*Trigger Warning* This post has SUI references.
When I was 14, I voluntarily committed myself to a mental hospital. This isn’t something I put at the top of my resume. If it ever comes up, I often find myself glancing around to make sure no one is listening. Looking back, I’m not sure why, because it was probably one of the most courageous things that I have ever done. And I did it as the result of what I personally consider a divine intervention.
You see, I had tried to commit suicide that past Fall. As a result, I had to have mandatory counseling.
My parents were very much against counseling, which they saw as weakness on my part – but they had no choice because I had literally tried to kill myself. Funny how the system works.
As a side note, I was also born with a cleft lip and palate. My parents also refused to let me go into group therapy for that. Also, my mother who I love and pray for seemed to take it as a personal weakness on her part for having given birth to me – and she frequently said cruel things to me about it.
Sometimes I wonder how much sooner I would have been able to stop thinking of myself as a freak of nature if group therapy had been a requirement – and not just a very strong suggestion. Sometimes I break into non-random tears when I see those ads asking for money for cleft repair. I’m glad for the ads, but where was all that stuff when I was a kid? Yep, there come the tears. Hurt hurts people, even when you know better.
I also have a really hard time when people ask me questions like “Didn’t your mother raise you better?” You know what? Go fuck yourself. Seriously. Not all of us had loving mothers who taught us good things. I am being totally serious about that. Unless you know someone’s background, lose that question – and questions like it. It just shows how blissfully ignorant you really are. I’ve been wanting to say that for so long.
When I told the therapist that I felt like God wanted me to be committed to a mental hospital, I can still remember the expression on her face, the look of relief. She’d been wanting desperately to get me out of my home situation, but without parental permission she couldn’t.
That’s how I wound up committed to a mental hospital for one month. In all honesty, they wanted to keep me for longer, but my parents absolutely forbid it – and I hated being cooped up there – so I caved. I was 14 years old, people.
While I was there, my new psychiatrist listened to my story, including the “supernatural” experience that led me to seek help. She said that she didn’t believe in God, but whatever that experience was, it had probably saved my life. She theorized it was my mind acting in self-defense. That’s certainly one opinion.
Anyway, she took me off medication and sent me for talk therapy instead. And what a mercy that was. I met any number of interesting people while in my first lockdown, and as far as I know many of them are still on medication.
Sometimes I wonder how many people are in a state of permanent medication because they never move to the point where they work through their issues some other way. Don’t get me wrong. I know there are people with genuine chemical imbalances. I just wonder how many people are taking medication rather than deal with their actual problems. Or drinking. Or gambling. Or playing video games all day every day for days on end. On that last one, I believe that even God might make exceptions for a) Final Fantasy or b) Suikoden JRPGs.
I worked through my problems enough to get functional again. It was hard. But my invisible friend aka God helped – not by taking me out of the pain but by holding me through it. I will never, ever forget the *years* of my life where it was an effort just to say “hello” let alone to follow a simple greeting with a compliment about someone’s clothes. Being able to write this message, to start casual conversations, that’s the kind of miracle I can believe in.
After years of therapy and considerable distance, I am able to give this advice to people who (are willing to admit they) hear voices. Unlike therapy, this advice is free.
1) talk to friends
2) including your “invisible friends” aka voices who may be real people (who knows?)
3) write things down. The human mind is a beautiful and complex thing. Consider the experiences of your human mind worth charting – if only for your own edification, if only to throw away that rough draft later.
4) is perhaps the most important: If “invisible enemies” start talking to you – write that down and deal with it and then maybe lose the paper.
For example: if you find yourself thinking about self-harm, first get help if you can. Here in the U.S., you can call 1-800-273-8255. Don’t be afraid to look up similar hotlines in your area – or to seek help in online groups. Feel free to contact me directly, and I can forward you to a good one.
If you can’t contact help, keep this in mind. The “you’re worthless” and “you’re all alone” voice is a lie. Guess what? You’re not. There are things about you which make you different, which no one else knows – but thoughts about you being worthless? That’s never true. Unless you’re a narcissist, everyone questions their own self-worth. That question is as basic as the need for food and water – and to be able to laugh at yourself a little.
5) takes time. You don’t have to shut up the voices in your head – as far too many people do. Instead, think about finding more positive voices to listen to. I personally recommend Rumi as a good start.