My story of surviving cancer and physical and mental illnesses.
(Disclosure: The following material discusses mental health and suicide in detail and may be difficult for some readers. Children under the age of 18 should not read unless approved by a guardian. Precaution is advised. If you or someone you know needs medical attention, please contact your local physician or dial 911.)
It was happening! My biggest fear was an actual reality! I was going from being a psychology professional to a psychology patient at a mental hospital. After spending years studying and researching anxiety and depression treatments, I was receiving them in an institute. Did I not learn anything in graduate school? How could I be so weak? I knew everything about that stuff, but I couldn’t save myself. These were the thoughts running through my mind as the techs searched my bags for things I could use to harm myself. I wondered if I was going to receive the straight jacket next. As I was wheeled into the common room, I was greeted by a few people who wondered why I was there, as if I was the new kid at school. That night, I had multiple seizures and was transferred to the ER for observation. A security guard was assigned to watch me right outside the room the entire time. It was clear I was on suicide watch.
The next day, we ate breakfast and started group sessions while we took turns meeting with our assigned psychiatrist. I was told of medication changes and we discussed the events that lead up to my admission. Although I assured him I was not going to attempt any self-harm while there, I still wanted to die. That feeling was probably stronger since I had to be there. What would my friends and family think when they found out I was in a psych ward? Well, I brushed that thought aside because I wasn’t planning to stick around much longer anyway.
Throughout my seven day stay at the mental resort and spa (sarcasm, it was a sterile hospital), we had numerous group and individual sessions. During that time, I developed a few friendships with other women and men who were there with depression. Not once did I see a “nut job” or a “crazy” person. No straight jackets were handed out and no one sat in a corner rocking themselves while mumbling. It’s not to say some people weren’t a little different than your average joe, but it was nothing like the movies (kinda boring). Each day that went by, I became more stable and gained an appetite. I ate what others didn’t want! Clearly, the medication was working. I needed to be there, and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t go there. However, I still couldn’t believe how I got to that point.
How did I go from being the student to the patient? The stigmas that surround mental health got to me, even though I always encouraged everyone else to seek help if needed. I went into the psychology field of study to help people just like me, but I was supposed to be stronger and more educated than others. What a load of shit! Do heart surgeons never have heart attacks? Do electricians never lose power? Do teachers never learn? Do priests never sin? It’s ridiculous to think that I shouldn’t have been mentally ill because I studied the brain and human behavior. In fact, my education fully explained why I was depressed and anxious and why I should have been in the hospital. Who wouldn’t need help after feeling so physically ill and losing so much during seven years? This back and forth conversation with myself allowed me to finally accept and appreciate the treatments. I was able to be discharged to my family and go home. Though, things weren’t all fixed and the suicidal thoughts didn’t go away.
As always, thanks for reading! I welcome any comments here or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org