Finding community in unexpected places

In my senior year of high school, things had pretty much gone to shit. I had decided I was done. The pain was too much, the grief, life had gotten the best of me. I knew I needed help, I knew I wasn’t long for this world if things didn’t change. Simply put, I was not okay.

Shortly after what happened in January 2012, I tried to kill myself. Maybe once, maybe more, I don’t know. In March, I admitted everything to my guidance counselor and school therapist. Got myself (very much willingly) sent to one of the hospitals where they I guess do pediatric psych evals to determine just how much of a danger to myself I really am – type of thing.

See, a really important detail here, is just how much my parents HATED the idea of me getting help, of me needing to get help. I think after all they went through with my sister, and the giant fuck up of a human being she was, they just couldn’t handle even the thought of having another “fucked up” kid. Even though in my case, it was purely a result of a shit life and a series of traumatic events and …well, just a lot.

So any time my parents got called to the school to “deal with a mental health related issue” for me, it caused a lot of problems. I’m talking…getting bitched at for hours, getting in trouble, things taken away, just…there was a price to pay.

So that first time I got “sent” (when I admitted enough details to pretty much get myself sent there), I guess I lost my nerve and lied and said everything was fine, and they discharged me. We did this dance more than once. I wanted help, I tried to get it, my parents got in the way, so I just went home.

April was different, though. I, once again, admitted most of what was going through my head. I think thats when I really knew my life was on the line. Like…it was just bad.

So I get there, they admit me, and as you know, I struggle with a good bit of anxiety, especially social anxiety. The rooms each hold 2 girls, except for one room, the “big room”, which had 4 beds in it. Of course, that’s the room I end up in.

What I didn’t expect to happen, and what happened rather quickly, was how well I adapted. I guess that’s when I learned that for whatever crazy reason, despite my anxiety and overall feeling of wanting to hide in a corner and draw no attention to myself, I always emerge as a leader in group settings.

The girls there loved me, they looked up to me, they basically thought I was the shit. And I thrived there socially. I grew even more into my role of always cracking a joke, usually at the most serious and inappropriate times, break the tension, everyone came to me for advice, I just felt like I really belonged.

Despite the fact that I was thriving socially, I was still fucked up. My anxiety was steadily increasing, and I just couldn’t feel better. I knew I wasn’t ready to leave, but insurance booted me after 11 days.

I made it a whopping 6 days at home before things were bad enough that I seriously needed to go back. During those 6 days, I carved a self made “tattoo” into my hand that said RIP. My second stint in the good ole mental hospital lasted a bit longer, and stretched into May, and therefore Mother’s Day…(the first hard one in a lifetime of hard ones to come).

I was upset about Mother’s Day, feeling unworthy of living, grieving so many things, and just…I was a hot mess. So I ended up punching a wall, breaking my hand in 3 places, and tearing a ligament in my shoulder (hello there, surgery #6). All while in the hospital.

Oh, and by the way? On my return 6 days later, they tried to put me in a room with 2 beds, and I more or less demanded to be moved to the “big” room. Funny how we can surprise ourselves.

I learned a lot about myself during my time there. After my second release, I had no intentions of going back to school. So from my time inpatient, I transited to an IOP, or a “partial” program. Basically just a day program for more fucked up kids, which again, I thrived and basically became the leader in all group sessions.

Here’s a fantastic summary of my experience during those months when I was in and out of psych wards.

  1. I attract people. People are drawn to me, and I need to be smarter about who I allow close to me.
  2. I apparently found many ways to hurt myself even within the confines of intense supervision.
  3. I did drugs, sort of, for the first time there. Some people thought it would be a great idea to crush their pills and, ya know. Didn’t like drugs then, still don’t. Thank God for that.
  4. One of the nurses there felt, again, like that mother figure I apparently spend my entire life searching for. She nurtured me, made me feel special, didn’t enforce the rules on me as hard as she did the others because, well, I really was trustworthy. She taught me about myself, about grief, about healing…she’s another one I’ll never forget. Thank you, Veronica with red hair.
  5. NEVER hang out alone with guys you meet in mental health programs; built in red flags. (At least, that was my experience with one of them. Ugh, we’ll get there too, don’t worry.)

But. The biggest thing I learned, the biggest thing I needed to work through, was grief. Grief doesn’t go away if you ignore it. It demands to be felt and acknowledged. Honestly, I only started to lighten the burden of feelings I was carrying when I acknowledged my grief over my experience. I let go of (some of) the hatred I carried for B. I allowed myself to feel, to talk about it, to do what I needed in order to begin to heal.

I’ve had to grieve over way too much over the years. My past is full of it, and so is my present and future. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and a hard thing to accept.

I am a person who, generally…really hates feeling things. I’d really rather ignore it until it goes away. But dang it, it never does go away.

This is something I’m working on. Accepting that my feelings are valid. My past was significant. And my future is equally…if not more so, shitty. I need to face these things head on. I can’t keep running.

Nothing is scarier than actually allowing myself to feel. Thats why writing is so important for me. Writing to you, whoever you are, connecting with someone, it makes all of that easier for me.

Right now, today, I’m feeling frustrated. I had a hard day, after a hard week, and I’m just feeling exhausted. I’m hoping that some (forced) self care this weekend gets me into a better headspace to face the week.

How are you feeling right now? Is there something that you’re working on? Do you have any good self care tips? It’s honestly something I suck at.

Anyway…I don’t know. I’m doing my best, I’m hanging in there. Today is Friday, and the weekend feels welcoming.

Please hang in there with me.

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