This article is part 1 of a 5 part series.
For series summary, click here.
I’m sure that there are as many different stories of how one would end up in the psych ward of a hospital as there are people who are admitted. I won’t pretend to know all of them. But I do know mine. Maybe there are others out there who can save themselves some pain by recognizing similarities in our respective journeys.
Every day was turning into what I call “screamers.” I can usually handle one or two or three days in a row of these, but after a couple of weeks my defenses were wearing down. I just needed to get out of my skin, if even for a short time, to rest and gear back up. I had tried every weapon in my arsenal: trying to find an emotional or psychological cause of the screaming, enough rest, careful diet, consistent exercise, good music and sunshine, focusing on work around the house, time with my family, service and compassion for others, prayer.
Lots of prayer.
I called the psychiatrist’s office and let them know that I wasn’t going to make it through the weekend. The phone call resulted in a change in my dosage of medication and for that first week I was able to back off of the edge. I was almost giddy with relief.
But by the time my scheduled appointment rolled around I was again dangling over the precipice. I felt I just needed to step back from it all, step back from being what seemed to be me.
I didn’t know what else to do.
I had to be honest with my doctor and admit that I had become suicidal again.
It felt like one of those situations where there is a horrible tumor in a leg and the only way to save the patient is to amputate the limb. Sacrifice the leg to save the rest of the body.
Only it was my head, my brain where the problem was. My bipolar mania was zooming right into my OCD and were they ever having a party! You could have attached a rotor to me and I would have been through that ceiling. Then add the psychosis to the mix and not being sure what is real and what isn’t, and it becomes a pretty tough place to stay calm and controlled in.
But you can’t really cut off the head to save the rest of the body.
For me, it wasn’t about dying or escaping. It was about survival. To save the spirit, I needed to sacrifice the body.
Rather than lose it all, I would save what I could.
One day after doing the grocery shopping I was heading home and thought how simple it would be to just pull into the garage and hit the remote button to close the big door. I could just stay in the car and listen to music with the engine still on. Close my eyes. Just to get out of my skin for a little while.
I will never see it as a coincidence, but always as divine help and intervention, that when I pulled in I saw my daughter’s car in the driveway. She had gotten off work early.
That snapped me back to reality. This was when I truly listened to the spirit I thought I was trying to save and had the strength to stop listening to the misfiring connections in my brain.
Because I would never do that to my family. That is my safety net. Whenever things get bad and I think I just can’t take it anymore, I think of them. I listen to my spirit.
Because my spirit listens to the spirit.
I covenanted a lifetime ago that I would give all of my being to help and serve and build and love them. I will not break that covenant.
But that doesn’t really make the day-to-day battle any easier when the suicide switch has been stuck in the ON position for a while. I thought I was losing my mind because I would go through the exercises of identifying what is making me “feel” this way, and yet I knew that there wasn’t anything wrong on the outside to cause this reaction. I’ve been fighting it with my psychological and emotional strength.
And most importantly spiritual.
So it turned out that the stay in the hospital was exactly what I needed for the break from doing all the work on my own to keep myself safe. In essence, I could relax and climb out of my skin for a while.
I was there for biological reasons. Others were there for psychological issues. Still, others for emotional trauma.
While there was much we had in common in our behavior, I recognized something that made me different and perhaps stand out a little from the others.
I had solid connections on the outside. Connections with my loving and supportive human family and also unbreakable connections with the powers of heaven.
I knew without doubt that I was loved. I knew that those who matter most to me understood as best they can.
And I knew that I was doing my best to fight this problem.
So many of the others didn’t have that.
It seemed a critical piece of the puzzle that was missing was having someone, not on a payroll somewhere, who would listen to them. Really work hard enough to listen in a way to really hear them.
Certainly it feels like an impossible task to try to communicate to someone something that they could never understand.
And yet, to have someone on the “outside” that is listening anyway and doing their best to be the objective view on this situation that can accurately be described as madness and insanity, makes all the difference.
That would be the first part of the solution.
Do you need to be someone who is doing the work to listen, and most importantly, to hear?
Or, are you one who needs to trust enough to listen to those who are trying so hard to hear?
You see, I NEVER wanted to be admitted to the hospital. But in the office with our doctor when I absolutely didn’t know what to do, I turned to Ann. She softly nodded that this was the right thing to do.
I trusted and listened.
I think the other, and most critical part of the solution, is that those of us on the wrong side of the locked door, need to trust enough to listen.
We need to listen when they tell us we need some serious help. We need to do all we can to accept and embrace that help.
I think each of us can fit into either of these two categories. Please, either be one who sees and hears the trouble others are in, or be one who listens when they try to get us some help.
Because when we listen and act, we can learn to also become one who can hear, and then help.
I think that is the road to real healing.