A Journey from Victim to Survivor…to Living Freely

One of the Best Decisions…

on January 18, 2014

I choose to live.  I chose to swallow my pride.  I chose to accept help.  I chose to enter an inpatient mental health hospital.


So, that is where I have spent the last 4 days.  I am not sure where to begin on the stories to share…because there are so many.  A surprise is that I haven’t laughed that much in a long time.  To be spending time with others who struggle, there is laughter.  Not in a ‘misery loves company’ kind of way, but in an “I understand you–You understand me” kind of way.  So, we could joke about being ‘crazy’…about earning our shoes back…about the excitement that comes from getting your belt returned…about the daily schedule being like one on a cruise ship (minus the sea air, ocean, casino and dolphins)…


And with that, “We understand each other”, there were also hugs and tears and sharing the deep, dark secrets of our lives that will never be Facebook status updates.  The sharing took place in a safe environment–with trust and without judgement.  I met some of the most wonderful people….people I hope to stay in touch with ‘on the outside’.


It was a shock and an eye-opening experience to go.  It was never something I thought I’d do or a place I’d be.  As my pastor and one of the nurses pointed out–the line between “us and them” is a very thin one…one that is a bit blurry.  And, that reminds me of the 32 year old teacher who was married and the mom of 2…who had earned her master’s degree with honors….who was quite successful and always stood tall–with her shoulders back.  That 32 year old became a 33 year old brain surgery survivor….times two…her marriage was abusive….when she chose to end her marriage and begin dating, she was raped…the rape brought about the eating disorder she’d fought to suppress.  Her anxiety and depression increased and she began to burn her arms…then to cut as the flashbacks overwhelmed her and threatened to take her under…if that wasn’t enough, the flashbacks shifted and nightmares didn’t make sense….who was this 4 year old girl with the bowl-cut hair who looked so similar to my very own daughter and was being sexually abused and beaten….Yes, this shift from ‘her’ to ‘my’ is intentional…because, it’s all me.  The line is thin and blurry indeed.


Inpatient gave me a medication shift….and time with nurses, PCA’s and a therapist…each day I was there.  It gave me psychotherapy groups and art therapy.  It would’ve given me music therapy, too, but that was the first night…and I was a ball of hysterical tears after being thrown into flashes and then a panic attack after another patient yelled and it startled me.  I didn’t cry in my bed.  I got out and asked for help…and I received it.  Inpatient gave me support and encouragement.  Inpatient allowed me to focus on my healing and not preparing meals or making coffee or parenting or grocery shopping or pet care or balancing the checkbook.  Yes, I missed my children terribly (they were with their dad) AND I knew they were being taken care of.  I could focus on healing.  I prayed daily that I would accept this gift of treatment.  That I would be open to the programs and learn all I could.  And, I hope I did.


I am home and feel that taking a deep breath isn’t nearly so difficult.  I find myself gauging my anxiety on the 10-point scale.  I find myself remembering to use skills when I am at a 5 or higher and thinking “What can I do? Who can I call? Where can I go?” when anxiety is reaching that 8, 9, 10.  In knowing I will not have the kids today (it’s a dad weekend) and knowing that is a trigger, I have planned my day.  In planning, however, I was getting more and more anxious….breathing wasn’t helping much and I was so scared that I was going to slip, fall and not get back up.  So, I called the treatment facility and talked to someone…she helped me through my plans and through the gaps that were scaring me (and through ‘seeing friends’ which was also scaring me!).  She suggested contacting some supports to have them check in with me today.  I felt so silly to call and so relieved when I hung up.  And, I texted 3 friends to let them know that I would have some ‘idle’ time today and I was trying to be proactive.  All 3 texted back that they will text or call today to check in with me.  No one said I was a bother or a failure.  It was the opposite action of the isolating I’ve been doing the last 6-8 weeks and, I am okay.  It is okay to reach out.


I may actually be getting a handle on this healing thing.


Much love to all…all who are struggling and all who are doing well.  We can do this!!!


5 responses to “One of the Best Decisions…

  1. so so so inspiring. it is beyond helpful to hear that you have struggled and found strength even after hitting bottom. And to hear you finding the ability to care for yourself, to be proactive before you hit the floor again… just amazing. proud of you.

    • Thank you….I swallowed my pride…and was truly humble…Getting there took me being too risky (that will be another post) and dying is not what I want. It was rock bottom. So, so, so very low. And I got back up. I deserve to live freely…

  2. melluann says:

    It is so refreshing to read posts that encourage reaching out and seeking help when you need it. 🙂 thank you for sharing this!

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