Wednesday, October 10, 2018
CEREBRAL PALSY STORIES: Tim's Mental Health Mayhem of 2015 to 2018 Part 1-Here's What Happened and How It All Started
Note - Today is World Mental Health Day. Tim recalls his issues and fervently hopes this will inspire you to get any help you need.
April 3rd of 2015. That is a date which I will most likely never forget what happened on that day and what I felt like at the end of it. The events of that day and the result of it are also something that I have not been very comfortable in sharing with all of you in great detail until now.
Up to this point, I think there was only one other time in which I wrote a post about the troubles that I having trying to sleep back then and having to undergo a sleep study exam. Little did I know however that the events of that particular day would end up being the first breaking point in my 3-year battle with anxiety and depression.
The long and winding road for my mental health issues which caused me to have periods of severe anxiety and depression over the last three years or so had gotten so bad during that time that my parents had to call 911 on that night to take me to the hospital for only the third or fourth time ever in my life! Truthfully though and now being able to look back at what I was going through and what I was dealing with emotionally back then, my overall mental health had actually started to go downhill and take a turn for the worst a few weeks before I ended up in the hospital for observation on that fateful night in April some three years ago.
The problem was that back then was that even though I sort of knew that I was not feeling one hundred percent health wise both physically and mentally, my family and I didn't really think that what I was going through at the time was something to be too concerned or worried about. From what I can remember during that time was that we just thought that I might have been having trouble sleeping at night and that I just needed to have a good night's sleep or two to give both my mind and my body some much needed rest.
Dad: At first we didn’t know what it was, all we knew was that Tim was not himself. It took a few days to realize that he hadn’t been sleeping. We estimate that he went for about two weeks without sleep before he reached crisis point.
Things started to get worse for me and my family however when, as a result of me still having trouble sleeping and not being able to get a full night's rest, I started having severe panic attacks while we were out in public somewhere in addition to experiencing what would end up being some very scary, unpredictable and nerve-racking delusional feelings and hallucinations while lying in bed. I also told my parents back then when all of this was happening that I was starting to hear voices in my head as well.
At that point we finally knew that something had to be done to address what was wrong with me at the time and do everything that we could to get me back on the road to feeling better overall with regards to the mental health aspect of my life. Up to that point my parents had taken me to the hospital maybe once or twice during that time because I had started to have chest pains and my heart was beating very rapidly at time in an effort to try and figure out what was going on since I thought that I was possibly having a heart attack. The only thing that the doctors could figure out though after doing some tests was that I had been having trouble sleeping and that I was a little dehydrated from not drinking enough fluids. Other than that, it appeared that I was doing fine physically. This was not the last time that I ended up going to the hospital during that time unfortunately.
The final time that I ended up having my most recent hospital visit was on that night of April 3rd in 2015 when as I was trying to fall asleep I had started to scream very loudly and shout a string of curse words and a lot of other things that didn't make sense. From what I can remember, it felt like I was having a fight with my dad even though he was not in my room at the time because he was in the other bedroom and was trying his best to sleep as well. Luckily I was somehow able to snap out of whatever fantasies and delusions that I was going through then before the paramedics came inside our house and into my bedroom so that I could realize what was really going on and they could transport me and my family to the hospital without incident.
Dad: One thing we didn’t realize was that when you call 911 for someone having anxiety outbursts in the middle of the night is that the first thing that happens is four deputies come in first with their hands on their guns.
It’s for everyone’s protection but it is still unsettling. On the good side, it snapped Tim back to reality for awhile.
The good thing about having to go to the hospital on that night for observation was that after my parents told the doctors at the hospital what was going on and what I was experiencing, mostly everybody involved in the situation had a pretty good idea of what was wrong with me which was that I was not getting enough sleep during that time which was making me act out in some very strange and weird ways. The only person who didn't quite know about everything that was going on at certain times back then was me!
Fortunately all of the doctors that we saw back then and even my parents to a certain degree were very patient and understanding with me in helping to provide some much needed guidance and reassurance for me.
Unfortunately though there was a point during that time in the hospital where the doctors and nurses told us that they weren't really equipped and prepared to help me deal with whatever mental health issues I was going through at the time and they let my parents take me home once we knew what the actual problem was.
Dad: The normal emergency room (at Arcadia Methodist Hospital…one of the best in the area) was not equipped to deal with mental health issues. All they could do was give Tim some Valium and observe. We called an emergency team from the county’s mental health system (because it was a weekend and most facilities were closed), who would come over and evaluate Tim to see if he needed to be admitted to a facility for help. That team is overwhelmed with calls and it took them about 36 hours to show up…at around 2 in the morning.
(In Los Angeles County, we call (800)854-7771 - there are also mental health urgent care centers that you can go to on a walk in basis, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Urgent Care Centers)
The good news is though that not too long after that my primary doctor was able to refer me to a sleep specialist to see what they could do to help me sleep better at night.
Dad: Once we figured out the sleep issue and got Tim some over-the-counter sleeping pills, and he got a good night sleep, the worst symptoms started to dissipate.
While the sleep specialist was eventually able to help my family and I resolve my overall sleeping issues that were caused by sleep apnea with the help of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, we also had to find a psychologist or therapist for me to help me with the mental health issues that came about as a result of my many sleepless nights. That part of my 3-year mental health journey will be the focus of part 2 next time on Cerebral Palsy Stories.
Don't wait, if you don't feel right, get help with your mental health issues today. In the U.S.A., contact your local county health department to find mental health resources near you or visit MentalHealth.gov for more information.
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