**Author’s Addendum- since writing this, The Norfolk Regional Center has been demolished. I wrote a goodbye article about it, follow the link here.
“The brain is a monstrous, beautiful mess.” -Samantha Cahalan, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
***Note: Since I first published this post, a reader sent me a link for families to find their loved ones buried in the cemetery.
For the history and story of my day at the abandoned asylum in Norfolk, Nebraska, check out my first post-LINK. There are many stories, whispers, and rumors about this place being haunted. People talk about seeing figures roaming the halls, disappearing into thin air. They have reported hearing moans, screams, and pounding sounds into the night. As mentioned previously, it has a notorious history of both patients who needed treatment, others who would have been better suited for iron prison bars, and then the innocent people who were committed for being a little different from their peers.
Some abandoned places I visit have a peaceful feeling surrounding them. Others reach in and twist my stomach into knots. This place was completely unnerving. I had to take multiple breaks in order to take the amount of pictures I needed, and not soley due to the frigid temperatures. My legs were weighted stumps as I tried to clomp through the snow, and I became short of breath and light-headed. Hands trembling from my essential tremor, worsened from the cold and I had to sit in the truck to warm up more than once.
At one point I walked right up to one of the basement windows and peered inside. Winter’s breath whistled quietly through the cracked glass, rattling the tattered blinds and ragged curtains. Shadows swallowed the light from the windows, and my heart pounded behind my ribcage. Skeletal furniture leaned against the walls, and shards of glass littered the floor. The closer I came to the building, the worse I felt.
Glancing back at my husband standing next to our truck, I backed away from the hospital again before the nausea and dizziness completely overtook me, and walked back to the vehicle for another reprieve.
Staring up at the old building, I thought about all of the lost souls who once lived there and wondered how many people the facility helped. I said several prayers throughout the property, hoping my tiny words brought some comfort to whoever might still be lingering behind on the property.
The window above is the one I was the closest to when I felt the worst. Could I have been affected by those who still remain here? I suppose it could have been coincidental. What do you think?
I didn’t hear any sounds or see any apparitions creeping around the property. As I mentioned in the previous article, this place out of all of the abandoned places I’ve visited so far has left an impact on me. Sometimes you don’t have to see something to know it exists, and whatever still roams those halls makes its presence known. I think most people can sense whether or not their environment is safe, when something else is near, and also when a place has such dark history it leaves a permanent imprint. All of those things cause the energy to feel differently.
” Your eyes are swallowing me
Mirrors start to whisper
Shadows start to sing
My skin’s smothering me
Help me find a way to breathe.
Time stood still
The way it did before
It’s like I’m sleepwalking“-Sleepwalking, by Bring Me the Horizon
Many years ago, I went through a brief period of time when I lived with my dad, who has since passed away, and step-mom while they were still together. She had been a professional woman her entire life. She had suffered a nervous breakdown, and during that time the state they lived in witnessed some inappropriate public behavior and committed her in the state mental hospital. It took my father several days to get her out of the facility and unfortunately she was worse. I lived with them for several months and saw first-hand what it looked like to be trapped inside a living nightmare. If my dad would not have fought for his wife, she may have never left the facility.
I thought of her story as I walked the grounds, even though hers never occurred here, I knew there were many similar people who had mothers, husbands, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters left at home missing them, and worrying about them. The emptiness, loneliness, and helplessness of the previous residents of the facility reach out with icy invisible fingers, gripping those who visit.
I wasn’t sure about the mist or beam of light in the picture above. My husband said it could have been a reflection of sunlight, but the pictures before and after it at the same angle were normal.
“I think that we’re all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better – and maybe not all that much better after all.”-Stephen Kin
Trish Eklund is the owner and creator of Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed, and Family Fusion Community, an online resource for blended families of all types. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska, ListVerse, Nature Takes Over and Pocket Abandoned. Check out the new Bonanza Store for AFD merchandise! Follow on Instagram and Facebook. Trish is regularly featured on The Mighty, Huffington Post Divorce, and Her View From Home. She has also been featured on Making Midlife Matter, and The Five Moms, and has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz.