November 26, 2013 – two days before Thanksgiving. I was in the deepest depression I’d had in a long time. I’d had enough. I was living in a toxic environment, with only my husband to support me. I was out of work and on permanent disability because my bipolar and anxiety had gotten so bad that I couldn’t handle working outside the house anymore. My meds were all screwed up again and I was cycling from depression to hypomania and back again with little help from anyone. My counselor had left the practice and I wasn’t seeing anyone else. My med doctor was so backed up I couldn’t get in to see him.
So I did the worst possible thing I could do: I tried to kill myself. I downed half a bottle of Klonopin, a drug prescribed to help with my anxiety. I was ready for it to be over. But then, a part of me rebelled. It came out stronger than the self destructive streak had been. It demanded that I save myself. So I called the crisis line for my counselor. I told them what I’d done. They got my address and said help was on the way. I texted a friend of mine who’d dealt with suicidal thoughts as well. She got in touch with my husband. He was out of the house. I was too scared to text him myself.
I started losing my sense of reality. I went out to the living room – I’d been hiding in the small bedroom which was the only real place my husband and I had in the house where we could safely exist without enduring the nastiness of our roommates – and sat on the couch. My friend and husband showed up within a few minutes. The cops and the ambulance a few minutes after them. I remember trying to answer questions and then nothing. I lost consciousness.
The next thing I remember is walking through the halls of the hospital I’d been sent to’s mental health section. I was put in a room with three other women. It was late, probably 2 or 3 am. So I just passed out again.
I was woken up at 6 to have my vitals checked. They were worried because of my overdose. Once they were done, I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I took a shower and went into the cafeteria/common area. I watched something on the TV, though I can’t tell you what it was. I was still out of it. Breakfast was served and I managed to eat it all, even though my stomach told me I shouldn’t eat anything.
As the morning progressed and I got to deal with the group therapies going on, I began to regain my sense of self. I was still in deep depression and was beginning to wonder if I’d done the right thing in calling everyone. Then I was called out of the therapy session and taken into a room where I was to meet the first of the two people appointed by the court to analyze my situation and decide if I was a danger to myself or not.
They deemed I was, and so I was placed on an involuntary hold. I couldn’t check myself out of the hospital and they would keep me until I was declared stable by my psychiatrist. I wasn’t happy, but I dealt with it the best that I could. It wasn’t my first trip to a mental hospital and I figured it probably wouldn’t be my last.
Three days later, I was taken out in shackles and packed into the back of a police car. I was taken to the courthouse and left to sit in the hall outside the courtroom for around fifteen minutes. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. All I could do was sit and wait.
I already knew the judge wasn’t going to accept any excuses or pleas from me, so I kept quiet as the judge signed off on my involuntary confinement to the mental hospital. I was then taken back to the hospital, still in shackles. They never came off. Once inside and back in the wing I’d been in, they removed them and I was allowed to go back to whatever it was I wanted to do, within the limits set on me by the hospital.
Two days after that, I was informed that I wasn’t going to be staying at the facility I was already in. They weren’t equipped to handle someone of my “level of care”. So they sent me to a much smaller hospital. Once again, I was stuck in shackles and packed into the back of a police car. They could have put me in an ambulance. I’d had it happen once before when I went to the ER while suffering from suicidal ideology. But once again, I was made to feel like a criminal.
The second hospital turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me in terms of being hospitalized. It was small, only having fifty beds. The staff there was amazing. I was shown to my room – it was a private one instead of me having to share – and I was told that I could close the door only when I went to bed for the night. I was okay with that. They told me that I’d be assigned a psychiatrist and that I’d be seen later that day.
I went to lunch. The food, while still institutional fare, was better than at the previous hospital. I wasn’t expected to talk to people as I ate, which I was at the other one. I was allowed to sit back and watch and learn. After lunch I was encouraged – not required, like the other hospital, but encouraged – to attend the group. I was told it would be better for me in the long run if I did go to the groups, so I did as I was told.
The psych tech who was running the group didn’t single me out, didn’t make me introduce myself, didn’t ask me questions. He just ran the group and encouraged us all to participate as we felt we could. There’s that word again: “encourage”. I was treated with more respect there than ever before at a mental hospital.
The staff kept tabs on me. They talked to me when I needed someone to talk to, when my mood swings and anxiety threatened to overwhelm me again. My psychiatrist listened to me and asked all the right questions to assess my problems. She didn’t put me on meds I didn’t want to take, and we worked together to find the right combination to take care of my needs. I wasn’t allowed any anti-anxiety meds because of the fact I’d overdosed on benzos, but for the first time I didn’t care. I felt almost human again.
I had one more visit with the court appointed person (I don’t remember what they’re called anymore). She declared me fit to be released. 48 hours after that was confirmed by the court, I was released. That was December 8th.
I’m one of the lucky ones. There are many who don’t get a second chance after attempting suicide. But I survived, and I’m here to tell everyone that it eventually does get better. You may not feel that way now, but it does happen.
I love tattoos. I only have one right now, and it needs to be touched up since it’s around 15 years old. But I’m not going to do that yet. Once the farm is producing an income, I’m getting a semicolon tattooed on my left wrist. If you don’t know why, check out Project Semicolon. (Project Semicolon’s website) The more I learn about it, the more I want that tattoo to remind me when I hit dark times that it doesn’t have to end now. I can get through it.
I’ve had suicidal thoughts since my attempt. But I’ve never actually tried to follow through again. I reach out to my husband and talk to him about it. I have friends now online that are willing to listen to me when he’s not able to. I have a support network, something I haven’t had in a long time. My life isn’t perfect, and I still struggle, but I’m not alone. I don’t have to be alone. No one has to be alone.