Suicidal Ideation, the Psychiatric Hospital, and Finding the Bottom: Part Four

This will probably be the shortest of the four parts.

If inpatient is any indicator of what jail is like, I will be a law-abiding citizen for all of my days. I don’t like the feeling of having my freedom to choose taken away. That’s the entire point: to take away your ability to hurt yourself when you don’t have the perspective to make that choice yourself. But compulsory group gym time, restrictions on the kind of clothes you can wear, and counting of silverware before you can leave meals? No, thank you.

That being said, there is such an incredible spirit of healing in that place. It was just overwhelming, the feeling of the therapeutic energy that filled every corner. I know not all of you are religious, but I am, and I entirely believe that God is paying special attention to his children in need of mental health care.

When I checked into that place and curled up on the non-threatening sheets, I felt like I had hit the absolute bottom. I felt that there was no lower I could go.

Little did I know, the bottom could get lower, but finding it was an important step.

The thing about finding the bottom is that when you’re drowning, the bottom is the only place you could possibly spring off from. I know I’m not the first one to say that, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

There is a dark kind of comedy to be found when you’ve survived so many things you thought would just kill you and you’re still there.

When I left BHC, I was not better. Not really. They talked me off the ledge, but my counselor very nearly had to put me back in the following week.

But that week when I had to get back to my life, I felt like nothing could stop me because the worst, the lowest had not stopped me. And that was powerful.

Don’t be afraid of finding the bottom. Don’t be afraid to get help. Do be afraid if the help they offer doesn’t fix everything. Don’t be afraid if you don’t feel better when you think you ‘should.’ Don’t be afraid to be healed. Don’t be afraid. And if you are afraid, that’s okay, too.

Wandering is not always fun.

Here’s the thing about this wandering. Some parts of it suck. Hard.

I have recently had yet another employment opportunity ruined by PTSD and depression symptoms. I thought things were going well, and then symptoms became intrusive and made what I can realistically accomplish different than what the position called for. I really wanted it to work out, but, despite my best efforts, I just could not force it to work how I wanted.

Conclusion: mental illnesses ruin things. They take things away. They make things harder than they are. They make you feel like you are less.

You’re not going to win every fight. I’m not going to win every fight. There will be days when you have to accept that, for that day, you’ve done all you can and you are still beat. You will wander the low valleys.

BUT.

You will not lose every fight either. There will be days where you will rock the world with your motivation and drive and vision. And for that day, view the world from the top of that mountain. Don’t focus on the down days. Bask in the glory of the wins you get.

ALSO. I will pick up with my four-part series about BHC either this weekend or sometime next week.

DOUBLE ALSO. Once I’m done with this series, what do you guys want to hear about? Give me some feedback. Ask me questions. Tell me what you want to know.

Thanks for following along, folks.

Suicidal Ideation, the Psychiatric Hospital, and Finding the Bottom: Part Two

So apparently “next week” is closer to two weeks in Chelsea speak. Hope you guys are still ready to hear the rest of my story. There’s some humor this time to break up the heaviness.

Here we go with Part Two. It’s a little long, so settle in.

 

I cry like a small child being dragged in for immunizations the entire walk from Julie’s car. I can’t look the receptionist in the eye while giving her my information.

The nurse comes to get me before I can even give her my insurance card. Apparently suicidality is a pressing issue to these people.

Julie isn’t allowed to come with me yet. She stays behind and helps the receptionist collect my information.

The nurse leads me to a room designed for a child. The entire cast of a show at Seaworld is painted on one wall. The orcas look friendly, but the dolphins are ugly. Beaded jellyfish hang from the ceiling. On the other wall are tactile games with letters and shapes and colors. I bet that at a small hospital like this, all of the rooms a designed to comfort children. Multipurpose.

I lie down on the gurney. My faces feels puffy and numb. I try not to think about my makeup.

“Are you having suicidal thoughts?”

“Yeah.”

“Were you going to hurt yourself?”

“Maybe.”

“Did you have a plan?”

“Yeah.”

“What was your plan?”

“I have a lot of Xanax. I’m just so tired.”

Julie pops through the door at that moment like an ironic ray of sunshine.

The nurse looks up at her briefly, then back to me. She pats my hand.

“We just need to get your vitals and draw some blood. I’ll be right back.”

She does not come right back. Some younger nurse in scrubs that look too new comes in with the tools to draw my blood.

“Can you please draw the blood from my hand? That’s where it hurts the least for me.”

She looks like I’ve just asked her to remove my right arm entirely.

“Uh. Okay. Sure.”

She sterilizes the back of my hand, prepares the tube, then counts backward.

I feel the needle in the back of my hand and begin to panic. Again.

“Do your veins normally roll?”

“What?! … No!”

I begin to whine uncontrollably and hyperventilate.

She begins to what I can only describe as wiggle the needle around in hopes of skewering a vein.

In my head, I begin counting backward from 30, determined that if I reach zero before she’s finished, I will rip my hand away from her like she was trying to steal my soul instead of my blood.

At around T minus 5, I warned her she had 3 seconds.

I am apparently making enough noise that the first nurse decides to check on the commotion. In a transition I don’t take in completely, the older nurse is fixing what the younger one started.

They have to draw blood from my elbow anyway.

What a fiasco.

I’m trying to get my sobbing under control.

The nurse pretends I’m not acting like an overgrown child.

“Well, let’s have you talk to the doctor. I’ll send him right in.”

Instead, the receptionist comes in to confirm my information and give me the classic hospital wristband.

I looked at my name bracelet. Chelsea Joseph Rutter.

Who in the hell is Chelsea Joseph Rutter?

“Why does it have my middle name as Joseph?”

“Yeah, that’s a glitch we’ve been having in our system all week. Whenever we register a new patient, it just generates a random middle name.”

“Huh.”

The receptionist leaves the room.

Julie looks at me with a smirk.

“Chelsea Jo. I like it.”

“Shut up, Jules.”

Julie gets her karma in the form of a screaming pregnant woman they put in the room next to mine. We hear her puffing and moaning and yelling. A nurse in the hallway mentions that she’ll probably give birth tonight.

Julie is mortified at every sound that comes from her room.

“Chels, I can’t do this.”

“You can leave the room if you need to. Or close the door or something. Do what you’ve gotta do.”

Another scream from next door. Another panicked whine from Julie.

“I can’t do this, Chelsea.”

She closes the door, which doesn’t help much.

She buries her face in the sweatshirt in her lap, trying to block out the sound.

The doctor comes in soon, followed in by another grunt from the pregnant lady. Julie makes a face.

He asks me the same questions as the nurse, and I repeat the same answers.

He tries to convince me of hope and the fights and successes of others. I’m in no shape to hear it. I believe I’m beyond fighting.

I’ve fought. I’m tired. I’m done.

Sensing the lack of sway he has had on me, he says something about talking to another doctor at another hospital. He leaves and the nurse wheels in a cart with an iPad. The nurse asks Julie to leave with her while the doctor and I “talk.” Great. Another round of convincing.

But I am wrong. He asks me the same questions again. The answers no longer sound as dire when you’ve said them multiple times.

He asks about my conversation with the other doctor. I think he notes the lack of renewed hope and inspiration for life they like to see at that point.

“Well, I think you should come stay with us for a while.”

“Stay where? How long is a while?”

“We’re an inpatient facility in Idaho Falls. As for how long, that’s harder to know.”

“I have school. And a job. I can’t just go for however long.”

“Those things can wait.”

His tone sounds final. I narrow my eyes in suspicion.

“Do I have a choice at this point?”

“Well, you always have a choice. But if the doctor thinks you’re a harm to yourself, the law will get involved and it will no longer be your choice. Right now, it would be a voluntary admission.”

I sigh and drop my head back, the purest of melodrama.

“I can’t believe this is my life.”

He tells me to hit the call button to summon the nurse to wheel away the cart, which she soon appears and does.

I ask her to find Julie, but she tells me Julie had to leave for a minute and will be back soon.

Where could she have gone? It’s 3am.

I rattle around in my backpack on the chair next to me.

I find it and dial Julie.

“Dude, where’d you go?”

“I’m sorry. I was hungry, so I ran to McDonald’s, and I had to get away from the pregnant lady.”

“Ha! Okay. Well, I’m being admitted to a place in Idaho Falls.”

“Really?! Okay, I’ll be back in a minute.”

We hang up, and the nurse comes in again but with a stack of paperwork.

“So, we’re transferring you to the Behavioral Health Center in Idaho Falls. You’ll be transported by ambulance as soon as the doctor completes the orders and we get your blood work back.”

“Okay. But I won’t be going by ambulance. I’ll either drive myself or see if Julie can take me. I’m a poor college kid, and I’m not paying for an ambulance.”

“We’ll see what the doctor thinks.”

I am adamant. I may be sick, but I am an adult and can make my own logical choices.

Julie ends up driving me, protocol be damned.

On the way out of the hospital around 4am, I hear the birds waking up.

“I told you, Julie, the birds start up at 3.”

“Chelsea, you shouldn’t know that.”

She laughs. I smile but don’t respond.

We go to my apartment to pack a few things, and then we’re on the road south.

As soon as I shut the door behind me, I start feeling the weight of where I’m headed.

I can’t believe this is happening. Who do I need to contact before I go in? Who can I even contact right now? It’s 4 a.m. Brother Rammell might be up; I need to email him.

“Subject: So. Message: I’m being admitted to BHC.”

What’s the point in even including anything else in the message?

I hit send.

Brother Rammell and I have talked on many occasions about BHC, the circumstances that lead a person there, and the probability of my ending up there at some point.

He emails me back in minutes, even at the early hour, and tells me about access codes and how everything will be fine at school. He tells me he’s glad I’m finally hopefully getting the help I need.

Julie and I barrel down the highway as the sun rises.

 

 

Part Three to come next week or sooner.

Thanks for tuning in, all.

Still wandering. Just differently.

Hey gang. It’s been a while. Let’s catch up.

First of all, I no longer have the motor home. I sold it over the winter. I woke up one morning in October, and it was 22 degrees outside. I was laying there in my five layers of clothes under three layers of blankets with Bells tucked up against my hip, shivering, and I took the blanket off from over my head and could see my breath in the air. That was the moment I realized that maybe winter was not the season to live in a motor home in this part of the country.

Fast forward about a month. This story gets written: http://byuiscroll.org/lighttheworld-serving-25-ways-25-days/
(Shout out to Mike Reyes for making my life look exciting.)

So I was a charity case for a while, which was another new experience for me. Definitely humbled my independent streak for a little while.

From there, I got a job working overnights at Walmart and got into an apartment of my own.

I also no longer have Bells. I gave her to my mother to babysit for a couple months, but they just got so attached to each other, I couldn’t break them apart. I’m glad she’s still in the family though. And I’ll get to babysit her sometimes. Like next month! Isn’t she just the cutest puffy puffy puppy?!

So for now, I’m living in a studio apartment in Rexburg. I foresee being in Rexburg for a while. And that has its ups and downs. Which leads me to I’m still in Rexburg. I definitely did not expect to still be here, but I truly believe there are reasons I’m here.

For the first time since my divorce in 2013, I’m in a romantic relationship, and it’s beautiful. More beautiful than I ever remembered it could possibly be.

So as far as things go, life looks pretty normal. I’m living under a roof, I’m working, I’m what some would qualify as socially active. It feels a little strange, especially because I’ve still got the burning desire to wander some. So I’m still gonna wander. It’s just gonna be a bit different. Maybe I’ll find a way to make living in Southeastern Idaho look glamorous. And I definitely plan to wander backward a touch. Like to the trip to California to get Bells. Or the time there was about a thousand spiders in the place I moved into. Or the time I spent a few days in a psychiatric hospital. You know. The usual.

For those of you still reading after all of my time away, thank you. You make me value my experiences. Thanks for coming along with me.