LUUUUUUUUUCY, I’M HOME!!!!!!!!! I’m back, girls and boys! The sun hath risen! The day has come! Your girl is here! I’ve returned to the land of the living. Although I guess “returned” would imply I had been there prior to this hiatus, and that’s simply not the case. I have arrived at the land of the living. Because I sure as hell wasn’t here before. Let me explain.
The last time we chatted was in December (!). I talked to you about current events, I talked to you about various political happenings, I talked to you about the death of my grandfather. What I didn’t talk to you about was the pretty pressing matter of my losing battle with my mental health. I was drowning—completely engulfed by a grievously severe depression. A depression like when I was 16 suffering from PTSD. A depression like when I was a sophomore in college and had to take an entire semester off. A depression like when I had to move home two months into my first post-grad job. It was back. And I’d had enough.
By mid-January, I’d done it. I had finalized the plan. I had selected the exact spot on PCH into which I would crash my car and end my life. It was a Wednesday. 11:11pm (quite the original I am). 90 miles per hour (A 2010 Jeep Patriot can only do so much). Fast and straight, right into the Pacific. But I braked. Damn near flipped that Patriot over going 90 to 0 like that. But I did it. I braked.
I wish I could give you a reason, some beautiful rationale behind that decision, but I can’t. I don’t know why I braked. I just did.
Two days later, a friend found me in the fetal position in my closet—where I’d been for the last 26 hours.
I was dying.
Most people think suicide kills a person, but it doesn’t. It ends their life, sure. But people don’t die from suicide. They die from pain.
Suicide doesn’t kill a person—pain does.
I was, in fact, dying. The pain was killing me.
When my parents called, my mom knew instantly. She’s, like, 32% psychic. Mostly in regards to athletic contest outcomes and The Bachelor but sometimes in non-athletic, non-incredibly-romantic-and-beautiful-and-don’t-even-try-to-tell-me-otherwise practical events, such as this. Cyndi knew something was profoundly, gravely wrong. And it was.
I gave them a heavily abridged CliffNotes version of what had been going on—enough for them to understand the severity of the situation but not so much as to send them into cardiac arrest. We huffed and we puffed and we blew out a new plan. Within 72 hours of that conversation, I was walking into an inpatient treatment facility.
Yes. I said it. I went to a nuthouse. The crazy pen. The looney bin. Me, Morgan Cary Smith. On January 26, 2018, I voluntarily checked into an inpatient treatment facility. And it saved my life.
So, why don’t I just tell you about it?!
Let me start by saying that “inpatient treatment facility” is a terribly sterile term for the place. Personally, I dubbed it “Luxury Survivor,” with a heavy emphasis on “luxury.” I don’t know who or what my father did in another life, but, boy oh boy, did his insurance come through in the clutch, people. In the interest of anonymity, I will not reveal any identifying details about the facility, but what I can tell you is the following eloquent statement: Rehab is the shit. I opted for a treatment center that offered dual diagnosis—that is, they specialize in both drug use and mental health. Now, while I’m not a drug addict, I am on depression meds, and those big boys clearly weren’t doing their job, so I wanted to enlist some psychiatric experts.
Anywho. This place was exceptional. Set atop a cliff facing the ocean, each of the four houses held six patients. Oh, and by “houses” I mean mansions. I’m talking a ridiculous price tag here. Throughout the course of your therapeutic treatment, you were offered acupuncture, yoga, hiking, equestrian therapy, Reiki (it’s this dope Japanese practice that aligns your energy chakras or some shit, I don’t know, it was cool), massage, infinity pools, spas, saunas, et cetera. It was rather absurd how seriously they took the “luxury” part of “luxury inpatient treatment facility.” These people spared no expense on the joint. And insurance covered the whole damn thing! Shout out to Stryker for employing my dad and providing aforementioned Kickass Insurance.
But I digress. The place was luxurious, absolutely. Yet, of course, as the old adage tells us, money doesn’t buy everything. Money doesn’t buy the bonds I forged with the people I met in my rehab stint. Money doesn’t buy the love we shared in going through Emotional Hell together. Money doesn’t buy the relationships I’ll have for the rest of my life. Luxury, schmuxury. I would’ve lived in a cardboard box with those people. Granted, it would have to be an extraordinarily large cardboard box. Or possibly a myriad of medium-sized cardboard boxes. I don’t know, I’ll get back to you on that one.
I can’t possibly give you a brief summary of my time there, mainly because “brief” isn’t in my nature and also because there’s simply too much to tell. So, I’ll tell you one story—one story that perfectly encapsulates the unparalleled support and love I received during my stay. Let us begin.
I had just finished an “individual therapy” session with my therapist and was headed directly into a “group therapy” session. We did a lot of group therapy. Brief tangent:
I just need to tell you guys about my therapist. This man played the primary role in my healing and was, for lack of better terminology, the coolest motherfucker I’ve ever met. His name was Morgan, which, as you’d imagine, got a bit confusing. In fact, sometimes I’d talk about him in front of people who weren’t aware of who my therapist was, and they’d think I was talking in the third person, and it was a real knee-slapper. Anywho, back to my main man. I’ve been in therapy since I was nine years old. I’ve seen a lot of therapists. So, I am picky as hell. But, wow, did he exceed the necessary requirements. Not only was this dude the hands-down smartest human I’d ever met, he was the funniest, kindest, most engaging person in the room. I told him things I’ve never told anyone. Simply put, this man took care of me like no one has in my entire life. I’ll sum him up with an analogy he threw at me in one of our sessions:
“Dandelions. There are millions of them. So many people in this world are dandelions. They’re tough. Resilient. You blow them over, they pop right back up, you pick them out of the ground, they grow right back. But, you. You’re an orchid. Fragile and delicate and sensitive. You have to work vigilantly and diligently to take proper care of it, but when you do, it can be the most beautiful flower in the world.”
Cue heavy sobs. God, I love that man. He changed my life. He honest to Jesus changed my life.
End of tangent.
So, I walked into group therapy, and it just so fricken fracken happened to be one of my favorite facilitators leading the session. She was a forensic psychologist, and she was a badass bitch, let me tell you what. We got onto the topic of Trauma Therapy, and Badass Bitch looked at me and asked if there were any specific traumas I’d like to process with the group at that time. So, I did. I recounted the sexual assault I experienced at age 16 (while openly, and hideously might I add, weeping, if not borderline sobbing—I really am a basket case here). And the response I received was nothing short of serendipitous magic. The three other women (yes, every single one) in the group each told their own stories of sexual assault to demonstrate solidarity. To demonstrate a deep understanding, one that most others simply don’t and can’t have. One of the men shared his devastating childhood ordeal, saying the words aloud for the first time. When we talked about what had happened to us and the pain we felt, it was almost as if we were speaking in code. A language only we could understand. Later, after the group ended, every single person offered to sit down and talk with me at any time, hugged me, and told me they loved me. I mean, my good god.
I left almost two weeks ago to the day. After 45 days, my inpatient treatment was complete.
I’m a writer. I like words. But I don’t have any to describe the love I have for that place or those people. I came into that place a broken person. Irreparably broken, I’d thought. I came into that place wanting to crash my car the entire ride there. I came into that place wanting to die. Not only did these people keep me alive, they made me want to be alive. For that, I have no words. For that, no words will do. For that, I am inexplicably and eternally grateful.
So, yeah. I went to “rehab.” I said it. Hell, I’ll shout it. I WENT TO REHAB! There. I went to rehab. And I’m not ashamed. I’m not embarrassed. I was sick—and I got help.
To end this egregiously long post, I will leave you with a plea. A plea to anyone out there struggling with mental health and suicidal thoughts. I beg of you to ask for help. It may not be rehab. It may not be anti-depressants. It may not be therapy. But, I beg of you: Ask for help. Ask your friend, ask your parents, ask your teacher. Ask me. DO NOT BE ASHAMED. Please, please, please, do not feel one ounce of shame. If you are sick or hurting, please get help. And if no one has told you recently, please know that you matter. You matter. You are wanted, you are loved, you are not alone, and you matter. There is help, there is hope, there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
So, please. Please get help. We need you.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255