Maria’s Survival Became Her Superpower!
My Story Continued
My Name is Maria and this is my story.
On February 16, 2019, I was admitted to our local behavioral healthcare system as an inpatient. It was my very first hospitalization and I was scared to death. It didn’t go well (check out my original story here). I ended up being pretty traumatized by the lack of appropriate care I and other patients received.
As I lay sobbing in the hall of the psych ward wondering where it had all gone wrong, I vowed to never let another mental health patient’s voice go unheard. I wanted to make sure no other vulnerable soul got thrown into the jaws of the beast known as the American Behavioral Healthcare system.
A Difficult Year
A year later, I kept that solemn promise, but it sure wasn’t easy.
It took a month to see a psychiatrist on the outside and two months to speak with the therapist assigned by the hospital. And that was considered a quick turnaround in Florida’s Behavioral Healthcare system. Yikes!
Luckily the hospital had set me up with enough meds to last until my next appointment, but there was no one to talk to. If I was so inclined, I could have easily ended up back in the ER 20 times before I got to speak to a counselor.
I have the privilege of a great support system (something not everyone else has) and insurance from my job so I was able to set myself up with an Intensive Outpatient Treatment for my OCD. The place I went, Rogers Behavioral Health, was absolutely incredible and I thank goodness every day for finding them.
Even with all that intervention, I still had some terrible days. A month or two after I was discharged from Rogers, I found myself slipping back into the same patterns of perfectionism and self-exhaustion. I just couldn’t seem to help myself.
A Tough but Necessary Choice
So I did the only thing I could do – I quit my big girl job, the one I loved, so I could focus on my mental health full time. Let me tell you that was a hell of a leap, my husband and I are in no means wealthy and I knew the decision was going to cost me my healthcare benefits but we decided it was best for me.
Someone once told me, “positive change hardly feels positive in the beginning” and boy was I going through it. I felt such a sense of failure, like all the wind had been taken out of me for a couple weeks. I cussed myself for “not being strong enough” ; for not being able to function in society like everyone else.
It was then I started writing in earnest on My Soul Balm. I had already been putting out content here and there but now I was really rolling, finding my voice as I worked through my pain.
Turning Pain into Privilege, Turning Privilege into a Platform
At first, I was pretty angry. I felt outraged that a person could be treated so poorly when they just needed help. I was mad that the world was such an unsafe place for me as a highly sensitive person with OCD. I still struggle with it. But now I let that fuel my passion for justice instead of bringing me down.
You see, privileged as I was (and still am as a white CIS woman), hospitalization was my first brush with oppression. But it’s nothing compared to what minorities and low-income patients go through every day when trying to access mental health care.
I had the good fortune of hoisting myself into treatment when I was let down by the system – most people don’t. There are so many vulnerable people who get caught in this terrible cycle of poor treatment, slim resources, and stigmatization. And that’s who I write for now.
I write for those who have been let down by the system, for those who can’t find resources that relate to their experiences.
Ironically, though, I’m dreaming of a day when my voice is heard less in favor of those who have been traditionally rendered voiceless. I want to get people connected to the resources they need, not the ones we think they should need.
A lot has happened in a year, I think the quality of content I put out on MSB reflects how much I’ve grown. I’ve definitely had ups, downs, and everything in between but through it all I am proudly growing MSB into a platform for all kinds of writers to share their voices and their struggles with mental health.
What Can You Do to Help Share the Unique Voices of Mental Health?
The easiest way to help is to share your story! You may feel like it’s not important but hearing someone’s story of survival or success has the power to change lives.
Even if you haven’t personally struggled with mental health issues, you can still help as a blogger/writer by sharing the voices of mental health on your site. You can also tell your friends, retweet an awesome article by a small blogger, or write a book review. Anything and everything helps us get the word out there.
In conclusion, I’m glad my life didn’t end that day in February. I’m grateful I didn’t choose to get torn under by the traumatic events that followed. And I’m chuffed that I can be here to help others through their pain.
I’m Maria and that’s my story, just one of the many waiting to be told ❤
Black is a mental health advocate and copywriter who blogs about the unique perspective of mental health patients. She’s dedicated to giving a voice to those who traditionally have gone unheard. She lives in Florida with her husband, Bruce and crazy cat, Ulysses.