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Today on Soul Stories, I have the honor of bringing you Sara’s Story. Because it’s National Suicide Awareness Month, I asked my friend Sara to tell her story of strength in the face of a serious mental illness. And I have to say it’s as incredible and inspiring as she is!
Sara’s story talks about her challenges with repeated hospitalizations for mental health related issues. Sara discusses how being hospitalized over and over can feel really demoralizing but encourages us all to not to give up and keep moving forward as we work towards healing.
Read the full story below and make sure to check out Sara’s Facebook Support Group Love Who You Are <3
Tell us About an Event Where Your Mental Health was Challenged
Three years ago in January I was in a Psychiatric Unit at Dartmouth for 5 days. The first day they diagnosed me with PTSD. I attended many of the groups and met with different chaplains.
The reason I was there was because I had put a belt around my neck and kept having more thoughts about doing it. My doctor and I had talked about it and she sent me to the ER. While I was there I had my first psychiatric evaluation.
In March that year I ended up going back to the same unit because I had a hard time with cutting. I was there for 4 days. Like the time before, I attended as many groups as I could. I stayed more out of my room this time and got to make some new friends.
Then in April that year I was transferred to more of a Mental Hospital. It was the same reason with the cutting but it had gotten Worse. This time I shared a room with someone. I attended groups, and I got more one on one time with therapists there.
Then the year after I went to the ER again, but I was only there for a few hours, then I went home. Then later that year I went again, I was in the waiting room for two hours, I didn’t have a evaluation this time. I ended up going home. Later on I was asked if I wanted to start a Depression Peer Support Group in my town. As of this day we are still getting together and are now meeting once a week.
Now… In January this year I went to the ER again, had another evaluation, stayed for a few hours, then went home.
I ended up going again in June too as well.
For quite sometime I was hard on myself for being in and out of the hospital.
How did you Overcome it?
I learned over the past few years that it’s ok to be who you are. I also learned how to communicate my thoughts and emotions, and learned that I had created these thoughts as well.
How did This Event Change Your Life Positively and/or Negatively?
It opened so many doors on my journey.
I started meeting with a wonderful and amazing Empowerment Coach, and I also started talking with a Reverend as well. The Reverend had asked me if I would like to start a Depression Peer Support Group at the church. I also started a Depression Support Group on Facebook called Love Who You Are. To this day I am still facilitating these wonderful and amazing groups.
What’s one Piece of Advice you Have for Others in the Same Situation?
My advice to the world is to be who you are, love who you are, love others for who they are.
Be there for someone that may be struggling. Shift your focus onto something or someone other than yourself. When you shift your focus, you may notice a big difference in how you are feeling.
Final Words From Sara
I was hard on myself (for the successive hospitalizations) because of medications not working out for me. I kept thinking what’s wrong with me? So, I’ve been diagnosed with: Anxiety Disorder, ADHD, Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder, and PTSD.
But you know what????These things don’t define who I am.
I thank God for the young woman that I have become.
Yes I still have dark moments, yes I still have scary thoughts, but it helps make part of the journey. Just like a story, there are ups and downs. But no matter what, you gotta flip the page.
Wrap Up – Final Words From MSB
Sara’s story is truly inspirational!
However, it’s far from uncommon. Repeated hospital visits, misdiagnoses, and backslides are all too common for those of us struggling with our mental health.
I think the greatest strength of Sara’s incredible story is to tell us that it’s okay to be hospitalized for mental health issues. It’s just part of the ongoing process of healing. And, as Sara said, it doesn’t define you!
While, they have a LONG way to go in providing informed care, hospitalizations do save lives. The survival rate is much higher for patients who seek intervention for suicidal thoughts vs. those who don’t. Personally, I wouldn’t be alive today if not for a hospitalization.
So if you need the help, don’t hesitate to go to the hospital. It just could save your life.
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