Suicidal tendencies

I’ve got so much chaotic agonizing pain in my body today I don’t know how I can or will articulate it, but I’m going to try.

Besides the usual physical discomforts I’ve become accustomed to living with I was harpooned yesterday with an emotional whammy. Being that I’m so physically delicate the enormity of this emotional trauma has sickened me profoundly. Albeit, I also did one of my Klonopin/Valium crossovers two days ago and that throws me for a loop in any case.

A dear, close friend, who I know in real life, whom I love and whom I actually share this psychiatric drug toxicity hell with, and I mean in it’s extreme nature, contacted me yesterday. I’ve said many times, I’m not representative of most people coming off drugs. Most people don’t get this sick and most people if it’s all done sanely, safely and responsibly can do it without the sorts of ramifications I’ve dealt with. I’ve simply been on more drugs, at higher doses, for longer than pretty much anyone who takes this on and on top of it among those who do manage after being on as long as I have, though they certainly struggle and have a hell of a time, most don’t get this physically debilitated. She and I have this extra sensitivity in common. We bonded over that and we happen to connect on all sorts of other levels as well.

And just in case anyone doubts that drug toxicity was her issue, she was hospitalized recently and even a psychiatric ward came to that conclusion!! That’s amazing. They witnessed what happened when they tried drugging her for several weeks and it was ugly and they luckily changed their tune with her which is incredibly unusual and they helped her continue withdrawing instead.

The thing is the hospital was still not a safe place. She witnessed her roommate being raped by a staff member and another patient stabbing herself in the stomach. She left that ward much sicker than when she went in. This is the reality about psych wards. They are toxic, torturous environments that create sickness. She was not mentally unwell when she went in. She was toxic on drugs. But when she came out she was mentally traumatized on top of her toxicity issues which have not been resolved.

Anyway, this friend was horribly traumatized by the time she was released and in terrible terrible pain which was not addressed at all by hospital staff. Rape and stabbings—why would anyone think to help someone process those things in a psychiatric ward?? I mean hell, psychiatric wards are for the mentally ill who have chemical imbalances. Talking about trauma and suffering and human pain has no place in a psychiatric ward…no, not at all. They took real good care of her attending only to her medication as usual. But of course she was discharged before anything was resolved. Also typical.

She does not in general read my blog, but I will be asking her permission before posting this.

Anyway, yesterday, she sent me a suicide note via email. She was saying goodbye and asking me to share her story as she no longer could fight the fight. For 3 hours I thought she was dead as I scrambled to contact anyone who might know where she was or be able to reach her. I lost touch with her when she was released from the hospital and didn’t have her number.

Anyway, I did find her and she is alive.

I’m fucked up.

That’s all I have to say now.

30 thoughts on “Suicidal tendencies

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  1. I am so, so sorry you had to go through this. You BOTH were traumatized. Thank God you are in her life and thank God she’s still with us. Just as someone else stated, I’ll be praying for both of you, and hoping that some way, some how, justice will be served.

  2. They won’t believe her. She’s in a psych hospital, remember? Everyone’s freakin’ crazy in there.

    I had an unfortunate experience in the psych ward with a sex offender and I called the police and the policeman just kind of shrugged as if there was nothing he could do. They strip all of your rights away in that place. They won’t believe her.

  3. Thankfully, she is alive, and my heart goes out to her to heal and somehow get through the emotional trauma that is such a real result from inpatient psych ward incidents, it’s horrible. I hope the best for both of you, how terrifying to think she was gone. Sending positive love from here, stephany

  4. My heart goes out to you and your friend. I agree with Susan, and the sad fact is the daily cost to stay in a quality resort with spa, masseuse and room service is less than a day in a psych facility. I am glad to know you are feeling better and relieved to know your friend is choosing life, which is possible because she has courage and the wisdom to choose friends like you.
    Sending love

  5. Oh Gianna! *big, gentle hugs and comforting vibes headed right your way*

    I’m so sorry you’ve been in such intense pain, that the world (not even a hospital) is free from it…

    Glad to know your friend is getting stronger, coping somehow. Nothing but admiration for that ‘eh.

    Go gently with yourself. Sounds like your heart needs some serious TLC.

  6. Very sorry to hear about this crisis that spun out of control for both of you. But good news that your friend is out of psychiatric hell and fighting back to regain her life from the abuse she has suffered in The System. May she go from strength to strength. She’s got a great friend in you to help make that happen!

    There is so little safety in psychiatric units. The psychiatric industry attracts violent bullies. It goes with the territory. Just like the playground attracts the paedophile.

    Where there is weakness or vulnerability, there will always be the abuser.

    I remember over-hearing a very aggressive pin-down nurse tell his colleague that he was bored with this ward. He wanted out. He wanted some “real action”, he said.. So he got himself transfered to the psych unit of the local prison.

    Pity those inmates.

  7. Susan (Wellness Writer)

    “a psych ward should be an uplifting place–both architecturally and spiritually”

    You should be the next Director of the National Institutes of Mental Health….Better yet, a cabinet position – Secretary of Health and Human Services!


  8. Thank you for sending me this, Gianna. Obviously it will have a big impact on my video (but I won’t mention any details, unless you want something in there). I wish both you and your friend well.

  9. Actually, anyone who knows the name of the hosptial can call CMS Gianna–you can call if she is not up to it. Reporting the hospital is entirely separate from reporting the rapist, which would be to the police, not CMS. I hope that makes sense–write me offline if you want more information.

    1. G, I would also Highly Recommend that her/your local Human Rights Committee be contacted. Part of their job is to investigate reports of this nature. They can also be great sources of information on who else should be contacted in that area for further reports, supportive services, etc.

      I don’t think it matters much whether it’s you or your friend who makes the initial contact with the Chair of that committee. Once contact has been established, that may change. The Chair could explain all this in more detail.

      Below, I show how to get the contact info for a local Human Rights Committee by outlining the “steps” I took to get that info for myself here in Ashe…ville, NC. You can use this example as a guide for locating the equivalent organizations in your area. See the footnotes for the self-descriptions they provide on their websites.

      1. U.S. Government [No Footnote]

      http://www DOT usa DOT gov/

      Enter the name of your State in the Search box. In the Search Results, look for the official site for your State government. Please note that it may NOT be the first result listed; however, it’s usually one of the first three listings.

      2. State of North Carolina [No Footnote]

      http://www DOT ncgov DOT com/

      Click on “NC Agencies Web Sites” on the lefthand side of the home page. Then click on the link for Health and Human Services.

      3. North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services.

      Website: http://www DOT ncdhhs DOT gov/mhddsas/index DOT htm

      On their website, you can locate mental health services most easily by clicking on “Divisions” at the top of their main page. Then click on the link for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services

      4. North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

      Website: http://www DOT ncdhhs DOT gov/mhddsas/index DOT htm

      Click on “Local Contacts” at the top of the page. Here you’ll find a listing of LMEs by county. Click on the link for your county.

      NCDMHDDSAS description of LMEs is in the footnotes as 4A.

      5. Western Highlands Network LME

      http://www DOT westernhighlands DOT org/

      Click on Community. Then click on “Committees” under “WHN BOARD” for lists. Next. click on “Human Rights Advisory Committee” and you’ll find that Nancy Carey is the Chairperson.

      WHN does NOT list any contact information for their Board Members on their website nor will they provide you with that information.

      However, -I- will (with Nancy’s permission). Her phone number is 675-5271. You can reach her via email (rcarey@yancey DOT main DOT nc DOT us) but be sure to include something along the lines of “ATTENTION NANCY! Serious Human Rights Issue Herein” in the Subject Line. She’s just an ordinary person who doesn’t much like the computer, so doing that would make it a little easier for her AND ensure that your email doesn’t get lost in the shuffle 😉

      WHN lists Lynn Trotter as the contact person for this committee. I Highly recommend that you do NOT call Lynn. She’ll just BS you, albeit usually sweetly, and nothing will happen to your complaint.

      This has taken a couple of hours for me to get all this straight so that folks in other areas of the country could use this to locate their own local Human Rights Committee. So now I have to go catch up on other stuff. Hope this helps someone!

      And, G, please know that I care about you and am usually available for phone calls between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. at 296-7589. I screen ALL calls, so you have to speak up after the beep, tell me who you are, and give me a minute to get to the phone.

      I am SO terrible about making phone calls myself. Please do NOT take that personally. Okay?

      Love… Sky


      3. “The Department [of Health and Human Services] is divided into 30 divisions and offices. DHHS divisions and offices fall under four broad service areas – health, human services, administrative, and support functions.

      DHHS also oversees 18 facilities: mental retardation centers, psychiatric hospitals, alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers, schools, early intervention programs, and one special care center.”

      4. NC Division of MH/DD/SAS: “The Division’s organizational structure is designed to implement the State Plan and reform efforts. The substance of the Division’s goals and objectives will guide the development of the workings of the Division and that work will be carried out through this organizational structure.

      The Division’s central administration consists of the Director’s Office and five sections organized along functional lines. The five sections of the Division are State Operated Services, Community Policy Management, Resource/Regulatory Management, Advocacy and Customer Services, and Operations Support. The Division’s state facilities consist of four regional psychiatric hospitals, four developmental disabilities centers, three substance abuse treatment centers, a specialty nursing facility for consumers with mental illness, a specialty nursing facility for consumers with developmental disabilities, and two residential facilities for children with emotional disturbances.”

      4A. “Local Management Entities (LMEs) are agencies of local government-area authorities or county programs-who are responsible for managing, coordinating, facilitating and monitoring the provision of mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services in the catchment area served. LME responsibilities include offering consumers 24/7/365 access to services, developing and overseeing providers, and handling consumer complaints and grievances.”

      5. “Western Highlands Network connects mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability care providers with the WNC community.”

  10. thank you everyone for the support. This blog and being able to write stuff like this piece is so profoundly therapeutic for me.

    My friend is doing well. The first day I talked to her, the day I got the note I had never heard her so disorganized and clearly not thinking straight as well as very slowly…her thinking was grossly impaired, and this is a brilliant woman. I had never heard her speak in any but crystal clear terms previously.

    Yesterday I talked to her twice. And today again. She is sounding stronger every day and has a plan for the future…one that includes continuing the fight and getting off the drugs. She is choosing life. And she is choosing to fight.

    She does intend to report the rapist. She actually knows of another woman he’s also raped AND what I didn’t know when I first wrote this is that he was extremely sexually inappropriate with my friend as well and attempted to manipulate her sexually as well.

    This hospital clearly has a serial rapist that is getting away with it.

    My friend intends to pursue this actively as soon as she gets settled in a new home and feels a little stronger. She is currently in a group home and looking for an apartment. The rapist knows where she lives and she wants to be elsewhere when she pursues it.

    When she told the hospital staff all they did was transfer him to another floor. I wish I were shocked at the disgusting nature of that fact.

    So Alison..I told her when she is ready to take action I can give her the info you shared and I also said she might be able to contact you…would that be okay?

    Again, thanks everyone…I am doing better too…much better.

  11. You know, in all the talk about “recovery” what I’ve most had to recover from is not some “illness” but the trauma of being labeled, drugged, and incarcerated. Those wounds go deep.

    I am so sorry your friend had to witness such atrocities and I can understand wanting to take oneself out after that, especially when you think that this will be your life from here on in. Remind her that this does not have to be her fate, lots of us escaped and she can too.

    She’s lucky to have you in her life, and you are courageous for staying present for her pain and your own.

    We need people to stay alive and fight back against injustice! We need people to live when the psychiatric industry would rather see us dead, if not physically (so we can keep on taking their drugs) at least mentally and spiritually.

    I know it’s easier said than done, when the pain is so great. I have so been there, done that. Been on the floor five minutes from death… so glad I failed. So glad. Even on my worst days. My worst day out of the system is better than my best day in.

    Sending you both wishes for peace and strength.

  12. Gianna,
    It’s inconceivable to me that in the worst of all circumstances your friend had to experience what she did. I’m glad she didn’t commit suicide.

    It’s reprehensible to me that psych wards (I’ve never been to one but somehow they represent my greatest nightmare) can be such horrible places. I assume there are some that aren’t as bad.

    But I truly believe that they are the way they are because it’s a form of punishment rather than an oasis in which to seek wellness. Like the best cancer wards in the best hospitals, a psych ward should be an uplifting place–both architecturally and spiritually. They should be like spas rather than prisons.


  13. Big warm hugs, G. Of course you know, I’ve been there and it is unspeakable. I’m so glad your friend made it, but never take it for granted. Once my friend sent out warning signals, and I spent an afternoon loving her and bringing her back. A year later, I thought she was recovered, a tragic mistake made by all her friends. So keep an eye on her, and let’s all of us drug poisoning survivors keep an eye on each other, because there is NO ONE in the system looking out for us.

  14. !!!

    I’m glad that you contacted her and made sure she was safe.

    As for the traumatic stuff in the psych ward, yeah… I was fortunate enough not to get raped but I’m no longer in disbelief of the possibility of that happened considering what happened to me during my last stay.

    AND NO ONE IN THE WARD TAKES ANYONE SERIOUSLY. Necessary for some people; pure BS for MOST people.

  15. How terrifying it must have been for both of you – her trauma in the psych ward and your dealing with her possible suicide. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

  16. Gianna,

    The trauma she underwent in a “hospital” – there are no words….

    You must have felt like you wanted to do anything to save her life yesterday….

    You likely did….not yesterday….but before yesterday….
    There was a reason she reached out to you….and, I think it had to do with her knowing there was one person in her life who would understand…..

    One person – You.

    I know you understand that you can’t give her all the help she’s going to need – you are only one person, and someone who is struggling herself….I can only hope that she finds someone she can work with….to deal with her trauma….

    A few days ago, you put up a post explaining it was the Second Anniversary of your blog, and I left a comment – “The world is a better place because of you”……

    It is.

    Thank you,


  17. i am so very sorry. i can’t imagine how frightening this must have been for you and i am sending her much love and good energy.

    this will probably be a bit rambling because i’m still sick with some sort of flu, bronchitis and cannot afford to see a doctor. anyway…

    i have not written at length about my time in a psych ward during my mid-twenties and i’m not sure why. it is possible that it has something to do with the experience being somewhat of a major blur in my mind thanks to the numerous meds I’ve taken since I checked myself in over 10 years ago. I remember WHY i checked in. I remember taking meds and I didn’t even know what they were giving me. I remember supervised walks outside once a day. I remember feeling no longer alone, surrounded by people who could relate to me. I remember my family would not visit (except for my father) and I remember being labeled with so many things that it was all very overwhelming. I remember the moment I was told I had to leave because my insurance company was essentially kicking me out, in other words, f*ck you-we do not want you better/healed no matter how much money you have paid us over the years.

    but mostly it bothers me not knowing what happened to the many people I met there. and it terrifies me because i am afraid some might not be here today. it’s a reality i have not been able to face.

    I did not witness rapes or stabbings and cannot even imagine, especially being a rape victim, but I have heard of stories-it is not uncommon. Looking back, my time there is equivalent to those imprisoned in our dysfunctional prison system. I’m not saying I felt like a number, but I left with bullshit “tools” they provided me that did not work in the real world. They might have if our society was stigma-free, but even then, it’s doubtful. It is unfortunate that people who need help rarely find a pure, safe environment to get it. And if you want to find a place like that, it’s going to cost a fortune. It is unfortunate that prisoners do not leave rehabilitated. It is just very unfortunate no matter which way you look at it. I am hoping that changes in my lifetime.

    peace to you…and your friend.

  18. Contact traumatization is real even though it used to be discounted years ago. Is there any way your friend can get to a trauma specialist and that you can work on your contact traumatization with someone also? Heck, even a rape crisis/sexual assault hotline in your area could be a useful resource for both of you, I say even as in a volunteer staffed hotline will probably me more helpful than any hospital or non-trauma trained MH professional and even some of the trauma trained are now doing stuff that isn’t exactly helpful.

    I’m so sorry. I hope the staff member was or is arrested, charged and convicted. I hope his victim, her roommate got more help than she did but I sort of doubt she did. I hope someone calls CMS and reports this hospital–try the Quality office for your region and if you can’t find them email me and I will find them for you if I can or give you the national number. This hospital has 2 serious incidents, should be enough for CMS to come in and investigate, also JCHAO but they are pretty useless. If your state has a health department that does inspections you can also contact them. But CMS is the best by far.

    I’m so glad she is alive and that you are alive and that you are still writing and I will keep the victim, her roommate, in my thoughts.

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