Updated: Jan 9
There were a lot of ways I imagined kicking off the new year, but being institutionalized was not on that list.
Is institutionalized even a term that’s used anymore? Involuntary in-patient therapy. That's the new, gentle term they used. Anyway, that is probably being dramatic as I was only there for two and a half days, so I guess not long enough to consider myself properly institutionalized.
Still, I was locked up in the crazy house, the nervous hospital, the psych ward.
I suppose that’s pretty insensitive. Is it okay because I’m talking about myself? I have to be pretty glib about the experience, otherwise I can only cry about it.
I guess to figure out how I ended up here, I have to walk it back several paces.
As I mentioned before, I have a history of chronic major depression (with suicide ideation), self-harm, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD. As far as I can tell, I've had major depression and anxiety since I was a child. My brain, according to the docs, is genetically predisposed to these things.
I have no shame about my mental health issues. There are extremely few people walking around in this great big world that isn’t fucked up in some way. We are all broken. It’s a standard clause of the human condition. Some people just break more dramatically than others.
A little over three years ago, I broke pretty dramatically. A severe back injury put my roller derby career suddenly on hold (and derby was a huge source of my identity) and I began to gain weight that I had worked relentlessly to lose. My world crumbled. My marriage was sliding into its final moments. I became suicidal.
So I sought help.
And help came. In the form of a charming and attentive therapist. And for three years we worked together to get my life back on track. He was my knight in shining armor.
Let’s kick it to 2021. You’d think that 2020, the year of the great pandemic with its lock-downs and my separation from my husband and living alone (and I’m near isolation for a while) for the first time would have been the worst year of my life. Amazingly, it wasn’t even close.
2021 was the year of half-ways. We returned to work, but wearing masks and social distancing (and I learned that I no longer can tolerate a regular 9-5 after working remotely for a year). Roller derby started back in tiny pods and half a track to skate on, only teasing a return to normal. I had thrown myself into so many projects that I was slowly failing at all of them. I started dating and experienced a new kind of heartache.
Mostly, I filled my time until there wasn’t a moment’s rest because I had not healed the root issues that caused me pain. I had formed a friendship with my therapist and fell hard for him. I hit a wall of burnout and could no longer keep up with my work, writing, grad school and nonstop social engagements. Depression slipped right back in on me without me even noticing. Or at least without me willing to admit it.
As my life started to unravel around me, I became more and more frantic. In an attempt to distract myself from my charming therapist, I fell for the charming wrestler. I fell hard and fast and was completely twitterpated and didn’t have to think about anything but him for a while.
Then my classes slipped. I missed writing deadlines. My divorce papers arrived. My charming wrestler ghosted me (well after the time limits of ghosting was acceptable, by the way).
I broke open.
My sadness and anxiety overwhelmed me in a way that it hadn’t in years. Self harm was constantly on my mind. Suicide once again seemed like the rational choice.
I am here today writing this post because of two reasons and two reasons only. One is that I somehow, in my darkest hours, hold the absolute tiniest fucking spark of fight. The most minuscule belief that my life can be better. The second, and more important of the two, is that I have friends of epic super hero proportions. I cannot express how important connections are when you are suicidally depressed. I truly believe people finally give up, they lose their tiny little spark of fight, when they feel completely alone. I have never felt alone.
So I reached out to my friends. An honest moment of “I want to hurt myself, I want to die” landed me in the ER. Fairly so. I meant what I said and I had the plans and means to do it. This is a sad reality for someone that lives with chronic depression. Like alcoholism, it can be managed but never “cured”. The darkest parts of me always exist and it always plans for the worst with the ultimate escape route.
From the ER, it was determined that I should go to “in-patient treatment”. Involuntarily.
I have so much to share on that experience later. It was the worst experience of my life. I managed to find small rays of hope in it, though. And I’m truly hoping it was the rock bottom from which I will build the foundation of the rest of my life upon.
Tonight is odd. I’m back home, and happy to be. The accommodations in the ward were less than desirable. The food alone was bad enough to make me want to off myself.
Tonight I’m scared and sad and immensely overwhelmed with the prospect of fixing my life. I’ve read the days after being released from in-patient treatment are actually the ones where someone is at highest risk for suicide. I get it. It’s scary and now everyone expects you to get your shit together.
I’m heartbroken. I miss my therapist and I miss my wrestler. But at the end of the day, I know it’s because I don’t value myself. I have to fix my heart wound, which has always been my deep lack of self-love. I have to find myself.
I looked at my previous post. It was written in a drunken, manic state of anxiety and depression. A hopeful “dramatic change will fix my life.” But honestly, a lot of the ideas are good ones. I do need dramatic change and I’m not afraid to make them.
But I have to remember the foundation to all of this is learning to love myself and respect myself enough to put my happiness in my own hands. My goal for 2022 is to figure out how to be Kitty O’Doom full time, and being Kitty starts with trusting Kitty.
Tonight, I write this from the bathtub, sipping wine (a poor choice, really, considering the amount of meds they have me on now). I did manage to accomplish getting a new (woman) therapist today. Maybe I will share that saga soon as well. I had to fight like hell through the system to accomplish this one small feat.
Tomorrow I will pick one new small task and tackle it. If I look at big picture stuff, I can’t even breathe. But maybe one tiny baby step at a time, I can slowly write the next chapter of my life as one I can be proud of.
As for my unplanned time in in-patient therapy; here’s to one massive step forward toward becoming the Kitty I wish to be.