When I needed help, I didn’t find it at Salisbury University.
This summer, I voluntarily admitted myself into a psychiatric hospital. This is my account of the vulnerable moments that led me to going and the help I could have used.
Context: I was The Flyer's Opinion Editor for the Spring 2022 semester. I quit the position in April and was rehired this semester.
Before leaving The Flyer, my articles offered SU's white student majority a new perspective.
One particular article linking the lack of mask regulations to eugenics, now edited, upset many white students who retaliated on social media. Rather than critiquing the opinion piece, audience members criticized the way I looked and lived as a human being.
I let go of my therapist a week before publishing the article and had exactly 30 days’ worth of anti-anxiety medication left. The time it took me to find a new therapist was six months.
Receiving hundreds of harassing comments and messages triggered and worsened my PTSD. I was experiencing intense paranoia and hyper vigilance.
I was also in an abusive relationship.
By June, I was isolating— afraid to go outside, pushing loved ones away and becoming inconsolably attached to a neglectful partner.
I received personal support from the NAACP, Sociology Front and other groups which prioritize marginalized students— but little to nothing from the university as an institution.
As an opinion writer, I expect to be targeted again. The difficulty of finding professional help in those moments, or to describe how much I wanted to die, is unspeakable.
The defining moment came after the breakup, amid nonstop flashbacks of all my traumas. I successfully pushed everyone away to the point of being alone— with my best friend.
It was hard to find someone who would not shame me for having bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and a plethora of other stigmatized diagnoses which build the image of a bad person. Pre-existing conditions residing within me, out of my control.
Suicide has a lot to do with control.
I had attempted suicide twice prior, once as a pre-teen and once as a teenager. Going to the psych ward instead this time was a necessary need for me but is not accessible for most. I am privileged and grateful to have had that control as another option in my life.
Hospitalization isn’t good for everyone in crisis mode.
I am alive today because of the support I received during the indescribable experience. During National Suicide Prevention month, here is how SU has shown its support:
Here are some more accessible resources:
(For those with disordered eating issues.)
Every Monday at 7 p.m., starting Oct. 3 and lasting four weeks.
Community healing is deeply important to mental health.
So, how to help someone who is suicidal: be there, ask how they’re doing. Sit with them in silence. Eat together, write together, study together, dance together ... despite being tired, keep doing it.
It could save a life.
By SUMMER SMITH
Featured image courtesy of Alex Christ.