Written by Taylor Jones.
The first time I got intensive help for my mental health was when I was arrested; my options were jail, or going to the mental facility at my local hospital. My first choice wasn’t the mental hospital. I didn’t want people to think I was crazy, and I was worried the police would print that I went inpatient in the newspaper (because for some reason, psych treatment in my 19 year old brain was worse than jail time). The officer persuaded me to go inpatient, and although my name was printed in the newspaper, my location wasn’t (which made my friends think I was in jail anyway, which is a different story, for a different blog post). During my first time inpatient, although learning a lot of great lessons, I wasn’t open to the experience. I wasn’t ready to accept that something was wrong with me. So, the valuable skills that would have prevented mental relapse didn’t stick, and I left the program, vulnerable to the many mental breakdowns that were to come.
I would yell, I would accuse. I was hostile. I was violent.
My mental breakdowns were probably nothing out of the ordinary for most people with untreated mental illness. There was a lot of fighting during that period; with myself, with others, with friends and coworkers, and even with strangers. I would throw punches before asking questions, I would yell, I would accuse. I was hostile. I was violent. Even scarier was how I treated myself; I frequently attempted to take my own life, and was unsuccessful. I self harmed frequently. I heard voices, and would detach myself to the point I wasn’t myself anymore. I was morphing into different monsters, each one more powerful than the next, and that fueled me.
I needed to make a change and really needed to get help for myself.
I went to several different therapists and prescribers during my on again, off again breakdowns. Nothing seemed to stick, or really connect. It turned out that getting help for mental health only works when you’re ready to really accept the help being offered to you. It took several years of being beaten and torn down (mostly by myself, and my self loathing) to come with terms with this. After many years of hating myself, I finally realized what I was doing wasn’t enough; I needed to make a change and really needed to get help for myself.
I was ready and eager, and willing to listen.
The first time I went to get help for myself, without really being pressured into it, was when I was pregnant. I was only three weeks from my due date, but I knew I needed to talk to someone about becoming a mother, and the depressed and suicidal thoughts that I was feeling. So I went back to the original inpatient that I was in, back when I was arrested at 19, because I didn’t know where else to go. I was ready and eager, and willing to listen. I started to learn a lot; unfortunately, however, this time, I had a baby, and my time in treatment was cut short.
Treatment won’t stick if you’re not willing to do the work.
Flash forward to now; almost two years later, and I’m back in the same treatment program, going on my third week. I’ve come to learn a lot, including therapy techniques so I’m able to combat my anxiety, and anger. I’ve even learned more about my new diagnosis, and who I am. However, there’s one thing I’ve learned in and out of treatment over the years. Treatment won’t stick if you’re not willing to do the work. Therapy skills don’t happen overnight; they are to be practiced daily, and it’s hard! They are called practices for a reason. It takes time, and you won’t be cured overnight; but getting help, when you’re ready, is life changing, a process, and a valuable, useful tool to have with you.