Seven things I learned from being in a mental hospital

The first time I thought about killing myself I was 11.

I would sit on a concrete slab outside the mess hall of my summer camp.

It was between two bushes, hovering over Lake Wenworth.

I would get to lunch or dinner early and sit there for a few minutes waiting for friends to arrive or for the doors to open so we could have our ‘bug juice’ and summer camp sandwiches.

Often when I sat there, I would cry.

A voice would say to me, ‘Jump in. Swim to the other side. You won’t make it. Then you will die. Everything will be better then. Jump in. Do it.’

My little 11 year old spirit didn’t know what to do but cry.

Four and a half years later I woke up in a hospital, with restraints on my left ankle and right wrist.



At 15, I had tried to take my own life.

I woke up, restrained to the bed, puking and shitting all myself over because they had given me something to get rid of all that I had taken to end my life.

The next day, I was taken to a mental institution where I stayed for the next four months.

It was a busy time because the childrens/teen ward was full. So because I was just old enough, they put me on an adult ward.

On this locked adult ward, I learned a lot.

i was on the third floor of this building for four months of my fifteenth year. i believe, third window in from the top right was my room.

A lot about pain, a lot about people, a lot about myself.

Not all of it registered at the time, I was just a kid but so much as stayed with me.

Here is what I learned:

1. Pain is universal. 

There was a lot of pain on that ward. Lots and lots of pain. Old pain, new pain, confused pain, heavy pain, crazy pain that needed medication.

Pain took all shapes, sizes, ages, demographics.

People suffer.

And often times, A LOT.

One woman on our ward was constantly trying to kill herself. When she didn’t have a bandage on her neck from trying to slice her jugular vein, she was smoking 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day.  So lung cancer could kill her. When she didn’t have wraps around her wrists from trying to slice her wrists open, she was refusing her meds so she would not feel better. She had a husband and two children. They would come visit. So much pain. It was hard to watch. She was actually funny and kind. We would talk sometimes. I wrote her a letter when I left telling her how great she was and how I wanted her to live. I never know what happened to her.

2. Crazy people are funny

The woman I just wrote of, so funny. Dry, sarcastic humor that was spot on and funny. Sure, being funny to hide the pain blah blah blah. Funny is funny. And any time you can laugh in the nut house, you take it.

Another woman on my ward was a schizophrenic. She was hilarious. She was on a ton of meds to manage what she was going through. When she was lucid, she would tell stories of little green men playing baseball in the corner of her room and how sometimes, while talking with people, their faces would begin to melt off and she would have to just stand there all ‘uh huh. yup. oh yeah.’ and pretend she did not just watch their face melt off. She had a good sense of humor and what was going on. She needed it.

When there is so much pain, you need funny.

3. Everyone is fucked up

This goes along with #1, that pain is universal.

But this is about how we all have our shit, everyone has something they are dealing with. Everyone.

We would go to the cafeteria to eat most of our meals, traveling through the underground maze that connected all the buildings because it was winter. Sitting in the cafeteria, there were celebrities. Household names we all know. Dealing with their demons in the public eye, suffering from addiction and pain. Moms, kids, rich people, poor people, fancy people, straight people, gay people, old people.

Everyone is fucked up, pain and problems know no boundaries.

4. We are all WAY more sensitive than we allow ourselves to be

This is something I have just come to realize/notice. But the time on the mental institution ward speaks to this very much.

Imagine if we all were raised to know to take care of ourselves?

What if we knew that the world can be an intense place and that self-care and down time were imperative to our well-being?

What if we were nurtured to honor ourselves and our feelings and our difficulties with care and patience and love?

The world is an amazing, beautiful place.

But us humans push too too hard. On each other, on ourselves.

5. We are enough just as we are

I thought I had to be better, more, smarter, thinner.

I thought I had to be more than I was.

I thought I was not enough.

this is my 15 year old self. i wish i could tell her things now.
this is my 15 year old self. i wish i could tell her things now.

I was.

I am .

You are.

In the same vein as #5, we need to care for ourselves. We need to know we are enough. What we do is enough. Who we are is enough.

I think that if that was the theme on that ward or in our world in general, there would not be so many unhappy people.

And if we can treat ourselves NOW as we should be treated. We need to stop the patterns that hold us back and keep us in pain.

Sometimes this is hard, we need help, we need meds. But just to know there is help, there is possibility, that is a start.

6. Therapy is not always what is needed. 

Sooooooooooooooooo much blah blah blah.


I opted not to take any meds.

I knew intuitively that they would make me MORE fucked up and I did not want that.

But I was in therapy. Even after I left. For about six more years, on and off.

Sooooooooooooooo much blah blah blah.

Talking about stuff is important, get it off your chest, express yourself, move on (ideally).

I don’t have all the answers. But I do know, therapy is not always one of them.

Soooooooooooooo much blah blah blah.

7. Darkness like this does not go away

Well, at least not overnight or even over a lifetime.

I left the mental institution, the nut house, the crazy place.

But everything still stayed with me. I did not leave with tools to help myself. Even if they tried to teach them to me, I don’t remember. And I am not sure my 15 yo self wanted to hear ANYTHING. I was a bit stuck.

So in the following years, I did not honor my sensitivities. I did not take care of myself.

I went right back to life as it was. And please know, it was not bad. I just had demons that followed me and reared their ugly heads and caused me to continue to have the most heinous thoughts. But the majority of the time, I was a regular teen and young adult, going to school, having fun. I had great friends, I did lots of stuff.

But the pain followed.


It was around this time of year 29 years ago that I tried to take my own life.

I write all this now for a few reasons.

To tell my story, that is one.

To heal, that is another.

And mostly, because, as I step into this next phase of my life where I am going to share lots of sunshiny stuff, and share how to move past a lot of this, I have to let people know that I KNOW. I have been there. I know how it feels to suffer. I am not always bright and shiny – although we ALL are by design, we just lose our way.

I am here to lead us all back.

So if you don’t know where I have been, you can’t know that I mean this. That this means so much to me. That I am still figuring it all out. That I am not perfect, just perfectly imperfect.

Those days were hard. I have had hard days since.

But I am here.

Here to lead.

Here to share.

Here to help.

Here to let all of us know that if we honor and deepen our connection with ourselves, the world around us and the divine we get into a flow of possibility, freedom, love and miracles that is our birthright. That we are all privy to. No matter what.

Thank you for reading and letting me share. I really appreciate it.

I know there is more to this story and more to share but this is what came out today – stay tuned for more when it is ready to come out. 🙂



If you would like to sign up for my free course, Connection, Possibility and You, it starts January 7th. 10 days of videos that help you get back to you. And guess what? There is nothing to do. Just listen and begin to surrender to the hamster wheel that you mind gets trapped on. Click here to get on the email list where you will receive more info as the time gets closer.




16 thoughts on “Seven things I learned from being in a mental hospital”

  1. Thanks for sharing…I remember being in awe of your 13-15-y-o self. You were (are) so beautiful. Your smile lit (lights) up a room. Your hair is (was) what all us perm-freaks were going for. Glad you’re here, Rose-mama sistah! xxx

  2. Damn, girl. That was one of thekst authentic, transparent, from the soul, pieces I’ve read in a long time. It’s amazing what comes out when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Thank you for sharing. Xo

  3. You are amazing! Thanks for this deep sharing…your wisdom. It rings so true. Makes me love and respect you all the more.
    I’m with you- “We need to know we are enough. What we do is enough. Who we are is enough.” and we need to learn how to create some space between the voices/stories in our heads that say we somehow need to be different.

    Self love and acceptance is where it’s at and it makes it so much easier to love and accept others.

  4. I remember that period of your life. Because of what you did and how it effected me, I did not try to do the same. I always thought, and still do, that you had more to share with people. You were a great friend even when you were going through so much yourself. Good to know that you walked away with some knowledge and that it wasn’t a total waste.

    1. renee, i want to give you a big giant hug. thank you for always being a good friend. i wish i could have been a better friend. it is strange when there are many good, fun memories but yet so much internal pain. it is confusing now as it was then. i am glad to be able to share and help now. thank you for reading, for your comment and for your support. lots of love to you xoxoxo

  5. I remember that time in our lives also. I was so scared for you but also for myself because those feelings/desires were not foreign to me. You were so brave to see it through, learn and grow from that experience and I am sure many more there after. So happy, I can write to you today.

    1. i hate to think of all the pain we were in and how it did not seem that there were a lot of options. but we are strong, aren’t we? strong spirits and strong, feisty resolve. it is inspiring to see your strength manifest into all you have created for your life and your family, ilana. lots of love to you and thank you for being here. xo

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