I’ve spent most of this summer in and out of the psychiatric hospital parking lot. My husband spent most of it behind the metal detector where they make you strip out your pockets and take the laces out of your shoes. It has not been Barbie’s Dream Summer™. Knowing how the craziness (both medically and vernacularly) can be overwhelming, I wanted to write a quick help list to keeping your head above water for any of you who also find yourself in this situation.
All storylines will be different but there are elements of my particular situation, a spouse with Major Depressive Disorder and multiple suicide attempts, which would and could also apply to other mental health inpatient situations. This is focused on caretakers. Your loved one will be under the care of professionals in the hospital setting. You did your job getting them to help and now you need to survive the storm. Here are some things that kept me afloat.
1. For the staff, this is just a Tuesday. They will seem horrible and cruel and surprisingly unbothered by what is most likely the second most terrible day of your life. Checking into a mental hospital is a bizarre combination of going through airport security, checking into a motel, and entering a nightmare world where people calmly respond to the most important person in your life explaining that they planned to buy a gun. Without any irony, one doctor (via webcam because the process took so long that it was three hours past normal office hours when we got to the “see a doctor” step) mimed placing a pistol in his mouth and the resulting explosion with hand gestures.
Another doctor referred to a patient who committed suicide as “breaking his winning streak”. There are stupid procedures and passwords and rules and regulations about everything. This is not their fault. Their job is to provide a dampening effect on the raging emotions of patients and caregivers by casually indicating via body language, tone, and word choice that everything is acceptable and that there is a calm and rational solution. You are still allowed to hate them for it.
(I really wish this was a joke, or exaggeration, or poorly executed satire but it was the literal reaction of the secretary at the hospital.)
Today, on International Women’s Day, I’ve been reminded of how grateful I should be. Maybe it’s because I’ve been flipping through images of women’s protests around the world. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching sentimental videos that make me feel inspired (even if they are marketing ploys by Google). Either way, I can’t help but feel grateful.
By the time this post goes up around midnight tonight, it will no longer be International Women’s Day. Before then, I’d like to take a moment to be thankful, and highlight ways we can support other women in their fight to win these privileges too.
1. Freedom and Safety
When I get up in the morning, I do not feel afraid. My country is not at war. My physical safety is not threatened. Throughout history, this was not something most women could take for granted. In many countries around the world this is still something women cannot take for granted.
If you based your opinion about marriage on what you hear in the news then you might think that it’s a pretty terrible deal. That’s why, for this post, I’m giving you 4 reasons why marriage is da bomb.
1) Someone always has your back
I have a lot of examples of this in our short marriage. John has served as my excuse to get out of lame events, and he has come along with me when there was no way out. We tag team in social conversations. We help each other out with jobs and homework and balancing life in between it all.
Today especially, I was reminded how lucky I am.
For the past few months I’ve been running a summer kids program. Today was our wrap-up party and John agreed to come help by leading some field games. As I was struggling to check in nearly 200 kids (while also coordinating food and drinks) I looked up and saw this.
Even with their faces censored out this photo makes me laugh!
Seeing a mob of children chase my husband made me smile, not just because it was hilarious, but also because they were having so much fun. John is so great with kids, and today he saved my butt. He made a mediocre party into a party they will all remember. I mean, how often do you get to chase a guy around a field trying to stomp on a piñata? Continue reading →