When I first heard about Searcy State Psychiatric Hospital in Mt. Vernon, Alabama I was more than intrigued. The hospital had such an amazing history and this history spoke to me. What was most amazing to me is that this history seemed to be entirely forgotten. It was as if no even knew the history had happened. I had to dig to find the facts buried behind the white walls of the old hospital and I am still learning about its history.
I wrote Circe because I felt like there was a story waiting inside the hospital that had to be told. There were hungry ghosts that wanted their voices heard. As it turns out, many of these ghosts are figurative not literal. The ghosts that haunt Searcy are the figurative ghosts of all those who have suffered and died there and been erased without any justice or recognition. They are the memories of loved ones who died and their ghosts do speak. Their ghosts speak through the family they have left behind who are still searching for them.
Over the last few weeks, I have gotten a series of emails that have broken my heart and made me look at the reality of what happened at Searcy. I’ve gotten two emails from women wondering if I had any information on family members that were admitted to Searcy and were never heard from again. Their families never knew what happened to their loved ones. One of these people was just a child when they vanished into Searcy’s arms. I got another email from a very knowledgeable woman who told me about a family member who she believes was murdered there. The emails keep coming with people who have questions and no one to answer them. I wish I had more answers. My knowledge of the history of Searcy is what I found while I was there. I am not a historian and I have no access to the records that these people are looking for, but these emails were an awakening for me. Behind every ghost story, there are real families that have been hurt by real tragedy. Behind the hospital that entranced me with its dark history are real families that lost their loved ones to the inhumane treatment that occurred at Searcy during its early years. I wish I could dedicate or acknowledge these people in my book. I can’t go back and do that, but I can acknowledge them now and I can dedicate my book to them now. I hope all of them eventually find the answers they are looking for.
For those of you who have not read about Searcy’s history before on this blog and are wondering about it. Here is a link to find information on the hospital: http://ghoststoriesandhauntedplaces.blogspot.com/2011/03/searcy-state-mental-hospital.html