Category Archives: My Journey

Going Home…

“Develop an attitude of gratitude
and give thanks for everything
that happens to you, knowing that every
step forward is a step toward
achieving something
bigger and better than
your current situation”
                                -Brian Tracy

“Ms. Turner, you have a phone call.”
“Hello”
“Aye Mama!! Today is the day. I know you are freaking ready to come home. I know I am. It’s lonely here. I miss you. Do you know what time you are being released? Call me as soon as they send over your release forms, and I will be on my way.”
For the first time I truly felt like this time would be different. This time people will treat me as if I matter. It’s what I wanted. It was time to go home. As I packed up my room and got myself together, I couldn’t help but feel bittersweet. On one hand I would be in my own bed and in my own space without the extra eyes. But on the other hand, where would I find other people who understand me wholeheartedly. I mean I was surrounded by those who were giving me the best advice… And it was working. Would I still get that once I go home?

“Do you have your mental health awareness book with you? Please continue to use it while you’re at home. It will help with getting you back on track. Also after your discharge I will advise that you go to Monarch. There you will be able to get a steady prescription and long term help. It was nice meeting you Ms. Turner, and I hope you continue to do well.”
As they unlock the doors and the buzzer goes off, I feel as though I’m stepping into a new reality. But then come the stares of those waiting by the elevator. After I could no longer take the eyes of strangers looking at me as if I was lost and deranged, I turned to face the direction in which I came, only to look up and realize why they were staring at me so strangely.
“BEHAVIORAL HEALTH UNIT. NO ACCESS WITHOUT KEY. RESTRICTED ACCESS.”
In that moment I felt so embarrassed and lowered my head in shame. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was here. I don’t care if they didn’t know me. And I definitely didn’t want anyone to know what I had done. As if that weren’t enough, only then had I realized that my shoestrings were missing! I was so happy and in a rush to get up out of there that I forgot to put them back in when they gave them to me… Great. As I begin to forget all that I had just learned this past week, I felt the book in my hand grow heavy.. But I ignored it. I just wanted to get off of this floor and out of this hospital. As I rode down the elevator alone in silence, I couldn’t help but to be happy because I knew that the one person who mattered to me the most would be waiting for me when I reached the entrance to take me home…
But she wasn’t there. No one was there…
I knew that if she wasn’t here now, that she would be here soon. But damn. I needed her to be here. I needed to feel like things would be different. Like I would finally be a priority to someone. Anyone.
So I sat. And I waited…
And I waited…
Why isn’t anyone here? Damn did this past week not show them anything. Maybe I was being paranoid… Well I know I was. But I just wanted to go home. As I sat and waited, I couldn’t help but notice my surroundings. I mean everything. The air smelled so fresh, the sun was beaming, and everything was so colorful and vibrant.
And then it plays. Twice. A beautiful lullaby theme to let everyone know that a beautiful baby has entered into this world. A new heartbeat… A new smile.. A new meaning. It was the most soothing music I’ve ever heard. It symbolized a new beginning.
And it plays for a third time. And in that moment, I felt like that last one was for me. It felt like the lullaby was rejoicing in my new birth. A new life.. A new beginning. It felt like the angels themselves were singing to me. Will there really be a new beginning for me? I mean this newfound opportunity has to work for me right? As I sat and pondered on where my future was headed, I finally spot something familiar to me. The baby blue mazda. And as soon as she spotted me, her eyes lit up and her smile was wider than I have ever seen before.
“Hey my love, I’ve missed you so much. It’s been so quiet at home. Are you ready to go?”
It was finally happening, I was finally able to walk out of those doors and be in the comfort of my own home. Now more than anything it was up to me and only me to make sure that from here on out, my mental illness would be taken care of. And lets just say that a year later I will loose my battle. Again. In that very same home I sought comfort in.

The Visit… Facing Reality Part 3

“May I please have Ms. Turner”
Damn I do not want to take this freaking medicine. Just let me sit in this room and sulk in my misery. I don’t need a pick me up. No, wait.. I don’t want a pick me up. Why can’t I just go home. Hmph, I might as well get my behind up because they just gone keep calling my name until I show up. Don’t get me wrong, this place is actually quite nice. It’s like a mini vacation away from everything and everyone I’ve been dreading: the loneliness. The self hate. The voices… the pills. With this place being so bright, filled with all of these bright lights, no one can hide here. I was finally going to have to face every single demon taking space in my head. Finally, no more excuses as to why I can’t get better. I have finally been given a chance to be free mentally, and I loved the possible outlook… But they would never know it. They didn’t need to…
Don’t let life discourage you, everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.
-Richard L. Evans
Walking along the hallways, my eyes always seemed to catch a glimpse of the quotes that lined them. And no matter how crappy I was feeling, reading them still gave me a sense of comfort. Hope even.
Rounding the corner, making my way to the activity room, I couldn’t help but to stop in my tracks when I saw the woman who would be ministering my medicine and checking my vitals. She was everything that I wanted to be, and a harsh reality of one of the reasons why I hated myself: she was beautiful. Beautiful skin. A beautiful smile. A beautiful face, and the most gorgeous locks that I have ever seen in my life. And here I was wearing a pair of baggy chef pants, horrible skin, and hair wild for not being combed in days. The embarrassment of seeing what a break down caused me to look like, compared to the woman who seemingly had it all put together made me want to run and hide under my sheets and never come out. But I couldn’t. I was already here in her presence, so lets get this done and over with so I can take my ass back to my room and have yet another reason to hate who I am. Or more likely, what I’m not.
“Please state your name and date of birth.”
“Talathia Turner, June 4, 1989.”
“Here Hun, your medicine this morning is Zoloft.”
Sitting alone in this room with her, I couldn’t help but to notice the way she looked at me. It was a look that I wasn’t used to, but I still recognized it well. The look of sympathy. The look of wanting to come to my rescue. Wanting to truly help. It was a look that made me feel.. well.. Loved.
“So what would you like to be called?”
“Everyone calls me Nini.”
“Nini you are too young to be in here. Do you mind me asking you why you ended up in here?”
“Well my life has never been easy. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always felt like I was living in a personal hell. I never had a childhood. Being the oldest girl it was my responsibility to take care of my siblings. And the abuse.. ugh the abuse was the worst. From the beatings, the torture, and being mentally and emotionally hurt on a daily basis, I’ve never felt like much of anything. I’ve never felt good about myself. I didn’t have anyone to tell me I was pretty. That I mattered. To the world, I was invisible, unless someone was taking from me or hurting me. I remember being ten and washing the dishes after being abused. There was a big kitchen knife in the sink. The only thing on my mind was taking the knife and shoving it into my chest. That’s the first time I’ve ever thought about ending my own life. I was young and I couldn’t process the feeling. All I knew was that I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t allow myself to be lost in the world anymore. Most importantly I could no longer sit back and watch the abuse of the two that I loved more than myself: my brother and sister. To sit and watch the things done to them knowing that I could do not one single thing to help them killed my soul. Every time, it took so much out of me. I couldn’t save them. I was supposed to save them, but I couldn’t. I hated myself for it. I couldn’t forgive myself. I still haven’t. For all of that, I’ve hated myself.”
“So at ten, what made you not go through with it?”
“Them… I couldn’t leave them knowing they would be stuck in the nightmare that I was trying to escape from. I wouldn’t have had any peace. I would rather endure a life of my own misery than to leave knowing they are stuck in theirs.”
Never have I seen such shock on someone’s face. Especially someone who deals with so much chaos and unsteady individuals on a daily basis. You would think she’s heard and seen it all. I guess nothing could ever prepare someone to hear that a child so young would ever feel unworthy enough to the point that they felt as though their life was not worth living.
“I know I could never say anything to take all that pain away, but I do want to say that I am sorry for all that you have ever had to go through. I have a daughter your age and I can never imagine putting that much responsibility or pain on her. You are such a strong young woman. You are beautiful and your life is worth living. Never forget that.”
How could someone who didn’t even know me until now see all of the potential and beauty in me that I have never seen in myself. After the heart to heart, I found myself back in the common room looking at ehe same faces, but at the moment none of that mattered to me. All that mattered to me at that moment was VISITATION TIME!!! A freaking moment for me to finally feel normal. To have a piece of home sitting right here in front of me. Even if it means have to have a few awkward conversations and get a dose of harsh reality. I wonder who will it be today. My Aunts.. Or maybe my sisters.. Or it could be her…
“Oooh, they have Uno Cards here. Maybe playing these with them will help ease all tension.”                                                                                                                                                                       As time went on I realized that I was still sitting at that table alone. As a matter of fact everyone was sitting alone. What happened to our visitation? Had it been canceled? Just when we were all about to just say forget it and go back to our rooms, we heard that all too familiar buzzer, and one by one all of our loved ones begin to fall in. And then I spot her, and my Aunt and I just knew this was about to be a good night. She rushed me and we gave the biggest and tightest hugs that we had ever given each other. And Lord knows that I was so happy to see my aunt. If I knew that anyone could make me smile, I knew it was going to be her.

“Hey y’all, what took so long? I honestly thought y’all either missed visitation, or wasn’t going to show up.”
“Yeah I’m sorry, your aunt was running a little behind. I honestly thought we had missed it. But as soon as we came through the door, everyone else was still sitting out there as well, and they said that they were running behind on opening the doors for visit.”
Hearing that truly made my day because if it wasn’t for the unit running behind, I could have missed my visit. I felt like things were finally working in my favor, working for me, and I was loving it.
“Hey Niece, how has everything been going in here? We all miss you so much. Your Uncle was crying last night wishing that you weren’t in here. We just want you to know that we all love you so much and when you get out of here, we gone make sure you do what you have to in order not to be in here again.”
After having one of the most heartfelt conversations that I have had with two of my favorite people, I gave them the exciting news that I would be getting released after two days of being in here. I could tell they were both filled with joy because nothing is worse than seeing someone you loved living their life confined in a space, living by a set schedule, where everything is controlled for them. It was news that they had been waiting for since I had been in there. Once visitation was over, we wrapped up for the night as a group, discussing everything that had taken place during the day, and that night I had set a goal for myself that I would get better and do all that I can to not see myself back in here ever again. I had to do it. They were counting on me to take better care of myself so that I would never have to see my family hurt again.

The Visit… Facing Reality Part 2

“Hey are you sad?”
So consumed in my thoughts, I never even noticed the gentleman slowly wheel his way over to me. Knocking me out of my trance, my cheeks begin to burn from the embarrassment of realizing all eyes were on me… Again. After our group leader made her exit, my fellow patients swarmed me like I was an attraction at a freakshow.
“Honey what are you doing in here? You are too young to be in here. What has you so sad? You don’t like to smile? Why are you crying? You must want to go home huh?”
So many questions at one time had me feeling like I was on a job interview. I’m pretty sure they were going through the same thing I was, so what was with the third degree? All I could do was sit there in hopes that all of these questions would go away. Without responding, I just stare out the window in the room wishing I was on the opposite side of that window. Wishing I could sit on top of the building I was staring at, hold my breath, close my eyes and jump. But no… Here I was sitting at this table getting hit with question after question about why I tried committing suicide by individuals who were sitting in the same room, at the same table, facing the same demons.
“Make sure you get all you can out of this program. If you don’t seek the help you need, I promise you will be back sitting in that same chair… That’s if you survive your second attempt.”
And just like that he gave me a faint smile of pity as if he felt that there was no saving me and slowly wheeled away. Who in the hell was he to tell me about what was to come for me. About my fate. Don’t no one care about this program. I just want to go home.. No.. I just want to disappear.

The Next Day:
“May I please have Ms. Talathia Turner.”
Finally I had a chance to sit and talk to someone with just me. No group. No expressing and spilling my feelings in front of a group of randoms. Now instead of being judged by them, I would only be judged by one.. The only one whose opinion determines how long I stay and when I get to leave…. Great!
“So Ms. Turner, were you intentionally trying to kill yourself? How long have you been suffering with these thoughts? Do you think you will ever harm yourself again? What all did you take? Zyrtec? Aleve? Alcohol? Ummm.. Ms. Turner, you do know that Zyrtec is for allergies? You do know that you couldn’t have overdosed on those right? You seem as though you were just going through a rough time in your life. I honestly feel like you’re not really a threat to yourself. I feel as though you didn’t really want to harm yourself.”
Maybe this doctor wasn’t understanding what I was feeling, but obviously I am in here for a reason. I definitely didn’t take them because I wanted to see what alcohol flavored Zyrtec taste like. To me, this was truly me in despair. My heart was hurting. My mind was all over the place. But hey, who am I to tell a woman who has been in their profession as many years I’ve been alive that she is wrong.
“You know what Doc, I think you’re right. I was just having a bad day. I will be fine. It won’t happen again.”
Again I found myself lying for the sake of someone else. Lying for the approval of someone else. The moment I should have finally said something, like the loser I was feeling, I again did nothing.
“Good Ms. Turner. Well I am still going to prescribe you some medicine, and we will release you in two days. Lets go with Zoloft and see how that goes.”
Umm did she say two days? I don’t have to stay here for weeks? If that’s the case then I most definitely will say what ever she wants to hear so I can go home.
“Thank you Doc. I really appreciate that.”
Walking out of that room felt like the best moment I’ve had all week. Not realizing that me not speaking up damaged me in a way that I could never imagine. Not speaking up only set the wheels in motion for me to be in this same predicament next year. It set me up to be in a more dangerous situation than the one I was in now. For not speaking up, I put my life and my health back in danger. “Ok Ms. Turner, you can go back into the Main room with everyone else. I hope that you feel better, and I will see you again tomorrow to do a follow up.”

The Visit… Facing Reality Part 1

Lift up your shirt Ms. Turner… Now pull down your pants.. Turn around… Do you have any scars or bruises? Are those strings in your pants? We have to cut those out. Give me your shoes, we need to remove those shoestrings and anything else that could be used to self harm. Say goodbye to your family for now…. It’s ok, please don’t cry, they will be able to come back later on today for visitation.

As the doors click open and I slowly watch two important people fade out, my heart sinks into an all new low. For the next week I will be all alone. No friends. No family. No bedroom to hide in when I want to disappear. For the next week I will have to face my fears head on all by myself. For the first time I was terrified….

Are you hungry? There is an extra food tray on here if you want it.. No…. Ok, well here is your room. Group has already started if you would like to join in. I advise you to attend. Staying in this room is only going to cause you to be here longer if you do not put in the effort to show improvement.

Pale walls… A curtain dividing me from the other bed meant for another patient.. A shower and sink with no handles.. A plastic mirror glued to the wall.. I felt as empty and cold as that room. Rocking back and forth on the bed, I couldn’t help but think “Why am I here? Why can’t I leave” And most importantly where is the damn tv???” Sitting there I contemplated going to group. “What I look like spilling my business to random strangers? These people know nothing about me. How could they help me?  What could I possibly get out of this group session? How could anyone possibly be that comfortable to just reveal all their personal business to others they don’t even know.

Everything in me wanted to just ball up and stay stuck behind that curtain until I couldn’t take it anymore, but my heart was speaking differently. “Suck it up Nini!! you want to get out of here. You need this help. Go to group.. NOW!!

As long as the sun still rises, there is always Hope!

Walking down the hallway to group, reading the many quotes on the wall gave me a small sense of comfort. A feeling saying that I could do this… Well that is until I got to the door of group. Seeing all of those individuals sitting around emotional sharing stories terrified me. I didn’t want to be seen as weak. I wasn’t ready to let my guard down. I could feel my knees start to buckle as I finally snapped back into reality and realized that everyone’s eyes were on me. It was as if I was in a terrible movie where the record stops and the look of awkwardness as if I had stepped into a place uninvited. The looks of Who is this newbie? And why is she just standing there, is she ever gonna sit down, or continue to stand there shaking like it’s her first day in preschool? Mustering up the courage to move my feet again, I spot a seat furthest to the back of the room away from everyone else. I wouldn’t be able to disappear, but at least I could come close to it in this corner. As I begin to listen to other’s stories, I felt myself just wanting to go home… In the dark to sulk in my depression.. Alone. The thought of it put me back where I started. Suicidal.. Wishing I could go back to that moment and actually finish what I had started left me feeling so broken. At that moment I knew I needed to be here. And all I could do was hold my head down in shame. Here I was listening to so many people desperately wanting help, and I’m sitting here wanting out. The tears begin to fall. As group wrapped up, I sat in my corner quiet. I wasn’t ready to share. I guess I will be here until I do.

Don’t think your gonna be able to come to group and not participate. We are here to help you guys, and staying quiet is not gonna get you any closer to seeking the help that you need.  Ummm I know she isn’t talking to Me….

 

To Be Continued….

Waking Up!!

Ms. Turner, Ms. Turner…. Do you know where you are Honey? What did you do? What did you take? Did you take all of those pills because you wanted to die? It’s ok honey, you are going to be ok, we are going to get you some help.
The bright lights of the emergency room keeps me from zoning out completely. The stares of those sitting in the waiting room wondering why I can barely keep my head up, and the embarrassment from it only allowed my tears to continuously pour down my face. “How did I get here? How did I get this low? This can’t be my life.
As I sit in this wheelchair slowly fading out, my nightmare is starting to become a reality as the one person I didn’t want to see me in this state walked through the hospital doors. That blank stare. The stare as if all emotions had been washed away, and there sat an empty shell of a person. “Did I do this? Am I the reason why this person that was once so full of life is sitting across from me looking so lost and alone?” My mind starts to run at a 1,000miles per second as my body slowly starts to shut down.

Ms. Turner, we are taking you back to a room now ok. Everything will be ok.”

BeepBeep…… Beep…. Slowly coming to, the coldness of the electrodes hooked to my chest, the slow beeping of the heart monitor, and the nurse guarding my door finally allowed me to realize that this was not a dream, but in fact a reality that I had sat in motion. “How could I be so stupid. So selfish. So careless about my own life.” This nightmare was something I knew I would never be able to awaken myself from. I couldn’t put this on anyone but myself.
Ms. Turner we have to hook you up to the heart monitor ok! Can you tell me your first name? Do you know where you are? Do you know what day it is? Your in the Hospital Ms. Turner. Are you aware of your surroundings?
All of these questions at one time, and all I could think of is “How did I get here? Why is my family seeing me like this?” The overwhelming feeling of knowing I was stuck here without being able to leave on my free will put me at such a low point. “How did I get here? Why is my family seeing me like this?” As my vision slowly starts to come back, and I start to become familiar with all that is around me, there is one figure that stands out clear as day to me. Standing over me with so much brokenness in her eyes, I see my baby sister. “Hug me Nini. No, wrap both of your arms around me and hug me. Why did you do this?” Trying to hold back tears, I somberly say “I’m sorry, but I am just tired. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live like this anymore.” “Nini, you scared me. Aunt Peaches called me early this morning. She kept telling me I had to get to the hospital. She finally told me you tried to commit suicide. I screamed and woke the whole house up. I thought the worse had happened. I thought you died.” Watching those tears pour down her face & hearing those words leave her mouth tore such a big hole in my heart, that no amount of time and effort could repair that. I couldn’t believe that I almost left the one person I’ve spent almost my whole life trying to protect. And through all of that hurt, the only thing I could say was “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” As I try to take in all of this hurt I caused, I couldn’t help but notice that same blank stare I saw earlier now staring at me from across the hallway. As my sister walks away to allow my reality into the room, I slowly watch that blank stare turn into a look of fear. A look of guilt. A look as if they were staring into the eyes of someone who has already passed. As I stare into those eyes, I can’t help but to catch a glimpse of the item hanging around her neck. The ring… The same ring that I had placed on top of my letters and left in the hallway. The ring that held so many memories and moments that I dared not taint it by adding such a tragedy to it. I was now left to stare at the ring I had chose to leave behind. And the person wearing it was now forced to sit in front of the person who almost took all those memories away. “So you were just gonna leave me here by myself?” Those words just kept replaying over and over in my head “you were gonna leave me.” Never in my life had I ever felt so much guilt, so much pain, so much embarrassment. How could I have possibly left all these people behind. The people that loved me. That depended on me, that gives my life meaning. As those words kept replaying in my head “you were gonna leave me,” I tried to find all the right words to say. “I’m sorry, I just thought y’all would be better off without me. I feel like such a big burden in everyone’s lives. I couldn’t be here anymore. I couldn’t keep allowing you guys to take care of me. I’m sorry.”We love you Nini. I love you. Do you know what you could have done to us if you left? Do you know how much that would have hurt us? Hurt me? Nothing is worth your life. You have so much to live for. Why would you do this?” All I could say was “I’m sorry love. Forgive me.”
As the hours pass, and I await the outcome of my decision, I stare into the eyes of the two I love most. The love, support and memories they share with me as I battle these terrible pains, the spasms, and the headaches gave me the biggest comfort I needed to get through the night. The fact that they never left my side proved to me that I was not alone. That I was never alone. It gave me the courage to fight for my life.
Good Morning Ms. Turner. My name is Dr. Shah. We have you a room available at Novant Health Presbyterian to get you the proper treatment ok. Your family is to take you straight from here to there. No stops in between. You can’t go home ok? We are going to make sure you get the proper treatment.” As I prepare myself to head towards a place that will be my new home for the next week, I remember a nurse saying to me “I hope that your recovery goes great, and you get the help you need. See you later.” As SeAira turns to say “no you won’t see her later,” I couldn’t help but to ponder if what she said was true. “Will this not be my last time here? Does she see something in me that recovery won’t be able to help?” Maybe it was the fact that this wasn’t the first case of helplessness she has witnessed. Maybe she has had enough experience to know that recovery is not that easy. Or maybe it was the fact that she saw something in me that no amount of help could save me. All I know is that those words she spoke would soon become another reality a year later. It was a reality she saw coming before I did. As I held onto the hope that this next week would fully recover me, I walked out of that hospital towards treatment, smiling and encouraged while blindly unaware that this would truly not be my last time here….

Losing Myself

Wednesday May 22, 2013
The night was beautiful. The settling peace of the cool breeze and families bringing it in for the night made the world seem so picture perfect. Feeling the calmness of everything around me made me want to escape into that feeling forever. Sitting alone in this room that was once filled with love and laughter is now dark and more lonely than ever. Looking down onto my lap, I feel the heaviness of my letters written for my family to read after I’ve taken my last breath. Telling myself that my family and friends would be better off without me, I finally convince myself to swallow the 150 pills weighing down my letters, and follow it with the alcohol lying next to my feet. I gather the little bit of strength I have left to get up off the couch and walk up the stairs to the last place my heart would ever beat in. What only took a few minutes felt like an eternity, because I knew the fate awaiting me was ready to embrace me with open arms. As I enter the dark room, I turn to face the hallway, and down I put my letters, my diary, and a ring that held so many memories and moments that I dared not taint it by adding such a tragedy to it. As I stand to shut the door behind me, I catch a glimpse of the closed door directly across from mine, knowing that I was about to ruin the life of the person sitting behind it. Not having the courage to say goodbye in her presence, I whisper “I love you Hunni Bunn, see you later,” as I close the door, knowing I wouldn’t hear it back. The closer I walked to it, the further the bed seemed to move away, with a faint voice constantly saying “Don’t you dare chicken out! You’ve came this far, just hurry up and get it over with. Soon all this pain will be over and you can finally have peace.” Hearing the word peace was all the convincing I needed as I lie down for my very last sleep. I send my family and my best friend a text simply saying “I love you guys,” while quietly replaying Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love.” So many phone calls and text messages constantly being ignored, as my families fears are becoming a reality. To me it didn’t matter, because my mind was made up, and nothing could stop the inevitable. Lying there, a faint smile spread across my lips, as a stream of tears rolled down the sides of my face, filling up my ears. My visions were finally becoming a reality. As my body weakened, I welcomed death into my heart. I was ready.. Or at least I thought I was….
Wednesday May 22, 2013 was my first suicide attempt. Wednesday May 22, 2013 is the night the life of which I thought was mine ended, and the journey to discovering and overcoming my mental illness began..

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