in june of 2017, i walked (basically ran) out of the hospital wearing two pairs of socks, jeans that had been worn for seven days straight, with a paper bag full of items that were deemed unsafe near me for my stay in hand.
i spent seven days in a mental hospital. my therapist wasn’t sure i’d make it to the next appointment, let alone the next two hours. my mind had gone to a dark spot and my words revealed the plan i had made. my appetite the months before this was absent, to say the least. i survived on half eaten protein bars, and gatorade. once i was in the care of professionals, i suddenly realized i hadn’t eaten in days. twenty minutes after saying the words, i was taken by ambulance and interviewed by EMTs, nurses, and a doctor.
it was all very serious, but all i could think about was how much i just wanted a sandwich.
we don’t realize the moment recovery starts.
recovery is an interesting word that seems to only be connected to addicts and traumatic bodily injuries. the thing about having poor mental health is that it can be as debilitating as such events to the body. so, when we say that we are in recovery, we truly mean we are re-learning how to walk, talk, eat, exist as a human being just the same as anyone else who spends time in the hospital for an extended period of time.
there was an ambulance ride. a specialist talked with me for an hour as they drew my blood and made me hand over all of my belongings. i told the doctor everything i possibly could. if i was going to do this, i was going to do it right.
at the beginning of any conversation there they ask you three very important questions:
- how do you rate your depression on a scale of 1-10?
- how do you rate your anxiety on a scale of 1-10?
- do you have any thoughts of harming yourself or anyone else?
questions that your entire treatment depends upon. you have no other option than to be honest because these people have seen it all. they know when you are lying or when you are just talking to talk. this doctor had never met me, yet in the span of an hour together i told her more than i had told anyone in years. the truth about everything i had ever thought and felt and experienced. at the end of the conversation she left my room and i was being transferred hospitals by officers as a safety measure.
the doctor came running back and said:
“i forgot something. do you have any thoughts of harming me or anyone else?”
i replied “no. not at all.”
“i thought so, but i’m required to ask.”
i didn’t think about this until months after i was released.
i have been named something untrue by people who i thought i could trust.
i was told that i am not allowed in a community i thought was impossible to be hurt by.
people turned their backs without even hearing my side and named me a monster.
my recovery process recessed and i started to relapse.
then in the middle of this mess, i remembered this conversation with a doctor.
this doctor who’s job it was to see people, hear their stories, and read their dark minds. in my lowest place, this person knew i wasn’t harmful.
i remembered that no one gets to name me.
my name is so engrained in me that it is visible even in my darkest moments.
and it is mine.
i own it.
our names are ours and ours alone. just because someone says something doesn’t make it true. one of my favorite people and authors, Jamie Tworkowski once wrote,
“someone calling you a criminal does not make you a criminal, just as someone calling you a hero does not make you a hero. nobody gets to name you.”
i hope you remember your worth, your reputation, your abilities do not rely on other people.
no matter how close you once were.
no matter what they’ve said.
no matter who they’ve convinced.
you are valuable. no one gets to take that from you. it is a gift, so cherish it.
it is a gift, so set it on the highest shelf and do not let yourself forget.
surround yourself with people who will remind you.
i will remind you if you think you have no one.
i needed to be reminded for a long time.
my pastor, Wendy, told me that sometimes other people need to carry the hope for us.
and that is exactly what happened.
so many people were a part of my process it is almost impossible to believe. they are the greatest humans, and probably don’t even realize how vital they have been. i could never say thank you big enough or loud enough.
Brittany, Megan, Becka, Tom, Vickie, Katja, Bailey, Caitlin and Sam, Melanie, Yvonne, Wendy, Rebecca, Deborah, Darci, Nico, AJoy, Shelby, My Sophomore (Junior, omg) girls, Marie, Tim, Betsy, Caite, Rowen, Kersee, Julia, Chris, Jamie, Derick, Tyler, Maddie, Krista, Allison, LaToya, Jackie, My Therapist, Olivia, Don, Royal, Tanner, Toni, Cara, Michelle, Connor, Marissa, Emily every EMT, every doctor and nurse at Research Hospital.
my list is full of rockstars, i know. i don’t mean to name drop, but my squad is as a-list as Taylor Swift’s.
i would fly a plane and write in the sky for all of you if i had a plane or a pilot’s license.
your team does not have to be big.
your team just has to be there. if it feels like no one, i am here.
and with me comes all of them. welcome to the island of misfit toys, amirite?
depression and anxiety never really get healed. i will battle them every day.
but for right now i’m listening to these voices outside of my head asking me to stay.
find what i was made for.
to love. because no one loves quite like you.
to be loved. because no one can be loved quite like you.
my friend, please stay.
and if you feel alone, i hope you feel brave enough for one second to reach out.
ask for help.
there are enough resources for you.
you are the most important person right now.
even if that feels painful to hear, you are the most important person right now.
thank you for reading. thank you for being you.