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Feb 2017
to my family that doesn’t believe mental illness is real:

i sincerely hope you never get woken up in the dead of night
by a phone call from one of your precious girls, hundreds of
miles away from home, calling to tell you with a heart full
of pain yet a voice void of emotion, that she is so sorry
but she has to take all of her pills.

i hope you never find her so dissociated and confused,
walking in dangerous parts of town without a coat on,
in the snow, hoping someone would **** her or at the
very least she would freeze to death.

i hope you never have to plead with one of your girls
to not press the cold blade against her skin, or not
to put her neck through that noose she spent so much
time researching how to tie all while you’re desperately
trying to call an ambulance to her house, praying it will
get there in time.

i hope you never have to watch your child be escorted by
two cops from her room at the general hospital that she
was stuck in for nearly a week because her blood was so
poisoned from the lithium and her risk of seizure and
blood clots were so high, to be safely taken to a psych unit.

i hope you never have to watch your child be taken back
to a psych assessment room while you have to sit there
in the waiting room, pretending everything is okay all while
your heart is silently breaking into a million pieces because
your girl has been broken by abuse at another persons hand
and you couldn’t have stopped it from happening.

i hope you never have to see one of your girls get admitted
to a psych unit. one minute you walk in with your suicidal
child and 2 two hours later you walk out, but this time alone,
knowing that there is nothing you can do to ‘fix’ your hurting baby.

no mother or father wants this for their child.
and no person chooses to have mental illness.

do you really think i wanted to spend my high school years
in and out of the hospital?

i don’t think you understand the loneliness that comes
from being stuck there while your ‘friends’ are only
worrying about the next big test that was coming up.

i would have loved to only be worrying about that next test
but instead i was preoccupied with death, wanting nothing
more than to finally feel the pain draining from my body.

do you really think i enjoyed having to strip down naked,
no underwear or no bra, every day so the hospital staff
could make sure i wasn’t still hurting myself?
i felt like i was being violated all over again.

do you really think i enjoyed having to sleep on a mattress
on the floor with the lights on so hospital staff could watch
me to make sure i didn’t **** myself?

i hated being in the hospital.
and i was terrified knowing that when i got out i had to
find the strength to walk back into school with a smile
on my face despite knowing that i would have to see
my abuser walking the same hallways everyday.

you don’t know my story. it’s none of your business.
but since you have felt the need to pass judgment
on my family and i, i thought i would let you know
that your ignorance is a death sentence to some,
not me, i’m learning to deal with my dark thoughts,
but to others who aren’t fortunate enough to have the
support and resources that i do,
it sends them straight to their graves.

mental illness is real,
and the stigma that ignorance creates, kills.

and i hope that if one of your children is
ever plagued by an illness similar to mine,
that they feel comfortable enough coming to you.
and if not, i hope they feel comfortable coming to
me. i will lend a non judgmental, compassionate ear.
because the only thing that ever talked me off the edge
all of those dark, cold and lonely nights was just that:
Alex Berthelot
Written by
Alex Berthelot  Atlanta
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