August 7, 2019 “Working on Us” This Weeks Mental Health Prompts for Blogging Community: Week 10 Topic: Social Media Affects

Fun and insightful writing prompts ❤

Beckie's Mental Mess

Check out this awesome 'Mental+Health+Matters' design on @TeePublic!

Hello, All! Welcome back to “Working on Us” – A series that represents people with mental health illnesses/disorders. 

~💚~

Before I begin Week #10, I’d like to share with you all the participants that had responded to Week #9 – Topic: Music Therapy.  Of whom I owe the credit of suggesting this topic to Dwight L. Roth of, “Roth Poetry” 

Thank you, to all the participants that joined “Working on Us” this past week.  This topic had definitely struck a chord with a great number of blogger’s and each one had something different to bring to the post.  So, great job everyone!  This is why this series means so much to me, it’s reading and learning more and more every week about all of you as well as sharing with so many other bloggers your experiences, point of views, and overall mental health status.

In case you missed any…

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My Soul Balm answers Beckie’s Mental Mess Week 10 “Working on Us” Prompts!

I thought it would be great to flex my writing muscles and participate in the “Working on Us” prompt series hosted by Beckie’s Mental Mess. If you also want to participate, you can see the original post here and you can check out Beckie’s lovely blog here!

Okay, here goes 🙂

Week #10 Topic:  Social Media Affects

Prompt #1 Questions:  (If certain questions do not apply, just write n/a).

  1. Does social media affect your overall mental health? If so, please describe how it does affect you? Yes. For sure it does! Negative news, trash posts, and sensationalism really get my anxiety going. On the flip side, positive posts, educational articles, and inspirational videos make me excited for life. I just have to be careful about what I fill my feed with.
  2. How does it make you feel when you see family/friends posting pictures of them living their life happily? It actually makes me really happy! I know a lot of my friends and family have struggled tremendously so when they post good stuff I get hype for them. They deserve the best.
  3. Do the following people make you feel inadequate in any way due to your mental health? I think some people make jokes about mental health without really realizing the impact, like saying “I’m so OCD” or “He’s sooo bi-polar” even memes and stuff. It’s kind of hurtful in a way because I’m struggling so much with something they think is fun and games. But I know people just don’t understand so I try not to take it personally. I either educate or unfollow for my own sanity.
  4. What has been your overall experience with social media? And what sites do you follow? Overall I’ve had an interesting journey with social media and I think it’s a good one. I was there pretty much for the start of it as a young teen and I’ve seen it grow and change. I’ve also seen myself evolve too. I used to see Facebook and Insta as place where I’d have to be this perfect person to get “likes” but that life stressed me out and I was never good at getting likes anyway XD. So a few years ago I started building my bubble and rewriting my social media presence to fit more with what I believed and wanted. I follow a greater variety of people and ideas than I used to and I’m a better, more knowledgable person because of it! I follow a lot of Body Activism sites, SJ sites, Fashion, science, female empowerment, LGBTQ sites, writing blogs, art pages, friends who are doing amazing things – just whatever the universe throws my way to help me learn.
  5. Have you considered not being on social media? Oh yeah, I was off it for a couple years while I finished college so I could focus. I have considered getting off Facebook – it tends to throw a ton of emotionally charged, triggery crap at me no matter how much I set up boundaries, I don’t love that. But I also recognize I could use my Facebook for good and to promote mental health awareness so I’ve kept it.
  6. If you have quit social media sites has it improved your mental health and stability? Hard to say since it was quite some time ago and I was really just unstable all around during that period. But I guess I’d have to say no, it didn’t change my stability but not distracting myself with it helped me get a lot of school work done.
  7. Has social media ever triggered you in a negative way? Explain how so. Yup, it definitely has, Facebook specifically would target me with an ad for the next gory horror movie or a viral video of ISIS beheading someone or just all the news about the state of the world. I have OCD and stuff gets stuck in my head a little differently, so I’d just be scrolling through my feed and see this horrible video on accident and then suffer with reliving it for the next three days. It’s just awful when that happens. I had to put a lot of filters in and I still stumble across stuff that is impossibly tone deaf like “Game of Sultans” (seriously, if you haven’t seen the ads you’re lucky they set the women’s movement back 200 years :P).

Prompt #2  We are all familiar with “Selfies”  Describe for us, what is the first thing you think of when you see your family/friends keep sending and/or posting selfies?

Personally, I adore selfies.

I love that people (specifically POC women, LGBTQ people, and women) are taking back the camera’s traditionally white male-centric gaze by photographing themselves and playing by their own rules of beauty and fashion, not just what’s been proscribed to them.

That being said – the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s pretty dope seeing other people post selfies.

I get really excited when I have them on my feed. It’s like a window into how a person sees their own best selves. I get that it can be a lot of fakery, filters, yeah yeah but to me it’s art.

Also I think anyone posting a selfie is really brave. They’re choosing to share an intimate image that could **easily** be mocked no matter how good they look in it (because the internet can be a horrible place too). It’s vulnerable and takes guts to do. More power to ’em!

Therapy Quest – Finding The Right Type of Therapy

Greetings Adventurer! 

Welcome you to the Path of Recovery! Come, come, you’ve overcome so many obstacles to get here and I couldn’t be more proud – relax and revel at the mountains you’ve climbed so far.

When you’re ready to take the next step I have a quest – it’s time to find therapies that work for YOU. 

Now there are as many kinds of therapies as there are entries into the DSM IV so it can be terribly troublesome to pick a path.

It’s a lot of trial and error, kind of like dating – you have to kiss a lot of frogs to get to the right one. Yuck. 

If kissing frogs isn’t your thing, Adventurer, then endeavor to take the quest below to help figure out what therapy (or therapies) suits you best. 

**This post is not to treat or diagnose, it is simply a helpful guide***

How it works: 

First – you must choose a class 

Once you’ve chosen a class, follow the charts below to learn about which kind of therapy or combination of therapies are a good fit for you.

Priest: Mindfulness Based Therapies for those who want to look within!


Rogue: Action Based Therapies for those who learn best from taking action!

Paladin: Talk Based Therapies for those who really really want to look within!

Warrior: Behavior Based Therapies for those who are ready to attack their thoughts and behaviors head on!

Soul Survivor Series: Bruce’s Story

Can you live well with severe mental illness? We explore this question with a series of personal stories.

Click here to witness Bruce’s story about his fight with major depressive disorder and what it’s like to live with it day to day; spoiler…it’s not what you’d expect!

In the first installment of our series exploring how we live well with mental illness, we hear from Bruce Black who has struggled with depression since he was a young teen.

Like all of us out there fighting mental illness, Bruce’s story has had some very dark chapters but also some very, very bright ones. His tale is ultimately empowering as he describes what it’s like to be stable after suicide attempts.

Thank you for listening, remember – stories have power!

If you’d like to share your experience with me, please email me at mmorran1989@gmail.com.

If you’d like to support the further production of stories like Bruce’s, please consider supporting me at the My Soul Balm Patreon Site in exchange for cool merch and original artwork.

Best,

Maria Morran Black

Soul Balm Spotlight: Breaking Down the Baker Act

SOUL BALM SPOTLIGHT: BREAKING DOWN THE BAKER ACT

JULY 11, 2019 | MMORRAN1EDIT

Ah, the dreaded Baker Act.

Here in Florida, we all know it. In fact we know it so well that its colloquial name has been turned into a verb: “oh no bro, I’m going to get Baker Acted!” or “they Baker Acted his ass so fast he didn’t even know what was happening.”

Pretty much what it feels like here in Florida….

All jokes aside, it’s no secret this law is heavily abused and misused. Anyone with mental health issues knows to fear it for that reason.

The act itself has been shrouded in a sort of mythos for many years, legendary in the worst possible way. People gather round and tell their Baker Act stories and like a game of Telephone, the facts get jumbled beyond recognition with each telling.

No one really seems to know what the rules are except the people who now have power over you in the receiving facilities.

As they say, knowledge is power and the more you know about this law – the more power you have if and when you need to advocate for yourself in the hospital.

So gather round chilren as I break down the good, the bad, and the downright hideous parts of the Baker Act:

BUT FIRST SOME HISTORY

What if I told you the Baker Act, much feared and maligned, was actually there to improve the quality of mental health care?

I know, I laughed too.

But if I could – let me paint you a picture of what mental health care looked like in the early 1900s by telling you the harrowing tale of Mental Health America’s Founder, Clifford W. Beers.

Besides having the one of the most dope names in recorded history – Cliff had a few other things going for him: he was a fresh Yale graduate starting a new job as a Wall Street Financier roughly around 1900.

He also happened to have Bipolar Disorder, which caused him to have a particularly bad manic episode in which he attempted suicide by jumping out of a third story window. Miraculously, he survived but was greatly injured by the attempt.

He spent the next three years shuffled around hospitals in Connecticut, experiencing, shall we say, less than therapeutic care. At one point he was forced into a straight jacket for 21 nights among other horrors. He also witnessed the cruel treatment of other patients such as forced lobotomies, electro shock treatment, and solitary confinement lasting days or months.

Most institutions were underfunded and understaffed, a majority of the population still considered mental illness to be the work of the devil, and people could be admitted for any reason and held for indeterminate amounts of time. Patients lived in squalorous, often cruel conditions – put away for life for symptoms we could easily treat today.

So yeah….it was bad. Real bad.

It wasn’t until the 1940’s and 50’s that there was any great pushback in America to reform the Mental Health system. One of those said reformers was a Florida stateswoman known as Maxine Baker.

Representative Maxine E. Baker
Dammmmn Maxine…back at it again with those wing tip glasses and passion for basic human rights. You go girl.

Our girl Maxine lobbied for the humane treatment of patients while institutionalized in Florida. The ensuing Florida Health Care Act of 1971 ensured that patients could only legally be held for up to two weeks instead of indefinitely, prohibited the indiscriminate admission or retention of persons without just cause, and mandated court appointed attorneys for patients. It also created bill of rights for patients undergoing psychiatric care.

This act was considered landmark legislation for its time, bringing mental healthcare back to the community versus a vast institutional system where people were just a number. It was meant to keep those with mental health issues out of the harsh legal system. Overall, it was a shining beacon of hope that’s been duplicated nationally and helped move the system lightyears forward.

But as we all know…there’s still more work to be done. But we’ll get to that later. I want to focus now on the main tenants of the Act and what they mean for you!

WHAT DOES THE BAKER ACT ACTUALLY DO?

The Baker Act provides the following protections to you while you’re in the hospital and up to 6 months after you’re discharged according to theDepartment of Child and Family Services website:

• Provide comprehensive services for persons requiring intensive short-term
and continued treatment
• Provide emergency service and temporary detention for evaluation when
required
• Admit persons to treatment facilities on a voluntary basis when extended
or continuing care is needed and unavailable in the community
• Ensure that any involuntary examination or treatment be accomplished in
a setting which is clinically appropriate and most likely to facilitate the
person’s return to the community as soon as possible
• Guarantee that the individual dignity and human rights of all persons who
are admitted to mental health facilities for examination or placement are
protected.
• Employ the least restrictive means of intervention based on the individual
needs of each person, within the scope of available services.

Basically, it entitles you to due process even if you’re considered of unsound mind and reiterates that you are to be treated humanely while in care.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Basically when you get to the hospital, the Baker Act provides you with the following rights:

  1. You have the right to a court appointed attorney at any time
  2. If you have a development disability or are deemed incapable of making your own decisions (which happens, say, if you’re having a psychotic episode) a guardian advocate can be appointed for you by a judge who will adjudicate on your behalf and make sure your wishes are carried out.
  3. No matter what anyone says, you can only be held involuntarily for up to 72 hours without a court order. You can be released before 72 hours but usually not before 12. Your 72 hours starts when you arrive at the facility.
  4. If the facility determines that you need to involuntarily stay longer than the 72 hours, they will have to petition the court and can only keep you up to two weeks.
  5. You have a right to see a physician and/or a clinical psychiatrist within 12 hours of arriving at a Baker Act Facility, if you don’t see one or both of them within that time period, your rights are being infringed upon.
  6. You have the right not to be secluded and/or restrained against your will
  7. You have the right to refuse medication and treatment at any time
  8. You have the right to change facilities at any time if you don’t feel your care is being managed properly
  9. Under certain criteria, you can actually be ordered to do an involuntary outpatient program, which is a lot better than being stuck in the hospital. There are a few extra hoops to jump through but it’s worth it.

So the Baker Act really does a lot to promote the health and well being of psychiatric patients. But as you’ll see below, it’s still not quite enough.

SOOOO…IF THE BAKER ACT IS SO GREAT, WHAT THE HEY HEY HAPPENED?

Image result for wtf lemur meme
Me thinking about Florida’s Mental Health Care System

So the Baker Act itself is great, but like most legislation it runs into a few fundamental problems:

  1. It’s got enough grey area to be interpreted widely, a fact exploited by LEO and doctors to shuffle patients around and get them off the streets or out of hospital beds. (Literally, folks, there are only 3 criteria to be admitted under a Baker Act and one of them is simply “has evidence of a mental disorder,” like who the heck doesn’t???)
  2. It’s provisions are often forgotten, misunderstood, or just plain ignored by overwhelmed providers who, as a necessity, treat all patients as incapable.
  3. Like most legislation, the Baker Act has struggled to keep up with the times. The status of mental health may have improved significantly but that doesn’t mean the laws don’t need maintenance. For instance, with the rise of school shootings – children are being pulled out of school and Baker Acted without their parents knowledge or consent; in some cases as early as two years old.

Maxine said it herself – “In the name of mental health, we deprive them of their most precious possession-liberty.”

Basically, it’s easy for people to forget that the good majority of us with mental illness, while we may sometimes not jive with the idea of being on this planet anymore, are perfectly capable of making our own choices, even in crisis.

In the end, the Baker Act is a good law with humane provisions. It’s not necessarily something to be afraid of, especially if you know a lot about it. Our job now is to take up Maxine’s torch by being advocates, consistently demanding reform, or at the very least spreading awareness like some kind of mental health Smokey the Bear.

Image result for smokey the bear
…Can prevent human rights violations….and forest fires…

If you want to learn more about the Baker Act itself as well as ongoing reform efforts go to the following links:

http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org

http://www.myfloridafamilies.com (Florida DCF)

DCF also offers online Baker and Marchman Act Training free to anyone who wants to learn. It’s a really great resource for families who want to support and understand their relatives with a persistent mental health disorder.

Soul Balm Spotlight: Breaking Down the Baker Act

Ah, the dreaded Baker Act.

Here in Florida, we all know it. In fact we know it so well that its colloquial name has been turned into a verb: “oh no bro, I’m going to get Baker Acted!” or “they Baker Acted his ass so fast he didn’t even know what was happening.”

Pretty much what it feels like here in Florida….

All jokes aside, it’s no secret this law is heavily abused and misused. Anyone with mental health issues knows to fear it for that reason.

The act itself has been shrouded in a sort of mythos for many years, legendary in the worst possible way. People gather round and tell their Baker Act stories and like a game of Telephone, the facts get jumbled beyond recognition with each telling.

No one really seems to know what the rules are except the people who now have power over you in the receiving facilities.

As they say, knowledge is power and the more you know about this law – the more power you have if and when you need to advocate for yourself in the hospital.

So gather round chilren as I break down the good, the bad, and the downright hideous parts of the Baker Act:

But first some History

What if I told you the Baker Act, much feared and maligned, was actually there to improve the quality of mental health care?

I know, I laughed too.

But if I could – let me paint you a picture of what mental health care looked like in the early 1900s by telling you the harrowing tale of Mental Health America’s Founder, Clifford W. Beers.

Besides having the one of the most dope names in recorded history – Cliff had a few other things going for him: he was a fresh Yale graduate starting a new job as a Wall Street Financier roughly around 1900.

He also happened to have Bipolar Disorder, which caused him to have a particularly bad manic episode in which he attempted suicide by jumping out of a third story window. Miraculously, he survived but was greatly injured by the attempt.

He spent the next three years shuffled around hospitals in Connecticut, experiencing, shall we say, less than therapeutic care. At one point he was forced into a straight jacket for 21 nights among other horrors. He also witnessed the cruel treatment of other patients such as forced lobotomies, electro shock treatment, and solitary confinement lasting days or months.

Most institutions were underfunded and understaffed, a majority of the population still considered mental illness to be the work of the devil, and people could be admitted for any reason and held for indeterminate amounts of time. Patients lived in squalorous, often cruel conditions – put away for life for symptoms we could easily treat today.

So yeah….it was bad. Real bad.

It wasn’t until the 1940’s and 50’s that there was any great pushback in America to reform the Mental Health system. One of those said reformers was a Florida stateswoman known as Maxine Baker.

Representative Maxine E. Baker
Dammmmn Maxine…back at it again with those wing tip glasses and passion for basic human rights. You go girl.

Our girl Maxine lobbied for the humane treatment of patients while institutionalized in Florida. The ensuing Florida Health Care Act of 1971 ensured that patients could only legally be held for up to two weeks instead of indefinitely, prohibited the indiscriminate admission or retention of persons without just cause, and mandated court appointed attorneys for patients. It also created bill of rights for patients undergoing psychiatric care.

This act was considered landmark legislation for its time, bringing mental healthcare back to the community versus a vast institutional system where people were just a number. It was meant to keep those with mental health issues out of the harsh legal system. Overall, it was a shining beacon of hope that’s been duplicated nationally and helped move the system lightyears forward.

But as we all know…there’s still more work to be done. But we’ll get to that later. I want to focus now on the main tenants of the Act and what they mean for you!

What does the baker act actually do?

The Baker Act provides the following protections to you while you’re in the hospital and up to 6 months after you’re discharged according to the Department of Child and Family Services website:

• Provide comprehensive services for persons requiring intensive short-term
and continued treatment
• Provide emergency service and temporary detention for evaluation when
required
• Admit persons to treatment facilities on a voluntary basis when extended
or continuing care is needed and unavailable in the community
• Ensure that any involuntary examination or treatment be accomplished in
a setting which is clinically appropriate and most likely to facilitate the
person’s return to the community as soon as possible
• Guarantee that the individual dignity and human rights of all persons who
are admitted to mental health facilities for examination or placement are
protected.
• Employ the least restrictive means of intervention based on the individual
needs of each person, within the scope of available services.

Basically, it entitles you to due process even if you’re considered of unsound mind and reiterates that you are to be treated humanely while in care.

How Does it work?

Basically when you get to the hospital, the Baker Act provides you with the following rights:

  1. You have the right to a court appointed attorney at any time
  2. If you have a development disability or are deemed incapable of making your own decisions (which happens, say, if you’re having a psychotic episode) a guardian advocate can be appointed for you by a judge who will adjudicate on your behalf and make sure your wishes are carried out.
  3. No matter what anyone says, you can only be held involuntarily for up to 72 hours without a court order. You can be released before 72 hours but usually not before 12. Your 72 hours starts when you arrive at the facility.
  4. If the facility determines that you need to involuntarily stay longer than the 72 hours, they will have to petition the court and can only keep you up to two weeks.
  5. You have a right to see a physician and/or a clinical psychiatrist within 12 hours of arriving at a Baker Act Facility, if you don’t see one or both of them within that time period, your rights are being infringed upon.
  6. You have the right not to be secluded and/or restrained against your will
  7. You have the right to refuse medication and treatment at any time
  8. You have the right to change facilities at any time if you don’t feel your care is being managed properly
  9. Under certain criteria, you can actually be ordered to do an involuntary outpatient program, which is a lot better than being stuck in the hospital. There are a few extra hoops to jump through but it’s worth it.

So the Baker Act really does a lot to promote the health and well being of psychiatric patients. But as you’ll see below, it’s still not quite enough.

Soooo…if the baker act is so great, What the hey hey happened?

Image result for wtf lemur meme
Me thinking about Florida’s Mental Health Care System

So the Baker Act itself is great, but like most legislation it runs into a few fundamental problems:

  1. It’s got enough grey area to be interpreted widely, a fact exploited by LEO and doctors to shuffle patients around and get them off the streets or out of hospital beds. (Literally, folks, there are only 3 criteria to be admitted under a Baker Act and one of them is simply “has evidence of a mental disorder,” like who the heck doesn’t???)
  2. It’s provisions are often forgotten, misunderstood, or just plain ignored by overwhelmed providers who, as a necessity, treat all patients as incapable.
  3. Like most legislation, the Baker Act has struggled to keep up with the times. The status of mental health may have improved significantly but that doesn’t mean the laws don’t need maintenance. For instance, with the rise of school shootings – children are being pulled out of school and Baker Acted without their parents knowledge or consent; in some cases as early as two years old.

Maxine said it herself – “In the name of mental health, we deprive them of their most precious possession-liberty.”

Basically, it’s easy for people to forget that the good majority of us with mental illness, while we may sometimes not jive with the idea of being on this planet anymore, are perfectly capable of making our own choices, even in crisis.

In the end, the Baker Act is a good law with humane provisions. It’s not necessarily something to be afraid of, especially if you know a lot about it. Our job now is to take up Maxine’s torch by being advocates, consistently demanding reform, or at the very least spreading awareness like some kind of mental health Smokey the Bear.

Image result for smokey the bear
…Can prevent human rights violations….and forest fires…

If you want to learn more about the Baker Act itself as well as ongoing reform efforts go to the following links:

http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org

http://www.mentalillnesspolicy.org

http://www.myfloridafamilies.com (Florida DCF)

DCF also offers online Baker and Marchman Act Training free to anyone who wants to learn. It’s a really great resource for families who want to support and understand their relatives with a persistent mental health disorder.

My Story

JULY 6, 2019 | MMORRAN1EDIT

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope…or by using the challenge to find our inner strength..” – Dalai Lama

My name is Maria and this is my story:

Our story opens with me sobbing uncontrollably in nothing but a hospital gown, alone and terrified out of my mind. 

The hallway floor I’m sitting on is frigid but I don’t really notice. I’m working up to a massive panic attack. For the first time in my life, I’ve completely lost my freedom and it has destroyed me. 

I’m on hour 30 of a 72 hour involuntary hold in a psych ward. I’m seething with rage and fear having just come from my first interaction with a psychiatrist which was the opposite of therapeutic. 

But…at my lowest point, at my most broken, I discover something truly extraordinary. The thing about being so very destroyed is that you have nothing left to lose. Everything somehow becomes opaque, the rest of the world becomes a blur and finally, you can see the pure stuff of your soul oozing through the cracks.  

So, I rise up. 

I rise up. In a surreal moment I seem to leave my body, no longer the same person but a powerful new woman fighting for the girl crying in the hallway like no one has before. I demand to speak to a therapist. 

When I see that counselor I find my voice to tell her to shut up, shut up and listen to me instead of giving me the party line. We end up having an extremely productive discussion. I arrange for my diet to be catered to in the dining hall. In this place where I’m just a number I am my best and only advocate.

I leave still broken but with a commitment to provide comfort to myself and others going through this hell. I will never let the girl in the hallway be alone and powerless again. 

My name is Maria and this is my story. 

Believe it or not, stories have power.

Your story makes a huge difference in how you see and impact the world. That moment in the hospital was brutal, more harrowing than I would have wanted for an awakening but not nearly as brutal as it is for so many other people especially those coming from LGBTQ, Black, African American, Indigenous, Female and LatinX communities. Their voices go unheard and they are statistically more likely to be abused, ignored, and misdiagnosed while in care.

Our national awareness of mental health issues is tenuous at best and the system is woefully broken, especially in my state of Florida where our system ranks 50th (out of 50 states) in mental health care.

My mission is to advocate for all vulnerable people, to provide curated resources on this blog specific to mental health crises/situations, and continually push the conversation on mental wellness in this country.

I will not let my story end in the hospital, I will use it to help others to rise up.

Rise with me.

SHARE THIS:

My Story

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope…or by using the challenge to find our inner strength..” – Dalai Lama

My name is Maria and this is my story:

Our story opens with me sobbing uncontrollably in nothing but a hospital gown, alone and terrified out of my mind. 

The hallway floor I’m sitting on is frigid but I don’t really notice. I’m working up to a massive panic attack. For the first time in my life, I’ve completely lost my freedom and it has destroyed me. 

I’m on hour 30 of a 72 hour involuntary hold in a psych ward. I’m seething with rage and fear having just come from my first interaction with a psychiatrist which was the opposite of therapeutic. 

But…at my lowest point, at my most broken, I discover something truly extraordinary. The thing about being so very destroyed is that you have nothing left to lose. Everything somehow becomes opaque, the rest of the world becomes a blur and finally, you can see the pure stuff of your soul oozing through the cracks.  

So, I rise up. 

I rise up. In a surreal moment I seem to leave my body, no longer the same person but a powerful new woman fighting for the girl crying in the hallway like no one has before. I demand to speak to a therapist. 

When I see that counselor I find my voice to tell her to shut up, shut up and listen to me instead of giving me the party line. We end up having an extremely productive discussion. I arrange for my diet to be catered to in the dining hall. In this place where I’m just a number I am my best and only advocate.

I leave still broken but with a commitment to provide comfort to myself and others going through this hell. I will never let the girl in the hallway be alone and powerless again. 

My name is Maria and this is my story. 

Believe it or not, stories have power.

Your story makes a huge difference in how you see and impact the world. That moment in the hospital was brutal, more harrowing than I would have wanted for an awakening but not nearly as brutal as it is for so many other people especially those coming from LGBTQ, Black, African American, Indigenous, Female and LatinX communities. Their voices go unheard and they are statistically more likely to be abused, ignored, and misdiagnosed while in care.

Our national awareness of mental health issues is tenuous at best and the system is woefully broken, especially in my state of Florida where our system ranks 50th (out of 50 states) in mental health care.

My mission is to advocate for all vulnerable people, to provide curated resources on this blog specific to mental health crises/situations, and continually push the conversation on mental wellness in this country.

I will not let my story end in the hospital, I will use it to help others to rise up.

Rise with me.