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Stigma Fighters : Meghan Shultz

When you’re a teenager one of the last places you expect to end up is on the psychiatric unit of a hospital. Yet that’s where I found myself one day when I was 15. My Mother and I had gotten to the emergency department at the city hospital pretty late at night from what I remember. We lived about an hour out of the city but when my Mum called the poisons information line they told her to bring me to this particular hospital. I guess it had been long enough that they figured I wasn’t going to die. The rest of that night was kind of a blur but I remember that we didn’t have to wait very long. They got me a bed behind a curtain, the doctor started asking me a lot of questions about how I’d been feeling, etc. He also started inspecting me for self harm. And he found plenty. This was the first time that my Mum had seen it, she looked devastated and I felt so guilty. Not too long after that the nurse came by, put me on a drip and sent me upstairs.

At some point it was decided that I would be admitted onto the psychiatric ward. As soon as I was off of my drip, that was where they sent me. Physically, I was given the all clear. Mentally, not so much. When I was admitted they took a polaroid of me, I still have it, 10 years on, and I looked dreadful. The funny thing was though that I had just attempted suicide, I still wanted to die, but dammit if I wasn’t smiling in that photo. I was still trying to pretend that I was okay. I had spent just about my entire life pretending to be okay. Before my suicide attempt I really didn’t know what was happening to me, what was ‘wrong’ with me. I didn’t know what to do or how to get help. And I felt so ashamed of myself and a lot of my thoughts and feelings. So here I was, in a hospital, still pretending to be okay because that was all I knew how to do.

The first few days that I was there I found it kind of scary. It was all so new to me. I was under 24/7 suicide watch, my bedroom was right outside the nurses station, I wasn’t allowed to close my door even. I met with a psychiatrist, therapist, and I don’t even know who else. I remember that my psychiatrist’s name was Julia, she was very friendly but she asked me a lot of questions. Before I left the hospital there was a meeting with all of the medical staff and my parents. It had been decided that I had ‘Psychotic Depression’. Different to my current diagnosis of Bipolar but I guess that’s what fit at the time. Apart from that, my time in hospital was fairly uneventful. I made a couple of friends, did some crafts, watched tv, just the usual crap. Oh, and the spaghetti with meatballs was actually really good, I had it nearly every night. They let me leave after about a week and a half. I was still suicidal, but at least people knew and I could talk about it. I was also assigned a therapist.

Suicidal ideation is something that I still struggle with today. But such is the nature of my illness, it comes and goes. I was in hospital again earlier this year, for suicidal ideation and self harm. I spoke up to my psychiatrist about what I was doing and how I was feeling and he suggested hospital almost straight away. A few days later I had my husband take me to a nearby psychiatric hospital to be admitted. I was there for 11 days and had a massive medication overhaul. When I got out, I was feeling loads better. I still feel loads better. Even though I still live with suicidal feelings and struggle with self harm I’ve learnt how to deal with it much better than in the past. Almost my whole family knows that I have Bipolar Disorder now. Most of them don’t understand it but that’s okay, they’re still supportive. They all also have access to my blog which was a huge thing for me. I decided that it was important for me to give them access to it so that they could learn more about how I feel and how I cope with day to day life etc. My husband reads it a lot I suspect. Despite knowing that some of them read it I force myself to write as I would if they didn’t see it.

If you are feeling suicidal, if you have ever attempted suicide or self harm, or if you know someone who has. Please know that you are never alone. There are so many of us going through the same or similar experiences. Please don’t think that you need to go through this by yourself. We are all here, so many of us, to help. You might be surprised at how many people you know are living with a mental illness. They’re keeping quiet too.

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IMG_20150518_120607I’m Meghan. I’m 26 yrs old and I live with Bipolar I Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. I am not ashamed of my illnesses and you shouldn’t be either. We are strong, we are fighters and we are bad asses.

Meghan can be found on her blog, Facebook and Twitter

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  • CS

    You really did put your heart on the page, didn’t you? So inspiring and well-written. It really helps to read things like this. Thank you. I’m following you on Twitter straight away 🙂

  • Ross H

    Well done Meghan. On my first trip to the psych ward I was 41 and was surprised to find a 15yo on the ward but they didn’t have anywhere else for her to go. Some of us became quite protective of her like a lil sister.