Ever since I was 17, (I’m 22 now) I’ve struggled with mental illness a lot. My life was full of ups and downs constantly. I still remember the first time I was hospitalized; it was my senior year in high school, and I went probably 3 or 4 days straight with sleep. Like 0 hours for 4 days in a row and my school councilor told my parents that I needed a psych eval.
I wanted to fight the bullies that had given me some of the worst memories I’ll ever have. Revenge fueled me daily, I trained and exercised for the entirety of the 4 days, then I broke, not physically but mentally one of the worst way one can be broken. I got evaluated and the doctors said I needed to stay in the youth inpatient psych unit. During that time, I was forced to take medicine I didn’t want, strapped to a bed multiple times, and was thrown around by security guards the doctors said I had bipolar 1 with manic episodes.
During that first visit to the hospital, they had a rule that you couldn’t call or see family for the first 48 hours you were admitted it was the longest two days of my life. I couldn’t hear my family voices. I couldn’t tell them how I was feeling. I felt so lost. I’ve been to the Inpatient psychiatric part of the hospital more times than I can remember. Each time I was hospitalized was worse than the last.
The worst experience and one of the most traumatic memories were in 2019. I was on my way to Florida to live with my dad for a while because Missouri wasn’t working for me or so I thought, and I ended up in downtown Atlanta Georgia. One thing led to another, and I was put in Grady Memorial Hospital.
While I was waiting in the room, (they put you in until the psychologist can see you) I lost my temper and started punching the walls and yelling and was like an animal. So about 15 to 20 security guards lined up at the door and I tried to run out as the door opened but was met by the force of them all. I was thrown onto the bed and my arm was bent behind my back I looked over and spit on one of the guards, so they twisted my arm further causing a pain to shoot down my arm. I yelled and said my arm was hurting but no one cared.
Next thing I knew I was given a shot to help me calm down and was strapped down so tight I couldn’t move anything but my head. I laid there for about 45 long minutes and cried out to God to help me, and He did. But I was trapped in the prison of the mind with no escape in sight. I was put on multiple medications at a time as well.
Oftentimes I’d step off the path and didn’t even know it. I’d say or do things that just wasn’t me, it wasn’t who I was. I’ve lost relationships with friends and pushed family away countless times to the point of me being homeless for a week. Eventually I fell into a depression so painful I didn’t want to get out of it and heavy thoughts followed. Thoughts that I wasn’t good enough for anyone or this world anymore flowed frequently.
The week I was homeless I went to a shelter for men who needed a job and a place to stay and while I waited for them to open, I was sitting in the rain and God told me to call my stepdad and ask him to pick me up. He did and he took me home.
I would say that the most eye-opening hospitalization was when I was in Florida at a behavioral health center called park place. I remember talking to my mom on the phone and she told me I had been there 10 days , all I could remember was getting there and nothing else for the additional 9 days they had me on so many medications I couldn’t remember how long I was there for. Shocked by her words I called my stepdad and begged him to help me come back to Missouri. Back to my home, so he drove from here all the way to Florida to bring me home.
Years passed and I was still in and out of the hospital about 2 times a year. In 2022 I started working at Walmart. Then I met a girl and started to look forward to things again. I woke up in the morning to a text wishing me to have a good day. I had someone I could be myself around and it was amazing.
But in those times in our lives where everything is balanced, that’s when things can get turned upside down. She showed her true colors and I didnt like the picture they painted. I broke up with her twice then wanted her back but then soon came to realize I didn’t miss her. I missed that kind of connection we shared. Shortly after we broke up the second time, I ended up back where I started in the psychiatric hospital for about a week.
I guess you could say the devil had a hold of me and wasn’t letting go. I started smoking weed to escape this reality and go into one that wasn’t real. I went to clubs and bars looking for something I knew in my heart wasn’t in those places. I’d spend money on alcohol and weed every week for the last year trying to find peace in it all.
This last time I was in the hospital I lost all faith in God and all hope in myself. I actually thought God didn’t think I was good enough for anyone or anything. I remember looking into that mirror in the hospital and being disgusted by the reflection staring back at me, lost in my mind, trapped with no escape plan. One of the many dark thoughts I had was maybe I’ll find peace in death.
So, I prayed. I asked God to remove all the negative thoughts from my mind and he didn’t just do that he broke me from the chains the devil held me down with. He showed me the path I was once on and how he was there with me all along he also showed me how to accept Jesus into my Lord and Savior. All those late nights in the hospital where I felt most alone and vulnerable looking out the window up at the moon God was there with me. Then one day I got home from work and thought to myself what am I supposed to do now?
Then I saw a post about the Tuesday night meetings for young adults and the first time I stepped into this church a warm feeling filled my soul and I started to look forward to the future. Something I thought I couldn’t do again. God showed me how to find peace in myself and how to just be myself. In the past few weeks, I’ve made some of the best, most supportive friends I have ever had.
Then God showed me what I needed to do next. So, I got baptized and after coming up from the water my mind felt stronger than I could have ever imagined. Now I know that through God I am healed. Through God I have that connection to look forward to things that I desperately needed. I came to realize that I was never alone in the hospitals or anywhere and that God was with me always.
This April will be a year since I’ve been hospitalized. I’ve got this song stuck in my head by Cory Asbury called reckless love. And in a part of the song, he sings,
“There’s no shadow you won’t light up mountain you won’t climb up coming after me, there’s no wall you won’t kick down lie you won’t take down coming after me.”
And that really spoke to me because through all those times I was in the hospitals I always found comfort in praying and always had a bible to read. Even in my darkest hours God was the light that guided me out of the pit of my own self destruction. Now I wake up to music and pray every day that God keeps my mind strong and continues to show me the way and that I do not stray from the path of salvation.