- Posted May 17, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Going public with mental illness
Suicidal from Childhood to Adulthood and Surviving
I cried a lot at night. It didn't matter what I said, it went to deaf ears. I wanted to die- at 7 years-old. I was a believer in God. I would pray to God to die. I asked him to not let me wake in the morning. I didn't want to live anymore. I had pain that I couldn't comprehend. I didn't know how to express this kind of pain.
I would try to divert the pain to a physical pain. I would cut. Even at 7, I would cut myself to feel "real" pain. I would hit my head against a wall, literally. I wanted to feel "real" pain. I wanted to die.
My first suicidal attempt was triggered by an episode of physical abuse. The school nurse had called my father to express concerns on our hygiene. My neck was dirty and apparently it was evident that I had not bathed in a while. My father was furious! He took off from work and waited for me to get home from school. He placed me in a scolding hot bath tub and with an industrial bristle brush, he scrubbed my neck raw. I cried and screamed the entire time. My father yelled at me, saying he was embarrassed and he blamed me for not washing myself. It was so painful. To this day, this had a lasting effect. I always make a conscious effort to wash my neck each time I'm in the shower. When I give my children baths/showers, I always make sure their necks are clean.
That incident was my breaking point. That night, I placed a plastic bag over my head and took my "rescue" asthma inhaler MANY times, hoping I would eventually suffocate. At 7-years-old I was ready to die.
When my oldest child turned 7 I hit my second breaking point. I was overwhelmed with emotion and had a difficult time realizing that a child could have such disturbing thoughts and behaviors. My child was happy. Maybe I feared that my daughter would have the same feelings. My 7-year-old was a healthy, normal child. Maybe I was envious that she was a happy child, with no signs of emotional pain or depression. It scared me to think that a child can have such disturbing thoughts, and it was me.
In June 2010, I was emotionally done. My overwhelming and consuming thoughts of suicide and death really stopped my ability to function-- at work, at home, everywhere. I wanted to die and end the merciless pain-- I honestly felt that was the only way it would end. I did not believe anyone would understand this pain-- it's not physical and on the surface, to others, I had no reason to want to die. Absolutely no one knew this torment. I cried ALL THE TIME! I wanted the pain to stop! I wanted the thoughts to stop! It's so real. Mental illness exists!
I finally told my husband my plans. I knew killing myself wasn't the right choice and I honestly think that there was something left in me that wanted to live. However, I knew the only way to end the horrible thoughts was to end my own life. I would be at peace.
The morning after I told my husband, I went to work and called the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). It was around 9am. I was quite hesitant to do this. I didn't think people would take me seriously. I didn't understand why anyone would care enough to guide me to help. When I spoke with the counselor, I expected her to tell me what anyone else would probably tell me-- you don't really want to kill yourself, you just need someone to talk to, maybe some medication, but you will be fine. Nope! This counselor actually took me seriously. She told me I had two options-- go to the Rockford Center (psych hospital) or she was going to summons an ambulance to take me to the hospital. I'm guessing what I told her was emergent-- I had a plan. I knew when and how and finding the opportunity would be easy. I was a ticking time bomb ready to die at any moment.
I called my husband to let him know that I was on my way to Rockford. He met up with me and took me there. When I arrived and went into triage, I was so scared. I had no idea what to expect. However I didn't expect going into triage and not seeing my husband or girls for an unknown amount of time. Once I was in triage, I was immediately admitted. No good byes to anyone. I cried the entire time. I was so scared.
Now, I'm speaking from my own experience. I cannot say whether this is the norm, but I want you to know what going to a psychiatric hospital was like. I had a nurse escort me to a private room. I had to remove my shoes and my bra. My bra was a wired bra and any type of wire was prohibited. Since I arrived from work, I was wearing heals-- another item that can cause harm to myself. I had to remove my pants and underwear and squat and cough. I was so humiliated! It didn't matter if I told the staff I wasn't hiding anything; I just had to prove I wasn't.
I was immediately sent to Group (group therapy). I knew no one. I was able to put on socks that they provided since I had no shoes. It was cold there. I asked for a blanket. I wasn't allowed to have a blanket, at least not yet. I was in danger of harming myself, a blanket is just a tool. I curled up in the corner chair while the others participated. I cried inconsolably the entire time. I was scared. Most of the people there were there for drug dependence and anger issues and required by the courts to be there. I felt like I didn't belong there-- I was educated, I had a career, I had a loving family. Why the hell was I in this room?
I cried literally for hours until I got dehydrated. I barely ate dinner. Since I have Celiac Disease, the only thing I could eat was salad, but with no dressing. I was able to convince the staff that I had this condition and I begged them to have my husband bring me food so I can eat. They agreed but everything had to be in its original sealed package and inspected. I was glad they did that.
Because I was admitted to the facility, I learned I lost all my rights. I wanted to leave so badly!!! I didn't understand why I was there. I wasn't allowed to leave. I wasn't allowed to discharge myself.
On my first night, I had a roommate. She was young and she told me she has been in and out of rehab centers since she was a teenager. When I asked her what got her admitted this time, she said she was homicidal. I know I raised my eyebrows. She told me the pillows in our room would be a great way to suffocate someone because they were lined in plastic. I told her, "Well, I'd rather you not try out the pillows on me. I'm suicidal and I'd rather have the control to end my life, not you." We had a mutual understanding and she was actually nice to talk to. She had a different life than mine, yet we were so much alike. We were both psychos!!! I was in this facility for the short-term, to protect my life; to make sure I was not in immediate danger of killing myself.
The next day my attitude changed. I didn't fit with the other people that was there, yet I most definitely did. We were all in danger of harm, either to ourselves or to others. The focus was on Group. Learning that our thoughts and experiences are not unique and we're not alone struggling. I had to rethink how I looked at these sessions. I couldn't go in with the thoughts that I'm different from the others, that I didn't belong. In fact, I was no different from anyone there.
Unfortunately, one's stay as an in-patient in the psychiatric hospital is determined by your health insurance coverage. It is not based on your readiness. Out-patient care is the same way, that's if the insurance covers it. I was discharged after 6 days, but I was immediately placed in out-patient care for 3 weeks.
Four years later, I'm mentally healthy. My mood is stable and I'm compliant with my meds. I see my therapist and psychiatrist regularly. I'm able to see childhood as a happy experience through my children. I can actually see my future.