Most people don’t know this about me, but when I was 16-years-old, I was handcuffed and thrown into the back of a cop car by two police officers.
Saying I was depressed.
Let me back up a little and set the stage.
I’d just moved out of my parent’s house amidst unsavory circumstances, not of my own doing. I had requested counseling, in an attempt to show that I was willing to work towards being a family again if they were. Failing that, I was working on requesting emancipation. For the present time, I was living with extended family.
It may sound like I was a problem child, but that is far from the truth. I was a straight A student, even while going to college at 16, I kept up with my classes and never missed an assignment or extra credit opportunity. My professors knew me as the quiet homeschool graduate. I never caused trouble, I participated when prompted and was respectful and courteous.
One day after class, I had returned to my truck to go home. I found that I had locked my keys inside, along with my purse that contained my feminine products I desperately needed. My periods were awful due to ovarian cysts, and I knew I needed to change before I bled through my clothing after sitting in class for only an hour and a half.
I tracked down a security guard after trying and failing to get to my spare key. He was compassionate and offered to walk me to the Dean’s office until we could find a way to get into my truck.
After sitting in the chair they’d offered me, making small talk with the Dean, I began to cry. I was exhausted from lack of sleep from the drama at home and homework I told them, adding I was on my period and in pain.
The Dean became concerned, asking me to explain about my home situation. The security guard and Dean looked worried, asking me to wait for a moment as they stepped out of the room.
When they returned, they explained that they’d called local PD so that I could talk to them. I protested, explaining that I was already working on fixing my situation at home and it was unnecessary.
The police officers arrived anyways, and I sat there with a tissue, drying my tears as I tried to repeat what I’d already said.
I told them I was tired, hungry, bleeding and late for dinner and only wanted to get into my truck so I could leave.
“Are you suicidal?” The female officer asked bluntly, taking out a notepad from her pocket.
I blinked in shock, “No, I’m depressed.”
In a split second, she handcuffed my hands behind my back and asked me if I had any defining marks like tattoos or scars.
“Am I being arrested?” I asked, glancing at the Dean for help.
“I think this is unnecessary.” The Dean told the officers, casting a helpless glance at me.
“I’m being arrested for saying I’m depressed?” I squeaked.
“Any defining markings?” The officer growled at me.
I told her about the tiny scar on my left foot as her and an older male officer escorted me out of the office with my hands behind my back. They led me to a cop car, parading me in front of the entire campus as some of my classmates watched in shock as they threw me into the back.
I fell onto my side as the female officer slammed the door.
I watched and observed the officers as they drove, recklessly, across town to a place I’d never been.
When we finally arrived, the female officer grabbed my arm and yanked me out of the car. By the time we arrived, my arms were covered in hives.
“What is this?” She asked me, pointing to the reaction.
“I’m allergic to metal.” I answered.
“Sure you are,” She muttered, “Little bitch.”
“Ma’am,” I said respectfully, “I don’t even have my ears pierced because I’m allergic to metal. I had to grow the holes shut.”
She looked at my ears, squinting before glaring at me as she tossed me through the doorway.
I looked around as they spoke to the secretary. They’d brought me to a mental health facility. They turned to me, leading me back behind the security doors to a room.
It wasn’t clinical, it was an unorganized office with two small chairs and lamp sitting on an end table. Across from us was a desk with a trash bin underneath. Papers littered the wall and desk and a calendar hung on a board on the wall.
A woman informed us that we would be seen soon before disappearing behind the door.
“It could be worse.” The male officer leaned over to me, reaching into my pocket as I squirmed, hands behind my back. He pulled out my phone, muttering as he unlocked it, “You could be dead.”
Somehow I wasn’t comforted by this.
The officers began rummaging through the office, snapping pictures and selfies on my phone. They rearranged the tacks on the board on the wall, tore up papers to make confetti that had been laying on the desk, and throwing away random objects in the office into the trash bin.
I sat perplexed as we were interrupted by my phone ringing. In the time I’d been in their custody, it’d gone off upwards of a dozen times. Texts from concerned family and friends filled my inbox. After one person had been unable to get ahold of me, knowing I was always glued to my phone, they became frantic.
“They are going to start looking for me.” I told them matter-of-factly.
They looked at each other, exchanging annoyed glances.
“Look, little girl,” He growled at me, inches from my face, “Tell them that you are okay, but don’t tell there where you are or who you are with.”
“Okay.” I replied, not particularly interested in being killed and left for dead by these wonderful officers.
I sent a quick text to one of my close friends, asking them to please inform the other people who were trying to get in touch with me.
The officers took my phone back, checking to see what I’d written before returned to their “inspection” of the office.
In a few seconds, they managed to break the calendar, damaging it so badly that it would no longer hang on the wall. It was at that moment that the counselor walked in.
“What are you doing?” He boomed, causing them to jump about a foot in the air.
They returned to the side of the room where I sat in one of the chairs, sheepishly leaving the broken calendar on the desk.
“What’s going on?” The counselor asked, starting the encounter off already miffed.
They looked at each other, but before they could decide on what they would say, I answered the question myself.
“They arrested me for crying and saying I’m depressed.” I told him boldly.
The officers blinked at each other, looking at me in surprise.
“A word.” The counselor motioned to the officers with a raised eyebrow as he drug them into the hallway, shutting me in the room alone.
They returned after what seemed like an eternity and the officers seemed significantly deflated.
“Oh my god!” The counselor yelled as he pointed to my handcuffs, “Take those off of her!”
They scrambled to unlock them as I looked up at the counselor and said, “Thank you.”
“I told them I’m allergic to metal,” I raised my arm, showing him the hives that covered every inch, “But they didn’t believe me.”
He shot a look at them, ordering them to bring us water. They rushed out the door and he locked it behind them.
“Are you okay?” He asked as they concerned, kneeling down in front of me as he inspected my arms.
“No.” I told him bluntly, “I didn’t know you could be arrested for being depressed.”
He frowned, grimly acknowledging that the situation had been handled improperly.
I told him my situation in full, rushing to get out the details before they returned. He listed intently, telling me that he would take care of everything, not to worry.
The officers returned, water bottles in hand. I took mine with a gracious, “Thank you” though I had concerned they might have drugged it, given all of their previous behavior.
“Everything will be okay.” The counselor told me as he stood up.
He nodded at the officers, taking a moment to speak to them privately before leading me to the door. I awkwardly apologized in case I had bled on his chair, adding that I hadn’t been allowed to go to the bathroom by the officers, even though I’d requested to do so several times.
The counselor glared at them, telling me not to worry, “None of this was your fault. Remember that.”
The office stuck me back into their police car and started the engine. The ride back was filled with jokes about shooting people, running over children and them making sexual gestures at each other despite the male officer being 20 years her senior.
They parked in the same spot they’d taken me from the campus and opened the door, ordering me out.
“Stay out of trouble, kid.” The female officer told me.
“Oh, don’t worry,” I said flatly, “I’ll never tell anyone I’m depressed again.”
She frowned slightly as she jumped back into the cruiser and watched me walk away.
I returned to my locked truck as the sun began to set. I was cold, hungry, shaking, exhausted, and undeniably different from the last time I’d set eyes on the angel that hung from the mirror in the cab.
That was the day I learned that you can be arrested for being depressed.
For the record, I don’t recommend it.
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