I remember this moment like it was tomorrow though it has been 13 years since I admitted myself into the psych ward.
This is my story:
After my first year of college, I was too scared to be alone and all alone, I knew I needed help.
Someone, anyone, somewhere, anywhere; help, was the only prayer I could spit.
Thoughts of suicide pumped through my veins and tasted like honey on my tongue, I needed the pain stop. Years of unaddressed wounds, running from pain had finally caught up to me, trauma always does.
I drove to the hospital hoping to find hope, dreaming of alleviating the sting, wishing that someone got trained in stitching up a broken heart, mending a severed family, erasing a darkened shame riddled past, or at least some more pills, please?
I reluctantly walked up to the young woman at the front counter, “May I help you?” she asked softly. I managed to nervously and eloquently breathe out,
“Um… um… Where would you go if you, you like knew someone that, you know, that needed to talk to someone, or like you know like needed help”,
“ Are you the one who needs help?” My crooked smile broke, how did she know? How did she see through me? My face must have given me away. My eyes welled up with tears; my masks were choking me. Slowly years and years of boulders began to collect tear by tear, they fell faster and faster, my head nodded into my palms, as my wailing became the only voice in the hospital.
I was placed on a cot in a back hallway as not to disturb the others, awaiting the Psychiatrist arrival, for a formal evaluation.
I shook violently back and forth, back and forth trying to find my place in this world.
As I moaned, my screams were those of murder, those of my dead friends, those of a dead father, those of a dead family, those of a dead self, those of a dead God.
I had lost everything before I had the chance to find anything.
They took my pants, so I wouldn’t choke myself.
They drugged me heavily and put me into an all white room. Those walls reflecting my life. Those days felt like decades. We all walked around the halls in our robes glazed, limping.
Yet I felt safer there than under my own supervision.
People talking seemingly sputtering nonsense, yet I could now speak their language.
I remember a guy named Doug. He walked as a zombie through the white halls staring into some reality truer than our own. Yet somehow whenever I was near he awoke from his trance to tell me I was going to be okay.
He was a police officer. He told me of the time when his coworkers held him down and raped him with a broomstick.
We were victims of abuse. We were lost in our pain. No hope. No peace, a broken faith was the only thing we could hold onto.
The third night in the ward I read a quote that began to change the trajectory of my life.
“Do not find out what the world needs find out what makes you come alive, go and do that, for what the world needs for people to have come alive.”
It took my breath away.
I had been living out other people scripts for my life.
I needed to return to what made me come alive.
I began to live in the moment.
This is why 13 years later I stand tall in front of you now. This is why I bleed when I write.
This is why I am committed to walking beside those who are hungry for redemption.
This is why I wrote a book, fought for a healthy relationship with my wife.
My heart is hurting, yet very much alive. I know this world needs me.
I know now this world needs my voice, my pen, my stories, my laughter and my tears. Just as it so desperately needs yours.
I will have the courage to offer myself, will you do the same?
This world needs our hearts and souls to be alive stumbling towards goodness.
It will cost us much, much pain, laughter, risk, and heartache yet most days I believe that price is well worth the bloodshed required.