Beyond the Outward Appearance

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A picture I drew at 12am, in the dark, upset and couldn’t sleep.
June 2012, Kris Hannah

One year ago, I hit a devastating low that I never thought I would ever reach. No one knew the turmoil I was struggling with, as I hid it from everyone around me. Many knew some details but couldn’t handle or comprehend the depth of my struggles. I was in an abusive relationship, dealing with being raped in my past, and trying to take care of my little girl while holding down a job. We had just moved to Wyoming, where I was isolated from everyone and had zero support. When I hit that low, I had no clue where to turn or what to do.

After begging my husband to take me back down to Texas for a week, he finally drove me and I went into the hospital. I was super scared. I went to the Emergency Room at 5pm on Friday, was going through intake Saturday at 2am, where they searched everything and took whatever was prohibited, and by 5am, I was in my bed crying myself to sleep wondering if I had made the right decision. I didn’t wake up until Monday morning. I didn’t want to go to group, and only woke up long enough to speak to my doctor. Things felt hopeless.

I was only inpatient for 10 days but it felt so much longer. They had activities scheduled for most of the day. Group was 2-3 times a day, activity therapy, one-on-one therapy once a week, and we could choose to do family therapy if we wanted. Every morning, we filled out a sheet on how we were feeling and what we wanted to accomplish that day. And after lunch, we had journaling time for an hour.

The problem was we weren’t allowed pens, and the pencils they supplied were smaller than 3 inches. We were allowed to use markers, but they were worn out and run down or went missing. Even though journaling was encouraged, the circumstances weren’t ideal for anyone who truly wanted to journal.

The best moments inpatient were when I was laughing and coloring with the other patients. I realized that many were also depressed, just like me. When I went inpatient, my parents saw me as weak, but in actuality, the strongest thing I could have ever done was get the help I needed. This was the first time I was allowed to not pretend to be stronger than I felt. As I started reaching out for help and journaling, I finally felt a strength I hadn’t felt in such a long time.I flourished and finally found something enjoyable for myself. I took notes in every aspect of therapy, journaled like crazy, and even started drawing again. I went through FOUR composition books and my pages looked like rainbows. It felt great doing such a ‘childish’ thing.

I know many people don’t understand what would send someone into a mental hospital, but it is time to break down those walls. The people in my unit were not mentally insane. They were not crazy or psychos. They were seeking help in the best way possible. Just because their troubles were not physical, it doesn’t make them any less. Just imagine how many don’t get help and choose a more permanent solution. It saved my life and helped me get out of my abusive relationship.

When I left, I vowed that I would help future patients in the same way I was helped. I never realized how significant those markers and composition books were in my recovery, but they were. And I hope that by donating what I can, others can feel that also. Each month, I would love to be able to deliver washable markers, composition books, coloring books, and a set of resources for those inpatient.

If you have any suggestions or would like to help, please let me know by commenting or emailing me at krisahannah @ gmail.

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6 thoughts on “Beyond the Outward Appearance

  1. I commend you for writing sharing your story. It was brave. It takes strength to say you need help. Someone I love very much was admitted to a hospital. I learned it is way more common than people think and you are absolutely right – they are not filled with lunatics. They are filled with everyday people who are going through rough times.

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  2. I hope you can donate on a regular basis. I used to work for a resource center and it was comforting to know that each month different groups in the community would support our programs with food, stationary, and hygiene supplies.

    Like

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