Depression and anxiety seem to go hand in hand. Not that I am an expert, or anything like that. I just know, because of my first-hand experiences.
Without getting too personal, or maybe i will. We willl just have to wait and see… I will attempt to enlighten you on what it’s like to be inside of this shell of mine.
As I have said before, I have always struggled..all the way back to my first emotion filled memories of middle school.
But, it wasn’t until I had been through a divorce and later a very tormaltuous relationship, when my body suddenly began deteriating. The stresses I had been experiencing were eating away at me. All of this was after I had already been told, on multiple occasions, that I most likely suffer from clinical depression with acute anxiety. Bad enough that medication will be needed for the rest of my exisitance. “Joy, oh joy. I’m officially a nutcase.” I thought to myself on an almost daily basis.
These dark days seemed to plaque me more and more every day and at one point, I landed myself in a gown, at a check-in desk of a state run, mental health facility. Right in the middle of bedtime rituals…meds and vital checking time for all. I did not ask to be brought here
Oh no I did not!! I didn’t do anything to try to be there. It just happened. I didn’t swallow a bottle of pills, suck on my vehicles exhast, or stick my head in the oven. I was just desperate for someone to listen to me. I tried to get help at our local facility, but was turned away due to no space.
Photo by, Ben Anderson.
I had been injured on the job. My back was a mess, but like most government bureaus, they did everything they could to make sure I didn’t get any help on their dime. Somehow, it was ‘pre-existing’, leaving me with no pay for my basic needs. At the same time, my relationship was failing and he walked out on me. I hit bottom. Again.
My family became concerned about me and took me to see my family doctor. Not knowing exactly what would happen, he advised me to go straight to the ER and tell them how I was feeling. So I did. I told them I didn’t care if a bus was heading towards me, I wouldn’t move. It only took a few moments and I was ‘pink slipped’.
If you have never heard of this term before, let me just tell you something…… it sucks! I went from being treated with respect and concern, to being a number in line, in a facility one step above a prison ward. Without naming this facility, I will just say, it’s in central Ohio and is the main one under and unisured patients are held. Which, by the way, happens to be most American’s.
It was almost bedtime, the place was full of activity. People were walking around crying, asking to use the phone, sitting in front of a community tv, and waiting in line to have their basic vitals checked. All before slamming down the capsule and tablet cocktail the on-duty nurse practitioner had decided to try on their fragile minds and bodies.
Finally things began to slightly settle down and I sat in a tiny office with a nurse, where I was instructed to sign papers, saying I was voluntarily committing myself and that I was agreeing to be held for 72 hours. The weekend, not included. If I refused, I could be held for up to 90 days. I was terrified.
The very first night, my bedtime cocktail was four Tylenol’s, an Ambien and something else to ‘help me relax’. All on an empty stomach. By 3:00 am, I woke up from a vicious dream, where I was being speared in the belly with a red hot sword. I was dying. I couldn’t have been so lucky, as my pain continued once I was fully awake. The nurses station was just outside of my door, so I hobbled out, bent over from the invisable rod sticking out of my gut.
Two packets of goldfish crackers and about 20 minutes later, I wandered back to bed and finally dozed off to
the sounds of my snoring roommate and someone sobbing down the hallway.
The next morning, after the routine vital checks and meds were handed out, we were lined up like cattle. Apparently, I was about to enjoy my first meal and it shouldn’t have shocked me…but it still did. I guess I had a few pounds to lose anyway.
After heading back to my room, I was quickly hit up by a tall, gloomy man with a clipboard. Now what? Funny. I hadn’t even been there for 24 hours and this guy was already telling me what my portion of the stay would cost me. That is, if they decided I would be allowed to go home after my legally, binding 72 hours…minus the weekend again. I immediately broke out into a laugh that most likely made those who heard me, wonder if i was in the wrong wing. They wouldn’t get a dime out of me, because I didnt ask for this!
I was told later in the day that I could have visitors, so my parents and my son’s brought me at least one of my meals each day. I don’t know what I would’ve done without my family. It was a 40 minute drive for them and I know it wasn’t in a convenient place. I wasn’t quite sure where I was, as I had been driven there by squad in the dark.
We were not allowed to go outside at all. Dark brown, or maybe it was black, lattice covered filty, dirty plexiglass in place of small windows in each dingy room. I could tell it was a beautiful, fall day outside and I would take my time at meals. It was the only window in the whole place, that wasn’t covered, allowing some sun to shine in on me. When asked if there were a place we could sit outside, I was told a teenager tried to escape by jumping the fence, so no one was allowed outside anymore. Didn’t they realize what sitting in the sun can do for a “flower child”?
“Trapped Flower” by Chechulia
I quickly figured out that no one would be able to get me out of this situation, so I might as well make the best of it. I began getting to know those around me. A young, slightly overweight girl of about 30, came walking up to me and asked me if I was her mom. She had big tears streaming down her face and my heart immediantly dropped to the toes of my hospital socks. I gave her a huge hug and told her I wasn’t, but I would be more than happy to be her friend. Turns out, she was living in a group home since her mother had passed away. She was worried about her little dog the whole time and loved talking about him. But when things quieted down, she would again be walking the hallway, asking everyone for her mom.
I am an empath and to be in this place, was like pure hell to me. It reaked havoc on my body, mind and soul. I could feel the pain and misery everyone around me had radiating from them. They all had such gut wrenching stories. Each had either attempted suicide or were suicidal.
Now, you would think there would be doctor’s on site, right? Wrong. I met with a nurse practitioner, who changed up my medication and talked to me three times total. Not once did she spend more than fifteen minutes with me. After all, I was forced to be an inpatient, why was this it?
Instead of being helped to heal, I felt as though I was being punished. Punished for breaking down and being human.
The terms of my release were that I go for counseling and it was already set up for me. I followed orders, because there was no way on this earth, I would ever be forced to return to that place. On my first encounter with my new counsellor, after I told him everything I had gone through over the past years and what I was still going through, he actually told me he was surprised I hadn’t already killed myself. Wow. Now that was interesting!
I completed my time and finally wrapped up my case with the Ohio BWC, but the time I spent hospitalized, were the days I will never forget, for this is what I learned from my experience…. If i am ever so desperate again, I will not ask for a doctor’s help. I know what all of you are thinking. At least those of you, who are still with here with me. I am being rather irresponsible by telling anyone to not ask for help, just do whatever and end it all. That is not what I am saying, but what I am saying is this…. We need better mental healthcare in this country! If my story doesn’t convince you, you are not listening.
Right now, health care is at the top of a long list of issues being discussed by this new administration. If we don’t look at our mental health as being just as important as our
physical health, we will be dropping the ball! Please, I am asking you just this one, simple request. Please learn more about healthcare in this country…..all aspects of it, and contact those in your home towns. Hold them accountable for the health of all of us and not just the top few.