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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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I’ll try again.

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I feel as if I never really got better.

The depression will always hang heavy over me.

My limbs have been fighting against it for as long as I remember.

Lifting it up.

Pushing against its weight.

I couldn’t hold it up forever.

It’s as if I painted myself with gold paint.

For so long I was shiny and new.

Reborn.

Strong.

Sparkly from the outside.

But the paint was a thin layer.

That’s peeling at the edges.

Underneath is nasty.

Black.

Decayed.

Fucked up.

Paint doesn’t last forever. Over time it begins to discolor or chip in places and then what was once there is exposed for the world to see.

What I’m wondering is how I fooled everyone with this shiny layer? 

Could they not see my darkness peeking through? 

Did they think I truly changed?

Healed? 

Grew?

I didn’t. 

I’ll always be broken. 

Dingy.

Decayed.

Fucked up.

The moment that monster crawled on top of me.

The moment she turned on that dryer. 

The moment I heard our dogs yelp in agony. 

The moment my Dad fell asleep in a room filled with carbon monoxide.

The moment I cut my wrists on that bathroom floor.

The moment I said I do.

The moment my son was born.

The depression has always been there. Growing. Lingering. Forming. In remission.

I’ve been broken.

Through everything.

The good and the bad.

The paint is peeling.

I don’t know what to do. 

I feel like giving up. 

Throwing in the towel.

Dropping the act.

I feel so ugly.

Decayed.

Fucked up.

Broken.

I don’t want to do this anymore. 

How can I expect someone to paint on another coat? 

It will just peel again.

Or discolor.

I am unfixable.

I came off the manufacturer line fucked up from the beginning.

They should of threw me away. 

Why won’t I give in to the darkness?

Who I really am? 

Why do I keep getting myself repainted only to find the paint peeling in the future?

I am throwing away my used paint brush.

Will you throw me away?

It’s for your own good. 

Just let me go. 

The weight of this darkness, this depression, reminds me of the monsters body. Heavy. Suffocating. Never ending. 

I want to be done. 

But here I am…

Purchasing a new paint brush. And a sander. 

Sand me.

Buffer out my darkness.

Smooth out my flaws.

Then paint me up.

Make me new.

Help me heal.

Take my hand. 

Pull me out of this darkness.

Make me shine.

Or maybe I should paint myself this time.

This darkness is not your burden.

You are not a hired hand.

It is not your job to fix me.

It’s mine.