Lessons from the psych ward

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It’s been a while since my last post, and I’d like to apologize for that. I haven’t been keeping up with this blog like I intended to. Part of the reason for that is because I had to spend two weeks in a psychiatric hospital getting treatment for my depression.  This has always been something I’ve been afraid of having happen. I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts since I was twelve years old, and I always suspected this would happen one day.

I’ve been out for about a week now, and I’d like to use this blog to address some of the questions I’ve been getting and share some of what I’ve learned. The first questions people have been asking are “Are you okay” and “What happened?”  As to the first one, I am sort of okay.  I’m more stable than I was, I less desperately want to hurt myself, and have more resources for when the urge pops up.  I’m overwhelmed by trying to adjust back to life, deal with finances, and figure out paperwork for my job so I don’t get written up. I’m still depressed, but not to the same degree. I’ve been pretty anxious, but personally I feel that I manage it well. So, long story short, I’m not doing fantastic, but I’m not not doing okay either.  As to what happened, that’s a bit of a long story.

I’ve been depressed for as long as I can remember. (Which I will admit is only back to age nine with any consistency. I have a couple memories from before that, but mostly it’s just blank) I have early memories of this deep sadness and trying to negotiate with myself so that being sad was the new okay. That way anything above sad would be fantastic by comparison. I first started seriously thinking about suicide when I was in 7th grade. I couldn’t imagine life getting better. On the outside I had it together, I was a straight A student, I did extracurricular stuff. I was in the smart classes. I wanted to die though.  It got worse when a cousin moved in with us and was allowed to emotionally abuse my sister and I for years.  What little self esteem I had was crushed. He’d tell me I was lazy, fat, and worthless, and I believed it. I internalized it. I wanted so badly to escape back then, but I couldn’t.  I was scared, and couldn’t leave my sister behind.

When I moved away to college, things got better for a bit. I grew distant from my family, but I think I needed that space to heal in some ways.  I made some good friends, I followed Jesus into the Catholic church, but I was still depressed.  I think it was the winter of 2012 or 2013 when the suicidal thoughts almost became more than I could stand for the second time in my life.  This time I was more freaked out than before because this time I had come up with a plan.  I had never had a plan before.  That time I told the priest who was there at the time, and he helped me get into therapy, and it passed.

This time I’ve been struggling all summer, and I had some plans for the future that fell through, and everything seemed hopeless. I couldn’t imagine life getting better or ever being at a point where it wouldn’t suck. I felt like nothing would ever change, and I couldn’t do this anymore.  I told my therapist about how I was feeling, and he helped me set up an appointment with my doctor. My doctor sent me to the emergency room, and they sent me to the psych hospital.  It was scary, but a little less scary than what I was feeling.  This was the third time in my life I’ve hit that level of utter despair.  I hate it honestly.

While I was in the hospital, the doctor I was working with encouraged me to reach out to my family.  They’ve been incredibly supportive, even if they don’t know how to help. (Which makes sense. I don’t even know what help I need half the time) During my two weeks in the hospital the doctors switched up my medications, and I’m now taking some that will hopefully be more effective.  I’ll also be meeting with a psychiatrist.

The number one lesson I learned in the hospital is that I need to ask for help sooner.  People love me. They really do.  If I ask people for help when problems first pop up instead of when they’ve escalated beyond what I can handle, things won’t get so out of control. Errant thoughts are easier to deal with than plans which in turn are easier to deal with than actions. I’ve also learned that people want to help me, and I’m not alone in my struggles.

Overall, my experience was a positive one. I wouldn’t rejoice if someone told me I had to go back, but I wouldn’t punch them in the face either.  I needed help, and I got it. Even if I didn’t like parts of it. I think God is using this experience to help draw my family together.  I’m glad I didn’t kill myself.  I’m grateful to be on medications that are helping, and I’m excited to continue developing relationships with my family after so many years of trying to distance myself.

Anyway readers, that’s where I’ve been. I’m planning on going back to updating weekly, but I will be changing the day to Friday.  Thanks for sticking with me.  May God bless you.


2 Responses

  1. Lissi

    I love you, Michelle. Thank you for being so brave, and know that I am incredibly proud of you. I am so glad that you are starting to realize how much people love you, and how much we want to help.
    You are beautiful.


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