“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope…or by using the challenge to find our inner strength..” – Dalai Lama
My name is Maria and this is my story:
Our story opens with me sobbing uncontrollably in nothing but a hospital gown, alone and terrified out of my mind.
The hallway floor I’m sitting on is frigid but I don’t really notice. I’m working up to a massive panic attack. For the first time in my life, I’ve completely lost my freedom and it has destroyed me.
I’m on hour 30 of a 72 hour involuntary hold in a psych ward. I’m seething with rage and fear having just come from my first interaction with a psychiatrist which was the opposite of therapeutic.
But…at my lowest point, at my most broken, I discover something truly extraordinary. The thing about being so very destroyed is that you have nothing left to lose. Everything somehow becomes opaque, the rest of the world becomes a blur and finally, you can see the pure stuff of your soul oozing through the cracks.
So, I rise up.
I rise up. In a surreal moment I seem to leave my body, no longer the same person but a powerful new woman fighting for the girl crying in the hallway like no one has before. I demand to speak to a therapist.
When I see that counselor I find my voice to tell her to shut up, shut up and listen to me instead of giving me the party line. We end up having an extremely productive discussion. I arrange for my diet to be catered to in the dining hall. In this place where I’m just a number I am my best and only advocate.
I leave still broken but with a commitment to provide comfort to myself and others going through this hell. I will never let the girl in the hallway be alone and powerless again.
My name is Maria and this is my story.
Believe it or not, stories have power.
Your story makes a huge difference in how you see and impact the world. That moment in the hospital was brutal, more harrowing than I would have wanted for an awakening but not nearly as brutal as it is for so many other people especially those coming from LGBTQ, Black, African American, Indigenous, Female and LatinX communities. Their voices go unheard and they are statistically more likely to be abused, ignored, and misdiagnosed while in care.
Our national awareness of mental health issues is tenuous at best and the system is woefully broken, especially in my state of Florida where our system ranks 50th (out of 50 states) in mental health care.
My mission is to advocate for all vulnerable people, to provide curated resources on this blog specific to mental health crises/situations, and continually push the conversation on mental wellness in this country.
I will not let my story end in the hospital, I will use it to help others to rise up.
Rise with me.