Share a personal experience where you learned something about mental health. This could be a time when your mind was changed, when you realized something important, or when you learned something useful
I was diagnosed with Type 1 Bipolar with psychosis 4 years ago. At that time, I didn't know what mental health was, how it affected people I loved, or how big the problem was as a whole. Only when my life hit a complete standstill did I begin to appreciate the magnitude of the issue. It's hard to pick a point to begin telling this story, so I'm sorry in advance if I jump around.
I'll start with my introduction into the mental health world. It was sometime in October 2016 - six months after a pretty serious concussion and two months since I quit my job. I had just come home after maxing out three credit cards, a line of credit, and my chequing account - all in one weekend. I was excited to share this news with my family. I bought one homeless man an iPhone 7, another a Surface Pro 4, and I just finished handing $100 bills to strangers.
Truth is, I've been acting this way for the better part of a month now. I wasn't sleeping. I was constantly paranoid, overflowing with energy, and very opinionated. I wasn't fun to be around; for any period of time. My family had enough after a few weeks… it was time for the hospital. I agreed to go on the conditions that I didn't have any forms signed and I didn'thave to take any pills.
Something was off with me. Everyone knew it. Personally, by that point, I was convinced I had high functioning autism. I related to a lot of what I was reading on the subject, and I wanted to speak to a doctor about it; so I agreed to go with my family. My family, on the other hand, wanted me to go to the hospital for completely different reasons. This is where things get interesting.
Fast forward to me in the hospital. It's just me in the room with the ER doctor. My family is nearby. I look disheveled. The doctor asks "what brings you in today?". I begin to explain that I believe I had Asperger's and I wanted to know what the process looked like to get tested. I was convinced that if it wasn't Asperger's, it was high-functioning autism (or a better term, well-representing on the scale). Either way, the ER doctor cuts me off with "I don't think you are what you believe you are, I think you're schizophrenic." She signs a clipboard in her hand. This moment was my introduction into the mental health world.
I was taken back by her prognosis, and the little I knew about schizophrenia was enough for me to know this news was bad. I ask "wait, what.. What did you just sign?" She dismisses my question with "Don't worry, I have to take your blood now". I refuse my arm, after which she immediately calls security. A security guard enters the room. The doctor explains that I'm not complying and I refute that I just wanted to know what she signed. The guard took the paper from the doctor and handed it to me.
The form was titled form 3/10/40. It explained that, for at least 72 hours, I am confined to the walls of this hospital and cannot leave until a psychiatrist deems me safe for both society and myself. My basic rights were just signed away. The last line of the form, right before the ER doctor's signature, read "This patient has the right to consult a lawyer without delay".
I look up from the form into the eyes of the doctor and say "I want to see a lawyer". The doctor responds "It doesn't work like that, we have to take your blood now.", in which I respond "No. The form says without delay. No one is touching me until I see a lawyer. Or just let me leave". This frustrated the busy emergency doctor. Leaving wasn't an option, and I guess lawyers weren't on standby in emergency rooms. Two nurses and five more security guards were called into the room.
I found myself in an emergency room surrounded by 9 people. They spent a couple minutes reasoning with me trying to get me to give a blood sample. I kept insisting I wanted to see a lawyer, and at this point it was all my family heard me scream from outside the room. At one point, I began a sentence with "If you touch m-". That is when the security guards grabbed me by each limb, threw me on the bed, and the nurses restrained my limbs. I was then injected with a sedative, I promptly fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning in a bright white room. I try and rub my eyes but the restraints pull against the rail. I'm still handcuffed to a bed. I see a red button near my hand on the wall. I press it and wait. A nurse walks in, removes my restraints, turns on the light. She steps out, shuts the door, and locks the door as she leaves the room. I still didn't know where I was.
I walked into a hospital in an elevated frantic state hoping to find help. Instead of help, I get locked in a room. This is likely most angry I recall being, ever. I didn't know what to do with what I was feeling. I had lashed out on walls in my past, I wanted to ruin every perfect white wall in that room. But doing that would justify my presence here. So instead I picked up an empty book and with a trembling hand, started writing.
You are on a new journey. A journey of Love. Peace. Purity. Humility. Happiness. Emptiness with a touch of life. You are onto something. You believe, with/without recognition, you still believe. I love the world. I love people. I love my family. I love myself. Well… I Try :) I appreciate peoples experiences. Their words filled with wisdom, if only people would listen. Each human is consumed with their own pain, happ(i/y)ness, dreams, families, and love. All of these feelings/hopes/ideas are communicated through ones thoughts. We have 2 ears and 1 mouth. Listen 3 times before you speak. Once through emotion (right) then through logic (left) then through both (centered). Only after, will you have thought through a well informed and articulated sentence, question, argument or point. The problem is we have to many thoughts. You are meant to have just one thought at a time. The rest of the voices in your head are just that, other voices, They are literally the voices that you've internalized through years of being lectured to through other humans. Who by-the way are suffering from the exact same bombardment of voices within their own minds. The one thought in your head that is true to you has been gifted to you. However, it has also been silenced by societal standards. You become afraid to voice your opinion, especially in a public setting. If you share your voice, you risk getting hurt, as you are vulnerable when your voice is heard. The trick is to have the right people/energies surrounding you so that when you project your voice outwards, the positive frequencies you are sending out can resonate with whatever energy is present.
Now this is all fine and dandy, but what does "positive" energy even mean? High or low frequency? Most people assume + energy involves high frequencies, while negative energy reflects lower frequencies. I believe it's the exact opposite. I believe positive energy involves very low, basy, deep frequencies. Higher frequencies create too much chaos in the world. Too much entropy. That is not peaceful, that is overwhelming. Actually, a better way to describe it is that the world is overwhelmingly silent. No one has the groundedness to speak out against chaos. It will instantly overwhelm the individual. "Be the change you want to see in the world" Ghandi. There's 10 words in the BEAUTIFUL quote. Would you like to make it even more powerful? Take away the useless words. To me, it simplifies to just 3 words.
"Be the world." Hadi
What you just read, is an excerpt from the first page of my journal. The time I was writing this was arguably the angriest point in my life but, rather than spitting venom at the page, I somehow floated in the negative space between the lines. This is when I discovered the true super power of the un-interrupted thought. Writing down a thought was a great medium to articulate it without having that thought get interrupted. This was a huge turning point for me. I had unknowingly discovered the first tool I still, to this day, use in my mental health toolbox.
I realized that by writing down my thoughts, I was able to see through that thought to completion. I discovered that the punch line was what people liked to hear, but weren't in the mental space to hear the long winded joke. Needless to say, I was still confined to the walls of this hospital, and I still didn't know where the hell I was.
I have been stuck writing the next paragraph for weeks now. Although my stay was mandatory for 72 hours , my stay as an involuntary inpatient at this hospital lasted 10 days. I had to take a mood stabilizer, lithium carbonate, morning and night, and an antipsychotic at night to help me sleep. I felt sluggish. I was getting hourly migraines from the dehydration caused by the salt. Despite this, I continued to take Lithium Carbonate for the first three days. What was unique about my situation, however, was that I had the opportunity to read Form 3 before I was apprehended. I thought I "knew" that the ER doctor's signature was null after 72 hours. Boy was I wrong. Well kinda.
My treatment plan started with medication, safety checks, psychiatric assessments, and the occasional arts & crafts workshop. There was a strong, stark contrast between how I, as an inpatient, was being treated and how the 'healthier' general public was being treated. I was constantly under surveillance. I was expected to answer the same set of 5 questions to different nurse every 4 hours. The questions had one common thread, they were all close ended. Do you have racing/suicidal thoughts? Are you thinking of harming yourself/others? What's your mood from 1-10? Not one nurse thought to ask an open ended question like "How are you feeling right now?". I rarely had a chance to say anything that amounted to more than 3 syllables. I felt sub-human in this place.
I did my fare share to make the nurses' job hard. A power struggle grew between me and them. I was willing to cooperate but the nurses expected me to do nothing but comply. After three days, the nurses said I had earned privileges. I was able to wear my own clothes and was given 2 daily smoke breaks. What I didn't know at that time was that the term "privileges" was just an omissive substitute to saying "we can no longer keep you here against your will".
I was able to speak to a psychiatrist after 72 hours. The meet consisted of (1) the psychiatrist educating me on the importance of medications for my recovery, and (2) the psychiatrist evaluating my mental health by asking controlled questions that I had to answer. I remember using this opportunity to beg the psychiatrist to let me leave. He simply noted any manic behavior he observed. I was promptly told that I needed more time to recover and must continue my treatment plan. I could not leave. My feelings or insights about my own recovery were not taken into consideration. I was too manic.
Although I see now, from the doctors perspective, that they likely had my best interest at heart, at that time, I became furious . The psychiatrist's answer did not sit well with me. I did not feel heard. This place was hurting my mental health, yet I was imprisoned within it's walls. I stopped taking pills. I figured, I didn't have much to lose at this point. I would hide the pills beneath my tongue and spit them out later. That worked until it didn’t. When I got caught, nurses were threatening that things will for sure get worse for me if I don't continue my treatment. I kept refusing the pills. I requested cognitive behavioral therapy instead. Instead I was threatened that I was to be moved to the 7th floor if I didn’t take my pills. I was on the fifth.
On my next smoke break, I went in search for the floor directory. I found it in the lobby. The 7th floor read "Acute Assessment Treatment Unit". The fifth floor read "Involuntary Inpatient Psychiatric Unit". In my haste however, I misread the floor I was on as "Involuntary Impatient Psychiatric Unit". This mistake changed my life.
Up until this moment, I had not known why I was in the hospital. I felt confused and betrayed. I believed I was being a force of good. I thought that the only right thing to do was to save the world, right now. Everyone I loved seemed to hate me for it, and I, in turn, accused them of being negative. All I knew was that I wanted to make the world a better place, right now.
Misreading the word "inpatient" with "impatient" somehow made everything crystal clear. Like seeing the image after all the puzzle pieces easily fell into place. In an instant, it all made sense to me… I was in this hospital as an in-patient, because I was acting impatient. I found what I was looking for.
I felt empowered with this new knowledge. I went back to my room, and spent the next two nights anticipating my next psychiatrist assessment. "This time", I thought to myself, "I am going to let the doctor speak. I am not allowed to interrupt."
On the fifth day, I get to see the same psychiatrist. The meeting starts with them expressing concern for my health and recovery, and that I needed to start taking my pills again. This time, I listen patiently. Once they finished, I sat in silence for a couple more seconds, then asked "Can I please leave now?". The psychiatrist surprised, responds "No, you aren't at all listening to me". Then proceeds to explain why I need to get back on my treatment. I let him finish. I ask "Thank you, I understand.. can I please leave now?".
Again, the psychiatrist says no. At this point, he understood what my plan was. The conversation quickly turned into a linguistic chess match with my life constantly being checked. The doctor, after saying no to me the three times, eventually stood up. I lost my cool. Him standing up in that instance triggered me into begging to leave all over again. The psychiatrist noted my behavior on his clipboard and left the room.
I wait another 2 days. This time I came better prepared. We played a new mental chess match. The difference this time, is that I expected the psychiatrist to get creative with trying to trigger me. So I came in with a better game plan. "No matter what" I thought, "I was not to be triggered". The 10th day; it worked. Well, kinda. It really depends on how you define success. For me, I was able to leave the hospital with an official diagnosis of Hypermania (Bipolar I) with Psychosis. I left involuntarily, against the advise of the psychiatrist, without medications. I felt triumphant and spiteful. What I didn't have the foresight to see at the time was that I was a ticking time bomb. I heard it over and over, but it was rarely real. Without a support system set in place, I was surely to get myself in all sorts of trouble, with nothing beside my mind to blame.
I've learned I need to be careful what I wish for. If I wish hard enough, it may come to fruition. I can't have fear leading my sled. Something deeper, more powerful, needs to be the Rudolph of my sleigh. Perhaps One love? Peace? Harmony? Balance? Anything other than fear. Fear leads to frightful decisions that not only impact the people in the room, but also affect every human that cares about anyone in said room. The most animated silent person in the room sets the mood of that room. How one animates their silence expresses their their contrast between their character and personality. If character is who you are in the dark, than the silence that follows it is the eye of the storm through the human mind.
It can be a vicious cycle. Without understanding my own cycles, patterns, moods that lead to my own behaviors, or lack their-of, I will be forever be one step behind, or two steps ahead. Does it matter? If you are off tempo, in either direction, you are disrupting the natural frequency of the room around you. Other people's paradigm shouldn't be shattered because your perspective points in an individual direction. It’s not unique as it is individual. Every individual is unique in that perspective. If one simply focuses on their own peace of mind, rather than chasing desires with instant gratification fueling their decisions, the dance through life can be lived gracefully.