As the nurse wheeled me down the long and lonely corridor and through the locked doors of that ward, I felt hopeless and humiliated. But after coming to the end of myself, I see how the church and the psych ward have several similarities and benefits.
It’s been four years since my suicide attempt. For the longest time, I thought my week on the psych ward was pointless. I saw it as a frustrating waste of time. Now, I can recognize the value of what we did during those days.
My wife spent a week on a psych ward following the birth of our first son. She had a miserable fight with postpartum depression and sleep deprivation. One year later, nearly to the day, I landed in ICU and then a psych ward following a suicide attempt.
After living through it, here’s my take on what to do when you decide to stay married to someone with mental illness.
My clients were concerned. When they couldn’t reach me, they called first my wife, and then the hotel. I was lying on my back, unconscious, covered in vomit, when the police and EMT’s found me. They thought it was a murder scene. Vomit covered the bed and the floor. It had projected up the wall behind me, and coated a massive picture that hung over the bed. Apparently the pink Benadryl pills, along with the tens of thousands of milligrams of other medication I took, created the effect of blood. I had been unconscious for a solid ten hours by then.
As a first-timer on the psych ward, it appeared that we were focusing on basic things,like eating right, getting plenty of rest, and talking with a professional. In retrospect, I see that we were working on a much deeper level. We were engaging with a community of people with similar struggles and similar goals, setting boundaries, and learning about self-compassion.
As the nurse wheeled me down the long and lonely corridor and through the locked doors of that ward, I felt hopeless and humiliated. But on the other side, I found help for my anxieties, rest for my soul, and practical ways to walk toward my new life. On my own, without the hope Christ brings, I also find myself at the end of the rope, but in the context of healthy community, wrestling alongside others who have their own burdens to bear, I know I can keep going.