3:3 ~ The Loony Bin ~ Serious Mental Illness
I had finally gotten away from Michael the Archangel (See prior post). Once the taxi dropped me off at my new friend Skip’s apartment and he got over the shock that I actually showed up, he helped us get settled in. I sat on his couch shaking like a chihuahua in a thunder storm, while he made up beds and got out clean towels. Realizing the possibility remained that my abusive boyfriend could find me and the children so close by, we spoke well into the morning and made plans to move to another apartment in a different area of Los Angeles. Within a week we were safely ensconced several miles away in Long Beach. Skip continued to work at Garrett AirResearch and I never entered past the guard shack again.
Instantly I was Skip’s new girlfriend, as if we had carefully considered living together after a time of dating…only that’s not how it happened. I showed up on his doorstep with two children, sure I was being stalked by a sociopath, and he took me in, a family of four, pieced together like a crazy quilt. He was lonely. I needed help.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, I needed more help than I realized. The first signs of a problem appeared whenever Skip raised his arm to place it around my shoulders. I flinched and ducked, sure I was about to get hit. “You need help,” he said more than once. The symptoms of post traumatic stress and a serious mental illness that began in my teens resurfaced.
I didn’t think it was that big a deal. “I’ll get over it…give me time,” I thought. I had suffered from mental illness symptoms in the past, but after what I had just been through, I believed I just needed a period of adjustment. I thought I needed the chance to live without the fear of what Michael the Archangel would do next. Life was chaotic, but I was very used to chaotic. Nothing, I thought, could be as crazy as what my life had become even before I met Michael.
Several years before, after my marriage at sixteen had failed, I had literally ended up in the cuckoo’s nest. I had tried raising my son on my own. At seventeen I had my own apartment and a job as a secretary for a local service business. I felt as if I were playing house, trying to act like an adult with no role models to lead the way. I felt as if I were moving blind through an obstacle course, scaling fences and doing an Army crawl through mud. Several times over the course of that year I hit an emotional wall too high to climb and during those times I made innocuous attempts at suicide. I was crying out for help but those around me didn’t know how to guide me. Most of the people I knew had enough of their own problems to deal with.
Eventually, I rented a room with a couple of friends. One night we threw a party, and right in the middle of the music and drinking I went into my bedroom and swallowed a handful of the tranquilizers my mother’s doctor had prescribed in an attempt to help me cope. Still, I didn’t realize I was beginning to show signs of mental illness again. The constant anxiety drove me like a bullwhacker. I just wanted relief.
I lay on the bed and waited for death (or for someone to come and rescue me). An hour later my roommate found me and couldn’t wake me up. She threw me into the backseat of her gray Ford Falcon. Winding through side streets and running stop signs, she made it to the emergency room of our local hospital. Once there, doctors gave me ipecac to induce vomiting and called the police. Realizing I was more than she bargained for, my friend called my father and asked him to come and pick me up. Before he arrived, she got back in her car and drove back home to the party. The next thing I knew, my parents picked me up and took me back to the house, packed up my son’s belongings and took him to their apartment.
As for me, my next place of residence was Metropolitan State Mental Hospital in Norwalk, California. I was just barely eighteen years old. I thought life couldn’t get any worse. But I was wrong about that. A mental hospital meant I was suffering from mental illness. And mental illness is just another way of spelling h-e-l-l o-n e-a-r-t-h.
It never occurred to me to ask God for help. It would take a real tragedy before I even thought about it.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11.
Now that we have the Internet, teens needing help with feelings of hopelessness or despair can go online or call the National Suicide Hotline. Click Here. Do you know someone who might be in trouble? Someone who may be crying out for help? Sharing is caring. Please share this post with them through your favorite social media. Thank you!