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To the Psychiatrist Who Sent Me to the ER When I Was Suicidal

To the psychiatrist who had me involuntarily sent to the emergency room:

Thank you.

As I made quite clear at the time, I was not pleased. I begged for you to let me go home from the partial program that day. I had essentially tried to kill myself in my shower the night before and I didn’t want to keep going. I thought you were giving up on me because you had said that maybe another program could help me more. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop shaking.

At that point, it was out of my control. Earlier in that session you had said that it was up to me whether or not I finished out this program, went to another or went to the ER. I chose to finish this one, but as we kept talking, I only got worse.

I feel like I’m completely out of control.

Out of everything I had said in our session that day, out of all of the times in those 45 minutes where you almost sent me to the emergency room at the other end of the hospital, that was what it took. I was sobbing and begging you to let me leave. I told you that I had things to do that night. I didn’t mean any of what I had said. I would be fine, I promised.

I’m sorry, Mary, you said. Completely out of my control. I have to send you. It’s not up to you anymore.

You filled out the forms on your computer, and asked if I’d walk upstairs to the program lobby with you. I said no, and you asked if you had to get security to bring me. I followed you to the elevator, where I told you I’m really mad at you right now, but you’re also the only person I trust right now.

For some reason, you thanked me, and said you were glad that I still trusted you. You brought me upstairs, sat me down, and went to fill out more paperwork or something. You said you’d be back, but you weren’t. My therapist in the program came over and talked with me. I begged her, too, to let me go home. She, too, apologized, and told me that it would be OK.

I begged the ER staff all night to let me talk to you, because you said that they might let me. Looking back, you definitely only said that to calm me down so that I’d go without a fight, which I appreciate. I understand now why you didn’t want me to talk to you when I was there — I needed to rely on myself, not you, or my therapist, or anybody else, to want to live again.

You spoke with the psychiatrist on duty in the ER the next morning and you both agreed to let me go home and come back to the program the next day. I finished the program that time. I came back about a month and a half later, feeling defeated. I finished the program again, and you and my therapist said that next time I needed to do a partial program, it couldn’t be this one. I needed something that wasn’t safe, that wasn’t familiar. Maybe in the future I could come back, but not next time. Not now.

Two weeks after finishing the second time, the stay-at-home orders went into effect. I had to finish the rest of this school year from home. My mental health plummeted to almost the same place that had landed me in partial the first time, and came very close to the point I was at in your office that day when you sent me to the ER.

I’m doing another partial program (over Zoom) in about two weeks.

My outpatient team thinks it’ll help my health and give me some structure. I wish I could come back to your program, something safe and familiar in a time where the whole world is dangerous and unknown. Beyond that, though, I want you to see how far I’ve come, and I want to thank you for showing me how to help myself get here. Going to the ER that night was the kick that I needed to let myself get better.

I basically tried to kill myself in the shower on December 8, a Sunday. December 9 you sent me to the ER. December 10 I was released. I’m writing this five months to the day after you sent me to the ER. Tomorrow, five months to the day after I was released, I turn 20. When I first met you, I never thought I’d make it this far, nor did I want to. At one point in our time working together, I said to you imagine if I died at 19. That sounds so sad. You agreed. That would be awful, you said. Let’s work on making it to 20.

I made it, Dr. S. Thank you and Dr. O (my therapist in the program) for helping me see that I had it in me to get here. Here’s to 20.

Photo by Kunj Parekh on Unsplash