I had just finished texting the suicide crisis hotline after a fit crying uncontrollably for over an hour. Everything seems like it falling apart. As I was leaving my apartment to see a friend, I noticed a note on my door and saw an eviction letter. 5 days to move out everything. I thought I had more time.
I was resolved to not tell her anything on the way to her house. I held back tears ignoring the strain on my nasal cavity and rubbing my eyes raw while driving. When I got there, I broke. Completely.
I’ve avoided going to the hospital for a while for my mental health. I figured everyone gets really low at some point, so you might as well suck it up.
The truth; however, was that I was scared, embarrassed and ashamed to admit I needed to go. Knowing I have depression is one thing, admitting myself to a psych ward for it is another.
It’s devastating to try to keep or gain everything just to realize in the end that it’s nothing.
I was always “fine”. Strong, responsible, reliable, trustworthy, intelligent, creative, clever, witty, kind generous…overall good by the most basic of standards. I’m not the best person or sinless by any means, but I’ve tried to actively do more good than my inherent bad.
But the facade was breaking. More than breaking; in fact, disintegrating into complete ash beyond repair. I was hurting more than I was willing to admit, even to myself.
Now I had to admit it though. I had done such a good job of fooling myself that I pushed me to a point of hospitalization to break down my own walls. I have been there for everyone else even when they left me, but it was time for me to be there for myself now.
My friend drove me Sunday afternoon to the hospital after we moved out all of my items from my now vacant apartment. I could have sold what I had, but I chucked everything instead. It’s devastating to try to keep or gain everything just to realize in the end that it’s nothing.
I wrestled with my diety the entire time. Even months before. I still don’t know what or how I feel at the moment about them. It’s a work in progress and I’m discouraged heavily but reluctant to give up just yet on my faith. If I have any left, that is.
I walked into the emergency room check in area specifically resourced in protection from COVID-19. I may have felt embarrassed, but I was resolved to be honest. I told them everything.
Most of my old church friends and contacts no longer considered me a Christian when I left their congregation and severed contact or became absent. I was processing memories of over 400 traumatic deaths from my previous place of employment accompanied by deliberate underpay of about $15000 and a supervisor with a knack for taking credit for work he didn’t do while finessing a falseness of advocacy for my well-being that he never intended to fulfill. My family had a hard time understanding mental illness, so when I reached out for help, I received wordy advice far more than listening ears. I was struggling to make ends meet financially in the middle of this pandemic and reluctantly asked for help from friends I knew well. Not to mention childhood traumas that conveniently decided to pay me a visit at the same time as these issues.
It’s been almost a year…and I just wanted everything to go back to normal. Normal, as in, solvable, manageable, enjoyable. But if I went back to that job or that church, I’d go back to fake living. I liked that “normal” because it was comfortable but that doesn’t mean it was real or really what I believed or wanted.
You’re gonna to be ok. Just let go. Just. Let. Go.
I needed to let go. Let go of everything I had tried so hard to hold on to and fall just to find solid ground again. So, in one move that I knew would be my rock bottom and scare me shitless, I spent 5 days under the care of physicians in the psychiatric ward at a local hospital.
It was the best decision I ever made for myself.
The patients I met alongside me were the best people I have ever met in my life and I fell into them at the right time. I don’t believe I’m worthy to have been in the presence of the strongest men and women on the earth. They were single moms, divorced dads, military veterans, Black, White, Asian, and Hispanic. Some had criminal records, some had lucrative jobs, some were addicts, some were students, some were homeless, some were preparing for a funeral, but we were all under one roof as equals. We were hurting. We were human. And THAT made us family.
The food wasn’t all that great, nights of intense self thought and questioning, I got anxious at group therapy at some point, I hated being monitored like 5 year old, and not having the ability to go outside but remain on the floor I housed in for my own and other’s safety.
But, there was a hell-alot of laughs. Pacing up and down the corridor 40 times snuck in a mile long walk. Sitting at the end of the hallway with everyone opened the door of indiscriminate vulnerability. Everyone had something to work through. Some area to march through. And it led us together and to ourselves.
Those who asked me how I was actually wanted to know that absolute truth and I retired the word “fine” with relief for a few days. I was honest with everyone there. The patients, the doctors, the therapist. And most importantly, myself.
I was one of the last to leave amongst them at the ward and was saddened to see each of them walk out of those doors wondering what would happen to them. Because of my last job, I knew some of them may end up back in the Ward or worse, but I hoped for more them. I saw them and yearned for them in deep longing to know that they are deeply loved and wanted and valued far beyond what they could ask, know or imagine. That their lives are better than the shiniest gold or clearest diamond. They were each absolutely magnificent and if, despite it all, I had to choose all over again to go back to the ward, I’d go because of them.
Going and leaving the ward didn’t change my eviction. Praying through my time there didn’t suddenly land me a job coming out. We didn’t fix each other’s mental illnesses, but we hit some solid ground again.
Falling from that height was scary as hell but I don’t regret letting go. You take it day by day. The best you can. You’re gonna be ok. As will I. Just let go. Just. Let. Go.
Untitled Poem Written while in the Ward
I remember vividly when the war within me started to turn
The facade of fine I’d held so well began to crumble and burn
The consuming fire let loose a truth long ignored by mental demand
I watched in terror in front of my eyes, cradling ashes in the palm of my hand
I wanted for years to feel normal, so I faked it and made an excuse
But the pain itself felt eternal and cried throughout the abuse
I’ve been abandoned, bruised, neglected, misused, treated no human, but a mere token
But I fantasies that shatter realities where silence is louder than what’s spoken
I know not where this leads as I don’t too much care
As my hope and my faith become what I bear
On these shoulders of mine instead of despair
I will be “here” when God meets me “there”
Perhaps there is more than the now I feel
Where a God unseen can seem more real
Maybe tomorrow has songs to be sung, grins to bear, joy to be sprung
Maybe there’s sorrow, maybe there’s hurt, but perhaps too an abundance despite the dearth
And maybe this war with help from above
Should be buried of hate and resurrected in love
Where white flags are raised for this war within
transforming myself from an enemy to friend
On this battlefield, proving once and for all
That strength, too, can come from embracing the fall.