Monday, August 17, 2015

There's Nothing Selfish About Suicide

I cam across this post last night and it brought tears to my eyes to read it. If you only read one thing today, please make it this link.

Before you call suicide selfish, stop for a minute and be grateful you have never felt the kind of pain that makes ending your life seem like the only option left. Just a year ago, I was hospitalized after a suicide attempt and to say I didn't think about what it would do to my loved ones would be one of the most hurtful things someone could say to me. All I did think about those that I love and that love and care about me. Not a moment passed during my darkest times that I didn't think about what it would do to my family and my friends if I were gone but there was so much pain that I didn't feel like I had another option. Unless you have felt that pain, you will never understand the depths of despair someone goes through at that point. Please don't ever use the word selfish when describing suicide and please don't judge something you are very lucky to not understand.

Also, always remember suicide is not a dirty word! Talk about it, bring awareness, let people know they can talk to you, make yourself present to those who are suffering (even if they push you away because that's when they need you the most). Kindness can save a life, even kindness to a stranger!
Thanks for reading!
Until next time....
Kissing Stigma Goodbye

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cruel and Unusual – It’s Time to End an American Tragedy

This article (link found below) makes me so incredibly mad and sad. My heart hurts for the folks with severe mental illness who are thrown in jails and hospitals for crimes they committed while sick and then never provided the treatment they need to get better. Thank you to NAMI for this expose on jails and prisons. Maybe state hospitals will be up next! We need to stop ignoring these terrible conditions and treatments. We would never treat someone with a physical
Illness in this way and it is not acceptable to treat someone with a psychiatric illness this way either. We are still people with feelings and we deserve proper treatment for our ailments... Physical and psychological.

Cruel and Unusual – It’s Time to End an American Tragedy

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rock Bottom

Sometimes in life, we have to hit rock bottom, to see the pattern of destructive behaviors and negative thought patterns we have been engaging in. Not everyone needs to hit rock bottom and rock bottom is not the same for everyone.

Rock bottom for me came last summer when I overdosed on Klonopin and Lithium with the hopes of ending my life. What followed that was life changing. Not the stay in the hospital, but the thoughts and feelings that invoked in the weeks and months to follow. The analysis of my outlook on life, on happiness, on family, on friendship, on relationships... all of that was life changing. All of that came from hitting rock bottom and coming out of it a stronger and better person.

The people who support you and love you through the times when you feel and act so unlovable are the ones that will never leave your side no matter what. Thank you to everyone who was there for me when I hit my rock bottom last year. Thank you to everyone who saw me through it. Thank you to everyone who loves me no less now even though they saw me and cared for me when I was so hard to love. I don't know where I would be without all of you.  I especially don't know where I would be without my mom and dad. They have never lost hope in me and have supported me through every heartache and every bit of my illness. Words could never begin to explain the love and appreciation I have for my parents and everyone else who has loved me through the worst.

I am so proud of myself for the strength and growth that has come from last year but I also know I couldn't have done it alone!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Today has been one hell of a day. A day of sadness; a day of tears. Today is one of those days where all I wanted from the start was to go back to sleep and start the day over, in a better mood, in a happier place, with the depression lifted. I actually took a nap today, and those that know me well, know that naps mean I’m avoiding my feelings. Rarely do naps actually mean I’m tired. Things have been going so well for a while, so of course, old man Bipolar had to throw me a curve ball and hit me with some depression today. I can only hope and wish tomorrow is a better day.

Today is one of those days where I feel so alone in this struggle. I have to remind myself that I am not alone. I try so hard to think of those that care about me and those that love me. I think of all the incredible love and support I felt last year when I was suicidal and that’s what keeps me going when I’m down. I know there are people who need me and I know how many people were hurting last year when I was sick. Most days I know this and don’t have to remind myself. Most days are good, most days I smile and laugh like everyone else. Today is not one of those days. Today is a day that I have to remind myself why I’m still here; why I stopped and asked for help last July. Today, I have to remind myself of all the people who love and need me and I have to remind myself of what I have accomplished and why I should be proud of myself. I have to remind myself of the good days to get through the bad days.

It has been just over 15 years since I was diagnosed with this illness and it never really gets any easier to deal with the depression when it hits. The unexplained tears are the worst for me. They are not like a good cry that makes you feel better; I’ve had plenty of those. The unexplained tears just make me feel worse and make me wonder what’s wrong with me. I know I have come a long way since last year because I am able to sit down and write how I am feeling and I was able to express to my mom how I am feeling. A year ago, I would have kept it all inside of me. I hope that today is an anomaly and tomorrow I’m back to doing well like I have been for so long.

I have so much love and appreciation for my family and friends who love me through everything, even on the days when I can be hard to love. I wouldn’t be where I am in life without the love and support of those around me and I could never even begin to put into words how much I appreciate that support.

Here’s to hoping for a better day tomorrow and the next day! Here’s to hoping I never forget why I’ve held on every time I thought I couldn’t go on. And, here’s to all of you that have felt you couldn’t go on at some point. I have felt your pain! Always know, there is someone who needs you; someone whose life would never be the same without you in it!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Please HELP! Sign the petition to restore funding to mental health!!!

$23 million has been cut from the mental health budget since January! Please help by signing this petition to ask Governor Hogan to restore some of the funding that has been cut. Please join "Keep the Door Open MD" by signing this petition before we lose much needed mental health programs! Thank you dearly, from the bottom of my heart!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Help the Homeless Initiatve

Over the 2014 holiday season, my parents and I made 47 bags full of necessary items and snacks for the homeless. We went downtown to the homeless parks to hand these bags out on 2 occasions. The weekend before Christmas and on Christmas day. The experience was incredible! The people we helped were so grateful and were so concerned about their friends, they made sure everyone in the park had a bag! I left there feeling great about what we had done but wishing I could do more.

Here are a few pictures from when we handed out these bags...

The homeless need these things all year long. The homeless population need way more than what we were able to provide. My goal is to open a non-profit organization called "Help the Homeless Initiative" to provide self preservation items for the homeless population year round. Of course, I can't so this without help and support of the community. I am in the process of working through the logistics of forming a non-profit organization but that takes time and money. For now, I have started a dreamfund page to raise money to make this dream a reality!

Any donation no matter how small will help me to help the homeless population! 

Thank you on behalf of myself for believing in me and for helping make my dream a reality! 

Thank you on behalf of all of the people I will be able to help as a result of your support!

If you'd rather donate some items to me. I have made a list of some items that would be helpful... (my list is still a work in progress) Please e-mail me for information on where to bring or send the items

-Feminine hygiene products
-Tooth brushes
-Tooth paste
-Toilet paper

-Reusable grocery bags
-Non perishable snacks
-Gift cards for Safeway (prefer more in a smaller amount than one large one so they can be distributed to many)
-Gift cards to Dunkin Donuts (prefer more in a smaller amount than one large one so they can be distributed to many)

(Disclosure: I am not a non-profit organization so any donations will not be tax deductable at this time. I am in the process of completing the non-profit paperwork. These donations will help me form my non profit organization)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

From Despair to Happiness: The Difference a Few Months Can Make!

5 months ago, I was a patient in the psychiatric unit at Saint Joseph's Medical Center recovering from a suicide attempt; a lithium overdose that landed me in the medical unit for a few days followed by the psychiatric unit. 5 months ago, I wanted to die. I saw no other way out than taking my own life. I took 70+, 300 mg Lithium capsules. A dosage for me at that time was 4 capsules a day. My lithium level tested at nearly 3 times the toxic level when I arrived at the E.R. on the afternoon of July 31, 2014. I survived for a reason unknown to me. I stopped taking the lithium capsules and texted my supervisor who drove me to the hospital. I don’t know for sure what made me stop and ask for help. Maybe it was all of the calls and texts I was receiving from people saying they care. I may not have responded to any of them but they likely played a large role in why I decided to give life another shot. At that time, I couldn’t see life ever being worthwhile. Dying seemed like the best and the only option. I hated myself and I hated the world. I couldn’t imagine ever being happy. I couldn’t even imagine ever feeling any better than totally miserable and hopeless.

Tonight, 5 months later, I look around my apartment, as I sit on the couch in the living room, watching reruns of New Girl. Caesar is snoring on the couch next to me. Diesel is in the Ikea Poang chair, taking a cat nap. Tonight, I feel lucky. Tonight, I feel grateful. Tonight, I am happy I am alive and that something stopped me from continuing to take that lithium overdose. Tonight, I am grateful to have had friends and family that insisted on making sure I knew they cared while I was at my worst. Tonight, I am grateful for having a supervisor who drove to my house, picked me up, and took me to the hospital. I am incredibly happy with where I am in life right now.

Life has been nothing short of exhausting this last year between my mom’s health concerns and my mental health among other things. However, I feel like I have been able to tremendously grow as a person over the past few months. I’m not a fan of the phrase “everything happens for a reason” but I can honestly say I have grown as a person and have learned so much in the months following my suicide attempt. It definitely wasn’t  easy at the time for anyone involved but it allowed me to grow. It helped me become more attuned to my personal needs and has helped me to appreciate what I have. I don’t have everything, my bank account could certainly look better, I still struggle to get out of bed some days, I could stand to lose some weight, and sometimes I let little things bother me too much but I’m happy! I’m truly happy! I’ve realized things don’t have to be perfect and I don’t have to have everything to be happy. I love my job, I have a beautiful apartment, I have an amazing family, my mom is in remission (wahoo), I have incredible friends, I have the sweetest nephews in the world, I have my 2 adorable fur children, I love my new car, and getting out of bed is not a chore (at least not most of the time)! What I went through over this past year has truly helped me appreciate what I do have in life instead of focusing on what I don’t have. I love who I have become and I am incredibly proud of how much I have grown since getting out of the hospital in August.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way. It means the world to me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the amazing support I have had throughout my entire journey.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Out of the Darkness Walk 2014

I will be walking in the Columbia MD Out of the Darkness Walk 2014 on October 18th. This walk is to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is a cause near and dear to my heart and to my family as I have twice made serious suicide attempts due to depression caused from Bipolar Disorder. My most recent attempt was just a month ago. The pain and suffering leading up to it is indescribable. I would love to have as many people walk with me and to show support with me as possible. 

Here is the link to my fundraising page if you would like to make a donation:

This is the link to join my team, Refuse to Sink:

Please pass this along to everyone you know. This is such an incredibly important cause and I would love to be able to raise money to support suicide prevention. Money raised equals lives saved!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm left somewhat speechless this time around. I don't really know what to say or how to say it. I just returned to work yesterday from a 3 week mental health hiatus; much of which was spent in the hospital at Saint Joseph's Medical Center. I'm not really able to put the depression and the despair I was feeling into words right now. I can say, after a drastic medication change, things are beginning to look up for me. I have received so much support from others which has provided me with the necessary strength during this extremely difficult time for me. Thank you to all who have reached out to me and supported me right now. Hopefully in time, I will begin to find it in me to write about my recent experiences. Right now it is fresh, it still hurts, and I'm not even close to 100% so I just can't bring myself to put it into words.

Monday, August 11, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

While it's not surprising; it's heartbreaking. RIP Robin Williams. I am at a loss for words. I truly feel his pain as recently as a few days ago. Another great bipolar gone as a result of this awful disease. My heart truly breaks over the pain he endured. May he finally find peace.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Here is a picture of me and my grandfather at the NAMI Walk at the Baltimore Inner Harbor this past Saturday. We had a good time. I really enjoy being around such a large group of people who are all there to stand up for mental health awareness and fight stigma. It is incredibly inspiring to take part in the NAMI Walk every year.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The $20 Bill

The $20 Bill

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill.

In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up.

He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this." He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air.

"Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

"My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20."

"Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Shame on You Baltimore Sun!

The Baltimore Sun just placed this heading on Facebook:

WMAR BARRICADE: Police say mentally ill suspect is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Let's do a little word substitution here.

Police say diabetic suspect is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say suspect with MS is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say Autistic suspect is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say Chinese suspect is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say Hispanic suspect is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say suspect with breast cancer is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say suspect carrying a coach bag is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say suspect wearing flip flops is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say suspect wearing a size 8 shoe is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say elderly suspect is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

Police say suspect with brown eyes is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility.

The only important and necessary part of any of those statements is "Police say suspect is in custody and has been taken to a medical facility."

I'm so tired of the media using mental illness in this manner! Mental illness is not scary and the large majority of those of us with a mental illness are not dangerous and do not commit crimes! In fact, statistics show, those with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than the perpetrators.

Please, stop listening to the media's harmful campaign against mental illness! When will this end?

Monday, March 31, 2014

World Bipolar Day

Yesterday was World Bipolar Day. This is a picture I made up in the efforts of fighting stigma for the International Bipolar Foundation to post on their Facebook page. They are the ones who sponsored World Bipolar Day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Recent Hospitalization (Part 3)

I previously wrote about my recent visit to the Psychiatric Unit of the hospital. I wrote two posts. The first about what led me to go the hospital (My Recent Hospitalization (Part 1)). The second about the ER visit at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center (SJMC) prior to my psychiatric hospitalization (My Recent Hospitalization (Part 2)). Now about my experience on One West (the psychiatric unit at SJMC).  I want to start off by saying it was an overwhelmingly positive experience from beginning to end. I did a lot of journaling about my experiences each day I was there. The Nurses were just incredible and caring, the Psychiatrists were informed and detail oriented, the unit atmosphere was welcoming, the Social Worker was kind and compassionate, the Occupational Therapists were incredible. Overall, it was a kind, caring, and compassionate atmosphere. Exactly the way it should be for someone dealing with a psychiatric issue. I am so grateful to have gotten a bed on this incredible unit.

I arrived on the unit late Friday night (12/20/13). It was sometime after 11pm. I did my intake with a fantastic nurse named David, who turned out to be my nurse on a number of shifts throughout my stay. I was then given my medication and I passed out for the night pretty quickly. It had been a tiring day. I was woken up very early for a blood draw and for my vitals. Vitals were done bright and early every morning! I had my blood drawn a few times over the course of my stay.  The first thing I did after the blood draw and vitals that first morning was call my parents then went right back to bed. It was bright and early and I wanted to catch them before they went to the grocery store. I had found out the night before that I was allowed to have outside snacks brought in and I could keep them in my room. I was very excited about that! I wasn’t expecting that as that was not the case when I was at Sheppard Pratt 9 years ago. I made sure to jump on this and let my parents know to bring me snacks during visiting hours that day. They brought me tons of snacks and some Gatorade! I asked for Gatorade because the bottles had to be plastic and no cans were allowed. I don’t really care for bottled soda so Gatorade it was.

I was quite glad to learn that the weekend schedule only consisted of 1 less group than the weekday schedule and that I would see a Psychiatrist every day I was there, weekends included. This gave me more confidence about what the quality of my stay would be. Part way through the first group of the day on Saturday morning, I met with Dr. Haerian who had treated me in his private practice when I was a teenager. I hadn’t remembered too much about him except that I had a hard time understanding his accent when I was younger (much better now). He did however remember me, many years later. After taking a brief history and discussing my symptoms he decided to take me off of Seroquel and switch me onto Latuda. Latuda is a new medication, approved for treating depression in individuals with Bipolar Disorder who are unable to take anti-depressants like myself. The reason I can’t take anti-depressants is because they kick me into full-blown mania! Aaaahhh! I expressed to Dr. Haerian my desire to find a new Psychiatrist prior to my discharge. I explained to him that I did not feel confident in my current doctor and Dr. Haerian agreed the hospital would assist with this. The following day when I met with him he offered to be my outpatient Psychiatrist at his private practice. I was so grateful for this offer and definitely took him up on it. Throughout my time in the hospital he monitored my lithium level, started me on and increased my Latuda, and decreased my Seroquel. Slowly the depression began to dissipate. I was extremely impressed with him and am so happy to have him as my new doctor.

One West is an all voluntary unit. No one is placed there on an involuntary hold; every patient on the unit has voluntarily signed themselves in. I’m not sure if that is the reason that it didn’t feel as strict as Sheppard Pratt or if it is just run better with better staff. For one, the warmth that was exuded by the nurses on One West far surpassed any warmth I felt at Sheppard Pratt. I honestly don’t recall feeling truly cared about at Sheppard Pratt. On One West, every nurse was there because they wanted to be there not just because it was a job. They were there because they care about the patients. I felt welcomed on the unit as soon as I arrived. The other patients were all very caring and welcoming as well. I won’t speak in detail about them for their own privacy but I had many heartwarming conversations with other patients. Everyone really seemed to care about the well being of each oter. There were a number of patients there for Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT); some that had been there for as long as a month. They had seen many other patients come and go but despite their long stays they seemed to maintain positivity as ECT helped them feel “normal” again. I learned during my stay that many individuals are sent to One West for ECT because SJMC performs ECT on their grounds. (I will write a blog in the near future about ECT because I know not everyone is familiar with it)

While I was there I spent my days in groups, writing, doing word searches, doing puzzles, chatting with the other patients, and counting down the hours and minutes and seconds until VISITING HOURS! On a psychiatric unit visiting hours are much stricter than on a medical hospital unit. Visiting hours on the weekends and holidays were from 3pm-5pm and 6:30pm-8:30pm. On weekdays visiting hours were only from 6:30pm-8:30pm. You were only allowed 3 visitors at a time and no one under 14 was allowed to visit without permission from your doctor and. Of course, that wasn’t a problem for me since I don’t have any children but a few people on the unit weren’t able to see their young children often.  I’m sure that must have been hard on them but it is surely not an ideal place for children. Everyone seemed able to see their children for Christmas Eve and Christmas. That was nice to see. I didn’t have too many visitors but I had visitors everyday, mostly my parents. The second day I was there, I had mentioned to my parents that a word search book would be nice to have to help take up some of the time I wasn’t in groups. My dad left, went to the gift shop and returned with two activity books. They really did help pass the time. My sister brought me a Greek salad on Christmas Eve and it was the best Greek salad of my life. I was so pleased to be eating that for dinner, instead of the tray of hospital food I had been used to eating. However, the food was not awful there and I was able to choose my meals, which was a relief.

The groups took up a good bit of my time. There were 3 groups on the weekends and holidays. One of the groups was an hour and a half and the other two were an hour. On the weekdays there were 4 one hour-long groups. The groups were on various topics. Every morning there was Occupational Therapy Task Group. That was my favorite because it was very hands on. There were a variety of tasks to choose from. I always chose some sort of arts and crafts activity. I joked that I felt like a 5 year old showing my parents my art work. All jokes aside, arts and crafts are very therapeutic. The other groups were typically more thought provoking. They had more to do with thoughts, feelings, behaviors, mental illness, and so on. Groups were optional but I always attended them. I wanted to get as much out of my stay as possible. Sometimes I would lie down to rest in between groups but for the most part I stayed up from breakfast on. I slept really well in the hospital. I’m not sure what I have to owe that to but I am surely not complaining. I expected to sleep terribly so it was a pleasant surprise.

Overall I would say this was an incredibly successful hospital stay. I would give Saint Joseph’s Medical Center and A+ from the ER to the unit, the nurses to the doctors and everyone in between! Everyone was incredible! I left with a new Psychiatrist, a med change that was already starting to make me feel better, a better outlook, some goals, and a call in for an appointment with a therapist. I was discharged on Christmas day and was able to have the traditional Chinese dinner with my parents! Hey, that’s what us Jews do on Christmas! 

I will do one more post in the near future about how things have been for me since being discharged from the hospital. I wrote so much about this hospital stay down in a journal. It is way too much to share in a blog post. Maybe one day, if I ever get around to writing a book, I’ll hopefully be able to include much of it in my book!

Thank you for reading! Until next time…
Sara Breidenstein
Kissing Stigma Goodbye

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Recent Hospitalization (Part 2)

After a long couple of months of a deteriorating mental health status, of pure misery, of truly touch and go symptoms, feeling completely out of control, and wanting to end my life so badly; I made the decision to go to the hospital. I stopped denying the situation and blaming it on life situations and took the first step in taking control of the situation. The decision to go to the hospital followed weeks, maybe more, of absolute pain and suffering that no longer felt bearable. I made the decision that I would go to the hospital on Thursday night, December 19, 2013. I had decided that I would go after the work holiday party scheduled for the following day. I just had to get through a few hours of work and a few hours of the holiday party Friday.

With tears in my eyes, I told my mom of my plans and told her I would be going by myself and I would update her of the outcome. This night, Thursday night was the first I was able to cry in a very long time and it felt good. After telling my mom of my plans, I did my laundry, I packed a bag, and I prepared myself as best as possible for what would be. Mom took care of telling the rest of the family for me. As I left for work the next day, I took my carefully (hospital approved) packed bag with me. I threw it in my trunk to be forgotten about for the day but that turned out to be impossible. Everything made me think of the fact that I would be taking myself to the ER after work with hopes of being admitted, losing all independence for at least a few days. I was concerned. I was concerned about almost everything.

What if they don’t hospitalize me? What if they just send me home? I’ll probably end up harming myself! How much should I tell them in the ER? I don’t want to be involuntarily placed in the hospital if they think I’m too much of a danger to myself! What if the hospital is not a kind and warm place to be? What if I feel like they’re not helping me? What if they don’t discharge me when I request it and I’m stuck there? What if I’m not out in time to return to work on January 2nd? What if I can’t have access to water all the time? I’m always thirsty! What if they don’t give me Ibuprofen for my neck when I need it? What about tums? I’ve got terrible acid reflux! Will they give me tums? How am I going to write? I need a notebook without metal spirals (Dad saved the day on this one)! Will they let me have pens? What can I have? What about my psoriasis? Will they allow me to have my cream for that? Can they even help me? Maybe I’m too far gone! What can they do in a few days for me? What if? What if? What if?

It was a night and day full of what ifs?!?! My brain just couldn’t stop thinking of what could go wrong and start thinking of what could go right! I pushed myself through work and through the holiday party. It wasn’t really that hard to do because it was keeping my mind occupied. Partly through the day, I sent a text to my mom “I don’t want to go to the hospital alone.” She agreed to meet me at the hospital when she got off of work. I got out of the holiday party around 3pm and headed over to Saint Joseph’s Medical Center (SJMC). I sat in my car in the parking lot of the E.R. with about 45 minutes to kill until my mom would arrive. That is when I wrote my thoughts and feelings down to assist me with communicating effectively with the hospital staff. Some of those thoughts and feelings I posted last night. When I completed that I just enjoyed (or tried to enjoy) some music while waiting for my mom. I did not want to go inside without her. Eventually, just before 4 p.m.,I went inside because I had to go to the bathroom so badly. Mom arrived shortly after I checked in and remained with me until I was transferred out of the ER.

They called me back to triage me after only a 10 minute wait in the waiting room. When I told them I was having suicidal thoughts, they quickly changed their minds about the normal triage process and took me back to a room immediately. Once in the room, there were 3 nurses surrounding me while I had to take my clothing off and put on a hospital gown. One was taking my blood pressure, another asking me questions, another preparing to take my blood. It was all incredibly overwhelming. No surprise my blood pressure was sky high. Higher than it’s ever been. Wouldn’t anyone’s be high with three nurses surrounding them like that? When they all finally left my room, I sent one to get my mom out of the waiting room. While they were getting her, the one nurse, who was set to be my nurse for the remainder of the shift came in to talk to me about what brought me into the hospital. She was incredibly kind and caring and didn’t once make me feel any shame for being there. Instead, she made me feel comfortable being there and as if I had made the correct decision in going. She told me she was sorry I was feeling that way and she hoped I feel better. In fact, just about everyone else I came into contact with in the ER made me feel that way. The nurses and doctors in the ER were incredible! It was the complete opposite of some of my past experiences at.

First, I met with a medical doctor to receive medical clearance. That happened pretty quickly. I’d say within an hour or so of arriving at the ER. I met with the Social Worker pretty quickly as well. I then had to wait for the Psychiatrist. Psychiatrists in the evening hours at the ER are more of an on-call type position and I had arrived shortly after shift change (darn). Once the Psychiatrist arrived she met with me pretty quickly and agreed that being an admitted was the best thing for me at the time. I signed the voluntary papers and she and the Social Worker began working on getting insurance authorization and checking if a bed at Saint Joseph’s was available. I lucked out, a bed upstairs (one floor up- directly above the ER) in the Psychiatric Unit at SJMC was available and my insurance authorized me to stay. I was however, worried that I wouldn’t receive enough treatment. The Social Worker in the ER told me I was only authorized through Monday December 23rd. My mom and I were worried that I would basically just be in the hospital over the weekend and weren’t sure how effective that would be for me. Would I even see a doctor? A Social Worker? Would they help me find a new doctor? A therapist? I was worried! I was stressing a lot about the Monday timeline! Once I got on the unit and spoke to my doctor it became more apparent that they would obtain an extended authorization as needed and they did just that. My authorization was extended until Thursday December 26th

After talking to the Psychiatrist, finding out there was a bed on One West (the Psychiatric unit), and finding out my insurance authorized the stay it was just a matter of the nurse calling to One West and letting them know I was ready to be transferred up there. Unfortunately, just as this happened, my nurse was called to an emergency which took quite some time. I was stuck in the ER waiting for a bit longer. It took about an hour and a half to two hours from the insurance authorization to my transfer upstairs. I still thought the timing was quite good. I arrived at the ER around 4 pm and was transferred to the Psych unit just after 11 pm. The last time I was hospitalized, I sat at GBMC for about 16 hours with a bed awaiting me at Sheppard Pratt while all I was waiting on was medical clearance. 7 hours seemed great to me! Everyone in the ER was truly incredible and caring. It was a very positive ER experience.

Once I got on the unit, they went through my stuff and took a few items I couldn’t have; I did a pretty good job of packing to psych hospital standards. They then did my intake, gave me my medication, showed me my room and I was out like a light! I was woken up bright and early for a blood draw and then my vitals. I saw a Psychiatrist first thing Saturday morning, which eased my stress a lot!

More to come on my actual stay on the unit!

Thanks for reading! Until next time…
Sara Breidenstein

Kissing Stigma Goodbye

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Recent Hospitalization (Part 1)

This will be my first in a series of posts about my recent hospital visit. I will start with what led me to the visit. The ultimate decider in going to the E.R. was my suicidal ideations. I was very focused on the idea of no longer wanting to live. Every night I hoped I wouldn’t wake up. I would stare at my bottle of lithium thinking about just taking the entire bottle so I would not have to wake come tomorrow. I attempted suicide 6 ½ years ago at a time in which I was feeling much like I was feeling prior to going to the hospital. I was in a mixed state. A mixed state is when someone has feelings of both depression and mania at the same time. It is a very dangerous place to be when you’re having suicidal thoughts. When someone is depressed the suicidal thoughts may be present but the energy and motivation is often times lacking. When someone is in a mixed state the suicidal thoughts are present and so is the energy to act on those thoughts. This therefore makes mixed states the most dangerous state for an individual with Bipolar.

The suicidal desires are what brought me to the hospital but they were only one part of the problem. There were many other symptoms present that I had been fighting and denying for a long time. I was in a full-blown mixed state and was feeling entirely out of control. My symptoms started months ago. I honestly can’t think back to exactly when. However, they worsened with my recent discontinuation of Lamictal. I wasn’t aware of their worsening. In fact, I thought I was doing just fine. I blamed everything I was going through on subpar life situations. I had even become very resentful towards friends and family for they had what I could never seem to obtain but wanted so badly. Finally, I lost it one too many times and realized that I couldn’t go on like this anymore. There are many occasions in which I am amazed that I didn’t do something to take my life. I always thought about not wanting to hurt my family in these cases and it was the only thing keeping me alive. I felt so out of control and I knew I needed help. The night before I went to the hospital, I decided I would go to the ER after work the following day. I told my family of my plan, I packed a bag, and I prepared myself for the hospital. It was such a hard decision to make, to give up all control and trust to a locked facility. It ended up being a very good decision (which I will talk about more in days to come). The piece I wrote two nights before going to the hospital really allowed me to begin to externalize how I was feeling. I had been internalizing for so long and writing this piece gave me the insight I needed to realize how bad off I really was. The link to that piece is here: Tomorrow Is a New Day

To give you a small taste of where my mind was at, I am going to share some of the things I wrote down in a notebook prior to going to the hospital, both the night before and the day of. The things I wrote the day of, I wrote down to help me better express to the doctors and nurses at the hospital how I was feeling because I don’t do well at verbally expressing myself.

I jotted this down the night before I went to the hospital. 

I can’t go to the hospital. What about my dog? He’ll really miss me while I’m gone. If I don’t go to the hospital I may kill myself. I probably will. What about Caesar? He’ll be really sad! Mom and Dad will take care of him but he’ll never be the same. Too bad I didn’t succeed 6 years ago. What if I don’t succeed again? What if I end up a vegetable? Will they pull the cord? I hope so. Poor Caesar. This isn’t fair to him. My parents will be better off without me. No matter what they say; I just complicate their lives. They should have made me happy. They made my sister happy. Why didn’t they make me happy?

I jotted the following down shortly before walking into the ER while I was sitting in my car outside of the hospital preparing my thoughts. This was immediately after my company holiday party, which I attended and put on a happy face at. I did not share that I was going to the ER for suicidal thoughts right after with anyone but one person. I pushed myself through work until my 12 days off. After all, work was the only thing at the time that actually made me feel good!

I can’t find the worth in my life. I know it doesn’t exist. Everyone tells me there’s worth in every life but I don’t believe them. There’s not worth in mine. Every single day I want to die. I hope that I won’t wake up in the morning. I feel hopeless. I feel desperate to end the misery. I can’t see a positive future. I can’t see any other way than death for the misery to end but I don’t want to hurt my family. I just want to be happy but it seems impossible. It’s not fair. Why should I have to live in such misery? I resent my family, friends, and coworkers who seem to have everything I’m missing. I don’t know when I’ll just lose it and harm myself with plans to end it all. It’s nearing closer and closer and I don’t trust myself after my impulsive overdose 6 years ago when I felt similar. The littlest things in conversations will set my brain off. I need help fast!

I also jotted down a list of some sort related to my thoughts and feelings:

·      Sad
·      Discouraged
·      Hopeless
·      Alone
·      The desire to no longer live
·      Irritated
·      Agitated
·      Anxious
·      Trouble sleeping
·      Racing thoughts at times
·      Pressured speech at times
·      Restless
·      Hate and resent towards family and friends
·      Attention problems
·      Impulsive (i.e. spending)
·      Sometimes I feel hypomanic symptoms and sometimes depressed symptoms and sometimes both all at once

This is a small peak into where my mind was at prior to my hospitalization. I thought sharing some of what I jotted down could be useful as it is raw, straight from my brain to the paper, a real look at what was going on in my brain and why I went to the hospital. I will follow this up in a day or so with my experiences in the hospital, staring in the E.R. and all the way until discharge

Thank you for reading! Until next time…
Sara Breidenstein
Kissing Stigma Goodbye