What No One Told Me About Leaving the Hospital After a Suicide Attempt


I didn’t expect it to be difficult. I told my husband I wanted to get back to work the day after getting out. Luckily, he convinced me not to.

My doctor told me, “You have to remember – you just attempted suicide.”

After my husband found me on our bedroom floor, having overdosed on my medication, he took me to the ER, where I signed myself into a behavioral facility.

“I’m terrified by how calm I am,” I wrote in a journal my first day there. After the trauma of doing it, talking about it, talking about it some more, being examined and being alive when I didn’t want to be, I was calm. I didn’t know if I wanted to be there, but something in me knew it was good I was.

Realizing I’d always had the tools to accept and manage my depression and anxiety and that I needed the time and space to practice them was the most freeing part of my attempt.

While in the hospital, I had the time to not only list the coping exercises I’d learned over the years but was given opportunities to practice them. I felt myself transform into this mindful, pleasant and healing being.

But no one tells you about the healing you have to do once you get out.

I’d spent so much time planning my return – getting my hair and nails done, celebrating my return to life with a new look – that I didn’t consider how it’d affect my day-to-day. It wasn’t like I could say to the hairdresser, “Sorry my hair is so gross. I’ve been washing it with hand soap in a mental hospital for the past week.” Or bring up in passing conversation, “That reminds me of this funny thing that happened while I was recovering from a suicide attempt.”

I was a mess. While I didn’t cry once in my eight-day stay at the behavioral facility, it was only a matter of hours before I was overwhelmed and fighting hyperventilation. I wanted everything to return to the way it was, but a chunk of time was missing from my life, and I needed to cope with that.

Returning to work was tough. My co-workers didn’t know why I’d been gone for two weeks. They just knew they’d had to take on my workload. I didn’t tell them why I’d disappeared but thanked them for picking up the slack and that I appreciated them. My paycheck suffered and sent me into a near-episode. I had to forbear my loans to get gas in my car to go to work.

The one thing that’s kept me grounded and positive is my husband – the life I was willing to leave behind. I grieved I ever thought to abandon such an amazing partner, who’d been supportive, selfless and reassuring while I was away and is my cheerleader in everything else. He understands that, sometimes, you just need a hug and a good cry.

It’s taken a couple weeks, but I’ve been learning to implement the practices I adopted in the hospital. It’s about making time, practicing self-care, being self-aware and being honest with yourself and others.

You can’t get help until you ask for it. So, please, ask for it. You’re important. You matter. You deserve it.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Thinkstock photo by jim doberman


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