Through the Looking Glass of an Involuntary Hospitalization

January 22, 2019

A drawing of a woman with long hard whose face contains a key hole.

There’s no need to pretend that life is perfect. We tend to want to box up our problems and then only lift a corner to peek inside every once in a while. We never unpack them or, if we do, they come out all at once and it’s usually not a healthy process.

Why are people so afraid of their feelings? It’s almost like we are unable to open up and say out loud, “yes, that hurt me.” I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. In fact, I think people should be encouraged to learn how to communicate their emotions in a healthy way.

All too often people think that the only way to unpack the mess is to get rid of it altogether. They don’t know how to problem-solve well enough, and then life gets too overwhelming for them. This is why the suicide rates skyrocket during holidays.

We don’t know how to compartmentalize our feelings, especially feelings of hopelessness, loss, and grief. Those feelings can be so powerful that we don’t know how to turn those them off once we open Pandora’s Box.

I opened my own Pandora’s Box in 2011 when I was told my son told me that he would be better off if I wasn’t around. I took him up on that offer. I went to the darkest place possible, hoping I wouldn’t come out the other side.

I don’t remember the exact events after I made that fateful decision. All I remember is being told I was easily replaceable as a mother and that I should just “kill myself.” The next thing I remember, I woke up in the hospital.

This was the darkest moment of my life. I now carry the stigma of the crazy ex-wife, which gets unfairly put on display for anyone who is willing to listen. It’s only used to disparage me as a person and a mother, and to serve some twisted narcissistic need for attention.

I struggled within myself for a long time, deciding whether or not I wanted to tell this story. I have a lot of friends who don’t agree with me putting this all on display, but I feel it’s a story that needs to be told. If I can help one person reading this who is contemplating such a permanent solution to a temporary problem, then it’s worth it.

All too often, mental health issues are misunderstood and/or overlooked. People are seen as irrational or overreacting to their own personal stresses. Depression, anxiety, anger, and sadness are all very real and profound emotions that carry as much weight (if not more at times) as happiness, love, joy, and passion.

We don’t think someone is overreacting when they get lost in love or express their joy at finding a new job. They’re not being dramatic, they are expressing their feelings of happiness. So, why is it when someone expresses their feelings associated with depression or anxiety, people tend to judge them and see these issues as a weakness?

There’s a difference between being sad and weak. Just because you express your feelings with anxiety or sadness, doesn’t mean that you are not capable of dealing with them. However, I understand that it can be very difficult to deal with these things alone.

My daughter was recently told that she should handle her personal issues with class and not air her dirty laundry out to social media. All she was doing was just expressing her feelings, her sadness, and her frustrations to her friends about a personal issue.

I was made to feel so out of control that I eventually took control in the only way that seemed to make sense.

I started thinking about this and while I do agree that all too often people use social media as a bit of a dumping ground, they should not be discouraged from sharing their feelings. I don’t want my kids to think that they need to bottle up their feelings or that sharing problems they are having is somehow not okay.

Let’s face it, we live in a digital world. Odds are, you wouldn’t be reading this if we didn’t. The person who chastised her should have given her a call to see if she needed to talk. Instead, she was just scolded like a misbehaving child who needs to be seen and not heard. I don’t want my kids to be just seen. I want them to know they have a voice and that their opinions, frustrations, and pain is valid.

What you don’t want to do is let these feelings boil over until they get channeled in a negative way. I know firsthand the outcome of letting emotions overtake your whole being. I’ve talked a lot in other articles about the concept of gaslighting. This is what I dealt with for a very long time. I was made to feel so out of control that I eventually took control in the only way that seemed to make sense.

For so long I felt like I was trapped inside my head with no perceivable outlet. I couldn’t channel my emotions to anyone because I didn’t have much of a support system at the time. There were some days I just wanted someone to give me a hug and tell me that I wasn’t alone, that we were going to get through this together. I felt so let down by the person who was supposed to protect me, or at least walk through all of life’s hardships and joys with me.

I didn’t even want to love anyone anymore, not even myself. I couldn’t imagine continuing to love someone who didn’t see my worth or the value I added to everyone’s lives. I needed support and only found confrontation. I actually pushed away my extended support system by expressing my emotions to those people I thought would love me and at least try to understand the source of my pain. They misunderstood my state of mind and I was constantly told to stop my crying and to stop being so dramatic. I wasn’t seeking attention, I was looking for unconditional love.

Maybe that’s why I clung to such a toxic person later on in life.

Tough love works in situations where it is appropriate. Sometimes, however, tough love can have the opposite effect. If you know someone who is struggling, they don’t always need that wake-up call that life’s unfair. Trust me, they already know more than you realize. So, approach them with the same respect you would want because you might just catch that person on the wrong day.

Ultimately, this led to the manic episode I talked about above. It’s tragic when people reach out and nobody is there. That’s why I express often the importance of a support system. I felt like I was possessed and I believed every false truth told to me, and I spiraled out of control.

I can tell you that this state of mind is toxic. Never let anyone make you feel like you are crazy. Never let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve to be happy or that the passion you display for your family is somehow negative.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not advocating any type of behavior that is harmful to yourself or others. What I am saying is that many women are made to feel the way I was and it’s not okay.

I know your pain. I’ve lived it too. You are not alone.

I put up with a lot of mental, physical, and emotional abuse during my marriage. He loved to make me out to be the bad guy, but, as the saying goes, it takes two to tango. In fact, it is still this way. The only difference now is that it is an opinion of a man who I know doesn’t deserve any respect. Those words which once held so much weight fall off me like feathers. He can’t hurt me anymore, even though he bitches about being the battered ex.

I also grew up with a mother who treated me as something other than her daughter. I never felt valued by her or worthy of any type of love. Maybe that’s why I clung to such a toxic “lover.” It was the only way I had ever seen “love.”

I’ve talked with many women and men and I know that we share quite a few similar experiences. I’ve talked with people who have been pushed to the edge of reason and beyond. I know your pain. I’ve lived it too. You are not alone, I can assure you on this.

Let me tell you the backlash of all this. Even though this happened in 2011, I still have to explain this episode constantly. My kids are being told about something they were too young at the time to understand, and I find myself stuck with that stigma of the crazy woman.

I take ownership of that time. I understand that my reputation with many former friends and acquaintances has been ruined and I take responsibility for my choices. I own my shit. The situation was fucked up and I know that there has been a lot of fallout from that decision. There’s no escaping reality when you take such drastic measures.

What I don’t take ownership of is the behaviors of the other person involved. I can’t control anyone’s choices, and I don’t want to. I pleaded to that person to just be there for me and sit with me while I got all those emotions out. Sometimes people just need to cry things out and release all that pain. If you say you love someone and you’re not willing to walk through the fire with them because you’re afraid you might get burned, then you don’t know the meaning of love.

The frustrating part is watching this person never take any responsibility for their own actions or their role in any of the issues we faced. People can only feign ignorance for so long before you realize it’s narcissism or some other mental retardation that is keeping them blocked. He still plays victim to anyone who will listen, like this shit just happened out of the blue. How long can you abuse someone before they snap?

Even the most loyal pet will eventually bite back or run away if abused. I can hold my head high knowing that his own darkest secrets (which I know inside and out) are kept safe with me to this day and will never be put on display.

The hardest things about all of this is watching the fallout with the children. I know the damage I caused, but that’s in the past. His damage is still mired in the present, and we all feel the effects of the neglect daily. It doesn’t take much effort at all to be there for your kids. Be nurturing, present, and available for them when they need you. There’s more to parenting than junk food from 7-11, a movie once every couple months, or an annual trip on someone else’s dime.

To think, I might have missed out on this amazing chapter of my life.

I only had to live with this for a short amount of time, but the effects were very damaging. I lived in a fog for two years before the incident. I have friends who have dealt with these types of issues most of their lives. Some days they are unable to get out of bed and have made attempts on their own lives as well. These are people who you wouldn’t even know were struggling to keep their shit together.

These are people that seem very stable on the outside. They are providers, protectors, and people who we tell our children to emulate. They don’t show their pain except to those who are closest to them. I truly understand the extent of my choices back then by watching my loved ones struggle with their own demons.

Today, my struggles are now based on the fact that I let someone control my mental state for so long. Even though that person holds no actual value anymore, I still find myself frustrated by my inability to see through the bullshit sooner. I wish I could have started living my renewed and wonderful life years ago.

I now understand what true love is. To be validated, heard, and really enjoy life’s little moments. I’m no longer checked out, and I find joy in my daily adventures. I laugh, I dance, I love with my whole being. To think, I might have missed out on this amazing chapter of my life had the rod not broken on that fateful night of my 5150. So, for anyone out there who thinks they know your life story without all the details, go tell them to eat a bag of dicks because you deserve so much better than being trapped by depression and anxiety, in those toxic mental states. You deserve to tell your story on your terms. It shouldn’t be told secondhand by people who didn’t feel what you did, or, even worse, caused your pain to exist.

A drawing of a woman with long hard whose face contains a key hole.

Untitled by Anita Wexler

Get the help you need today. Be heard. Make noise. Reach out to anyone who is there to listen. Remember, you are not alone and there is life beyond the darkness. Don’t forget that you are magic in someone’s life. You are that person’s everything. And, again, don’t let anyone tell you that your feelings aren’t real.

“You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants a magical solution to their problems, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.” (Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)


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