handsIt is hard to know when it is time to seek psychiatric help.  Especially when we’re not sure what is wrong, or what went wrong. My first attempt to get help for chronic hypo mania was back in 1999. Back then, I had no idea that form of mental illness existed.  I was a senior in college, and my life seemed to be unraveling before me….

Excerpt from “Inside the Insane

I sat in psych services ready to find an answer to end the worst year of my life. God, please don’t let anyone I know walk through this lobby and witness my inability to slap on a smile and choose a career today!

“Ms. Loberg?”  The receptionist had to blare out my name in front of everyone waiting.

“Ah, yes, right here.”  I stood up tall and proud.  Hell yeah, I want some medication and someone to talk to.  I walked into a tiny room and was faced with my “help.”  A tall thin weasel man in his early thirties sat behind a desk.

“You must be Erica.”

“Yeah.”  I sat down and crossed my legs, refusing to relax.

“What brought you here today?”  Here goes everything.

“Well you see I am a senior…never been in therapy before by the way…and I have no idea what to do for the rest of my life or where to go or who will listen and I have no one to talk to.”

“What about friends?  Do you have any close friends?”  What if I didn’t?  That question could be grounds for suicide, but thankfully, I had plenty of friends.

“Of course I have friends.”

“Do you talk to them about your worries?”

“Yes, sort of.”  I was a second semester senior about to face the real world in a few short months.  I had serious roommate problems, no job, and anxiety attacks about the future. 

“Do you take any drugs?”

“Like weed?”  From his reaction I could tell that he wasn’t asking about recreational drugs, nor was he prepared for the truth.

“Sure, I smoke weed, on occasion.” 

“But you do other drugs as well?”

“No.  I don’t even smoke weed that much.  Only when I am with certain friends.”

The nerd continued to stare me down.

“Okay.  So there are no other drugs being used.”

“I have tried Ritalin.  Actually Ritalin is something that a friend recommended for my hyperactivity and inability to sit still, which was really hard to start taking because I hate the idea of taking a drug to alter the personality that God gave you.  Like all those kids that are on Ritalin because kindergarten teachers can’t deal with their innate energy.  Maybe they should return to the old days when they would simply strap kids to their chairs and not let anyone out, you know?”

“I see.  Well, your time is up.  Would you like to schedule another meeting?  I would like to explore more and talk a little about your family life.”

“Sure, why not.”  I stood up ready to leave.

Fresh cold air hit my face. I thought I would go back. I never did.

What made me attempt to get help?  At that time, the plot of my life.  My environment became unmanageable, and I knew I needed something, or someone, to help me.

But, once I walked, I didn’t go back.  I wasn’t feeling it.  I didn’t seek help again until ten years later….but this time, it stuck.

Excerpt II from” Inside the Insane

I was at the gyno having my regular examination. I sat on the table, completely defeated, with that stupid piece of paper falling off my back as the doctor wrote in my file.

“I need help.” It came out of the air. I didn’t think it before it dropped out of my lungs. It simply released itself into the room, nor did I think it was me who said it when it hit the oxygen. I sat there for a millisecond and wondered where it came from. It must have been the defeated self finally giving up. I had reached that bottomless pit and somewhere deep inside me something had had enough. It was the hardest and easiest thing I ever said. My doctor turned around as if I just told him the grass is green and said, “OK.” Just like that. OK. And that was it.

I wish I knew what prompted me to say those three simple words: I need help.  Maybe it was my age.  Maybe my mania had finally caught up with me and I couldn’t take it anymore. Call it what you want but, without that voice, I don’t know where I’d be today.

Don’t be afraid to say: I need help.  It can be the beginning of a wonderful new life, and an end to an old one.

Helping hand image available from Shutterstock.