at the top and I expect that to spike a lot higher once the film actually comes out. (Free promotion is never a bad thing. Sorry I’m not sorry.) I am not a historian or an expert on Eloise, but I have done extensive research on it. I have physically visited the asylum numerous times. Unlike most people who go there, I’m not really interested in the ghost stories or illegally breaking into the buildings for a good time. That’s not what Eloise should be known or remembered for. I only have positive intentions. I just wanted to make that clear before I continue because in the past people have believed my intentions were not pure. Honestly, I’m still upset about that.

Filming will soon begin for Eloise, a psychological thriller starring Eliza Dushku from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Chace Crawford from Gossip Girl. I actually love them both and I think they were perfect cast choices. The movie will be filmed in the old asylum (only one building of which is still used to this day) in Westland, Michigan. The subject matter aside, how rad is it that a movie is being filmed so close to where I’ve lived my whole life?! The premise of the film is that four friends break into Eloise to find a death certificate that would lead to a large inheritance for one of them. They don’t expect to discover the horrors that occurred here or to learn about their own unfortunate histories. Sadly, real-life break-ins are very common at Eloise. Dumb teenagers are curious and want to get a good scare. But, the remaining buildings from the massive complex are falling apart and not fit to walk around in.

Stairs

I’ve never seen the stairwells before…that’s creepy.

I was happy to learn that the artifacts on display in the asylum museum have been removed prior to filming. I definitely didn’t want them to be damaged by a clumsy cameraman or special effects gone wrong. Some of the film will also be shot at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, which is right next door to where I attend meetings for work. A lady from the Westland Historical Commission is collaborating with crew members so that the positives of Eloise are highlighted. I think that’s very important because while horrible things happened here, the intent of the staff and creators was never malevolent. People just didn’t know what they do now about mental disorders. There’s no excuse for the horrid treatment that many patients received, but I’m just trying to give some perspective.

fire

The old abandoned fire department…

Of course, I have mixed feelings about this film. Eloise is very special to me. It’s become my secret place and a massive inspiration. I mean, the name of my blog and my name “Asylum Attendant” came directly off of a badge that the staff at Eloise wore. I almost don’t want people to find out about the asylum. That makes zero sense, as I’ve only tried to raise awareness about it since the start of this blog. I feel like a part of me is disappearing. Everyone will soon know about Eloise. It won’t make me unique anymore. My identity will be gone.

asylum attendant

I know, I’m probably overreacting. Who knows, awesome things could come from the film. I just want the legacy of Eloise to be honored and cherished. I don’t want a crappy horror movie to destroy its image even more. Eliza and Chace are great actors and I trust them to take their roles seriously. The subject matter that will be addressed deserves respect. Many people were tortured, locked up and died here. It’s not a joke.

I look forward to seeing the final product. I will keep all of you posted. Whatever happens, please remember the original Asylum Attendant. They can’t take my home away from me. I’m here to stay.

My Therapy Story

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I used to be really ashamed that I had to see a psychologist when I was a teenager. I hid it from all of my friends and never brought it up to anyone. I saw it as a weakness and I was scared that people would think I was crazy if they knew about it. But, now I’m ready to talk about that experience.

For most of my life I have been painfully shy. I would never participate in class or talk unless I was spoken to. Social interactions were my number one fear. I was different from the other kids, with feminine mannerisms that I couldn’t control. And you have no idea how hard I tried to change those, but that shit is biological. It didn’t matter how nice or sweet or quiet or masculine I was. I was bullied for being different. I quickly became hyper aware of everything I said or did in school. I wanted to blend in as much as possible. The constant behavior monitoring led to a lot of social anxiety. I was so afraid of being rejected by my peers that I just started avoiding them, even my friends.

I wondered why I was so afraid of public places. I thought that all eyes would be on me and everyone would be watching to see what mistakes I made. I think my friends probably thought I didn’t like them or didn’t want to hang out with them, when really I just couldn’t. I could barely leave the house other than school. I hated phones, too. I still kind of do, but I’m not deathly afraid to talk on them anymore.

My mom noticed this social anxiety in me and remembered that she used to be the same way. She avoided social events and rarely left the house. I don’t think she got her driver’s license until she was 27 due to her social anxiety. A therapist helped her to overcome her fear.

So, my mom set up an appointment for me to see a psychologist that my primary doctor recommended. I was 13 and so fucking mad at her. I had no idea why I had to get therapy at that time and I felt betrayed. And I wasn’t told why until I was much older. I was confused, scared, angry…everything.

I was so nervous that first day of therapy. I remember sitting in the waiting room feeling like I was going to throw up at any second. I had no idea what to expect.

I finally got called back and burst into tears as soon as the doctor started talking to me. At that point in my life, if I was singled out or scared I would cry. And it was so embarrassing. I had learned that boys weren’t supposed to cry and I always felt like a failure when it happened to me. I thought for sure that something terrible was going to happen in that room, like I was going to get locked up or ridiculed. What if everyone found out that I was crazy and they never wanted to see me again?

But, the doctor was very nice and didn’t laugh at me. And the next session went a lot better. I would come in and talk about whatever I wanted to. It was nice to talk to someone who didn’t judge me. He wasn’t the best psychologist in the world and a lot of the stuff that he did didn’t sit well with me. For example, he was often late to our sessions, visibly stressed, and would leave the room mid-session to take calls on his cell phone. He was going through a divorce and very young children were involved. Sometimes I felt like his therapist…I should have known then that I would end up studying psychology.

Despite all of that, I think the therapy was beneficial. I grew to enjoy spending time with the doctor. Dr. M was Hispanic and quite short. And a little odd. His office was really cool. There were huge windows that stretched from the floor to the ceiling and I loved to look out them. The furniture was really unique, too. Sometimes we would leave the office and get ice cream next door, which was pretty awesome. We would watch movies, like The Shining, which I thought was a little inappropriate (what is that movie even rated?). The 500 question personality assessments that I had to fill out sucked ass, but the picture interpretations were fun. There was one where a lady was throwing a chair at someone and I was supposed to react to it. All of the pictures were not quite right and kinda creepy, which is why I liked them. And the crossdresser that I sometimes saw in the waiting room kept me intrigued and entertained.

I stopped seeing the doctor when I was about 15 or 16. I just didn’t want to go. And I didn’t need to see him anymore. Granted, I probably still needed therapy because I was suicidal a couple years later. But, my time with Dr. M was obviously over.

Sometimes I miss going there every week. I hope Dr. M is doing well and I would like to see him again one day. I think he would be proud of me. I’m finally myself and I love who I am. I couldn’t say that back then. I don’t know if my experience led me to go into mental health or if I was destined for this all along. But, I know that I want to help teenagers in pain like the doctor helped me. Because sometimes we just need someone who’s there to listen.

Hello

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I’m Asylum Attendant. I don’t like/connect with my real name, so this is what I go by.

I’ve wanted to start a blog for so long, but I simply never got around to it. Procrastination is such a funny thing. Here you will find a bit of everything. From song lyrics to DIY projects to makeup reviews…I love it all. I fully embrace all that is weird and fantastical. Normalcy is not a part of my world.

Why go by Asylum Attendant?

Ever since I was forced into seeing a psychologist as an angry, hurt teenager, I have been fascinated with psychology and the human mind in general. I naturally delved into psychology in college and I currently work in the mental health field. I’ll be an Asylum Attendant for life.

I really hope to help those who have been rejected and made to feel like freaks by society. I never fit in and I know that many others struggle with that same problem. We don’t have to change who we are in order to be happy in this world. Together we can create our own creepy, beautiful, fucked up realities in which love and freedom are all that matter. You are all welcome in my asylum. I hope you enjoy your stay.

~ AA