I spent 23 days in a psych ward and that’s okay.

stigma

I’ve written previously about my life-altering suicide attempt when I was 22 years old and touched briefly on my 23 days spent in inpatient treatment but in efforts to continue to reduce stigma and encourage people to seek the help they need I want to go a bit more into detail about my stay at a psychiatric hospital.

They have a really bad reputation.

No one and I mean NO ONE wants to shout out from the rooftops that they’ve spent 23 days in the psych ward.

But why?

Stigma.

That’s why.

We have no problem sharing our stint in the hospital when we have our gallbladder removed or when we have a heart attack scare because we were sick and we got the help we needed but when it comes to mental health it’s hush hush.

We worry about what people will say.

That she’s crazy.

That he should steer clear of her.

That she didn’t pray hard enough.

That she is clearly not cut out to be a therapist.

Stigma is the worst. 

These barriers to treatment are a huge reason people kill themselves.

There is such great hopelessness and such great worry of living with these new attributes that people choose to end their lives instead of seek treatment.

It is heartbreaking.

When I sliced my wrists on that bathroom floor I didn’t think there was help.

No one ever asked me if I was okay.

No one ever offered treatment as an option to my reckless behavior and clear substance abuse.

I was lucky.

I survived my attempt and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

It wasn’t that bad.

There were people just like me there.

And some nothing like me.

But the people there didn’t matter.

The therapy, the groups, the medication- that’s what mattered.

Don’t focus on hospital food. Or people “crazier” than you. Or big pharma’s hand in treatment. Or the stigma of checking yourself in.

You don’t need to lie and say you went on vacation.

Or took a break from social media.

Or went on a mission trip.

TELL PEOPLE YOU GOT THE HELP YOU NEEDED.

That you stayed in psychiatric treatment for 23 days and it changed your life.

Talking about our struggles, our triumphs, our REAL LIFE experiences can help reduce stigma.

It can help reduce the number of suicides.

It can help people get help.

More often than not people look at me like I have things figured out. Like I have it all. A great marriage, a wonderful son, education, opportunity, support- but I didn’t always have this.

I’ve been broken too.

On my knees in a bathroom with a broken razor in hand.

Watching blood pool around me.

We are the same.

We all struggle and we all have the opportunity to overcome the emptiness, the hopelessness, the heavy depression.

We just need treatment.

Counseling.

Medication.

Support.

Self-Care.

Maybe inpatient treatment.

Are you okay?

Because I wasn’t always okay. And I won’t always be okay.

But now I know how to get the help I need. And I’m not ashamed.

Copy and paste this, share it, it doesn’t matter. I hope everyone that reads this will share that treatment isn’t bad. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or defective. It means you have the introspection to give your life another chance.

It means you’re strong.

Powerful.

Capable.

Stop the silence to reduce the stigma.

Share your story.

Your struggle.

Be real.

Seeking treatment changed my life and I know it can change yours. Or your friends. Or your brothers. Or you Mom’s.

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