I’ve typed a few times before, each time erasing what was on the screen. Then I consider the healing that will come from writing this piece, and the words I was once told by a therapist “If you can share it you can bear it.” So here goes.
As a little girl, on my 10th birthday I passed out cold…. As a 16 year old girl driving home I had to pull over fearful I would pass out… As a 21 year old secretary I passed out on the second day of work. At 25 as a mom to a 1 month old I was rushed by my husband to the hospital with what I thought was a seizure. At 27 I had my second baby, two weeks after he was born I passed out at home, an ambulance took me to the hospital. By the time he was 4 months I old I was admitted to a behavioral health center under a 5150 hold, had to stay passed three days… what happens then, yeah they will place a 5250 hold. …. That’s just the highlights to my story. I didn’t understand much about what happened to me when I met extreme stress, not until I was hospitalized and sought treatment, which I had to fight for by myself. I am thankful I had support from my family, that I live with a person who has a badge and has to regularly place holds on people in his profession… and extra glad he didn’t have to be the one to place the hold on me.
So let me back up to explain each piece of my story. On my 10th birthday, my mom had bought me a very nice ceramic piggy bank. Only this bank looked just like a rabbit, I had my own bunny, she was solid black. My mom came to my room in the morning and said she was going to let my bunny out for the day to run the yard, later she came back and said she thought a cat was scaring her so she put her back in her hutch but that I might want to check on her. I quickly went into the back yard and upon approaching the cage fainted straight back. I was thankful my mother was behind to catch me less I’d have hit the concrete with my head. As I came to my mom was screaming for my brother to bring my rabbit from around the corner; which I rushed to hold. Why had I fainted? Well the piggy-bank bunny was black and white, and in my mind the cat had mauled my SOLID BLACK rabbit, taking big chunks of her fur. In an instant my mind thought that the thing I thought that was very precious to me had been hurt and my body reacted strongly.
16 year old me was a very shy teenage girl. I hated when men and boys stared at me, so one afternoon in the summer I was lifting weights in a female only section of a popular gym in town. But along a cat walk I saw two men just sitting watching, to be honest I no longer know if I was hallucinating or if they really where there; anyhow my brain perceived I was being watched by lustful men. I took off and went straight to my car to drive home. I had to stop on the way, as I got home my mom was home on her lunch hour and saw I was white as a ghost. At first we thought it was maybe blood sugar so she gave me juice, then she took me to the doctor, whom I told nothing other than I was driving home; he said “Its all in her head.”
At year 21 I was working full time for a very nice place of business, the job included working in financial services including processing loan documents. I had just started the job after leaving the previous office where a co-worker actually had been using illegal drugs in the office along with stealing large amounts of cash among other things, I was happy to have a new job, where hopefully ethics was expected. It was much to my chagrin to walk into my supervisors office on day 2, and see her forging someones name on a loan document. I was instantly ill and ran to the bathroom, only I never made it, instead I fainted in the hallway on the way to the toilet. Once again my morals where compromised and I just didn’t know how to deal with it. Thankfully that supervisor was fired around 6 months later for the issues I had witnessed. At the time though, my young self didn’t yet understand passing out at 10 years old, almost at 16 years old, and then at 21… I didn’t understand how my bodies reactions and more how to help control them.
At 25 years old, my daughter had been born and was exactly 1 month old. I woke in the middle of the night to a raging headache. It felt as though my brain was being rattled from the inside out, my husband rushed me to the hospital where I was told I had a urinary track infection. When I went to the follow up with my doctor he told me that was no the case and there was an unknown cause for this. It wasn’t for a few years yet that I would know how hormones can play a role in mental illness’
I was so happy to have my family complete at 27, one girl, one boy and my husband and I where done having kids. Except by the time my son was 5 days old he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, we where told he would need open heart surgery around months old. By the time he was two weeks old, the anxiety of having a child in heart failure, not wanting to eat, and having other unknown possible conditions drove me again to passing out. I was rushed by ambulance to the ER to be told, “not sure why” Time continued on and as the time for my son to have surgery approached I began hallucinating. First it started as dreams, then it got worse, I couldn’t think straight anymore. I went to my OBGYN for help, got some medication but was told it could take a few weeks to “kick in.” Unfortunately, that was too long, my son had open heart surgery on Good Friday that year, and by Easter night he was in the hospital still recovering and I was in a behavioral health hospital. Diagnosed with severe postpartum depression. I stayed under a 5150 hold for 3 days, was placed under a 5250 hold for an additional day and sent home on two different medications one for the morning, one for the night. Taking the medications had taken one of the most precious things from me, the ability to nurse my baby, which made my recovery all the more difficult. I had been sent to one psychiatrist, but found out he was under investigation for one of his patients dying in the same hospital I was in just a few months before. I decided to find another doctor to trust. Thankfully, the doctor I found worked through ALL of my issues, not just the post postpartum, but the severe anxiety I have when my morals are under fire. I now know how to cope, whereas had I never had my severe episode I would have kept having more mental health issues because I didn’t understand what happens to my brain/body.
Several years out now, I have had a few things come up here or there, but I can recognize my symptoms and go straight to an understanding doctor and have skills to cope. With sleep and exercise being two of the biggest helpers. There have been a few times when I am around someone whom I feel could benefit from knowing my “back” story, but as a teacher in a local school district I dare not say anything. I can only imagine what might come of it, “what if she faints mid-class in a room full of students.” It is in those times I remember just how poorly society sees people with mental illnesses. When you have been labeled ‘5150’ and are not suppose to be around firearms but have a husband whose very profession involves one you stay ‘hidden’ because it would risk potential job loss for our whole family… but I will always in my heart know I have an anxiety disorder, and I am the real 5150.