Mental health is a pivotal part of your overall health. It impacts your sleeping habits, eating habits and physical well-being. Yet the subject remains relatively taboo. In 2019, many are afraid to seek treatment out of fear, shame and stigma. But one actor is doing what she can to break down barriers. In a moving essay for Nylon, Rachel Evan Wood revealed she attempted suicide and spent time in a psychiatric hospital.
Wood began her story with a simple statement. “When I was 22, I willingly checked myself into a psychiatric hospital, and I have absolutely no shame about it… it was the worst, best thing that ever happened to me.” Wood then went on to explain how it all began. “It was morning; I felt as though I had been hit by a truck. Then with an almost hysterical acceptance, without thinking, I picked up the phone. It was one of those moments when you have a choice that goes beyond the initial choice you make by calling out for help: You can not die, or you can come back to life.”
“‘Mom?… It’s me… I just tried to kill myself… I need to go to a hospital,’” Wood said, recounting the call she made to her mother.
“When I said I needed to go to a hospital, I did not mean I needed to go for any physical injuries I may or may not have had. I meant a hospital for my state of mind.”
Wood immediately felt a wave of relief. “The beautiful thing about being at the bottom is there is nowhere to go but up. I wasn’t supposed to be alive, so nothing I did at that point mattered. I had already proven to myself nothing mattered. So, I may as well surrender,” Wood wrote.” I had to be vulnerable and give up some control” — and she did when she asked for help. But Wood was still scared, collapsing into a heap of tears the second she saw her mom.
“[My mother] walked right over to me and wrapped her arms around me,” Wood wrote. “My mother had held me before, but this felt different. She really had me. She had me, and nothing was going to hurt me. Not while she was there… [and] I heard her saying to me in a voice that was stern but comforting, ‘You’re okay… You’re okay.’”
After settling down, Wood’s mother asked the logical question. “Why?” but, like most, Wood lacked a solid answer. “I just wanted some space,” she said. However, Wood soon came to realize her attempt was based on more than that. “My mind at the time was filled with scars and shadows and most importantly, so much shame. I was struggling with PTSD and didn’t know it.”
That evening, with the help of her mom, Wood checked into a private mental health facility — one that accommodated Wood’s desire to keep her information secret and safe. “When it came time to find a psychiatric hospital, my first concern — which most people won’t have to worry about — was figuring out a way to get help without anyone finding out, because if they did, any chance I had at rebuilding myself would be severely impaired by the cruelty of strangers.” But using a false name, Wood was able to get the help she needed.
Soon, Wood was healthier and happier than ever before. “Everyday I got a little stronger,” Wood wrote. And before long, Wood was released, though she’s continued going to therapy.
Wood ended her essay with a reminder to those who are struggling. “Depression isn’t a weakness, it’s a sickness. Sometimes a deadly one. And sometimes all people need is to know that they are loved and that others are there for them.”
So ask for help. Ask for a hand or simply say, “I’m not OK,” because, odds are someone is there. Someone will listen.
If you’re considering suicide or fear you may become suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24-7 at 1.800.273.TALK (8255). If you’re worried about someone you love, visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.
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