Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 3

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Post Suicide Attempt: Prologue – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/post-suicide-attempt-prologue/

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 1 – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/post-suicide-attempt-chapter-1/

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 2 – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/post-suicide-attempt-chapter-2/

When I was transferred to the unit in the psych hospital that had lower security, I was given a tour by one of the nurses.  I was a little afraid because I had no idea what to expect.  But the fear and hesitation I felt was nothing compared to where I was before.  This unit was much nicer.  There were sofas, the patients were allowed to open the windows and change the tv channels themselves, there was art on the walls, and I got my first glimpse of sunlight in days.

I was taken to what would be my room, where I was introduced to my roommate.  She was my age, and very friendly.  I was also introduced to another patient who showed me all of the ropes and made sure I had someone to sit with at dinner.  I was also quickly introduced to some other patients, but I didn’t really get to know them until later.

My nurse also explained “privileges” to me.  There were different levels of privileges.  The lowest was on-unit privileges, which meant that you were not allowed to leave the unit except to go to classes.  Next up were in-house privileges, which meant that you could go anywhere you wanted inside the hospital as long as you signed out and were back every hour to confirm that you hadn’t run away.  After that you got grounds privileges, which meant that you could go anywhere on the hospital grounds (you could go outside and breathe fresh air!) as long as you signed out and came back every hour.  I was immediately given in-house privileges since I had behaved so well in the previous unit.  Your doctor could also grant you evening and weekend passes so that you could spend some time at home as long as you were with a family member at all times.  And if you misbehaved, you could have your privileges taken away.

Finally, I was given a schedule.  The schedule listed all kinds of classes that were available.  These classes included horticulture, yoga, art therapy, wellness (which was super boring, but it was the only class we absolutely had to go to), and some other activities.  Our doctors also referred us to groups that were more specific to our particular issues.  I was assigned to Women’s Group (a bunch of women who sit in a circle to share their issues and support one another), Managing Emotions (learning how to identify what you are feeling and express it in a healthy way), and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Skills for Anxiety (learning tips and tricks to help understand your triggers and how to cope with anxiety).  I can’t really share too much about these classes because we had to sign some confidentiality forms; all I can tell you in that they existed and I learned things.

I started to get used to the routine, and I got used to eating eggs every single day because that’s what they always served the vegetarians.  Don’t get me wrong, eggs are delicious.  I just got a little tired of eating them every single day.  My original roommate was released after one night, and I was assigned a new roommate.  She was mostly bedridden, and she asked me who I was every time I entered the room.  But I made friends elsewhere.  I am even still in contact with a couple of them.

I was also finally allowed to go outside when I had a panic attack and freaked out because I felt like I was being confined in too small a space, so that was good.  It was freezing outside.  I got soaked by all of the falling snow, but I GOT TO GO OUTSIDE!  Seriously, don’t ever take the fact that you are allowed to go outside for granted.  And really, how good can it be for someone’s mental health to never let them breathe fresh air?  Even prison inmates get to go outside for an hour every day.  I’m not going to get into that right now because it’s not really relevant to my story, but I was thrilled to finally be allowed to go outside!  It was the best I had felt in months!  I even called my parents to tell them the exciting news!

There were also many challenges that I came across in this unit, and there were several things that went on outside the hospital that I felt like I was helpless to do anything about.  My school, for example, was a source of many issues.  But I’ll talk about that next week.  See you guys then!

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Post Suicide Attempt: Prologue

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Hello blog readers!  I had an assignment for one of my classes to write a short story about a life event, which inspired me to write a mini-series for this blog about the aftermath of my suicide attempt!  Cheerful, huh?  Don’t get too worried about it being super heavy and depressing.  That is not my goal.  My goal is to paint a picture of what it was like to receive treatment.  I will be releasing segments of this story every Tuesday evening, so stay tuned!  To get you all started on this journey with me, I am going to tell you about the actual suicide attempt.

It was a Sunday that I decided to take my life.  I had been thinking about doing it for a while, and I had made my decision a few days before I actually went through with it.  There were three reasons I waited until that Sunday.  One:  I was signed up as a driver for my school’s wildlife club trip to see a swan banding demonstration on the Saturday.  I didn’t want people to end up not being able to go because I had died.  Two:  I had volunteered to help my friend make soup for my residence’s Sunday soup kitchen (we all got together and ate soup; we didn’t feed the homeless).  I didn’t want to leave all of the work to her, and I didn’t want to ruin the soup kitchen, so I decided to wait until after that was over with.  Three:  I had borrowed my mom’s car, and I needed to get it back to her.  I also had a coffee date that day, but I didn’t really care; I didn’t even shower for it.

In retrospect, those all seem like really minor things in comparison to death.  But at the time, I thought I was a burden to everyone around me.  To me, it only made sense to do what I had promised others before taking my life because I didn’t want my death to be a burden to anyone.  I really thought I was doing my friends and family a favour.  I mean, I knew they would be sad at first.  But I thought that after their grieving period was over, they would feel a sense of relief because they would be done putting up with all my problems.

Once I finished all of my commitments, I locked myself into my room to end my life since I didn’t want anyone to try and stop me.  However, I felt the need to apologize to two people before I killed myself.  I apologized to the guy who had been emotionally abusive towards me because I felt so guilty about my anxiety, and I apologized to my friend for warning her not to date him when she had a crush on him.  I feel like an idiot for apologizing for those things now.  I’m glad I got in the way of this guy dating my friend because she is one of the sweetest people I know.  She deserves a lot better.  I probably didn’t warn her in the most tactful way, since I had to get drunk to muster up the courage to do something I knew would get me in serious trouble with this guy.  But I’m still glad I warned her.  I used to feel like an idiot for apologizing to this guy right before I attempted suicide because I felt like it made me feel weak, but I don’t care if he sees me as weak anymore.  I don’t give a fuck what he thinks anymore because he has been cut out of my life for good.

After making my apologies, I wrote out a note that said, “This isn’t anyone’s fault but my own.”  Then I gathered all of the pills in my room into a pile and poured a drink.  I was feeling pretty shaky, so I decided to take my anti-anxiety pills first to calm me down.  I have no evidence to prove this, but I think that decision may have been what saved my life.  My anti-anxiety pills made me really sleepy when I took 0.5 mg at a time, and I think that the amount that I took that night knocked me unconscious before I could swallow enough pills to actually die.  I don’t know for sure because I don’t remember a whole lot after that point until waking up the next day.  And that’s for me to write about next week.  *SPOILER ALERT!* I didn’t die.

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 1 – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/post-suicide-attempt-chapter-1/

Psychiatric Assessment

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About a week ago, I had an appointment with a psychiatrist.  Yesterday, my case worker went over the psychiatrist’s assessment of me.  I found the results kind of depressing.  I have four psychological disorders, and I function about half as well as most people.

The four disorders I have are: recurrent major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.  I’m actually still researching these because I don’t totally understand what all of this means.  My case worker knows that I like to know what is going on.  He knows I like to learn everything I can about whatever condition it is that I have, so he wrote them all down for me.  Once I learn a little more about them, I’ll probably make a blog post about each of them.  But for now, I will tell you what I do know about them.

Major depressive disorder is what you probably know of just “depression.”  Usually, people who have major depressive disorder experience an extremely low mood for at least two weeks.  Then these people, with treatment, come out of their depression.  Since mine is recurring, I will have depressive episodes than can last for a few weeks to a few months.  Then I will come out of this depressed state.  It’s not bipolar because I never experience the extreme highs that come with it.

Dysthymic disorder is similar to major depressive disorder, but it is less severe and lasts longer.  Dysthymic disorder lasts at least two years.  Although, I have most likely been dealing with it for much longer than that.  It is characterized by a low mood that is relatively consistent over a long period of time.

Panic disorder means that I will experience intense moments of panic, and I will sometimes have panic attacks, for seemingly no reason.  All of a sudden, I will have catastrophic thoughts that will cause me to freak out a little.  These thoughts will be something like: “Something bad is going to happen,” or “I am going to die.”  I can go from 0 to 100 in 30 seconds.

Agoraphobia is common when you have panic disorder.  In fact, it is more common to have both than it is to have panic disorder on its own.  Agoraphobia means that I have a fear of being able to escape.  This means that I will feel panicked if I feel like I am stuck in a place that I can’t get out of.  This means crowds, the subway, etc.  With me, though, I often feel the most panicked when I am alone with a stranger.  I am afraid that they will try to do something to hurt me, and that I won’t be able to escape them because nobody will be around to help.  The reason that agoraphobia is common with panic disorder is that because I sometimes have panic attacks for no reason, I worry that I will have one in public and not be able to leave the situation.  For example, if I have a panic attack in a mall, everyone will see.  It might freak some of the people out, the strangers around me won’t know what to do, and I will be embarrassed when it’s over.  I’m usually a lot more calm when I am with someone I feel comfortable around.

Anyway, I hope to learn a lot more about these disorders so that I can find out the best way to combat them.  I will keep you posted!

Panic Disorder: The Demon

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I have panic disorder.

It is a type of anxiety disorder.  Along with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and a few others.

Having panic disorder basically means that I have recurring panic attacks.

When I’m not having panic attacks, I worry about when the next time I am going to have a panic attack will be.

I can physically feel that worry.  It controls me.  It possesses me.  It weakens me.  I am a prisoner within my own body.

Anxiety is like a demon.  It’s like one of those evil spirits that takes possession of people in horror movies.  I need an exorcism of sorts to free me from it.

I feel it straining my back, my shoulders, my chest, and my neck.  It’s not tension.  It’s not pain.  I don’t know how to describe it, but it has taken away my freedom.

I’m constantly fighting it.  I try to use logic to reason with it.

“Nothing bad is going to happen,” I repeat to myself.  I know this is logically true, but I still have trouble really believing it.

I’m fighting an uphill battle, and I’m not sure that I can win the fight.  I try different tactics.

I resort to violence.  Maybe if I cut myself open, I will reach the demon.  Maybe he’ll escape through the opening in my skin.

I try to starve him out.  If I waste away, maybe he’ll waste away with me.

I try to work him off.  I hit the gym, hoping that I’ll sweat him out.

I use medications to try and kill him, but they only stun him a little.  He might be passed out for a while, but he comes back as the pills wear off.

I listen to Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out,” and I hope that one epic night will make everything better.  I hope that friends, sex, alcohol, and dancing are enough to make the demon leave.

But he stays.  He is a parasite.  He grows stronger as I grow weaker.

I want to keep fighting, and I will fight right to the end.  I’m strong enough to keep fighting.  I just don’t know if I’m strong enough to win that fight.

Panic Attacks for Dummies

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So, I’ve already made a post about panic attacks, but I’ve decided to write another one.  I don’t really like talking about my panic attacks.  I’m pretty open about explaining everything else I have dealt with regarding mental illness, but my panic attacks are more difficult for me to talk about.  It’s not that I don’t want people to know what they’re like.  In fact, I wish that more people knew because I often feel like a lot of people just don’t understand what a panic attack is.  It’s just hard for me to talk about them because they are so terrifying for me.  Having a panic attack is the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced.  I don’t like to talk about having them because I don’t want to think about them too much.  However, it is something that I feel is important to share.  Hopefully, if people who have experienced panic attacks continue to share their stories, the general public will know a lot more about them.

I’ve been asked many times about what triggers my panic attacks.  I’ve been asked about the triggers way more than I have been asked about the panic attacks themselves.  The truth is, I don’t always know what triggers them.  Sometimes there is a clear trigger.  It could have been a conversation, a loud and crowded room, or something else identifiable.  But a lot of the time, there is no identifiable trigger.  Sometimes the panic attacks just happen for no apparent reason.

I find that a lot of people don’t really understand how the panic attacks can just happen out of the blue.  I’ll be asked, “But what happened beforehand?  Something must have upset you.”  That isn’t always the case, though.  Sometimes I’ll go from being in a perfectly good mood to thinking that I’m going to die or that something bad is going to happen.  I don’t understand it either, so it makes it really hard for me to answer all the “But why?” questions.  Sometimes those questions actually make me feel anxious because I don’t know what causes my panic attacks, and I start to wonder what the hell is wrong with me.  I start to think that I must be crazy if I start freaking out for no discernible reason.  Maybe I am crazy.

Whether I’m crazy or not, the panic attacks still happen.  I can usually feel them coming on, but there isn’t really anything I can do to stop them.  I feel very uncomfortable right before my panic attacks.  My muscles tense up, and I start to feel restless.  I feel like if I sit still I will explode, so I keep moving.  Then I start to shake, just a little at first.  I start to feel dizzy, and I get tunnel vision.  I feel like I can only see the air right in front of me.  My surroundings, the faces of people around me, are all blurred.  My hearing gets fuzzy too.  It sounds like I am underwater, and I can only hear a little bit of what is going on above the surface.  My mind starts to travel from thought to thought, but none of the thoughts really make sense.

“I’m in danger.”

“I need to get out of here.”

“I need to escape.”

“Something bad is going to happen.”

“I’m going to explode.”

“I’m going to die.”

“Everyone I love is dead.”

“I’m going completely crazy.”

“GET OUT OF HERE!”

Sometimes I make it out of whatever situation I’m in, but not always.  Wherever I am, I start to shake even more.  I am having my full-blown panic attack now.  I start to hyperventilate.  I am breathing so fast, and my chest hurts.  My heart is racing.  I feel weak.  My breathing starts to slow down a little, but then it speeds right back up again.  I’m breathing even faster than before.  All of my energy is focused on my breathing as I try to slow it down.  I’m still having thoughts about how something awful is going to happen, but I try to rationalize my way through them.

“This is just a panic attack.  I’ve had them before.  This will not kill me.  I am in no real danger.”

But I still can’t focus, I still can’t stop shaking, and I can’t control my breathing.  Until, all of a sudden, my breathing starts to slow down.  Once I’m breathing at a regular pace again, my heart stops beating to fast.  My chest doesn’t hurt quite so much anymore.  My vision comes back into focus, and I can hear normally again.  The shaking doesn’t stop right away, though.  Neither do my thoughts of impending doom.  I don’t really believe that the panic attack is over.  It’s too good to be true.

I try to focus on the present, and my mind calms down a little.  I start to think more rationally, but I’m still shaking.  I still don’t feel like I’m capable of supporting myself, so that’s what I focus on.  I focus on sitting or standing up.  I focus on remaining upright until the shaking starts to slow down.  It can take a while.  It takes longer if I’m alone.  Once the shaking stops, it’s over.  I still feel a little weak, and I often make stupid decisions at this point in time.

I often to self-destructive things after a panic attack, like call someone I’m not supposed to call, self-harm, or isolate myself for a day or two.  Even though I went from 0 to 100 in just a couple of minutes, it takes a long time for me to get back down to 0.  It takes a long time to get back to even a 50.  The panic attack has gone away, but it hasn’t taken all of the panic with it.  I still worry that I’m going crazy, and I feel hopeless of ever getting better.  It can take a few days for me to feel back to normal again.  It’s kind of like a panic attack hangover.

Anyway, that’s what my panic attacks are like.  They’re probably similar to some people’s, but very different from others.  This is what I experience.  Sometimes it happens only once a month, but sometimes a few times a week.  It varies.  I hope this post helps people who have never experienced a panic attack before understand what it’s like, and I hope that it has made people who have had panic attacks feel a little less alone.

Where Am I Now?

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So, I’ve written about some of the challenges that come along with mental illness.  Today, I want to put a bit of a bright side on that.  I am doing really well in my recovery, and I want to share some of that with you.

Since leaving the hospital, I have been doing great!  My mood has improved so much that I can hardly believe it.  I feel happy.  Not just occasionally, but overall.  Before being hospitalized, I didn’t really know what that felt like.  I was starting to think that happiness was a myth that everyone strives for, but nobody could really achieve it.  I thought that the people who considered themselves happy were kidding themselves.  Now I know that’s not true.  I was wrong about that myth.  Happiness is real, and I am starting to feel it.

I have also been able to deal with my anxiety in more productive ways.  Before going into the hospital, I avoided situations that I thought would trigger panic attacks.  And honestly, I thought that was healthy.  I thought that it was better for me to avoid the situations that triggered my panic because if I wasn’t in those situations, I wouldn’t feel anxious.

In the hospital, I learned that avoidance behaviour is not healthy.  I know that should seem obvious.  I learned that by avoiding the situations that cause anxiety, I was actually making my panic disorder get worse.  When you don’t learn to deal with anxiety in stressful situations, your anxiety surrounding those situations will continue to worsen.  It’s kind of like the whole “get back up on the horse” thing.  If something scares you, the only way to overcome that fear is to face it.  I was actually able to go out to a bar with a lot of people on Thursday.

Actually, what was so great about Thursday was that I was feeling very anxious beforehand.  I was shaking, and I felt nauseated.  Although, the nausea could have had to do with the raw potato I ate for an eating contest.  It’s hard to say.  Anyway, I was terrified of going to this bar, but I did it anyway.  Not only did I go, but I had a really great time!  I ate some food, had a few drinks, and danced.  Whenever I felt anxious, I just told myself, “Nothing bad is going to happen.”

I’m also looking for ways to keep myself busy.  I have applied for a volunteer position at the local humane society, and I am also applying for a job at the library.  I don’t think it’s that likely that I will get the volunteer position because they are fully staffed, but I do think I have a pretty good shot at getting the job.  We’ll see.

Another thing that I’m doing on my own is trying to collect clothes for hospitals, women’s shelters, etc. in the area.  I haven’t totally figured out how it’s going to work yet.  I’ve just been in contact with the hospital I stayed in.  I’m planning on researching places in the area that may need clothes, and then I’ll make calls, find a venue for the clothing drive, and put all the details together.

I got the idea from my own stay in the hospital.  While I had family to bring me clothes, there were some patients who didn’t.  Some of the patients only had the clothes they were wearing when they were brought into the unit.  I decided to do something about it.  I’ll keep you guys posted with how this goes.

In summary, I am doing really well.  However, things aren’t perfect.  It would be unrealistic to expect perfection.  I still have trouble motivating myself to get out of bed some mornings.  I still feel anxious in loud groups of people.  I still occasionally dwell on things that happened a long, long time ago.  What I have learned, though, is that happiness is not about everything being good.  Happiness is about taking the bad with the good.

I know this post wasn’t very exciting, but I just wanted to share a little bit of the positive that has been going on in my life.  I find myself smiling when there isn’t really much to smile about.  I’m just happy, and I wanted to share that.  🙂

The Failings of the Canadian Healthcare System

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I want to start by saying that I think the Canada’s healthcare system is a pretty good one, for the most part.  However, my experience with depression and anxiety has made me lose a little bit of faith in this system.  I was crying out for help, but I didn’t get it.  This post is a chance for me to share what I went through in hopes that just maybe it can help to make a change.

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 14.  I don’t really remember a time where I was happy, but I thought that was normal until I took middle school health classes.  In those classes, we learned about mental illnesses.  That’s when I started to think that maybe something was wrong.  After learning about some of these illnesses, my friend told me that she had bipolar.  This age is also when I started to self-harm by cutting.

In August, right before starting high school, I was lying in bed crying.  I wasn’t crying about anything in particular.  I was just miserable, and I didn’t know why.  Lying there, I decided that I was fed up with this.  I was going to something about this.  This was around the time where the Bell Kid’s Help Phone ads where everywhere.  I remembered seeing the number on one of the cereal boxes that we had in our kitchen, so I went downstairs and called them.  The number was temporarily unavailable.  I was determined to get help, so I went to the phone book and found a Youth Help Line for the area.  I called the number.

After talking to the woman on the phone, my mom walked into the living room where I had been talking.  I guess I had woken her up.  I was crying, so she asked what was wrong.  I told her everything, and I said that I wanted to make a doctor’s appointment to address my issues.  She hugged me, and told me that she would make the appointment so I wouldn’t have to worry about it.

When I met with my doctor, he was hesitant to put me on anti-depressants because I was so young, but he prescribed me Cipralex.  I hated Cipralex.  I didn’t even notice whether or not my mood was improving or worsening because I was so distracted by the terrible headaches I was getting.  At the time, I had never had a hangover.  Now that I’ve had one, I can tell you that the headache that comes with a hangover was nothing compared to these headaches.  These headaches were so bad that I would start to cry because the pain was so bad, but the crying made the headaches worse.

When I told my doctor about the headaches I was having, he told me that was a normal side effect and that I should just keep taking the pills.  I told him that I couldn’t.  That is when I started my very long journey to find the right medication.  Finding the right antidepressant can be a difficult journey.  The meds take a few weeks to start working, so you have to wait to see if they work for you.  Then, if they don’t, you spend a few weeks on another medication.  As you’ve probably figured out, it can take a long time to find the right one.  Eventually, I found Cymbalta.  Cymbalta wasn’t perfect, but it had worked better than any other medication I had been on.  Plus, my doctor had warned me that we were running out of options for medication, so I went with it.

I was also starting therapy, but not for the first time.  I saw my first therapist when I was 8 years old, but I lived in France at the time.  I didn’t speak French well enough to see a therapist on my own, so my mom came to translate.  I was seeing my second therapist, this time in English, when I was 9.  Our family’s insurance only covered 10 therapy sessions a year.  So, basically, I could see a therapist for a while every year, but not continuously.  This meant that I was in and out of therapy quite a bit, but I could never go long enough to really make a difference in my mental health.

Meanwhile, I started to have panic attacks in grade 9, when I was 15.  At this point, they didn’t happen that often, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.  They started to get a lot worse and happened more frequently in grade 12, then even worse and even more frequent in university.  You can read more about my panic attacks here, if you feel so inclined.  It wasn’t until university that I was given medication for my anxiety.  I was prescribed Lorazepam, or Ativan, to take as needed.

I was very hopeful that university would be the place I finally got help because Student Counselling Services was paid for in your tuition, which meant that I could go to therapy for more than ten sessions.  I was also looking forward to possibly getting better healthcare with Student Health Services, which was also covered in my tuition.  I hadn’t really liked either of my family doctors from the past very much.  My doctors never met with me about my medications, and they didn’t really ask me about how the meds were working.  They just prescribed away.  Unfortunately, the university services disappointed me.

My journey with Student Health Services started at the hospital.   I had been sitting on the floor in my room with all the pills I had in my room in front of me and a bottle gin.  I was planning on swallowing all the pills and chugging the gin afterwards.  I wanted to die,  but I kind of didn’t.  I really just wanted to escape from my depression and anxiety.  Instead, I went to the hospital.  I told them that I was afraid that if I didn’t get the help I needed, that I would end my life.  They sent me home, but they faxed Student Health Services and Student Counselling Services to make sure that I would have appointments with them.

Since Student Health Services was so busy, and it took so long to get an appointment with a doctor, I had my appointment with an intern who was only at the school for a few weeks.  She was amazing.  She wanted to know exactly what was going on with me to make sure that she gave me the right kind of treatment.  She didn’t just say, “Oh, your depressed,” and pick up her prescription pad.  She had scheduled me for a half-hour appointment right before her lunch break.  She told me that if the appointment carried on into her lunch, that was fine.  She also scheduled me for a follow-up appointment the week after to check up on me.  But then her internship ended, and I felt lost in the crowd again.

When I went to Student Counselling services, I was set up to meet with a counsellor every other week.  However, my appointments were always cancelled, or pushed back a week or two.  In a three month period, I had met with a counsellor twice.  After this, my mom took it upon herself to pay $90 and hour for me to see a therapist outside of the school once a week.  This therapist was actually very helpful.  I was starting to feel less alone, and I was recognizing that I had been emotionally abused.  I was starting to see that I was worth a lot more than I thought I was.  Although my self-esteem was improving, my mood was not.

At this point, I had given up.  And that’s when I tried to kill myself.  It’s also when I started to get help.

Before explaining what I went through after I made my suicide attempt, I just want to say one thing.  The lack of treatment I received was most definitely one of the major reasons that I attempted suicide, but it wasn’t the only one.  There was a lot more going on.

After spending a few days in the ICU of the general hospital, I was checked into a full-lockdown unit in the psychiatric hospital across the street.  This unit was terrifying.  The blinds on my window were behind bulletproof glass.  You had to get one of the nurses to open them for you, but mine were broken.  I didn’t see sunlight for four days.  But I did see a psychiatrist.  I was informed that Cipralex and Ativan should not be prescribed to anyone under 24 because they can cause suicidal thoughts in people under that age.  I was put on Prozac for depression, Trazodone for sleeping, and Seroquel as needed for anxiety.  I also learned that the panic attacks I was experiencing were due to a panic disorder.

The psychiatric hospital was great, and I received wonderful treatment.  I was lucky.  I was in one of the best psychiatric hospitals in the country, by coincidence.  I just happened to have been in the city that had this hospital.

There were two things that bothered me about this.  The first was that I had to do such an extreme thing to get the treatment I needed.  I had told healthcare professionals how serious my illness was getting, but I hadn’t gotten much help until I had tried to end my life.  Is that the way it is with everything?  What about the people who succeeded in committing suicide?  Had they had a chance to get the right treatment?  I was especially bothered by this because the nurse who admitted me didn’t believe me that I had asked for help.

“Did you ask specifically?” she asked.

“Yes.  I told the people at the hospital that I was worried I would kill myself if I didn’t get help.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”  I was beginning to feel like I had absolutely no credibility as a mental patient.

The second thing that bothered me was how lucky I had been to have gotten into this hospital.  I had heard stories from other patients about how terrible other places were.  The hospital I was in was a private hospital.  If it was the hospital in your area and your insurance didn’t cover it, OHIP would pay for it.  However, if you weren’t from the area and couldn’t afford to stay there, you would end up somewhere a lot worse.

I sometimes wish that I could have taken a different path to where I am now, but my determinism to make a change might not be as strong.  I want to make a difference.  I want to change the way mental health is seen in society.  I want to change how mental health is treated.  This blog is my first step to try to make this change.