Going to the Nuthouse in 1980

It saved my life.

Carol Burt
10 min readMar 10


Photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash

Of course, it was October because most bad things came to me in October. It has always been the worst month of my lifetime of depression, and the one in 1980 proved to be one I couldn’t make it through alone.
As you can probably sense, there’s a lot I’m not telling here, but you get the idea.

A few weeks previous, I quit my police job. I voluntarily gave up my badge and gun after a physical fight with another officer, and then, days later, when she attacked me, I fought with that officer’s wife.

After the incident with the police wife, I went straight to the police station and put my badge and gun on the chief’s desk. I told him I had done something that would get me, him, and the department (which I loved) into deep trouble. It is true that she viciously attacked me, and I had to defend myself, which looked worse on her than anything she did to me.

He told me I didn’t need to resign, that discipline would be administered, and I could continue working. It’s been many years, but although I may not have the words exactly right, he said if I were a mediocre officer, he’d just let me go, but since “you’re one of my best officers,” he didn’t want to lose me.

I was the first and only female police officer in that city, with about 30 officers. Hell, in that county, in that part of the state.

I walked out of his office, tears streaming — because my depression was so bad I couldn’t speak without crying and felt like a big dumb fool. I stood there in full uniform, bawling like a big ole baby.

I held on for a few weeks. I took care of my daughter. But I didn’t pay rent or my car payment or anything. I just focused on feeding and caring for my 6-year-old. That’s all I could do. I have never been so embarrassed, sick, and ashamed.

Eventually, into November, I made arrangements for my daughter to be picked up after school and taken to my parents, who lived nearby and where I knew she would be safe and happy. I had not been a mother of the year or a decent mother for several days. I was single, and my daughter and I were usually happy. I adored her. Until the first bout of real, genuine, major depression hit me. I was almost paralyzed, wanted to die, and…



Carol Burt

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.