Some of you know I’ve been at a treatment center for the last six weeks. The Center works with clients struggling with a wide range of issues – depression, anxiety, trauma, chemical dependency, and eating disorders, to name a few.
There were several events that lead up to me checking into The Center, but mostly it was my increased thoughts of suicide. I never got to the point of planning anything out, but I realized I didn’t want to reach that level before seeking out help (more about suicidal ideation here).
For anyone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, almost 10 million Americans considered suicide last year. This doesn’t include the nearly 45,000 people who actually committed suicide.
It’s terrifying to examine those dark thoughts for yourself, let alone voice them to others. I felt like I was being dramatic, and as soon as I said anything to my therapist or to a trusted friend, I immediately regretted it and started doubting myself.
I was really good at faking it. Hiding parts of myself became second nature for me from a very early age. While that worked for a while, there cannot be true healing without connection. We must dare to be vulnerable with the dark parts of ourselves in order to receive wholeness and health.
The Bible often uses light as a metaphor for truth. 1 John says, “In [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” I felt overcome with darkness. There’s really no way to explain it unless you’ve been in that overwhelmingly desolate place and sat in the loneliness, desperation, and shame. Some part of me knew hope existed but it felt just out of my reach
Everyone’s journey is different. For me, it was obvious that the weekly therapy sessions were not enough. As my therapist put it, “Working with you is kind of like working with a half-filled balloon; you try to grab a hold of one end and then it pops out at the other end and you can never quite get grasp it.” Yeah, not the most flattering simile. It’s totally fine. That doesn’t play into my deep-rooted fear of being too broken, too far gone, too much. Everything is fine.
Naturally, instead of leaning into the therapy, I clung tighter to my mask. The symptoms of my depression became more unmanageable as I continued to ignore the root issues. Those roots buried themselves deep into the fabric of my being, ripping out the seams and replacing the garment with thorny vines.
Some of the tangled mess was my own doing. Some of it I allowed. Some of it I never would have asked for. I checked into The Center to untangle those vines and find who I am underneath.
The Center is a partial hospitalization program. They have classes and one-on-one sessions from 9-5, Monday through Saturday. We had the evenings and Sundays to ourselves. They provide housing, which I was initially worried about, but I ended up really loving the community the housing arrangement provided.
I checked into The Center thinking I had two or three things I needed to work on. After a day and a half of classes, I realized I had about 87 things to work on. More on that in a later post.
I’m not “fixed,” and I know the real work is just beginning. I’ll continue to share what I’ve learned and how I’m applying it to my life in hopes of encouraging others to do the same.
– Brené Brown
Vulnerabilityis our greatest measurement of courage.