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Jun 11, 2014

Me and the Loony Bin


Self-Portrait
The first time I went into the mental hospital was in early 2014. I'd been fired from my job at the end of November, which sent me spiraling into depression with bouts of anxiety. By the new year, I'd been unable to sleep at all, and that's when I began to experience the beginnings of what later would be called a psychotic break.

The night of February 14th, when Joey called the ambulance, I had begun hallucinating. I was running around naked and then I tried to run outside. It had snowed, maybe it was still snowing, my recollection is a blur. But when I ran downstairs to unlock the door and get out, in my mind I had to...HAD to...get outside. There was some compelling reason and I was determined. Joey had to wrestle me to the floor. I remember thinking "he is using all his strength. He's so strong, I'll never make it." But in general I don't remember a lot of it.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me and I am still not sure how to process it all. In that shattered state, I had been convinced that everyone was involved in a massive plot against me. I thought it was the only explanation for everything. When I think back to what was ping-ponging around in my head, it was terrifying and I never, ever want to go back to that nightmare place. I remember racing thoughts of paranoia and persecution. I thought some of my friends were gods. I thought others were demons. We were all doomed. I ended up in handcuffs on a gurney. Joey rode in the front of the ambulance. Poor Joe. He'd been by my side for the whole fall from inside the frying pan into the fire. My rock.

So I spent seven days in the psych ward that first time, where they had me on suicide watch. They let me go home with the caveat that I attend a women's group therapy program. So I went every day, 10am to 3pm. I learned so much there at that women's group therapy program. I learned a great deal about how violently continued stress and anxiety can impact a person. I hadn't realized how my job had started pressing so hard on me that I'd actually been battling a downward spiral into depression and anxiety. I hadn't understood the severity of what was happening to me. The women there were incredible. Everyone had a totally different story that brought her there, but yet we had all the same story, somehow. The world had rolled us. We shared hot tears over iced coffee.

I would end up in the psych ward two more times. This most recent visit was in early May. The psych ward is not a place I ever want to go back to again. Whenever I feel exhausted from the sheer effort that this is all taking, this newfound black depression weighing on me like the proverbial ton of bricks, whenever I think about giving up, it's the thought that, short term, "giving up" probably means I go back to the ward. I can't do that. Sheer terror of going back helps keep me on track with my routine. And learning about how a person's mind can also become broken, in addition to her heart. And how PTSD isn't only exhibited by soldiers, but by other people who've been through a terribly fraught situation. And how lucky I was to have such a strong, supportive network of friends constantly encouraging me.

I'm considering writing more about my experience if people are interested. ∎

Related: Behind Three Doors (Part 1)

4 comments:

Michelle Burdick said...

I would love to hear more. And I am so happy you are writing about your experience. <3

Anonymous said...

I went thru a 7 day involuntary psych hospitalization in college. it was similar to what happened to your story. blessings to you. you will get through it successfully.

Amy said...

Yes write more xxo

mary said...

Yes, definitely write more.