Trauma and Its Sequelae: A Hospital Poem on Abuse by Michael Edward Balkunas MD



Written months after my 4-week admission to the psychiatric unit, W-1, at New Britain General Hospital/ Hospital of Central Connecticut, in 2014 where I was “treated” and abused by Dr. Michael Edward Balkunas, MD


Nine days after your worst hospital stay ever

you are still wearing the shades

that protect others from you

though no one else believes they are in danger

Those staff however wrote you up

as “assaultive” and dangerous to self

and others. But they didn’t mean it the way

you do now and their description of your

behavior was neither accurate nor truthful

Often they lied, as liars do,

just for the sake of convenience.


Now you are a week away from meeting new “cousins”

who await your vacation in northeastern Vermont,

a place magically named the Kingdom

and the recuperation your mind-body badly needs.

Still unable to let go, you perseverate over

the half-nelson grip of sadistic guards

bent on eliciting pain.

What happened to the nurses’

“healing touch,”

their concern for “the dignity, worth,

and uniqueness of every individual”,

or their “primary commitment

to the patient?”


When the guards forcibly stripped

then four-pointed you to an bare mattress

they were just replaying their favorite rape

yanking each limb wide

to expose, degrade, humiliate.

Never mind the nurses’ vow to protect

the vulnerable. The official hands-off policy

protected only their own asses.


So how do Truth and Forgiveness Programs proceed

when so many refuse to acknowledge wrong?

The hospital broke every humane rule;

they only stopped short of murder

because you submitted,

nick of time. Yet they had the last word:

stuffing your screams

when they muted the intercom

and slammed the door between you

and the mandatory one-to-one observer.


No one ever is there to bear witness, is there?

That point has always been the point,

from Daddy to doctors.

and all the hairdressers and nurses in between.

They’ve made a religion of secrecy

and no one wants to know

what they don’t want to know.


Call it “our family’s business,”

call it “a private cut and shampoo,”

or just call it, discreetly, “treatment”–

but they can always do what they want to, to you.                          .

When they break you, they declare

you’re just “one of the family,”

no different from anyone else,

now that they’ve finally fixed you for good.

11 thoughts on “Trauma and Its Sequelae: A Hospital Poem on Abuse by Michael Edward Balkunas MD”

  1. I would love to correspond privately with you, yes. Also I want you to know that nothing you ever wrote kept me away. I had some big losses, grief to work through, and had to pull back from everything just to survive it. Also I did a super slow taper off my psychotropic meds… I took about a year and a half to completely get off the antidepressant and antianxiety, because if I tapered too fast my head got brain zaps and it was not good. Even going so slow, it took me about 4 or 5 months, after I was completely off the meds, before I felt almost normal. I believe all those years of being on psychotropics did a permanent number on my brain. Going off meds is super risky, I do not recommend doing it without having someone who is aware and cares about you, living with you and helping you through. But in my case it was worth the considerable risk, because the side effects of the meds had become unbearable.

    My husband, on the other hand, tried to come off his antidepressant and he could not safely do it, not even with me here to oversee things. Thankfully he decided to stay on it. His only negative side effects are obesity and feeling numb emotionally. Which, those things are super important, yes, but he can live with them, meaning he does better, overall, on the Rx than off. That was not the case with me, I was getting no discernible benefits from the drugs and my side effects were far worse than his.

    Anyway, this has been an incredible year for me in a lot of ways, both good and bad. In May of this year my husband and I drove to Missouri for the high school graduation of one of his granddaughters. The event took place very near to where the massive state hospital, where I spent two of my teenage years as a diagnosed schizophrenic, used to be. We drove there and walked all over the now-empty grounds, taking pictures, remembering- it was surreal. Hard. Healing. Hard.

    Anyway, I am grateful to be back in touch with you. Yes I changed my name again. I am not completely sure what is up with that, lol.


  2. Thank you, “Author A.A” for your comment, and welcome. Welcome back! I recognized you a few days ago from your avatar photo, even though your name was changed. I admit I have waited patiently because I thought you might return and that I would hear from you eventually. I am so glad that you have indeed paid Wagblog a visit again! Can I write to you at the email address you provided? I want to share some news with you but it needs to be private for now. If not, I will share it on the blog soon enough. In any event, I hope you are healing and doing great wherever you are in the world. Please, PLEASE, don’t read any more of the horrible stuff on my blog than you can tolerate. It is easier to write about it than to read, and that’s a true fact. I would hate to help drive you into another terrible PTSD dark place…Be well, stay well, and stay in touch, Okay? (((And hugs back to you, Triple A))) Love, Pam


  3. Oh, Pam. This stanza in your poem hit me like a hammer:

    “No one is ever there to bear witness. That point
    has always been the point, from Daddy to doctors.
    and all the hairdressers and nurses in between.
    They’ve made a religion of secrecy and no one
    wants to know what they don’t want to know, do they?”

    Yes. I FEEL the pain behind those words.

    I have thought of you often, Pamela, during this past couple of years when I have not been blogging or reading any blogs about mental health challenges. I hit a very rough patch emotionally and ended my PTSD blog at the same time that I unsubscribed from all the blogs I was then following, including yours. That was my way of trying to hide from myself, by hiding from the world.

    A few days ago a new comment on one of your posts that I had commented on back in 2012 appeared in my email, which led me back here to your blog. I am happy to be reading your words again, but heartsick at all that you have been going through.

    You are one of the bravest souls I have ever come across. I admire you for boldly speaking your truth and continuing to post your reality for all the scoffers, haters, and doubters to see. You amaze me.

    I’m sending you a big hug if you want it ((((Pamela))))


  4. I can’t really come up with a coherent response, but I wanted to tell you how much this resonates with me. There’s so much pain here, but I’m glad you’re saying this because there are so many of us who haven’t figured out how to speak about it yet. What you’re saying matters greatly.


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