Here is my scary story.
November 29, 2014, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

People, people like you people, are always telling me how brave I am for sharing my stories; my stories of struggle, of failure, of fear, of joy.

I am not brave. I am broken.

And those aren’t even the worst and scariest stories.

This one is. 

Two years ago, I was unmedicated. I was beyond depressed. I was no longer responding to the life around me.

This built up over a period of months and resulted, I am told, in a morning where my husband was asking me questions and I would not even respond. I was starring off into space like I was in some sort of trance. I wasn’t hysterical, I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t violent or trying to kill myself.

But I was gone.

My husband scooped me up and drove me to the nearest emergency room. They sent us to the state run mental facility for a full psychiatric evaluation.

I do not remember the moments leading up to this building. I don’t remember even going into this building. Here is what I do remember:

After I was checked in, they took my husband from me. I went behind several locked doors and he was not allowed to come with me. I was escorted by two nurses who did not say anything to me, except “sit here and wait”.

I sat in a waiting room just for women. There was a tv on in the corner playing the summer Olympics. Volleyball. USA won, because of course we did.

I was alone for the first two hours of waiting. There was a nurse at the entrance of the room who made sure I didn’t leave and sometimes other people would come in and ask me questions; mostly were questions about my daughter–if I had ever put her in harm. I was disgusted by these people. I wanted to see my husband.

At about hour three another girl came in. She had tried to kill herself, I think. She was hitting the walls. I moved closer to the tv. We don’t have cable and being able to watch the Olympics was a real treat.

In the other waiting room next to mine, were the men. I could hear them, they were loud. I saw one inmate be escorted in with chains and shackles; cops everywhere.

I waited four hours in that waiting room, without my husband with that girl and that tv and in those four hours I felt crazier than I had ever felt before in my life.

But I also felt like I was being a giant inconvenience. I felt like I was in a building that they were supposed to deal with people like me and they didn’t. They didn’t deal with me at all.

I was finally seen by a Dr that was wearing jeans and sneakers and he spoke to me for about 23 minutes. He said I sounded bipolar, not just depressed. He wanted to admit me to the hospital; the psychiatric hospital. He wanted to medicate me and observe me for a week. His words sounded like gold and so I agreed. I signed nothing, but I agreed.

We walked out of the exam room to sign the papers and my husband was standing there, crying.

“What have you done?” he asked me. “Don’t you understand what this means?”

I didn’t. All I knew is that I wanted to go somewhere and sleep for a very long time and this sounded like an ok option. The consequences were not something I was able to process.

Suddenly I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t want to be taken from my child, my husband, my family. I didn’t want to be in a place like that waiting room for a week. I didn’t want to go. 

I had an anxiety attack in the middle of the hallway, in front of the desk where the admittance papers lay.

Everyone looked at me like I was an alien; like I was a terrible person and how dare I not know what I wanted at a moment like this.

They looked at me like, “this is exactly why we kept your husband from you for five hours….because he knows you and knows what you need and we can’t have that in here”.

My husband scooped me up off the floor and told them I would not be going across the street to Holly Hill Psychiatric Hospital.

And we left.

I think we went to Wendy’s after, because I was starving.

I was still depressed, for years, even. But I knew that THAT was not the answer. Being treated like there is something wrong with you instead of being treated like a person who needs all this help is nothing I am interested in.

I do not talk about my experience often, not because I am embarrassed by it, but because I am terrified that it happened. Places like that office are what is wrong with this country. People need help and it takes an awful lot of courage or desperation to ask for it at a time like that.

I needed help.

I did not get help.

My psychiatrist has never EVER once made me feel like a nuisance. She looks me in the eye, she doesn’t make me wait, and she gives me medication that makes me feel less out of control. If that medication doesn’t work, she gives me new ones. If I want to stop all of my medication, she tells me how to do so, safely.

She helps me.

I guess what I am saying is that if you need help, GET THE RIGHT HELP.

Go to one person. Get a personal reference from someone, if you know someone you trust.

The mental health situation in this country is appalling and I am ashamed that I had to witness it. I am ashamed that I was pushed deeper into my psychotic episode because of the way I was treated.

If I wasn’t surrounded by people who wanted the absolute best for me, that alone would have shut me down. I would have stopped looking for help. I understand why people see that, and stop. I understand why people see that and give up on life.

Don’t give up on life. There are other options out there that will NOT MAKE YOU FEEL CRAZY.

I promise. 


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

wiw, so terrifying and so NOT OK. Thank goodness for your husband!! That’s absolutely terrifying that they made you wait without him, especially for so long. 😦 thank you for sharing.

Comment by Blaze2242

Sorry to report, but broken and being courageous do not delete each other cuz. So there.

Comment by Kimberly Smith

I have been reading your blog and trying to find the… courage?… the words? to comment. I love someone who is dying from an eating disorder plus depression/anxiety/trauma/ptsd god knows what the actual diagnosis is because she has no insurance and she cannot get care that helps. The latest doctor said “medication can only do so much; you have to want to get better.” This after facing the shame of trudging into the office, being unable to pay, admitting to feeling like she is failing life itself and the world would be better off without her, and opening her failure up for this person to see, trying to dissect it for the doctor to understand. Suicide help lines say “call, we can help.” But they NEVER EVER do. Therapists are torture, medication has kept her alive but only just. In 18 years I’ve been at her side through no fewer than 6 suicide attempts, endless medication changes, and several therapists, a bankruptcy, losing her business that she’d built for 20 years, not finishing a graduate degree, all the result (at least in part) of pain from mental illness. I *KNOW* there has to be help somewhere. I keep looking.

I worry about her safety every day when I go to work and leave her alone. But her last hospitalization experience reads almost exactly like this. Yes, I’m grateful she was alive afterwards. But being committed involuntarily after being roughed up by the police, having her hands cuffed behind her with a broken collar bone, being kept from seeing her spouse or daughter for two days, being questioned about her “homosexual” lifestyle… walking out of the hospital never once seeing a therapist or psychiatrist with a bill for several thousand dollars…

Re-reading this I’m not sure I should post it. It seems too personal, and honestly too desperate. I am not asking you to solve any of these problems, really. [Though any advice will be taken very, very seriously.] I sometimes feel it is selfish to ask her to stay in this world when she is in so much pain. Now that I’ve started “outing” us as a family struggling with this illness, I find myself at a loss at the response I usually get from people– “you don’t mean real *pain* , do you? Mental illness doesn’t cause *pain* not like an injury or something physical?” Or, from the medical professionals, “She shouldn’t be ashamed. There is nothing to be ashamed of.” As if that will magically make the mortification she is experiencing disappear.

I have finally convinced her to apply for disability. The process of being interviewed by three different doctors regarding her symptoms, of putting her pain and shame under a microscope to be judged by the system, has increased her condition to the extent that I am worried about her safety more than ever. I can only hope she will qualify and then will be able to access some medical care via medicaid. But I still don’t have much hope about how to find a therapist or psychiatrist who can actually help her instead of make her feel even more ashamed.

I apologize if this comment is inappropriate. Just know that reading your story makes me feel less alone. It makes me want to ask you to help me translate what she says to me, what it means and what I can do to be here for her, the way it sounds like your husband is for you. I love her so very much– I would like to be able to help, or at least not make it worse.

Comment by Melissa

This comment is well placed, don’t apologize. She needs you to be strong for her and she needs to keep searching for the right fit-dr,meds, lifestyle. It all contributes. It is a war and all you can do is hope to win the little battles every day…you need to help her stay alive. It will click. The planets will align. You have so much love for her it made me tear up…just keep her her reason to stay. Drag her out of the bed. Get her a new outfit. Dress in it. Go somewhere. Remind her that she’s still human and capable and worthy of joy because that is the feeling we are robbed of all the damn time. Claim the joy for her. Wrap it up. Give it to her. Every day. It’s hard. It’s terrible work and more than most can bear–someone I was going to marry couldn’t bear it and left. I married someone who was willing to hold my banner. You have to be prepared to hold her banner at all times. Keep. Her. Alive.

Comment by growinghumans

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