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To My Friends Who Visited Me in the Psychiatric Ward

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When I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital last year after a suicide attempt, I didn’t expect to have many visitors. I knew my husband would come when he could, but everyone else? Not a chance. After all, it’s not the sort of place anyone would choose to spend time. And besides, I was pretty sure I didn’t matter enough to anybody to warrant a visit.

Out of sight, out of mind.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

You, my amazing friends, made sure not a day went by without a visit. You pooled resources and worked out a timetable between you so that every day, someone was able to come in.

You have no idea what it meant to me.

I want you to know I admire you so much for having the guts to visit me in a psych ward. Psych wards can be intimidating places. Aggression and anxiety levels are high. People shout, cry and behave differently.

Yet you still came. You stepped right out of your comfort zone and came.

For me.

Please don’t underestimate the difference it made to see friendly faces in that hostile environment.

You made me feel valued at a time when I’d never felt so worthless. The time you spent with me made me feel loved.

You all played different roles during the lonely, frightening and out of control two weeks I spent in the psych ward.

Some of you brought cake (a welcome respite from hospital food) and sat and drank tea with me. Thank you for bringing me sugar and comfort.

Some of you brought news of the outside world and didn’t even mention my illness. We chatted and laughed (yes, laughed!) about everyday things, the things we’d usually talk about in the school playground or at Starbucks. Thank you for bringing me normalcy.

Some of you distracted me with stories of what was going on in your own lives: workaholic husbands, problems with the kids. Thank you for giving me something to care about.

Some of you brought novels and coloring books to help me whittle away the endless hours. Thank you for keeping my mind and my hands busy.

Some of you just sat with me, held my hand, listened and let me cry. Thank you for loving me.

Towards the end of my hospital stay, one of the nurses commented on how many visitors I’d had. “You’re a lucky lady,” she said.

And I am, I truly am.

Because throughout the horrors of mental illness and hospitalization, you never let me down. You wouldn’t give up on me, even though I wanted to give up on myself.

Now that I’m in recovery, my prayer is that I’ll never hit rock bottom again in the way that I did last year. But it’s an enormous comfort to know that if I do, I won’t be on my own.

Mental illness can be ugly. I know that, in the depths of depression, I was far from easy to be around. I was needy, insecure. Scared. Irrational. Self-pitying. Self-destructive. But you, my wonderful friends, walked beside me through the darkest hours. You never let me go. And the time you spent with me on the psych ward made me realize life was worth fighting for.

I’ll never be able to thank you enough.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Originally published: February 6, 2017
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