How Kesha’s Song 'Praying' Is Helping Me Heal From Past Abuse

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

In the spring of 2014, I went off the medication I had been taking for depression and anxiety. I was having some paranoia around being prescribed certain medications in the first place, so that is why I stopped cold turkey.

The next few weeks were unbearable. I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms like headaches and nausea.

During that time, I had a trip to Florida booked with my mom and good friend Sophie. I turned my mood and physical pain around for the first few hours of that. But at some points during the trip, I was out of my mind. And I say that in a very gentle, but certain manner. My younger self was not experiencing reality as it was.

At my worst on the trip, I was arguing with my friend and mom about nothing; I was talking in circles and when I was met with any friction, I was inconsolable.

When I returned home from the trip, I physically isolated myself, and that is when the paranoia worsened.

My symptoms throughout the next few months presented solely as paranoia and believing that people were out to get me (I never experienced auditory or visual hallucinations). It was a scary time. I was unknowingly putting myself in dangerous situations and was not making much sense when talking.

Fast forward to when I was placed in a psychiatric facility, and I was much, much worse. Two weeks had passed since the trip. In that time, alone in an apartment, I was posting out of the ordinary things to my social media pages, I was messaging friends and former staff from my high school out of the ordinary and worrisome things and I wasn’t eating or drinking water – out of fear that I was being poisoned.

Walking into the psychiatric facility, I felt safe. I was still very on edge and paranoid, but I believed I was taken to a safer space. I was there for about two months. In that time, I experienced verbal and physical abuse, and one incident of sexual abuse. I was not well and I am certain I was not a “good” patient; I was disruptive and loud during panic attacks, talked back to staff and talked in circles to everyone at my absolute worst. At the same time, I know I did not deserve to be treated so poorly.

For the longest time I wanted to do something. I was still ill when I was discharged and at the time I was thinking, ” I need to sue the hospital.” Looking back on that, I realize that sounds extreme. I was not in a good place mentally to pursue legal action. And I also would need some type of proof, not to mention the law is pretty prejudiced when it comes to dealing with people struggling with mentally illness; my own illnesses might sadly be used against me.

While I wish I did something – anything – to take a stand and say, “That wasn’t right,” I worry too much time has passed and that any fight against the hospital would be a losing one because I wouldn’t be seen as a victim, but likely the one on trial.

A big part of why I blog now is to give my younger self a voice – in this case, my 19-year-old self. I know I wasn’t treated right by nurses and other staff in that psychiatric facility. As I write this, I am listening to Kesha’s song “Praying.” I can listen to this song and truly feel and believe the message of: “You didn’t treat me right, but I will still fight and rise above”.

As I said before, I was still struggling when I was discharged from that hospital. I didn’t know how to comprehend the traumas I had experienced there and I feared those people, so I placed the blame on others in my life. I lost many friendships over the course of 2014 – some due to me blaming them in my sickness and others due to them not knowing how to help me.

Thankfully, even though those awful people (who should have been helping me), brought the flames and put me through hell, I have come out of this experience stronger. With the help of my close friends and therapist, I receive so much love, support and validation now. With the help of “Praying,” I am able to better distinguish who was in the wrong. I have a big heart and can forgive easily, so I have to constantly tell myself that the “professionals” were at fault here, not me.

While I did not take legal action, I am considering doing so in the future. And I encourage anyone out there who has been met with violence or abuse, especially in a hospital setting, to speak up. Your words are valuable and your safety is a right.

Even if you are talking in circles, even if you are in distress, even if you are having panic attacks and disrupting the ward because of it, even if they don’t know how to help you, even if they believe you are faking your illness — you are allowed to struggle. And you deserve safety in your struggles.

Abuse is never OK or justified. For anyone who disagrees, I hope you’re somewhere praying.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Photo via Kesha YouTube

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