When I was in the mental institution last July, my whole world changed. Those five days, felt like five years. They were powerful. Powerful as ever. And mostly for the better. There was a whole world of understanding, I would have never considered, let alone discovered, had I not been institutionalized. It still amazes me how God can take the most wicked and evil of circumstances and turn them into the most bountiful of blessings.
As I previously mentioned, the psychotic (and yes, I mean that word literally) doctors, called themselves diagnosing me with “manic depressive bipolar disorder.” Whatever the hell that is. Following that diagnosis, ensued several days of debate about whether I would take the medication those crazy folk prescribed for “me.”
Can I just say for the record, legit, the doctors and staff at mental wards are for the most part, more “crazy” than the people committed there. I suppose they are trained that way, but it’s scary. I was dead living in the twilight zone. And for the most part, the only time I felt any closer to the “reality” of earth was during visits and when I was chatting with the patients. Them doctor folk are legitimately out of their froggy ass minds. I pray for them every single day. I can’t imagine what they have to medicate themselves with to sleep at night, let alone to have a desire to wake up in the morning.
Anywho, back to the medication. They wanted me to take Lithium and Abilify. Abilify is often prescribed to patients with schizophrenia (according to the paper they gave me explaining the drug). Anyone else got a red flag going up right now? The doctor claimed, though it was often prescribed to schizophrenic patients, it was also very good for those diagnosed with mania, as “I” had been. Lithium, on the other hand, I don’t even need to explain what the paper said. I could see what Lithium did to those patients. It made cry.
They were zombies. And when most of them did decide to forego taking their meds, it was the greatest blessing to watch their spirits come alive. They were the liveliest and most heartwarming folks. I miss them a lot. I wouldn’t have made it out of there if it weren’t them. I pray even harder for all of them every single day. David. Ronald. Martyk (I know I spelled it wrong, but know I love you still). Mack. Keith. Robert. Prien. And a couple of others. I miss you guys! I love you even more.
I wasn’t taking no damn Lithium. If you’ve ever seen anyone on it, you wouldn’t either. But now we get to the doozy. The debates about why I should take the meds (from the doctors) vs. why I should not (from me and my mom). Their biggest reason was that I was manic and though, I was super positive and in what appeared to be a good place, I was indefinitely going to have a crash. I was going to end up wanting to hurt myself and die, or something drastic like that.
They’d figured all of this out from reading charts (they had no legal authority to access), a doctor (the one who committed me) who’d spoke to me for less than 2 minutes, and 45 minutes of a conversation between myself and “my treatment team” about my life and my ambitions for the future. Apparently, I was too damn positive for them. If that makes sense.
Now, my arguments were much simpler. I’d taken meds before. During my junior year of college, I was diagnosed as clinically depressed. My therapist, assigned psychiatrist and I, had decided meds were worth a try, in effort to help me get through the rest of the semester. Lord! If you only knew what I went through. I was only on the meds for two weeks.
The first week was pretty blissful, especially compared to the past weeks and months before it. I felt like I was on a cloud. Like life was way better. Like anything was possible and nothing could hold me back. Like I’d never known the thought, let alone, existence of downs or lows. Or ever lived on highs like that one. Which by the way, as I consider it now, the way those drugs made me feel sounds more like the described symptoms of the manic bipolar depression, the doctors diagnosed “me” with.
Anywho, the downsides of the meds were tragic. Tragic. Tragic. Tragic. The scariest part was that I didn’t know the downsides had come, until they were in full effect. One minute I was feeling good. Fine. Amazing!! The next, I was down. Sad. Distraught. And out of nowhere, I wanted to be dead. So dead, I’d never known death until this moment. Everywhere I looked, was death. I dreamed about dying. Woke up, first thing in the morning, thinking about dying. And it wasn’t like my previous suicidal thoughts, where I just dreaded being alive. Where I hated the thought of having to breathe another breath. It was so much deeper. So much worse.
It was like being alive was no longer an option. As if I was only waking up, to discover new ways to die. I day dreamed about ways to discover death. I fantasized about all the different ways to kill myself. With wonder, not dread. It was crazy!! It got so bad that I tried so many ways to kill myself. I tried knives. Screwdrivers. Banging my head on the wall. Holding my breath. It was at it its worse when I tried jumping in front of cars. I laid in the street, waiting for a car to run over me.
It was scary. I couldn’t control my thoughts. I couldn’t understand them. I was so helpless. And were it not for my blessing of a boyfriend at the time, Kristt, I don’t know where I would be. I thank God for him everyday. Because it was legitimately one of the scariest moments of my life and he saved me. He held me and nursed me. He dragged me out of the street. Hid the knives and screwdrivers from me. He played jazz and sang to my dreary heart. God bless you Kristt!!
Perhaps, the scariest part of all, looking back now, is that I had no idea these thoughts were not my own. I had no idea that it was in fact, the medication that was making me feel and think this way. It was God’s good grace that my health insurance had ended, just in time for my need for a refill of my prescription. That’s how I ended that horrible experience with the medication, before hurting myself. It was later that a mentor told me that the experience was induced by the medication.
Which leads me to my simple argument about why I would not take those damn meds the doctors called themselves prescribing to my made up pseudonym of an identity that they created, Sequanna Garner. I had a horrible experience before with meds and I wasn’t willing to give them a chance to try it again. The doctors refuted that there was a chance the meds wouldn’t give me that type of experience again. And if they did, I was in the care of professionals, who could help me from harming myself if I tried. You hear that?!
Here I was, a perfectly healthy-minded young woman, being prescribed medication for a future event (that still hasn’t happened) in which I might become suicidal. A medication that posed the risk of in fact, making me suicidal before I actually became suicidal. All to treat a condition that wasn’t even a condition. Diagnosed by doctors who didn’t even know/ refused to recognize my real name. It’s nuts right! Like I said, the health professionals at the mental ward were more messed up, than the patients themselves.
This May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I’d like to honor this month and the necessity for the awareness of the nature of how we consider “mental health” in this country and in this world, with my own story, truths and experiences. That’s my greatest gift and ability. We need to reconsider the term mental health and especially, the social construct of “mental illness.” It’s so deep, I’ll leave it there for right now. I’m excited to discover all of this with you all this month! S/o to Mental Health Awareness Month 2015! Let’s make this one memorable for all the right reasons!