If you read my previous blog post, you’ll know that I spent 16 days in the hospital psych ward on suicide watch for overdosing on Clonazepam twice within 12 hours. I’m still finding it tough to swallow. If you asked me 6 years ago where I would end up, it would never cross my lips or even be a whisper of a thought that I would end up in the hospital. I just didn’t think I was like that.
I had high hopes and big goals to achieve that didn’t involve mental illness, I didn’t even know what that was. Fast forward a few years and I was crippled with illness, not able to function as a human being in any circumstance. I spent my days in bed or over eating, wallowing in my pain. Pushing everything down and suppressing all reason into the pit of my being.
The struggle to try and pull myself out of the hole I involuntarily fell into has been one of great difficulty. The two steps forward and one step back routine has become too familiar. I am still in recovery and will be for a long time. Each day is a different day, some bad and some good. I try to hold onto the good days when the bad days come but it becomes increasingly harder to hold on when I know how easy it is to let go. I just want my suffering to end.
Throughout my stay in the psych ward, I was surprised to notice that I learned a few lessons from being there. The significant ones are quite silly, now that I think about them, but still important enough to save for future reference.
The first lesson I learned was that if you weren’t in the dining room right at 8pm for sandwiches, you would not get one because the other patients would swoop in like vultures and take it without a second thought (I’m guilty of doing this a few times as well).
The second lesson I learned was that we were only allowed 20 minute breaks at certain times to either go out for a smoke (I don’t smoke) or grab something from the Tim’s downstairs (most likely where you’d find me). If you missed the break, well you were shit out of luck and had to wait another few hours.
The third lesson I learned was that there was always that one guy who paced the hallways and drank styrofoam cups brimmed with coffee or tea, making him a prime candidate for using the bathroom most of the day. But he did give great life advice and I appreciated his company.
During my time in the hospital I also picked up a few nicknames (embarrassing, I know). ‘Herc’ and ‘Helena Hand basket’ were the two most common. They called me Herc because I would wear my Herc’s Nutrition sweater sometimes and because they knew I went to the gym a lot. I don’t even know HOW I got the second one so I will refrain from commenting on it. Let’s just say I wasn’t too fond of that one. Moving on now…
There were other wards in the hospital with patients from all walks of life. The diversity was sort of impressive. There were different groups we as patients could attend and we’d have to go with the people from other wards. Well, if you didn’t get along with someone in the other ward then you were shit out of luck there too because you had to shut up about it and think about all the things you didn’t like about that person (I was practically screaming at one person in my head but I refrained from screaming aloud so I would call that a victory).
This all may seem comical now, but while I was there it was real. Real people with real illnesses battling real issues everyday. Just like me. I commend these people for staying strong for so long. They continue to fight each day and it was an honour to know them.
I think the greatest and most valuable lesson I learned was that mental illness looks different for each of it’s fighters. It’s not clear-cut or smooth sailing. It’s hell. 1 in 5 people live with mental illness, but 5 in 5 people have mental health. These stats speak volumes. Whether you are suffering or recovering or supporting someone else through their rough times, I want you to know that it’s okay. You are doing the best that you can and that’s all that matters. You are precious and loved in God’s eyes and don’t EVER let anyone tell you otherwise. Stay strong my lovelies, we will get through this together.