Today is July 26. It’s my 2-year anniversary. It has been two years since I was admitted to the psych hospital for postpartum depression. I have had this segment of my story written for many months, but had not felt ready to make it public. I feel ready today.
This post focuses on the day that I was released from the hospital after being inside for a week. If you missed earlier parts of my story and want to read them, you can click on the following links below:
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
It had been a week – an entire week inside a psychiatric hospital. I was pretty sure today was the day I was going to get to go home, although I felt nervous. What if the doctor didn’t deem me “well” enough to leave? What if I was stuck in here forever?
It felt like a game – you had to win over the right people to get out. One being the doctor, the other being your case manager. I remember when Amy came to me that morning and told me I was going to go home. I was so excited – I was going to get out of there!
*Anthony told me I had never looked happier or smiled more than at that moment – it was probably true – I had been quite the recluse, like when I didn’t leave my bed for a few days.
I remember gathering all my things from my provided laundry basket. It wasn’t a lot – I had a few changes of clothes, a few books that I hadn’t read, my toiletries, a few pictures of Calvin that Dean had brought to me … actually it was more than most people had with them. The day I was dropped off, I had nothing except the clothes I was wearing. I was lucky – I had people to bring me more things. But not everyone in here was as lucky.
Another girl was admitted earlier that day – her name was *Mary. She couldn’t have been more than 25, but probably was younger. She had that look – the look that I had had and knew so well the day I was admitted. There was fear, confusion, and just that look of being completely overwhelmed. She was wearing a provided hospital gown because she was washing the one pair of clothes she had with her. I don’t know what her circumstances were or what brought her to the hospital, but I think if I had stayed longer that we could have become friends. She was very sweet, and just seemed like she needed someone. I could have been her “Lindsey” – I hope someone else became a *Lindsey for her.
As I was gathering up my things, I came across my “#youmatter” shirt. It was a shirt I got while working at Clyde junior high – a bright yellow neon shirt with a bulldog on it, and on the back it had #youmatter in big letters. Probably not hard to guess what it meant, but basically kids were encouraged to post pictures and use the hashtag to show why they mattered. It was supposed to help us create a culture where we realized that all of us are important and matter, just for being alive and being a person. I knew what I wanted to do with the shirt. On my way out, as I walked past Mary participating in a group therapy session, I handed her the shirt and said, “here’s this if you need it.” She was still wearing just a hospital gown, and she smiled at me as she thanked me. She needed that shirt more than I did – and I hope she knows that she does matter.
I said goodbye to the people I had been with for the past 7 days and was escorted down the hallway to the locked door. The one that barred the way between the real world and the hospital ward. Part of me wondered, “are they really going to open the door for me? Is this really happening?” But they did, and I stepped through. And I could see Dean smiling at me through the glass doors on the other side by the front desk. I hadn’t been allowed out in this part of the building since the day I had been admitted.
I remember we just walked through the doors to the outside and it just felt so strange. I was free! I looked back, just in case, to see if someone was chasing after me to take me back inside, but no one was. We got in our car and started driving home. I was so glad to be out of there, but honestly, I didn’t really feel like I was better. There was still part of me that doubted that this was real – it still felt like a dream. I still didn’t really understand it, but I knew that whatever was happening, whether I was dead or alive, in a dream or reality, I just wanted to be at home with my family.
We drove along past all the buildings and trees, and I remember how vivid and real everything looked and I thought perhaps maybe I was still alive and that this couldn’t all just be in my mind. We arrived at our house, and inside were my mom and Calvin. We started trying to get back to normal. I think we had lunch – eating was still a hard thing for me, as it had been for the past two weeks, but I was encouraged that I was able to eat something. I ate soup – I was so happy that I could actually swallow food and keep it down. I still didn’t have an appetite, but this was a huge improvement to where things had been!
My mom was a big encourager in all of this – she would not let me just sit around and do nothing, she thought being active would be better for me. She decided we should assemble Calvin’s activity gym (a little misleading for a name – it’s really just a padded mat with 2 arches over it, and little toys hang from it – so a baby can lie on it and look up and touch the toys and look at himself in a mirror…) We got it put together and laid Calvin on it, and he loved it! He would lie on that thing and look up at the toys for hours (okay maybe not hours, but at least 20 or 30 minutes, which for a 5 week old baby might as well be hours!) I remember looking at Calvin laying there, his sweet little face looking up at me, and my feelings of doubt started to melt away and I started to believe (and hope) that this was indeed, real.
***Thank you so much for reading! I definitely want to keep writing, the story doesn’t stop here, I really didn’t feel like I was back to my normal self until about 1 or 2 months later. Things got immensely better the first few days, but it was still hard. And while I currently feel that my mental state is at a fairly healthy place, it’s something I still have to be purposeful about maintaining.
For others out there struggling, you are not alone. I hope you find a way to share your struggles and heal – blogging has been a great way for me to do that, but there are so many other paths to healing. Much love to those out there on a similar journey or to those who have friends or family that are in need of healing!
*names of other patients have been changed above