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Old 12-01-2019, 06:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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100: Suicide

Chemda interviews her brother Michael to talk about his sincere suicide attempt at age 15 leading him to spending his 16th birthday in a psychiatric hospital. He discusses his social situation, the bottle of sleeping pills, his ironic clarity, the videotape he left behind, mental health riots, and the time he tried to get a gun. Oh!, and the friends and family dynamic before, during, and after. Honestly I think this is a must-listen for every family. Are you part of one? - Keith

Michael Khalili

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Old 12-02-2019, 11:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Phenomenal episode. I love that Michael can still speak so openly and rationally about this. It is so important to hear these stories so that other people in similar situations donít feel as alone.

Possible triggers ahead:

Iíve spoken a few times about my inpatient stay on the forums this past January. A lot of what Michael said resonated with me. In particular the brain pieces not working right. Iíve had depression since I started my period and frankly should have been committed a few times. My problem was that I was too good at hiding it and unlike Micheal, I didnít tell anyone. I would have spells where I would drive like an idiot with tears streaming down my face wishing I could have the strength to finally crash the van into a tree or sidewall. I would hold injections of insulin over my veins so close to giving myself that lethal dose. Everytime I thought how it would impact my mother. And I was afraid of the possible pain. And what would happen if it didnít work. My dad always thought my issues were behavioral in nature versus a health issue. And my family was big in keeping certain things in the family, such as his physical and emotional abuse. I eventually said fuck and and openly talk about it, not worried if he is going to hear about it or not. Because while he did bust his ass to put all 4 of us through college and is paying my graduate student loans, he hit and emotionally abused me and it isnít ok.

Iíve been on Effexor for awhile and it helped with my depression and anxiety. My PCOS and PMDD would act up and I would have to be put on different birth controls which of course impacted my mood. When I had thyroid cancer in 2010, my entire thyroid had to be removed which made me responsible for remembering to take this little pill by itself a half hour before I had anything to eat.

So I have a lot of hormonal shit that can cause things not to fit where they are supposed to. This past January, I hadnít taken any of my medications for 3 days. I had been feeling severely depressed due to having a heavily, severely cramping period for a month and a half. I just felt like shit and everything Made me cry. Small things that would never impact me. I was at work and broke down crying because I was placed on hold with the help desk. My colleagues were shocked because Iím usually pretty strong and donít let small things get to me. I then left to drive home and all I could think about was how much I hated myself and kept envisioning grabbing the butcher knife in my kitchen and just going to town on my legs and stomach, not caring if I hit an artery. Iíve cut before and the desire to do so, but this feeling was completely different. I didnít feel like I was in control. So while driving I called my co-worker who I trusted and told her that I was having thoughts of hurting myself and needed to go to the ER and that I was telling her to hold myself accountable.

I had done such a good job of hiding what was going on that everyone was shocked, except my husband. He was surprised it got to the point it did, but not shocked because he had seen me go through some rough cycles.

I have to say it is so trippy being a mental health professions and going through it on the other side. I had to go through screens I gave people all the time. They didnít have a psychiatrist at the ER so they did this televideo thing. What was weird was they lied and said they were just going to do an evaluation on me when I got to the facility. But as we were discharging the nurse told us either my mom can drive me but she would have to take me straight there and that they knew how long it would take for us to get there, or the ambulance would take me. Once she said that I knew I was being admitted. I donít know why they felt like they needed to lie but it contributed to my overall low opinion of the place.

When we got there they confiscated our phones and then sat in this windowless cold room for almost two hours. Luckily my mom and husband were there because I definitely would have left. I was freaking out about what people would think and how it would impact my job and how I was going to pay bills because I didnít have anymore paid leave left.

When they finally took me back there my poor mom asked if I could leave if it got to got to be too much for me. They told her I could. I knew it was a lie. That if I wanted to leave AMA the psychiatrist would have to clear me first and my insurance wouldnít pay anything. But I wanted the help and didnít want to make my mom more upset than she already was so I kept my mouth shut.

When I got in, they put me in this room that had concrete floors and a stone like bed and left me there for 45 minutes. It was very much like a prison environment. It was also freezing because their heat was out. I normally donít get cold but I was freezing.

When the nurses finally came in they strip searched me. They tried to be as gentle as they could but it was one of the worst things someone feeling as shitty as I did could go through. I was finally allowed to go onto the ward to my bed where I didnít have any bedsheets. So I just laid down and cried until one of the staff members came in during one of their 15 minute checks and saw that I didnít have any sheets.

My stay was one of the best things i did for myself. For so long I had to be the strong one. I was the oldest of 4 and felt like I had to protect and comfort them when my dad lost his temper, I always felt like I had to try to manage my husbands anxiety, and being a social worker, I had to be strong during peopleís crises and emotional states. I work with older veterans and have heard many sad stories about their time in the service, and suicidal thoughts.

I knew that while I was there, I didnít have to worry about any of that. I could worry but there wasnít a damn thing I could do about it. It also let my secret out, that I was experiencing these dark thoughts and feelings and couldnít keep it all to murder anymore. And that I would need to do a better job of maintaining it, including taking my medicines.

The groups were good, I was lucky to have a good psychiatrist and not talk to someone through a screen like the people on Medicaid had to do (which I could go on a days long rant on that bullshit). I took the time to fully involve myself in my recovery. And an unintended bonus, I was free from social media. Since I couldnít have my phone, all I could do was think and participate.

I was in for 3 days. They wanted me in for 5-7 but I had a detailed goal list and plans and was able to talk my way out. Also when people found out I was a social worker during an exercise where people guessed what profession each other was in, people were coming up to me, confiding in me, getting attached. I had to keep telling myself-I am here for myself not to help others! Of course I couldnít always help myself. Many of the people in there had addictions and had done stints in jail. One of their big triggers was perceived disrespect. There was one woman who was working on her temper and trying to be more social who said hello to an older lady who I knew to have schizophrenia due to my own observations. So when she said hello and the woman didnít respond, she started to get upset until I told her that she had schizophrenia. Luckily a few minutes later she was in her delusions and was passing her hands over her food and picking apples from the imaginary tree. I had to explain to another lady what Bipolar was and what suicidal meant because she didnít know.

There was one staff member I eviserated in my evaluation because he was completely inappropriate. First morning I was there he yelled at me at 5 am to get up for my medications, when I hadnít demonstrated any resistance to anything. He also would threaten to shut the phones off as a joke during the limited time we had. I told him there wasnít anything funny about that and he threatened to write me up. I told him to go ahead and that I knew my rights and would escalate it up the ladder as high as it needed to go. He definitely tried to provoke me into acting out so he could get me into restraints. Luckily I still had that strength of mind to us my social work skills to remain calm and told the nurse manager exactly what happened which everyone else corroborated. I didnít feel like experimenting with anything as Iíve seen people get restrained and it is not fun.

I know Iíve rambled on long enough. Iím so glad this episode exists. I agree that everyone should listen to it, especially people who have family members who experience this. And if you are experiencing something like this, reach out and get help. Donít choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It can get better. Like finding a mate, there are a lot of therapists in the sea, it might take some time to find the perfect one.

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Old 12-09-2019, 07:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for doing this Michael and Chemda. I had my trials in my youth but I don't remember ever thinking there was no way out, so I can't say I related, but I definitely appreciate the heck out of the fact you put this down and put it out there.
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Old 03-17-2020, 07:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Indeed, it was one of those episodes which tackled a sensitive topic, yet was delivered in a classy manner nonetheless.
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