“Monsters don’t sleep under your bed, they sleep inside your head.”
Let us depart from societal taboos and embrace a new era. Let it be an era where we listen to one another’s experiences, gain insight, and provide each other with the respect and compassion we all deserve.
I’d like to shatter the bonds that once held me to secrecy about my past. There is no shame about my mental condition. I will not let my past define me, nor will I let it consume my thoughts. No, I believe it is our reactions and the changes we implement after powerful events that mold us into who we are. Do you go right or left at the forked path ahead? Or, rather, as my pastor would ask us ‘do you go horizontal or vertical?’
My walk with Christ is recent and I thank God daily for the events he set in motion to lead me to him. There was a time in my past where I renounced his existence and left his loving embrace. During that time, life was normal; it was ordinary. I studied and got great grades leading to my acceptance into my dream school. I contributed that accomplishment to me, not God. It is that same school that led me to my downfall.
I have always been very studious and diligent when it comes to my education. That is how I was raised and it is something I firmly believe in. Yet, the process our higher education demands from its students is incredulous. For example, medical schools want a “well-rounded applicant,” which sums up to the human-form of a superhero. Stellar grades, standardized tests, countless hours of health care and volunteering as well as extracurricular involvement is your ticket into medical school. Not many can meet all those demands. It was those demands, my poor coping mechanisms, and ongoing struggle with depression that led me to be Baker Acted on February 17th, 2013. It is a night that I will never forget.
I was in my apartment studying for my Ethics exam. It was so difficult to concentrate with the incessant thoughts of self-hate consuming my attention. The thoughts of not being good enough to accomplish my goals, to being disgusted with myself, and the thoughts that constantly tore me down. Thoughts that I now know are not valid. I tried self-harm and while it offered me a short reprieve, I was in no way cured.
I was seriously contemplating “disappearing” that night. I wanted to drive off and be done with the world. I wanted the pain to end. Most importantly, I wanted the self-torture to end. I was sobbing uncontrollably and considering ending my life. I had even convinced myself that my family would get past this with the aid of my sister —a daughter who wasn’t damaged. I had talked myself into accepting this idea as a reality. My mind made it seem so reasonable and so tempting.
My roommate Benita then rushed into my room to use my bathroom since hers wasn’t working. When she came out she saw my tears and asked me what was wrong. She knew everything that was happening with my depression. I looked at her face and knew that I could no longer burden her. It just had to end — I had to set her free. She needed a stable friend. Someone without pain whose company she could enjoy. I told her to leave that I was fine and was just having some trouble. She refused and said she would stay until I felt better. I told her no and that she needed to stop being my friend. I told her that she needed to be with her other friends and forget about me.
She became really scared at that point and I had a mixture of emotions. I tried kicking her out of my room because I needed to study. She refused and then I told her I would leave and go far away so no one would be hurt. She threatened to Baker Act me. I said no and handed her my car keys to pacify her.
It was less than an hour later that four cops came and took me. I was in my bathroom talking to another roommate when they came into my room. I managed to close the door with both of us inside. I was so scared and did not want them to take me. It wasn’t until the cops said they would break down the door that I opened it. I refused to go with them and said I was seeking mental help and had a therapist and psychiatrist. The female cops bashed my providers and said they weren’t doing a good job. They also accused me of trying to hurt other people because they had distorted what Benita had disclosed to them. I said that wasn’t true. The female cops then went through my room and said I had to come with them. I refused and said no. I told them to call my therapist. They threatened to remove me with force. I finally consented and went to put on clothes since I was in my pajamas. They refused to let me dress in the bathroom and only consented when the door was completely ajar.
They asked if I had insurance because if I did I would go to a better facility. I refused to admit I did because I didn’t want my parents getting a bill or any notice. I eventually complied and grabbed my wallet and that is when they saw my diary. The women snatched it and told the male cop to read it. He then read my diary in front of me and disregarded my pleas to stop and that it was private. The police then decided to confiscate my diary as evidence. It took me almost a month to get it back because they considered it evidence in a crime.
We were leaving the apartment when the two women officers told the young male officer to cuff me. I was really scared then and pleaded with them not to. I told them I had consented to everything and was no longer resisting them. I also explained that the staircase was wide enough to allow two people and they could hold my arm if they wanted. The woman police officer scoffed at my suggestion and said, “No one will hold you hand for this. You’re not a child.”
The young male police officer tried to change her mind and reason with her, but she did not consent. He apologized as he cuffed me and led me down the stairs. When we reached the bottom of the staircase I saw Benita and our mutual friend waiting. I glared at both of them. I was so hurt and upset by what they did. When we were arriving to the mental health facility the young police officer asked me why I wanted to hurt myself and I simply replied, “I’m just tired. Tired of everything.”
P.S. Part 2 will be out next week. Who doesn’t like a mid-story cliff hanger?!