I started being serious about taking medication for my depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and whatever else in September of 2015. I’d tried it on and off since I was a teenager, but I was never very motivated to take it and my compliance was incredibly low. I’d asked my primary care physician for anti-depressants once as an adult, but when it completely knocked out my sex drive I abandoned the whole idea.

Since then, I’ve seen a psychiatrist and two psychiatric nurse practitioners regularly. I also saw several different psychiatrists in the hospital and my stay in a psych ward last October. I currently have someone I see monthly who I respect and am confident in. Over the last month we’ve changed up my medications a little and seem to have landed on something that is working well for me. I am so incredibly grateful to my professional team and my prescription drugs. They changed everything. They saved me.

Nadine and I used to walk around Green Lake once a week. We’ve recently gotten out of the habit, but I’m sure we’ll fall back in. There were these two dogs who always seemed to be there the same time we were. Pitbull mixes with sharp ears and short legs, they walked around the lake as if they were on patrol. They owned that territory. One day, one of the dogs was missing. Then we stopped seeing them all together. But today on my run I saw both dogs back on duty. I couldn’t stop smiling.

My friend George–who I’ve known since I was thirteen–came to visit me the last couple days. Before he left today he tidied up the entire apartment and took care of a branch that was hanging right at eye level on our sidewalk. No wonder I’ve kept him around.

Autobiography · Mental Health

Please Help

This last week involved a visit to the ER, two ambulance rides, an overnight stay in the hospital, and six days in a psychiatric ward as a suicide risk. Two weeks of missing wages and astronomical medical bills puts me in a very financially stressful situation. If you would like to help me get back on my feet please visit


Andrew took my knife from me before I went to the IHOP bathroom. I guess that’s what happens when you buy a bottle of bourbon after close to three years sober and whisper on a cell phone call, “I just don’t want to exist.”

We gorged ourselves on product barely passing as food and made our way to the parking lot. He cried on my shoulder and told me he didn’t know what to do.

Text Nadine. Call Leif. By the end of all the communication I don’t think I had a choice in whether or not I would end up in the ER that night.

When we walked in we were both shell-shocked. Long night. “My therapist told me I should come here because I’m a danger to myself.” I didn’t even recognize my own address as the receptionist repeated it back to me.

You’ll never get service in a hospital faster than when you say you’re going to kill yourself. They swept me back to a secured room. A doctor and three nurses made me change my clothes and hide all my belongings and the medical equipment behind metal garage doors. Just a bed and a chair. Andrew and me.

Social worker made his way in and asked Andrew to leave. The usual questions, like “Do you have a plan?” and “Are you still feeling this way?”

“Yes. Yes.”

Talked for awhile before he went into the other room and spoke with Andrew. Came back and told me I could go to inpatient care voluntarily or he would turn me over to the county and I could go against my will.

Andrew slept on the floor in the ER while they tried to find me a bed in a hospital where I could stay before they found me a bed in a psych ward.

Ambulance ride. Another secured room with paper food trays and a nurse who had to sit next to me at all times. Leave the door open when you use the restroom. We don’t trust you with yourself and for good reason.

Another ambulance ride. Check in. Turn over all my belongings. Cell phone, sobriety necklace. Strip down in front of a nurse. Squat and cough. Escorted to my room and then left alone for the first time in two days.

Three girls come in. “Will we overwhelm you if we introduce ourselves?” Exchange names and “What are you in for?” questions. Everyone here is dangerous. And I’ve never been so safe.

Photo courtesy of Priscilla Westra.

Autobiography · Mental Health · Poetry


© Photography by Tanya De 2008.
© Photography by Tanya De, 2008.

I’m tired all the time.
But my new medication
must be working,
because today I heard myself

I had to stop.
To check to see if
the sound was really
coming out of me.

On my run this morning
I think I was smiling.
Breath heavy,
tufts of clouds like smoke
propelled out of my mouth.
Legs strong, feet steady on
leaf-smattered ground.

Something is shifting.

I think about calling my NP and
confessing my love to him.
Almost cry over the fact
no one tried this sooner.
Terrified it’s going to
stop working.

But for now,
I’m whistling.