I met Him in the psychiatric triage unit at Buffalo General Hospital on 1/30/2012. He was in the eyes of a 53 year old dad/ grandpa who hears voices that tell him to hurt himself. He was in the heart of a 43 year old woman who cuts herself when she is anxious. He was there with a teen addict who recently was hit by a car and now suffers from daily seizures. I saw a glimpse of Him in a married woman’s voice as she told of a night of too much drinking and taking 2 pills she knew she should have not taken. Even a homeless woman who claims to see demons and wasn’t sure if we were in hell or limbo or waiting to be reborn.
I am nothing more than a married woman with 3 sons. One happens to be an Angel on Earth who has changed my life forever. On this day, I broke. The world succeeded and I fell. The white flag was flailing. With all the responsibilities of a mom to two strong willed sons and a mom to an angel, wife, business owner, and student, I finally waved my arms in defeat. The weight of finances and their lacking, the nut cracked. That nut was me.
I normally show a strong front and a smiling face. Unfortunately, I forgot to do one simple thing. I forgot to let go and let God lead me. I forgot that I was loved. I forgot that I wasn’t alone. I believed the lies in my head and heart that nobody cared. I believed the lies that I had to handle everything on my own. I believed in the fatal thought that there was no hope.
God can and does work through every situation. I regained my faith and hope amongst many other psychiatric patients waiting to be evaluated to determine if we stay or go. As I sat there waiting many hours to be interviewed and evaluated, I tried to avoid eye contact and sat in a corner. I looked my part of a mental health patient.
There was Wendell pacing back and forth waiting for me to look up to notice him. I wouldn’t. He sat next to me. I cried just wanting to go home to my husband and children and sobbed in question how on earth did I end up here?
Meal time has arrived. I meekly took my white paper bag of milk, cookie, turkey sandwich, and pear. I ate the pear in silence. Wendell eagerly ate his dinner, still trying to make eye contact. I caved and turned and he asked “you gonna eat your sandwich?” I handed my bag to him with a smile. He whispered to me: “you will be all right.” Tears fell down my face. It must have been obvious that I was a first timer. We chatted a long time and others joined us. I asked him why he was there and he told me that he hears voices and they tell him to kill himself. He has swallowed bleach, overdosed on prescription drugs, has tried to hang himself, and recently the voices told him to jump off of the skyway. I proceeded to inquire about his family and life. He has 4 children and 3 grandchildren and a wife who all love him. However, he still feels alone and the voices won’t quiet down. Wendell was my protector for the rest of the evening. He made sure that another patient stayed away from as he tried to approach me and tell me I was “hot” and if I wanted a new boyfriend. Wendell told him to not talk or look at me again.
Other patients began to tell their stories and why they were there. Drug withdrawal, fight with boyfriend, cutting, alcohol and drug reaction, attempted suicides, seeing demons, and one gentleman relapsed after 6 years of being clean and sober. They all wanted to know my story. I was ashamed to be there. Not because I didn’t belong. I was one of them. I was just like every other person there: at some point I let go of the truth, my faith, and hope. I spoke of my children and Angelman Syndrome. I spoke of seizures and meds. I spoke of me being brought here against my will. We had our own group therapy session going on. We laughed, we cried, we even prayed for one another.
As some of them shared where they go for counseling as an outpatient. I admitted that I had worked at two of the establishments they spoke of when I was younger. I was a mental health therapist for several years as a young graduate. They all looked at me with eyes widened and jaws dropped. I said, “yup we are just as crazy as the rest of the world”. The laughter that came from the room caused the nurse to come in and check on us. She said she wished there was so much fun on this ward every night and told me I can come back anytime. I smiled and politely declined with a giggle.
Why am I sharing this story with you? Because God used these people to remind me that amongst all the crazy He is there. Amidst the sorrow, He is there. We are never alone. I have people who love me and would risk our friendship and force me to go to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation. I have an AS family that love me more than I can imagine. Some of you have never met me and yet have reached out to help us in our desperate time of need. I have a husband who loves me unconditionally. I have children who love me and need me. I have many many angels on earth. I just have to open my heart and eyes to see and feel them.
I am home now and plan to never ever let go of God’s promises and hope again.