Something Bizarre Was Happening To My Daughter, So I Secretly Installed A Camera In Her Room…
As I’m about to explain, I live a relatively isolated life. There haven’t been many people I’ve been able to speak to about this. I truly hope some of you who have more knowledge in the fields of mental illness and/or the strange and unnatural could possibly help me rationally deduce what’s happening with my daughter.
November 5th, 2006 was the single best and most defining day of my life; it was the day I brought my daughter Kelly into the world. I was an atheist, brought up by a prominently atheist family, but the moment my gynaecologist put her into my arms, I knew God was there, I could feel Him there. I’d be foolish not to believe in a god after laying eyes on her; the embellishment of beauty, my divinity. Only when you actually become a mother or father do you realize true meaning of the purest and most primal form of love. There isn’t a single thing I wouldn’t do and stone I wouldn’t for turn this child. From the moment I saw her, my own wants and needs became instantly irrelevant, I was all about her now, it was all for her.
We live in a small town in western Canada called Strathcona. I’m a single mom; Kelly’s vile, coward of a father had never been in the picture, nor made any sort of attempt to reach out to his daughter or I since the day he found out I was pregnant, so he was utterly unimportant. I’ve raised her alone ever since with minimal help from my parents, who had moved to Montreal after I graduated from college and got a job as a chartered accountant. They left me as soon as they knew I could fend for myself…they just left. While many Chinese parents choose to stay and maintain close familial ties with their children and extended families, as tradition, something about me seemed to drive my parents away. They’d always felt distant from me since childhood. They only come to visit us during the holidays, otherwise, it’s just my baby and I most of the time; isolated, happy. I’ve never felt the need to let anyone else into our lives.
Kelly was always a sweet little girl, with angelic brown eyes and a warm smile that could make diamonds melt, and we always had a close relationship. But Kelly has always been different from other kids, I’d always felt it in my heart. She’s always been extremely quiet, not very voluntarily sociable with other children, a bit like me when I was younger.
When all the girls in her kindergarten class went to Samantha Kipling’s princess-themed tea party, Kelly adamantly chose to stay home and play with her dolls. Out of the four years that she’s been in school, her teachers always would always remark that Kelly had trouble opening up to other kids and even to them. While I don’t personally believe in becoming too socially integrated or putting too much trust in others myself, I didn’t want exactly the same for Kelly. I wanted her to develop and maintain a solid web of friendships because I knew her family life wasn’t as bright and happy as the other kids’, but that never happened. Sometimes, I feel like it’s my fault.
Kelly is 8-years-old now, as of last week, but the troubles plaguing our little family began about a year ago, just after her 7th birthday. Our cozy relationship has never been the same since. It all started the day I got a call at work from her second grade teacher:
“Hi Ms. Zhang, it’s Mrs. Telson, I needed to talk to you about something that happened today in class.”
“Has Kelly told you about her new friends?”
I was taken aback by this question as Kelly’s always been a closed-off child by nature, quiet and introverted. She had never told me about any new friends recently.
“These ‘friends’ of Kelly’s have been asking her to do things… But to tell you the truth, Ms. Zhang, I don’t think these friends exist.”
“So you’re saying my daughter has imaginary friends?”
“At this age, we actually encourage imaginary friends, but today, Kelly had an incident with another child and she had to be sent to the nurse and then home.”
“What exactly did she do?”
“She added staples to her pudding during snack time. Thankfully, the child only slightly cut her tongue on one and didn’t actually ingest any, but it could’ve been much worse, as you can probably imagine. This child, Belle Merton, is a ‘popular girl’ of sorts in the class, so I’m not completely sure but that could’ve been a motivating factor for her. I and the other students realized Kelly had done it because she was laughing hysterically as soon Belle started crying. When I asked her about why she had done it, she simply told me that her friends, Avalyn, Mandy and Victoria, had encouraged her to do it and wouldn’t go into further detail. We take assault on other children very seriously, but we both know that Kelly’s a quiet kid who doesn’t talk to other kids much, and understand that this is a very tender age, so it might be best if you talked to her about it and counselled her first as her primary role model.”
“I-I don’t know what to say Mrs. Telson, I’m very surprised right now but thank you so much for letting me know, I will definitely ask her about this.”
Kelly had done something like this? My angel? She had never had a problem with me let alone anyone before so I was confused more than anything, but as her mother and protector, I knew I had to talk to her. So I did during dinner time the same day.
“Baby, who are Avalyn, Mandy and Victoria?”
She chuckled softly. “They’re my best friends! I met them when you took me to the park.”
I had last taken her to the park to the little neighbourhood park a few weeks before, but I didn’t remember any other kids playing in the park as we went there closer to the evening, and were the only ones there. It felt strange. I looked into her warm, chestnut eyes and could feel them radiating nothing but delicate innocence.
“So did they ask you to put those staples into Belle Merton’s pudding today?”
“Oh yeah…Ava told me to do that, Tori didn’t want me to but, Mandy said Belle was mean and ugly and I should just listen to Ava, and that it would be funny. I had to her.”
“But, baby, you’re smarter and nicer than that. You know you should’ve said no. Punishing someone is not a decision you can make yourself.”
“I did say no, but then Ava and Mandy got really mad.”
“So maybe you shouldn’t be friends with these girls.”
“But they’re nice to me and play with me at home, they’re my friends.”
“Ok, I’m not mad this time but, honey, next time they ask you to do something that you know is not right, you say no and don’t let anyone boss you around, okay?”
I’m a cautious person by nature and although I had already talked to her, something still didn’t feel right. But things were quiet for the next couple of weeks, until the week of Christmas when we went to church.
An outraged mother angrily approached me holding her trembling son in one arm and Kelly’s arm in the other.
“Are you aware that your daughter kept my locked my son in the janitor’s closet with the lights off for 2 hours? He is terrified of the dark. What kind of mother are you?!” She swiftly let go of Kelly and stormed off.
Embarrassed, I raised my voice,
“Kelly, what is the matter with you?! We’re at church, why would you do something like this to another person?”
“Ava and Mandy told me it would be a funny prank!” she smiled.
I was flabbergasted at this point, I thought the problem was long resolved but she brought them up again. Imaginary friends are one thing but imaginary friends that influence you to commit malicious deeds are another. No longer was I going to excuse her behaviour an innocent mistakes. The words “hallucinations” and “schizophrenia” started coming to mind. I took her to a psychiatrist the next day.
Dr. Delio asked her a series of questions, first with me present then with her isolated. He concluded that they were indeed just imaginary friends and that she was not schizophrenic. However, his inference did not entirely bestow the relief in me that I so badly desired. I was sure that he had missed something.
Winter break passed and her behaviour was at a stasis; all was peaceful. About 3 weeks later, just before Valentines’ day, Ava, Mandy and Victoria’s influence reappeared. The next thing she did got her expelled from her school.
I got another call from Mrs. Telson.
“Ms. Zhang, because of my concern for Kelly, I’m calling to let you know in advance that you’ll be getting a phone call from the vice principal today. Kelly’s likely being expelled.”
“What?!” I felt a surge of anger and heartbreak pulse through me.
“I’m sure you remember our talk about her imaginary friends, and the fact that they can sometimes dictate her behaviour. Ms. Zhang…today we found the missing class frog, half alive, in her desk, killed apparently by multiple pencil stabs. It had been tortured and died shortly after we found it. This, combined with her previous antics against Ms. Merton, has left us with no choice but to let her go. This is not normal, 7-year-old behaviour and we recommend you arrange more extensive help for her.”
“Alright… thank you.” I hung up, lost for words. There was nothing I really could say.
She killed a frog, taken an innocent life. I didn’t raise her for this. I had heard of psycho killers drawn to murder because of malicious voices they heard in their heads, and I was becoming more and more convinced that something along the lines of this was the case with her.
I took her to Dr. Delio again the next day and told him what happened. I could tell he also became increasingly concerned.
“Her behaviour is definitely unnatural, Ms. Zhang.” He told me frankly, “She’s not making these friends up; they are real, but only to her. A more in-depth analysis of Kelly today has allowed me to determine that she’s likely suffering from psychosis, which explains the hallucinations, irrationality and continuous social withdrawal. I’m going to prescribe some medicine for her that she’ll have to take twice a day, everyday. I’m going to schedule a follow-up with Kelly in about 2 weeks.”
Finally, I felt like some progress had been made. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about keeping my daughter drugged, but I was praying it would help. It only got worse from then on.
A few days later, she started writing on her bedroom walls, “punish” repeated all over it. I scolded her and tried explaining the wrongness of her actions to her, like any mother would do. She simply apologized, or rather gave me what I wanted to hear, and shrugged it off. I realized the medicine probably wasn’t working and met with Dr. Delio soon after for her followup. I knew he couldn’t be of much help as I knew that mental illness is extremely arbitrary, so I thought the best thing to do at this point was to pretend that everything was fine to him. I knew I’d have to deal with her completely by myself from now on. I stopped giving her the medicine.
Months passed. She started to bring bunches of bird feathers home, which I’m sure were plucked, and gluing them to her wall. She burned down half of the neighbour’s fence, for which I had to pay for in full to restore, and excused to the neighbours as a barbecuing accident. I found her small collection of pornography, straight and lesbian, which I immediately disposed of. She brought home a dead cat, which she claims to have “found.”
She was still just 7, and my heart was in absolute agony. I didn’t want to get the cops, anymore therapists or anyone else involved as I was still convinced that I could handle it myself. So I kept her antics a secret and covered them up the best I could. But her deviance continued and got to a point where I would find out about something ungodly she had done every other day. Since her expulsion from her first school, I had no choice but but stay with her and started working with whatever little energy I had from home, which, I guess, was one of the advantages of being an accountant. But I was running out of solutions that I so desperately needed, that we so desperately needed. I felt absolutely exhausted, and the days started feeling like they were passing by more and more slowly, like torture.
I decided to ask her more about her friends again for what seemed like the thousandth time, but this time, instead of asking about things along the lines of why they were making her do bad things like I normally did, I used a different approach,
“Baby, when do you talk to Avalyn, Mandy and Victoria?”
“At night, when I’m in bed.” I was perplexed by this; I had assumed they generally followed her around or came and went as I would predict hallucinations to do.
“What about at school?”
“No, they’re not allowed to go there, they said.”
I had never actually seen her talking to them so I wanted to know more about these friends, how she interacted with them. If she talked to them at night, perhaps I could catch her in the act. And that’s when I had an idea, surveillance cameras. I know it sounds a bit dramatized but it felt like the most rational thing to do at the time. I had no idea about what I was in for.
Last Sunday, I purchased a camera and microphone and placed it inside her room on her dresser behind her teddy bears, without her knowledge. I kept recording for the full week, and finally viewed and analyzed the footage a few hours ago.
This scene was from Sunday night, yesterday night; I tucked her into bed, kissed her forehead, turned off the lights and stepped out to go to my own room to sleep. She initially went to sleep for about an hour or so, softly and soundly. And then suddenly…
..it appeared. A dark, ominous silhouette came up to the door in the corner of the screen and just stood there. It looked like a person.
“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”
The figure emanated three tones, a separate voice with each “wake up”! My heart nearly stopped, and it felt as the warmth was being sucked from my body; there had been someone inside my house every single night. Mixed emotions filled my head… so my daughter wasn’t hallucinating? But then who, or what, was this… thing? It had three distinct voices… the first one was sweet and high-pitched, like that of a small child, the second – soft-spoken but firm, like a middle-aged woman, and the third – deep, raspy, almost demonic.
The nightlight across from the door by Kelly’s bed was on; the only source of light in the frame. The figure started moving towards it. I was too terrified to get a clearer glimpse of its face, but I knew I had to, and I knew I was about to.
Kelly rustled around in her bedsheets, “You guys are here!” she whispered excitedly. She sat up.
The figure inched closer to the nightlight… my heart felt like it was about to pop out of my chest. I clenched my fists. Slowly, its face became more illuminated… It was… me.