Hope & Gratitude: what I Learned from Five Days in a Mental Health Unit

Updated: Nov 20, 2019


- noun 1. a feeling of expectation or desire for a certain thing to happen

- verb 2. a feeling of trust

Just four letters, but so much meaning. Hope came to me last week, and I knew I had to write about it. About a month ago I started feeling severely anxious, having frequent panic attacks, and feeling suicidal. Two weeks ago, I was particularly bad: in severe pain, severely anxious, depressed, panicky, and thought I was going to commit suicide if I didn't get help.

Thankfully I had the presence of mind to call my therapist. As I raced out the door to go to his office, I left my phone, didn't tell my parents or Chris where I was going. I just had to get there. I don't even remember how I got to his office. . .

I don't remember much, but I do remember Chris and my parents showing up to help and support me. I am so thankful for them and my wonderful therapist.

A week later, I was extremely anxious and couldn't take that feeling anymore, so I took some meds, then the migraine flared up, so I took more meds, too many. I told my parents and Chris, and we went to the ER. I just kept thinking and saying that I didn't want to die, I just wanted to feel better.

I was admitted to the mental health unit. They strip searched me, took away all of my possessions and put me in a room with a bed in the center of the room, bolted to the floor. I only got through that first day by sleeping and going to group sessions.

The next day I was thankfully moved to a less secure mental health unit. I was allowed to have some of my things: books and some clothes to wear. The days consisted of multiple group sessions, eating meals with the other patients, my parents or Chris coming during the visiting hour, and sleep.

The psychiatrist changed my medication, gave me something for the anxiety, and upped my antidepressant. And after just two days, anxiety and panic attacks went away. Still, the psychiatrist wanted me to stay five days. Those were the slowest and hardest five days of my life.

I was happy that the anxiety went away, but the migraine did not. I was an extremely bright, fluorescent lit unit. It was also extremely loud. Everything echoed, and every time someone came in or out of the unit, there was an obnoxious loud beeping sound. Nothing they gave me for the migraine even touched it. Relief only came when I slept. So I distracted myself with reading, group and sleep when I could.

I didn't participate much until the second to last day. I could finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. I had hope. I had a purpose. I finally figured out that there must be a reason for being there. I learned new coping skills, and that I was not alone in having mental illness.

I learned to be grateful for what I was allowed to have in the psych unit including a roommate to talk to, but most of all my parents and Chris coming to visit me every evening.

I began to think of all that I am grateful for at home: a family who loves me, my sweet Chris who kept saying, "I'm not going anywhere babe, I love you", my sweet dog, Ruby Rose, a comfortable place to live, the opportunity to make a living working from home, a wonderful business coach, and my Insta friends who I feel so close to, even though we haven't met in person. And a God who tests my strength and teaches me humility, but walks with me every step of the way.

Hope got me through, and gratitude gave me purpose. I want to thank all of you who have helped me along the way. I am truly blessed to have y'all in my life.

Have you had a similar experience? Please share what you can. Break the stigma on mental health. What gives you hope? What are you hopeful for? What are you grateful for?

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