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Thursday, February 18

My Valentine's Day in the Psych Ward

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This is a series of stories that is part of my own healing. I welcome you to read along, or not, but I'm going to write it anyway. I hope you take something good from it, and I hope I do too.I want to preface this by saying that there are few things anyone could say about me that I haven’t already said about myself. Crazy is one of those things. I know I’m particular, neurotic even, maybe a dose of obsessive in there. Maybe a lot of doses of obsessive. Maybe so obsessive that it upsets me if things don’t go my way. Bratty? Maybe. Let’s assume that’s all true.

Stress is an amazing thing. No, not good amazing. Wonderous amazing. Curious amazing. Meaning, it can make you do some curious things. There’s a whole big story - that I’ve yet to make sense of myself - that leads up to my Valentine’s Day in a Psych Ward. But let’s both focus on the here and now. That’s a new concept to me, so bare with me if I can’t keep up with myself.

Also note, it’s hard for me to keep track of time right now. The past month has been a whirlwind. In fact, the past year - the past lifetime - has been such a discombobulated culmination of seemingly haphazard events that led me to today. So many stories to be told! But we’ll focus on this one.

Did I say that already? Ok.

So let’s start at the beginning of this part of this story.

After five days of no sleep and hardly any eating (I think they call this a manic episode, but we’ll get to that) I found myself laying on my bathroom floor fighting what seemed to be a combination of seizures, blackouts, crying, and fear. Let’s start with the fact that for about a week, I was pretty sure I wasn’t real. I know this sounds “crazy” but maybe someone out there has felt this way before.

Certain things can jolt you back to reality. We can all agree on that. They snap you out of a daydream. For me, that’s my husband. He’s probably the most logical person I know and can talk me through any decision - whether or not to go back to school, whether I should buy my sixth pair of black boots, whether I really need that $40 shampoo (yes, I do need it). He’s grounding for me.

I’d like to interject my own story by saying it’s important to have those grounding things. It’s important to come back to reality. This is where life is. Try to remember that.

A peculiar thing happens when you’re sure you’re not real. You lose sense of being alive. Well, I did anyway. I was so sure I wasn’t even alive. In fact, I was so sure I wasn’t alive that I was pretty sure it wouldn’t matter if I were dead. I know this story is taking a dark turn, and I apologize if that makes you uncomfortable to read it. But I want you to know it’s true.

You, as in, whoever is reading this and has gotten this far, and feels like this story resonates with some part of your own life, your own thoughts. I could be talking to myself, but honestly that would not be a new development. I accept that, it’s me, I talk to myself. Ok? Ok.

Suicide.

Let’s take a second to dive deep into the darkness and try to make sense of it all.

Suicide is not/was not a new thought to me. I had contemplated it a few times in my life, and this was the second time I had contemplated it seriously.

(To my friends and family, loved ones and those who love me, I’m sorry if this hurts you to read. I promise I am trying to heal. The first step is being honest with myself. So, please be forgiving, even if this hurts. Please know that I love you, you matter to me, and you keep me hanging on.)

Life at this point was full of so many joys. So many bright moments that filled me with hope. But it was also full of so much darkness. Darkness in my life, darkness in the lives of others. It’s been hard for me to accept that one cannot have the light without the dark. I wanted a life that was just full of light. And I thought if I could ignore the dark hard enough, if I wanted to forget it hard enough, if I just tried hard enough - the dark could disappear, and I could just have light and I would just be happy.

Well, it didn’t really work out that way.

So there I was, lying on the bathroom floor, crying, shaking, barely able to say any words, convinced I was dying and not sure if I was going to give in to death or fight to stay alive. Yes, it’s dark and yes it’s terrifying. I hope no one ever has to feel what I felt, and my heart breaks for those of you who have already felt it or are feeling it now. Please know, I’ve felt it too, and there is a brighter side. Please keep holding on. Please don’t give into the dark. There is still light, I promise.

At some point in the engulfing madness, I decided I had to call 911. I had already weighed the consequences - as I am wont to do - of being Baker Acted and being separated from everything and everyone I knew for 72 hours (which at the time seemed like an eternity, but also I wasn’t even sure time was real, so there’s that).

A sweet voice answered and asked what my emergency was. The only words I could manage to say were “Help me.”

Help me.

My entire life, those words felt like defeat. I didn’t even want help with homework as a child. For 28 years, I was convinced I could do everything - anything - and that needing help was a weakness, that I was admitting failure. That I was a failure.

And here I was, convinced I was dead or dying, with nothing left - no food in my stomach, no sleep, no rest for my weary body, no water, no sustenance, no hope, nothing. And all I could say was, “Help me.”

I was sure it could be over then. I was sure I’d snap out of it and be alive and be me. But life had other plans.

And that is a story for another day.





So this? I think this is a story of not being ashamed. I think this is a story of owning your truth. Of knowing your darkness and seeing your light, and reaching for the light instead. Of choosing life and choosing to live it. And it’s a story of asking for help when you need it and accepting it, even when it comes from the wildest places in the strangest ways. It’s a story about being here, and being alive, and being loved, and loving others, and loving yourself. It’s a story of being forgiving to yourself, and to others.

And it’s a story of helping yourself, so that maybe someone can see you, hear you, understand you - that maybe they will understand themselves better because of it and maybe, just maybe, they will want to live.

Because life is where the light is. Please hold on.

I am rooting for you.

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