I've been suicidal before. Three years ago I wanted to die, had the whole thing planned out, and was preparing myself to do it. Except I didn't. They sent me to a behavioral health facility. I'd kind of talked myself out of dying, so hospitalization wasn't necessary, but I very much still needed help. In any case, I had a great experience at this particular facility and learned all sorts of things.
So then flash forward to late November 2014, when I could not bring myself to go to school for the life of me. I was in a bad place emotionally and mentally. I couldn't function most of the time, I was absolutely miserable, and nothing was helping. I was presented with something of an ultimatum: go to school regularly or go to behavioral health-land. Both options sucked in my distorted mind, but I chose the lesser of two evils.
But this time the facility had moved a few towns over, and about half of the old staff had jumped ship. None of the patients I'd known from three years ago would be there, and no one could replace them. I'd connected with a girl there over a mega-obscure pop punk band, for God's sake; that would not happen again, nor would anything remotely like it.
I didn't want to go the first morning, but I rode the van there (they provided transportation) regardless. And I walked into the cafeteria and sat by myself for half an hour, staring at my phone and trying to convince myself I was okay.
I got a new therapist who somehow remembered me from my first time there. There's two main therapists in the adolescent psych program, and I had #1 my first time and #2 my second time. #1 didn't remember me my second time there, but #2 did, hilariously. And, against my will, I made new friends. One girl started the same day I did, and she actually became my biggest support in the facility. These new people didn't replace the old ones. They didn't need to. They were amazing, amazing people, and while we didn't connect over the same obscure pop punk band, we did talk about everything else. I cried when they cried, and we laughed and we had bad days and we snitched to the therapists about who had cut the night before but didn't want to talk about it and they taught me to play Bullshit because somehow I was the only one out of six teens who didn't know how to play and I belonged.
People left. New people came in. I told my therapist I'm gay and immediately thereafter said "Wait, holy shit, I can't believe I just told a psychologist that." We talked about giving ourselves permission to feel what we're feeling, which was this completely new concept to me, Mr. Mark O'I-Always-Have-To-Be-Happy-Or-I'm-Wrong-Brien. I graduated from the all-day program. I learned cognitive behavioral therapy. I got new diagnoses that made much more sense. At no point did I regret asking for help.
And it's such a scary thing. Saying "I'm not in a good place and I need a hand to help me pull myself to a better one" can be paralyzing, especially if you've kept up the appearance of normalcy, of functioning. I will never in any situation discredit that feeling.
But I've never heard anyone say "I wish I'd waited longer to get help." But I'm saying I'm glad I asked for it. But I will always carry with me the things I learned both go-arounds at this behavioral health facility. But people bared their souls to me and I did the same to them. But this is so important. Therapy is so important if you need it. The complete and entire shebang: daily check-ins, holding yourself accountable, possible medications, different modes of therapy, learning everything you can, bringing something to the table for yourself and for other people.
There is always a way you can get help. It might not be almost two months at a behavioral health facility, and it might not be treatment from a mental health professional at all. But you can always get help, and when you need it, I beg you to ask.