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When the 'Help' You Receive While Suicidal Makes Matters Worse

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I never really thought I would end up where I am currently. I always imagined I would be working my dream job, maybe married young like those around me, college degree in hand.

I had a lot of time to think about my life so far while in a psychiatric hospital.

I am a firm believer in reaching out when one needs help, but what if that “help” makes matters worse? I was suicidal, thoughts lingering in my head off and on. The holiday stress I normally experience did not help. So I contacted a crisis service, having done so in the past for anxiety. Through them I got in touch with the local emergency medical services.

When I arrived at work, there was an officer waiting for me. I automatically felt uncomfortable, as if my struggle with mental health warranted an officer of the law. Yet, I let it slide, though it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Then, another police officer arrives. By the end of the entire ordeal, there are two patrol cars and an ambulance at my place of work.

We arrive shortly after at the hospital, one that I was not fond of to begin with. I figured they were just doing their job. What if their job leaves you humiliated, invisible even? Within half an hour, I was told to strip out of my clothes and into a paper thin gown that tore with each movement. My cell phone had been taken from me before I had the chance to tell anyone where I was. I was not told I could use the hospital phone, nor informed of my rights. So I laid still — while I was continually dead-named — as to not rip the gown further than it had been already. I laid still for nearly five hours without any food, no one to keep me company, nothing. Only twice was I asked if I was OK, only in passing.

How was this supposed to help? What was this supposed to achieve? If anything, it made matters worse. I felt ostracized, ignored by everyone around me. The only things the hospital did not take from me were my glasses and my intrusive thoughts, the latter the reason I was there to begin with.

Our society has a lot to learn about the treatment of mental health, from medicinal treatment to interpersonal interactions. Access to resources, mental health first aid training, educating ourselves; these are all steps we can take to better the treatment of those with mental health disorders. I would never wish my experience on someone else, but I know it will happen again until we do something. We need to do something. We need to make a change.

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Getty image via hawk_style

Originally published: April 6, 2018
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