‘Mommy is sick and needs to go to the doctor.’ I begged them to admit me to a psych ward. ‘You don’t fit the criteria,’ I was told. It was a hard pill to swallow. So, I admitted myself.’: Mom urges ‘it’s totally okay to ask for the damn help’ when struggling with mental illness

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“In June 2018, I admitted myself into the psych ward. That’s how desperate I was to get help and free myself from the demons inside my head.

I actually went to the ER three times and begged to be admitted. Can you say determined and hard headed?  Yuppers, that’s me. I was so desperate because, like everyone, I have a past and I have a story.

Here’s a little history behind my story…

I come from a broken home. My parents separated when I was 12 and I became an adult at that time. Without truly understanding what was happening, I just did what needed to be done. Mom was a mess and I would catch her crying a lot. My younger sister was dealing with her own problems, so I naturally stepped up to the plate and took on the parenting role.

Courtesy Amanda Rondeau

On November 26, 1995, the ‘peaceful world’ that I lived in was shattered in a moment’s time. You see, I went to ‘suicide high’ back in 1995. The high school I attended was actually called suicide high. I thought to myself, ‘I’ll be damned if I end up killing myself like all the other kids I went to school with.’ At the time, it’s just what it was.

Today it means so much more than that. Today, I have 2 beautiful children and let me tell you, I’m going to make damn sure that they talk about their problems and express themselves, so they don’t end up contemplating suicide like I did and so many other people I knew personally.

My mother and I were scared sh*tless because my sister was very close to this crew of people killing themselves. I remember being scared every time I would hear the doorbell ring, thinking that she was the next one on the list. I actually prepared myself for my sister’s death. This was my reality at the time.

You see, this was one of the main reasons I was so damn determined to admit myself into the psych ward. Suicide has always hit home for myself, my family, and my community.

Courtesy Amanda Rondeau

Before I decided to admit myself into the psych ward, I was so lost. I would lie in bed staring at the window in my bedroom, the curtains always closed. This was the only place I felt completely safe and secure. I remember saying to myself, ‘What in the heck is happening to me? Why is this happening to me? How am I going to get out of this black hole?’ I told myself, ‘You need to figure something out. Go do whatever it takes.’

I had been in a dark place before the birth of my son Bruce, 8 years ago. But this time was different. You see, back then I was diagnosed with major postpartum depression when my son was only 5 weeks old. This was the first time in my life that the doctor told me I needed to take care of myself. He said to my mom, who was with me at the hospital during this awful part of my life, ‘Yvette, can you make sure that someone takes care of Bruce full time while Amanda takes care of herself?’

That was a hard pill to swallow. I thought, ‘Seriously? I have a newborn and you want somebody else to take care of my child?’ This is why, this time around, I so desperately wanted and needed to be put in a controlled environment because I felt too much responsibility at home. I had to take care of my kids that needed their mommy, I had to cook, clean, do laundry… you know, the normal stuff moms do on a daily basis. But I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was literally debilitated and did not want to feel this way any longer. It was a sad place to be, specially for a positive person like myself.

Courtesy Amanda Rondeau

The first time I went to the ER, I spoke to the doctor and psychiatrist on call. One of my best friends Marie-Belle actually showed up at my house and said, ‘I really think we should go to the hospital.’ I replied, ‘I know, I’m ready. I was actually on my way.’ So, she ended up driving me. I desperately wanted help and said to the doctor, ‘Can you please admit me?’ They told me that they didn’t think I belonged there because I didn’t fit ‘the criteria’ and that the psych ward was full. I told them I was desperate and that didn’t work, so off I went back to my room where I isolated myself from the world. That was just the norm in my life during that period of time.

My second attempt was also a fail and I was disappointed once again. Finally, after the third time, they finally took me seriously. I literally begged and said I was desperate. That I just needed to be in a controlled environment to figure out what was happening to me. I literally had no control over my thoughts and emotions. I was so desperate and just wanted to feel normal again and be able to take care of my children and live a ‘normal and simple life’. During this time, Josh was away working in Nigeria. Needless to say, I was responsible for taking care of my amazing and innocent children who depended on me. The fact that I couldn’t care for my own flesh and blood was so damn hard. At least I had a great support network and family I could depend on and trusted 100% to care for my kids.

I remember telling them, ‘Mommy is sick and needs to go to the doctor to feel better.’ I was so numb at that time and in such a bad place that I felt bad, but I also just wanted to escape from my life and come back once I felt like my old self again.

As I entered into the psych ward, it really hit me. I was afraid. I was scared, I was emotional. I didn’t know what to expect. I had so many questions running through my mind. Where am I sleeping? Will I feel safe? Will I be judged? Will I fit in? Can I still make phone calls?  What will I be doing all day? Will I ever feel like myself again? Can I go for a walk and get some fresh air? Can and should my kids come visit? I was asking myself all of these questions because this was my new reality and I had no idea how long I would be there for.

My experience in the psych ward was intense to say the least. I was there for 7 days and my psychiatrist changed my medication 4 times. I have been on Zoloft since 2008 (after Bruce was born). When I left the hospital, I had a new cocktail of meds. They added Wellbutrin, Concerta and Lorazepam. Even though I hate taking medication and I have always tried to go the natural way, sometimes you got to do what you gotta to get out of that black hole.

In this instance, I definitely needed the meds to treat the symptoms of the physical and mental state I was in. I am currently taking Zoloft and Concerta. I was able to wean off the other two and one day I will find the courage to be free of medication. For now, I will continue to live one day at a time. When I feel completely ready, I will end that chapter of my life.

Courtesy Amanda Rondeau

While I was in the psych ward, I wasn’t allowed to have a cellphone. I had a little room alone which made me feel more comfortable. I had a hard time sleeping so the days and nights were super long, and I had a hard time stopping the hamster wheel from turning.

I had to sign up for the group sessions offered by the hospital and, let me tell ya, I joined them all. During my stay, I truly wanted to help myself. These group sessions included meditation, gardening outside, group therapy sessions. I also had private sessions with the psychologist. This experience was actually an eye opener because I was faced with the harsh reality that too many people struggle with Mental Health issues and, often times, they are not getting the individual help they need due to government funding. It’s another reason why I advocate for Mental Health and try to help others know they are not alone.

I remember hearing other patients screaming and not being truly heard or understood. I remember feeling like I was a lab rat when they kept on switching my medication. It’s like, oh this one doesn’t work so let’s try this one. But I needed to try whatever in order to feel back to myself again.

I can still remember one of the patients would walk around all day and would barely speak one word to anyone. Being the kind person I am, every time I would see him, I would say, ‘Hi how are you today?’ He would literally keep on marching around like he was in the army.  During my third day in the psych ward, I was sitting in the area where we ate. I was by myself, just eating and keeping to myself when all of a sudden, I felt a presence… it was him. He literally sat down with me and looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Hi Amanda, how are you today.’

I was literally in shock and I wasn’t the only one. I can’t describe the feeling… it’s like we connected on a deeper level and I could see his soul. This guy never talked to anyone. In this moment, it confirmed to me that a lot of the in patients are misunderstood and even though they are just human beings. They are not their illness, just like I was not my illness.  I believe I was placed in that psych ward for a reason. To truly understand that everyone does have a story and we need to talk about ‘our sh*t’ because, let’s be honest, nobody is perfect and we all struggle, just in different ways. There is someone out there that will understand our sh*t but it’s all about human connection at the end of the day. Not everyone understands, and that’s totally fine too. Life is hard, I get that, but a lot of people don’t have a voice and don’t have a support network. I can’t imagine how he must have been feeling inside. I honestly wanted to bring him home when I left.

I met several humans there. Noah was one of them. We definitely connected because we had exercise in common. We both used exercise as an outlet, so we talked a lot about how we were feeling sh*ttty and anxious and he definitely helped me during my stay.

I actually got a weekend pass and I had no idea where to go. I didn’t want to be home alone, and I didn’t want to be around the kids because I knew they would have a hard time understanding why mommy was isolating herself. Thank the lord for amazing friends like Nadja. She literally took me in with open arms and just did her natural thing and cared for me.  Her and I have a bond I can’t describe in words. We just get each other, and we are definitely connected on a deeper level even though we are not family. I remember her setting up my room for the weekend and making sure I had everything I needed.  She fed me, listened to m,e and was just there for me. I definitely needed her that weekend.

I can also remember feeling like I was in a movie. It felt so surreal and I never ever thought I would be a patient in the psych ward. I had passes to go outside and if I used up my passes, well it was too bad. I literally felt like a child. The doors were locked, and I needed to be buzzed in and buzzed out. At the time, I was a smoker so that was a stress relief for me, and I would go hang out and chit chat to help me get through my long and painful days.

In the past year, I have treated the ‘actual root cause’ that I didn’t even know existed. I achieved this through therapy, mindset reset, exercise. I hired a coach, I journal, I meditate. It definitely took a lot of inner work and I did a lot of self-growth but I friggin’ did it and I’m so proud of myself! When I say the actual root cause, I am referring to ‘not dealing with my past demons’ such as going to suicide high, my parents’ divorce, and for just being the strong person I have always been. I obviously had to crack at some point. I wish I would have known this when I was in high school because maybe a lot of this depression could have perhaps been prevented. I will never know, and I’m cool with that. But if by sharing my struggles I can help even 1 person, my purpose and mission have been accomplished.

If any of this resonates with you, just know that it’s okay to feel desperate, sh*tty, and helpless. It’s honestly part of life and we all have our own struggles. Nobody is perfect, and there is light at the end of that damn tunnel. Been there, done that, and it’s not a joke or walk in the park.

It’s totally okay to ask for the damn help. It’s all about finding someone in your life you can confide in. Whether it be a parent, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, a sibling, a therapist. There is somebody out there that will listen and that will understand. I can promise you this. Please remember you are loved, you are not alone, you are not a burden. There is a reason you are here and don’t you dare give up because life is so beautiful when you can be your self again.”

Courtesy Amanda Rondeau

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Rondeau of New Brunswick, Canada. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more powerful stories:

‘We went to ‘suicide high.’ I still can’t wrap my head around it. My sister was close to the crew of kids killing themselves. Every time the doorbell rang, I was terrified she was next on the list.’

‘I really messed up Will. I’ll call you soon.’ Nothing prepares you for this. I pulled over and lost it. I look back at conversations I had with my sister and tears run down my cheek.’

‘Help me get daddy out!,’ she begged. ‘He won’t like being dirty.’ I took her to see his grave. She started digging up the dirt, crying her little heart out. We sobbed until we had no more tears to cry.’

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