Wednesday, January 7, 2015

From Suicidal to Satisfied: 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.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Breast Cancer Research Donation

Hey Everyone! I have my own business selling organic makeup! This month in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I am donating 20% of the cost of any pink (or red- close enough) item purchased to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for every pink item purchased! Check out my website and Shop For a Cure! Shop Younique's chemical free products here...

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!

Friday, September 5, 2014

I wrote yesterday about how much better I was feeling. I guess I jinxed myself because today has been a rough day. I really truly hate this illness. Tonight was filled with crying and "It's not fair." I don't often say it's not fair and feel sorry for myself but tonight, I did. I thought I was doing well and then the uncontrollable irritability struck tonight. It's not the irritability that everyone gets from time to time, it is totally uncontrollable irritability that completely takes over. I hate myself when that happens. I hate myself right now and I hate hating myself- it's a vicious cycle. There are still times I wish that I hadn't stopped taking the lithium overdose and hadn't gone to the hospital so I could be at peace now. Tonight is a night like that, today is a day like that. No, I am not suicidal at all- no active thoughts of suicide- don't worry my friends. I just want to feel like I have some sense of normalcy in my life instead of never knowing what my disease may bring me with each new day.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


It has been exactly 5 weeks since I was admitted to the hospital after an intentional overdose of Lithium. I started Prozac about 4 1/2 weeks ago (20 mg) and my Psychiatrist increased in to 30 mg a week ago. My Seroquel was also increased from n400 mg to 600 mg at the same time I started Prozac. Lithium was discontinued at that time as well.

I am feeling significantly better with much more energy and passion for life. I feel hopeful that I am on the correct medications right now. Thank you to everyone who has offered me support during this trying time in my life.

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 either in the hospital or the day 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 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

While it's not surprising, it's heartbreaking. RIP Robin Williams. I truly feel his pain as recently as a few days ago. Another great bipolar gone as a result of this awful disease. May he finally find peace.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Comfort Inn

Today I drove by the Comfort Inn. Not just any Comfort Inn but the one I used to run to when things got to be too much  at home. I would charge the room to my personal credit card so my ex husband wouldn't know where I was. I haven't driven directly past it in years. Today I drove past it and just smiled that I found the courage and the strength to leave the miserable abusive situation I was in at that time. With the exception of the occasional flash back he has no hold left on me and never will. That is something to smile about and be proud of.

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

KSG Facebook Page

Have you seen my Facebook page? If not, why the heck not?  Head on over to the Kissing Stigma Goodbye Facebook Page and give it a "like"!

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 tried 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! Please, stop listening to the media's harmful campaign against mental illness! When will this end? We already face enough day to day stigma without the addition of the media's stigmatic headlines and articles.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mental Illness Is Real

Bipolar is real, Depression is real, Schizophrenia is real, Mental Illness is real! It's such a shame that those of us living with a mental illness are made to feel as if our illness isn't real, as if it doesn't matter. There are no casseroles for the family when someone is struggling with a mental illness, so many less people say "let me know if there's anything you need" than would if it were to someone with a physical illness, many people just turn a blind eye, turn the other way as if nothing is happening, as if we're not sick and we don't need help. The problem with that is, we ARE sick and we DO need help. We need love and we need support in the same way someone with cancer needs love and support. Mental illness is the seen as the invisible illness which makes those of us suffering with mental illness feel like the invisible people.

Would you feel cared about by someone who didn't show you care and compassion while you were undergoing chemo therapy? Would you feel loved by someone who turned their back on you while you were in the hospital after having a stroke? Would you feel like you mattered to someone who didn't take the time to recognize and acknowledge the pain you experience as a result of your MS?

I'm willing to bet the answer to those questions is no, across the board. So I ask you the following questions.

Why should those of us living with a mental illness feel cared about by people who don't show us care and compassion when we most need it? Why should we feel loved by people who turn their backs when we're sick and crying out for help? Why should we feel like we matter to those who don't take the time to recognize and acknowledge, even if they can't understand, the pain and daily struggle we deal with as a result of our illness? Why is our invisible illness less important than the physical, visible illnesses of others? Why are we so often forced to suffer alone or with less support than those dealing with a physical illness?

If you're someone who does this to a friend or family, please realize how much you're hurting them. If you're someone that has seen other people do this to a friend or family member, please stand up for them. If you have a mental illness and are experiencing this or have experienced this like I have, I'm sorry. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It sucks. It hurts. It's the last thing we need when we're already drowning in our mental illness. Compassion is a beautiful thing, compassion for all.

There is nothing fake about what we experience in our head every day. I know it can't be seen, but it's there and at times it can be complete misery. Mental illness can be deadly. In fact, suicides encompass a large number of deaths in the United States. Imagine if your brain was working against you so much that death seemed like the best option, the only option, the only way out. That is not fake, that is real, incredibly real. Count yourself as being lucky if you've never felt that way but don't discount the pain and suffering of the person that has felt that way. There is nothing fun about mental illness. It has destroyed main lives because it is real and it is unforgiving. Just because you can't see it in an x-ray, in a blood test, as a rash on my arm, or a fever on the thermometer doesn't make it any less real than cancer or diabetes or other physical illnesses.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I haven't written in a while, I know. It's weighing on me. I need to just sit down one day soon and write. It feels great when I finish writing something. I've been a little distracted lately, my mind not so able to focus on writing. My mom is sick and we've (dad, sister, and I) been going through all the doctors appointments and biopsies and tests with her. She has a diagnosis now, Amyloidosis. She has a course of treatment as well, 3 months of chemo once a week starting next week. So now we play the waiting game, remain positive, and hope for the best. So that is where I have been, where my mind has been, why writing has not been in the agenda. Now, I need to force myself to sit down and write because I do get pleasure from it.

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.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Post Hospital Update

It's been a little over 2 months since my discharge from the hospital and things are going pretty well. There have been some ups and downs in there but overall I'm doing far better than I was leading up to the hospital. I had a period of some hypo-mania but that was quickly nipped in the bud by my Psychiatrist by adding Seroquel back into the mix of my medications. I had been taken off it in the hospital with the hopes that Latuda would treat the depression as well as make the Seroquel unnecessary. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way. 

The new Psychiatrist is working out wonderfully. I have recently started Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which is working well so far. I've gotten myself back to the gym- although not as often as I'd like. I'm taking two writing courses at Johns Hopkins University and that is going quite well. Last weekend I moved into a new place that I am very happy to be in. I believe that's all. All in all things are going quite well since my hospitalization. 

Thank you to everyone who sent me kind messages. I appreciate the thoughtfulness. I hope to get something good posted on here soon, I've been pretty busy with school and moving.

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 9, 2014


A quick update on how I'm doing...

The depression has subsided but the hypomania that was present has continued and really worsened over the last couple of days. I called my new doctor who I wasn't supposed to have an appointment with until next month and he squeezed me in tomorrow.  Im so grateful to him for that. I didn't want to go back to my current doctor.  I'm sorry I haven't written part 3 of my hospitalization.  I'm uncomfortable and unable to concentrate.  I have faith that Dr. Haerian will make a helpful medication change!

The good news is I'll be writing an article about my hospitalization for the next NAMI Maryland quartley newsletter! Yay!

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