So far, I’ve been focusing on things you can do for yourself and your own mental health. But before I go any further, I want to start addressing the subject of getting help. First and foremost, let’s talk about emergencies.
*If you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency, Call your local emergency number, or proceed immediately to the nearest emergency room, provided you are able to do so safely. Psychiatric emergencies include wanting to kill or harm yourself, wanting to kill or harm someone else, or having already taken steps to do any of the above.
*When you make contact with someone, don’t worry about what you’re going to say, or how you’ll say it. Do your best, and let them do their jobs. The professional will know what to ask, and how to help you be safe. When I was hospitalized, it was because I sought out help. I went to the local county’s emergency mental health center, and told the intake worker I was having a strong desire to hurt myself, and that I had a way to do it, and everything I needed to get the job done (Professionals call it “means and a plan”).
*Know that once professionals are involved at the crisis or emergency level, your choices will be limited. This is not to punish you. This is what they’re there for. It’s to keep you safe. The night I was hospitalized for the first time, I was terrified. I knew that my life was unraveling from the inside out, and that I couldn’t put it back together myself. I remember clearly the worker coming back into the room after interviewing me. He very calmly told me that I was being placed on a 72-hour hold. He explained that this meant that I would not be allowed to leave, and that I would be transported to a 24-hour facility for assessment and treatment. My initial reaction was relief. It was some of the most intense gratitude I’d ever felt. I was going to be cared for. I was safe. It was out of my hands. I went back and forth between relief and fear many times while we waited for transportation.
*The upside to emergencies is that they don’t last long. Dealing with the emergency and its aftermath may last much longer, but the worst of it is over. I experienced a flood of emotions over the days and weeks following that first night. But not a single one of them felt worse than when I was trying to deal with it on my own. It’s okay to be scared. You’ve earned it! An important realization for me that first night once I finally got to go to bed was that as scared as I was, nothing was happening to me that was even 1/10th as bad as what my own brain had been putting me through.
*Whether you believe it or not, there’s someone who is eternally grateful you exist. When we lose someone we love and care about, there’s a ripple effect that happens for the rest of our lives. Maybe the losing someone in your life has been a significant part of your own challenge with mental health. But something inside of you has decided not to set off that ripple effect for someone else. But once the crisis passes, and it will, you get to see what strength you actually have. You were just about convinced you couldn’t go on, but you did. You’re still here, and you’re awesome. You’re amazing. You’re honestly a miracle.