I know I’ve posted a lot about how difficult winter can be for someone who struggles with mental illness, but today I want to write a little more.
My first admission to a psych ward was when I was sixteen years old. I don’t want to go in detail because I’m scared to trigger someone, but I was in a bad place emotionally. It was December 20th, 2011. Ironically, I’m writing this on the same date seven years later. My anxiety was preventing me from sleeping more than two or three hours per night and it lead to a psychosis. I was hearing, seeing, and feeling things that weren’t there. I was terrified that those things would hurt me if I told anyone, so I dealt with it for a while before I broke down. I was admitted to a children’s psych ward and was inpatient for a month while they stabilized me on medications. I was angry at my parents for sending me there. I missed Christmas and New Years at my family’s house. I missed weeks of school. I missed my anniversary with my then boyfriend. But my family missed my funeral. My family didn’t have to miss me.
When I got out of the hospital, I switched schools. We thought that changing schools would fix me and there wouldn’t be problems anymore (I’ll save more of that connection for another post). It helped for a while.
During my senior year of high school, a friend committed suicide. He wasn’t my best friend or someone I hung out with all of the time, but he was a friend. He was someone who always knew when something was wrong, even if we hadn’t talking in weeks, and would make sure that I was okay. And when he needed someone, I wasn’t there. I didn’t even realize how badly he was hurting. He was always the funny guy, the person who could make anyone laugh. That was a tough time for our whole community. I was in shock. I couldn’t talk for days. For me, it hurt that he died, it hurt that I didn’t help him, but it also hurt because I realized how I would have made the people around me feel if I had ended my life. I promised that I would never again do something to hurt myself.
For a while I did really well. I’m talking years that I never self harmed or had suicidal ideations.
This next part isn’t as clear for me. I remember waking up in a different psych ward on December 20th several years later. What I do remember from the few days before that is just a compilation of stories that other people told me. This was the last time I have seen my father. He was there when I woke up at the hospital and he told me how selfish I was. I told him to leave and never talk to me again. He listened. The guy I was dating at the time never visited because he relapsed and went back to prison (after stealing money from me). I felt horrible. I felt alone.
To be discharged, I had to move back in with my mom and her husband. I returned to work a few weeks later and that’s when my now husband and I started hanging out. So much has changed since then, but I will never forget everything that I learned. I am so incredibly grateful that I wasn’t successful at committing suicide. I wouldn’t say my life is perfect (nobody’s life is), but it’s pretty damn good. I never would have thought I’d go back to school to be a nurse and get married. I never thought I would be in a relationship that builds me up instead of tearing me down.
There is so much about the future that is unknown. Things may seem unbearable now, but trust me when I say it’s worth it to keep moving forward. The darkness will eventually slip away and a better day will be on the horizon.