The Women of Ward 3B


[Alice’s] brown eyes are comparatively lucid in a room filled with women alternately sedated or enraged. She comforts Shania, who believes a bulldozer is parked inside her forehead, and Sabrina, who thinks an ex-boyfriend has taken custody of their nonexistent septuplet babies, whose names she cannot always remember but each of whom is called a different diminutive form of “Angel.”

What you may not realize from this passage is that Alice is also an inpatient at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, and though she often acts as a sort of informal therapist for the other women, “she is forced to admit: ‘You’re here for your own self, too.'”

Read more about her story and the story of the institution she’s in this essay at The Big Round Table, highlighted by

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →