“Mom, I’m scared.” I say, as my voice cracks.
“You’ll be okay,” she whispers, her hands clasped around mine. “You’ll be okay.”
Just like that she let go and I’m wheeled into the psychiatric unit. The doors make a loud buzzing noise as they clamp shut. I hear them lock behind me simultaneously as a lump of irrational abandonment settles in my stomach. I find myself immediately on the verge of throwing up and I feel my whole body shivering. Why do hospitals always have to be so damn cold?
“Um…I, uh…” I clench my fists to try and stop them from trembling. “Suicidal ideation,” I say softly.
“Sorry, can you speak up a little?”
I clear my parched throat. “Suicidal ideation,” I reply loudly through clenched teeth. He types it in my chart on the computer. There—can I go to my room and sleep now? I haven’t slept in days. Sleep now felt like a long lost friend who decided they no longer wanted anything to do with me.
“How would you do it?” He asks, staring at me blankly.
Is that really a necessary question? I think to myself. I already told the crisis worker and the nurses downstairs. Why does that matter now, anyway? I’m here, aren’t I? Reaching for help? You don’t need to hear all the gory details of my mind. Isn’t asking for help enough? Of course not. Nothing I do is ever enough.
This was my mentality a year and two days ago. A year ago today, visiting hours at the hospital would just be wrapping up and the nurses would be getting everyone’s dinner trays ready. I’d be in my hospital room laying on the thin plastic mattress trying to drown out my surroundings and my worried mind by counting the tiles on the ceiling anxiously waiting for my nurse to call me to dinner.
I learned that I can take my power back. It was in my hands the whole time. I just didn’t know how to use it. I got sick of feeling taken advantage of, walked all over, not feeling enough. I had had enough! I learned that putting my own needs first sometimes wasn’t selfish at all. I was learning to love myself. I am determined to not let that inner critic win. I’ve come too damn far and I will not let anything hinder my growth again.
Suicidal feelings are terrifying. If you know someone who says they’re feeling suicidal, please take them seriously. Listen to them. Don’t offer solutions unless they ask for them. Just listen. It may anger you to hear of these feelings they may be experiencing because you love them. Try to put yourselves in their shoes without any judgment. Hold their hand and let them know they are loved. That they are worthy of that love and that they are working so hard and that you’re proud of how far they’ve come. Get as many details from them about their suicidal thoughts as you can. Sometimes suicidal thinking can be fleeting and eventually pass. Knowing if they have specific plans on how they want to end their life can indicate how serious your loved one is hurting and if it’s likely to progress from planning to an attempt.