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. claudia Says:

    it’s beyond fabulous that you actually lived the life that, you know, Free People wants to sell the pretend of (for $238!).

  2. Marky Says:

    I wish I had a history like that.

  3. Suebob Says:

    I love people who think they can shame you with shit like that. I am over shame myself. I have lived, loved, fucked up royally. And I’m okay with all of it.

  4. Brie Says:

    Sounds like a normal story about a rebellious teenage life. I totally get it, not because I rebeled that extremely, but because I was part of the local punk scene from ages 17-22 and knew people who did similar…well at leats the punk rock version of similar…in their young years.

    Nothing “crazy” about it at all. Just a time in life when some teens question who they are, why they are that way, and how the fit in to the thing called life.

    I think you should write a book about your life. I am sure it would be interetsing and fun to read. :)

  5. TheShoeGirl Says:

    You fucking rule Sister.

  6. Arden Says:

    Oh my god.
    That’s the best. That’s a fantastic story. how could they shame you with something like that? lol

  7. honeypants Says:

    After the book becomes a national bestseller, there will be the movie. I’m DYING to see it, and then bitch about how it didn’t do the book justice. And then I’ll grow my hair out and dye it black and start carrying a fringed bag! Who’s going to play you in the movie, I wonder?

  8. Sister Wolf Says:

    Suebob – My life is an open book. No secrets, no shame. What could be more liberating?

  9. Sister Wolf Says:

    honeypants – Catherine Keener is playing the grown up me, remember? Who’s gonna play YOU? That redhead from Madmen with the bosoms?

  10. sketch42 Says:

    Who is playing the teenage you?

    Loved the free people comment above.

  11. Alicia Says:

    I wish I had a rebellion story…I wasted my youth on scholastic achievement and it’s gotten me close to nowhere.

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  12. Dru Says:

    I honestly don’t get how the troll thought she was going to “shame” you by talking about a past you’ve never really hidden from anyone reading this blog. Though I honestly thought the girl in the photograph was a relative of yours at first, not you- you do look different without the red lipstick!

  13. Andra Says:

    Suebob
    -ditto- what you said.
    And no fucking regrets. No point in regretting what you cannot change.
    I am now a wonderful human being and at peace with myself.
    What more do you need?

  14. Helen Says:

    We all know that somewhere in the world, gnarlitude is dying of jealousy over this story.

    SW, you’re absolutely fantastic and fabulous! Were and are.
    My mom is a couple of years older than you, and you both are two of the most beautiful ladies in the world. I wish I can be as awesome in the future.

  15. Make Do Style Says:

    I’m writing the film! You rebellious raven head beauty you. The bag, the beads and most of all the girl’s correctional uniform – was it Chanel-esque.

    The very people who besmirch have no idea we all knew you had been an original, a liver of life. Why you’ve even been to Wales! What I lov eabout your autobiographical posts is how brilliant cool you are without even trying to lift a cool finger. The photos are the icing on the cake.
    Fringed bag/lovebeads v python v pork pie hat wins every time.

  16. Angelica Says:

    “I wish I had a rebellion story…I wasted my youth on scholastic achievement and it’s gotten me close to nowhere.” <— yeah me too :(

    On the other hand, you seriously should write a book! Or maybe a film would be better, more visceral-like. Also you may have just gotten me hooked on Suicidal Tendencies.

  17. hammie Says:

    Duh! Zooey Deschanel will play young Sister Wolf.

    And Sister Wolf; you ARE an institution. xx

  18. sam Says:

    Reading that story – what a great way to start my day.
    Cheers.

  19. londongirl Says:

    what a crock of shit SW. i love how narcissists invent stories about their lives but I guess it’t not a lie to you. Because of your pathology you actually believe these fanciful tales. It’s cute that you think you were some wandering hippie child.
    Pity you are glossing over your real institutionalization in a psychiatric facility and how your boys have and the younger one continues to grow up with a mental case for a mother

  20. Dru Says:

    ^and how do you know they’re fanciful, pray? Are you the nut job who had Sister “investigated”, as the last troll ? And honestly, even if Sister Wolf is making this up- which I don’t believe she is- it’s a bloody good story and better than anything you could come up with, including this latest (pathetic) attempt to attack her through her children.

  21. Dru Says:

    I meant “as the last troll claimed”, up there, my mistake.

  22. kiki Says:

    You were a hot babe when you were young!

  23. Make Do Style Says:

    londongirl – a) you don’t live in London as you write in English US not English UK so don’t drag this wonderful city into your nasty outpourings. It is not just your spelling but use of language. We simply don’t construct sentences nor speak like that.
    b) oh stop being so boring and a low life. If you are that bothered by SW go away and don’t read her posts. Surely you have an off button.

  24. sonja Says:

    londongirl, you’re a horrible little piece of work, aren’t you? whatever would compel a person to post such a wretched comment?

    SW the picture is priceless. The story is sadly beautiful. Myself, I was banished to an unwed mothers home at 17. Not ‘correctional’ but still felt like punishment for not following the rules. And yet in some ways it is a treasured experience. Part of who I am today.

  25. Aja Says:

    Loving Make So Style’s telling off. She always picks up on the most fitting points. Sister Wolf, I like Alicia wish I had rebelled more. I didn’t focus on academic achievement either. I just focused on being pissed off all the time. What a boring teen was I!

  26. Bec Says:

    I don’t understand why being ‘institutionalised’ is seen as a negative in some people’s minds – actually it’s really sad and inhumane that someone would try to use that to wound another person, whether SW was or not!

    A friend of mine is very bright, beautiful and lovely and suffers from bi-polar, she was institutionalised a couple of times. Of course none of us would ever look down on her or judge her for that. She needed help, she got help. So what?

    Anyway Kensington Market…I used to go there as a teenager. I went back 10 years later and it was closed!

    Shame, it was interesting and edgy. You could curate a whole lotta stuff there ;-)

  27. Emily Bleak Says:

    I think it’s important for people who’ve been institutionalized, sent to correctional schools, gone to psychotherapy, etc. to talk about it and I’m glad that you have. Your stories are really interesting (I’m newish to this blog so it’s like delving through layer after layer of your life as I read) and you’re helping remove the stigma that comes with having lived a life that might seem foreign to some of these special little privileged snowflakes.

    So, thanks for writing about your experiences. Just by being unashamed and honest, you’re making it easier for other people to cope with and write about their own.

  28. sonja Says:

    your boyfriend looks like a badass!

  29. Ann Says:

    Love the story, as per. Catherine Keener and my stand-in, Parker Posey (with hair extensions, obviously) will have wonderful on-screen chemistry in your story.

    Oh and londongirl? Fuck off.

  30. Juli Says:

    Well said Kate! Sister Wolf, you really should write a book. It would be an instant best seller and you would make more money than J.K. Rowling! I’ll be the first to pre-order a copy! Or maybe just regale us weekly with an excerpt from your past. That would be awesome!

  31. dust Says:

    I always thought that living “outside” is worse because so many so called “healthy” people are loose without proper care.
    Yes, you are an institution, love that one.

  32. Sister Wolf Says:

    londongirl – I see you do live in the UK. I’m really tired of your psychotic preoccupation with me. You need to find something better to do. Perhaps your life wasn’t as cool as mine, but that’s not my fault. Be gone with you.

    Juli – great suggestion! You get the first signed edition. I’ll start right now. xo

  33. deep Says:

    That’s an awesome story!
    No shame in that – and it’s really inspiring your attitude to life’s little intricacies.
    I rebelled as a teen and young adult, and growing up is hard to do. But damn there are some good stories and some laughs looking back :)
    Rock on sister wolf!

  34. P Says:

    I was going to say ‘This is like one of the pictures that appears on the Gnarlitude blog as style inspiration, except it’s actually from your photo album’, but it looks like someone beat me to the punch. Awesome.

  35. Bessie the Buddha cow Says:

    Wooohoooo! There’s no one I love better than a rebel at 15 who continues to be rebellious into her 50s.

  36. E Says:

    1. To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt “No one can make you feel shame without your consent” aka fuck off and bully someone else.

    Ahem.

    2. The attitudes to mental illness/institutionalization/sectioning as demonstrated in some of these comments is both ignorant and medieval. Perhaps we should just bring back witch-burning and have done with it.

  37. Iron Chic Says:

    Catherin Keener came into my shop last week…she was here forever trying on stuff and was totally nice and was kind of a babe.

  38. The ex Anton Says:

    What’s with all the crazy people you have to deal with here?
    Mom, I would LOVE to read your book! I’ve told you more than once you should get to writing that. You really are one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Anyone who runs away from home at 15, and leaves the country, gets major bonus points with me. How fuckin’ ballsy is that… Awesome.

  39. SummerAdeline Says:

    I’d much rather hang out with someone from an institution than a trust fund!!!

  40. Ann Says:

    The Ex Anton!!! Oh how I’ve missed thee!

  41. Esme Green Says:

    Sister Wolf, I love you! x

  42. nats Says:

    Your hair was just as awesome in the 60′s as it is today. Write the book! I hope it makes its way on to my future kids’ summer reading list!

  43. Sister Wolf Says:

    Ex Anton – Hahahahahaha! The more honest and forthright I am, the more these imbeciles make up crazy stories!

    I fully support any person who has been in a psychiatric hospital, in rehab, or what have you. I personally have not had this experience although if I spend much more time with trolls, I may have to go have myself committed.

    P – You think Gnarlitude would be stoked??

  44. marie Says:

    just awesome. i third hammie, you are an institution.

  45. chomy Says:

    high pitch chanting WRITE A BOOK WRITE A BOOK!!!!!!!!!!! you have to, you got to!!!!i hope i am as cool as you when i grow up!!!!!

  46. Bevitron Says:

    Man, there is an asshole on every corner in the world waiting to shout out what you are, what you aren’t, isn’t there? So much envy. I’ve never had any doubt whatsoever that you are 100 per cent authentic. That’s why I come here. For the real. That, and to broaden my horizons about things beyond my ken – fashion curation & whatnot.

  47. Suebob Says:

    So the message to mothers with psychiatric illness is “Don’t get help or we will damn you for it.” Nice work, troll.

  48. Sister Wolf Says:

    Suebob – A mother who is guided by a troll in her healthcare decisions is already in big trouble.

    I am in favor of everyone getting whatever help they need, including electroshock therapy if all else fails. If I’d ever been in a psych ward, I wouldn’t be embarrassed to say so. I just don’t want any wacky trolls inventing some narrative about my life when I’m RIGHT HERE being open and honest.

    SummerAdeline – I wonder if you can make me a locket thing on a chain?? I will send you an email.

  49. Lois-Elizabeth Says:

    You are too cool ! Love this !

  50. Esme Green Says:

    I wish I had got the help I needed when I was younger, I have a feeling my life could have been very different as a result.

    I remember being in the doctors office with my mother after a reclusive 6 month period, and the doctor wanted me to see a specialist.

    As we left the room, my mother whispered in my ear, “if you go ahead with the treatment, it might affect your career in the future”. Needless to say I didn’t have any therapy.

    Get all the help you need. Shout it from the rooftops if you need to.

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. SummerAdeline Says:

    I’d be honored!!

  54. Esme Green Says:

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

  55. 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 :-(

  56. 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.

  57. dana Says:

    He did need some facial hair.

  58. Sister Wolf Says:

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

  59. votum Says:

    Love the picture. Love the story.

  60. 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!

  61. 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.

  62. 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 reallifeppl@gmail.com

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