Welp, it’s been over 8 years, but I managed to make it back to the psych ward Friday night, this time at Grady Hospital. Luckily this time I made it out in less than 24 hours, ONLY because of the fact that I have been WORKING MY ASS off to get better resources to manage my mental health.
My first major mental health incident happened in 2012, seemingly out of nowhere. It completely derailed my life and forced me to essentially rebuild what felt like my entire existence from the ground up.
Since then, I’ve done everything I can to learn about my body, mind, and soul, why that happened to me, and what I need to do to stay healthy and avoid a situation like that again. I’m proud to say that I manage my mental health very well at this point. I’m very aware of what triggers me and the types of support I need in various situations.
So, the fact that I ended up in the damn psych ward and treated like a criminal again was very frustrating, as I thought I had done everything ‘right’ to take care of myself was simply trying to get health care when I needed it.
So, here’s what happened….
I came down with a stomach flu on a Wednesday that just wouldn’t pass.
After 4 days of insane nausea and vomiting, my symptoms seemed to be getting worse. I’d been to urgent care on day 3, gotten some IV fluids, blood work, and covid testing done (negative thank god). I hadn’t been able to keep down any food or medication, including anything to help with my nausea and my anti-depressants. I know from experience how important it is that I stay on a consistent schedule with medication. If I forget, I usually feel a difference by mid-day. It usually takes 2 or 3 days to even back out after I pick up one missed dose. At that point I had missed 4 doses. Fun times!
SO, mix that with not eating, or sleeping, and having a stomach flu… yea, I’m not only feeling physically extremely shitty, but my mind is starting to wander to some scary and anxious places. Eventually I realized that there was nothing I could do to stop the sickness. I started focusing on ‘riding the waves’ of the sickness… just surrendering to the pain and discomfort, not trying to fight it. I had no strength and it felt like I was back in my childbirth experience. Traveling the labyrinth. As soon as I felt I was coming out, there I was going back in. When would it stop?
I began to live breath by breath, taking small sips of water, focusing on grounding myself. STAYING CALM. I was able to turn on some music and my oil diffuser. I was laying in the bathtub, crying, and my mind traveled to Mila’s birth, how I felt so safe and protected How it was truly the only time in my life I can remember feeling that supported, loved, and cared for by a group of women. I cried for the women that don’t get to experience that. I cried for myself because I am afraid I will never feel truly supported like that again. I long for a community that I can support and be supported in.
Yes, I have family, but I am missing community in my life, so strongly. I wished for my birth team to be there with me now, encouraging me and telling me I could make it. Holding my hand and helping me feel powerful during the most vulnerable experience of my life. I remembered their faces, their kind eyes, their grounding energy and words of empowerment.
You can do this Mama, you are so strong!
The tears continued to fall and I felt a strong release in my heart. I understood that those women, the female collective, is always with me, protecting me. I can always return to the healing presence of the mother womb and safety. Even if I did not get to experience that sense of safety as a child, I can give it to myself now. And I can share it with my daughter.
So WHERE THE HELL am I going with this now anyway? Lol, I digress.
So after day 4, I’m starting to get scared, and finding I’m not able to control anxiety as well as I had been before. Marcus is starting to get frustrated, rightfully so, and he keeps trying to tell me what to do. It’s his way of dealing with things. (eat this, drink that, don’t stay in the bathtub too long,) and I’m just like I JUST WANT TO FEEL BETTER! And I was feeling somewhat empowered after my mystical mother wound healing craziness in the bathtub. I knew my body and what I needed. I wanted to be comfortable. So it’s getting late now, and I think I am stable-ish, so after I get back in bed Marcus goes downstairs.
Then I start throwing up blood. It wasn’t really that bad, and it was probably because I’d been hardcore throwing up for the past three days. OR I COULD BE DYING! My anxiety mind started racing, and it was taking more effort ground myself, just to stay in control. I didn’t have the physical energy to have the type of panic attack that could be coming on.
At this point, I knew that yea, obviously I had the flu and was sick. BUT labs were normal, and I didn’t have a big fever. My temperature had actually dropped to 94 degrees the first day, which was really strange. So, I was very very confident that most of my insane discomfort happening in that moment was due to my…. YAY… anxiety. If I could just take a xanax, pass out, hopefully I would feel a little better in a few hours, or at least gather some strength.
Naturally, my RX had been out for a few months, as the other meds I was on were doing their job, so I didn’t have any. And naturally, my psychiatrist who is already crazy hard to get in touch with was in the mountains without cell service. We had finally talked to her earlier that day and she had called in the RX, but Marcus hadn’t picked it up yet, so we would have to wait until 7:00 AM. womp womp.
So, at this point I’m basically dying in my anxiety brain, and start texting Marcus downstairs to call an ambulance. He was adamant that we NOT, that we call someone to come over to watch our two year old so he could take me to the hospital. No way, that will take way too long, I’m trying to tell him. It is damn 1 in the morning and you are trying to tell me to wait until someone can come over in the morning? I AM GOING TO DIE!!! Jeni, you aren’t gonna die. I KNOW, but it really really feels like I am, and I just want it to stop and don’t know how because I’m sick as I’ve ever been. I wish I could describe it better than ‘I feel like I am about to die’. Sometimes words just don’t work the way you want them too.
So in my head I was thinking I would call 911, get in an ambulance, they would give me something for nausea, anxiety, I would get to hospital, explain everything, get in a room, get checked out so they could ensure that no, I wasn’t in fact dying, I would get some fluids and some type of relief to the awfulness happening to my tummy. Seemed logical. That was my dream. Wow looking back, what a contrast to what ended up happening.
He agrees to call an ambulance. I don’t have time to pack a bag because everything was happening so fast, but Marcus managed to throw some things in a duffel bag. My phone was dead, so he tossed in his work phone for me to use. I don’t have any shoes or a bra on, but I’m not really thinking about hat as I’m getting in an ambulance. I just want to feel better. So first a fire truck shows up. The firemen come in and I start saying that I feel like my heart is stopping, but I’m pretty sure that it’s just anxiety. Then Marcus starts in trying to explain that I’ve had a stomach flu for 3 days, which is why my anxiety was getting so bad, but they were already hyper focused on the anxiety symptoms. I then started rambling saying that I just wanted to be honest that I had mental health issues so they would understand the whole story, but it at this point I had already sealed my fate. Looking back, it’s really sad to me that I actually felt empowered at this point. I’d been through this before, but this time I had the tools to keep myself together and stay grounded. It is so frustrating what happened next.
They start all of the awesome mental health check questions that make you feel amazing about yourself.
Are you hearing voices? Are you having thoughts of harming yourself or others? Have you been taking any recreational drugs tonight?
Nope nope nope nope. I HAVE been in incredible pain and suffering the past few days! I DO manage my mental health very very well and it’s actually totally logical why I feel this way! So the ambulance gets here, and 2 EMT’s get out, which have slightly better bedside manner. ‘Hi What is your name?’ I ask (helps to calm me – wtf is your name!).
I’m Joe, nice to meet you! What’s goin on tonight?
There is so much to be said about kind eyes. I sense so much of someone’s energy through their eyes. Not just their expressions, but it’s almost like I can feel kindness or other emotions exude from them. ANYWAY, this guy had very kind eyes, and just started talking to me like a regular person. Tells me he used to be a therapist, he knew all about anxiety, so I had nothing to worry about. I was instantly calmer hearing that. He asked if I want to listen to music, and got out his phone to turn some on, and was just chatting like everything was normal, while he was taking my vitals and slipping in medical questions.
I told him about my last experience in an ambulance with mental health issues, and how that was bringing back a lot of tough feelings I was trying to deal with. He was so empathetic and said that it sounded really tough and that I was doing great. It seemed sincere. He was asking me about my daughter, and then if I had some strategies for how to ground myself once I got to the ER. This man was textbook EXACTLY how you should treat someone with anxiety or mental health issues…. like a normal person. Imagine that. At that point I was feeling like surely I was going to get the help I needed.
Joe wheeled me in, and that part was pretty intense. It brought back all kinds of horrible visions from my past experience. When I was delusional and thought that the world had ended and everyone in the hospital was trying to kill me. Yea, fun stuff. So I was crying and starting to feel super shameful and embarrased and cold and still feeling like shit and did I mention super anxious. So they’re wheeling me a very long way inside the hospital, and I’m starting to get a bad feeling that I might NOT be heading to the ER. Sure enough, a woman badges us in through two heavy metal doors. I’m instantly faced with two security officers.
OK, not the friendliest greeting, but I get it, I didn’t move downtown yesterday… this was probably procedure. Why else would I be met by POLICE instead of a physician when I was suffering from physical and mental health issues?
One officer takes my bag off my lap and begins to inspect the contents. The other is waving a metal detector over me asking me if I have any weapons.So I hand them over my bag, no questions asked, not wanting to cause a problem, even though I don’t really understand why and it’s not doing much for the anxiety situation. They start rummaging through it, with a flashlight. Again, I understand procedure, but to a person with anxiety, and the state of our country’s police systems currently (and always! let’s be real), I’m not sure how that is the best greeting to someone trying to receive any type of healthcare. At this point I assume I’m just in the regular ER, as that was what was discussed on the ambulance ride.
Am I in the freakin psych ward???? I ask. ‘Yes, but it is actually one of the safest places in the hospital right now with Covid!’ they say. Like that is supposed to make me feel better! The cop that was searching my bag finally zipped it up and slid it to the side of the nurses station.
‘Is my bag okay? Can I have it back please?’
I ask meekly, in shock of the fact that I am back in the psych ward because… why??? I was so confused.
Nope, not till you’ve been evaluated by the psychiatrist.
A nurse came over and handed me two gowns and a pair of XL neon yellow socks. Ooooh, how I’ve missed those hospital socks! This color was much snappier than the beige pairs I’d received 8 years ago. The grips seemed to be higher quality as well!
You can change in the bathroom, put your clothes in here.
the nurse stated flatly, not making eye contact and handing me a large paper bag. Fun fact about the psych ward, you aren’t allowed to have any personal belongings, including phones, clothes or blankets. Makes sense, ya know, for anxious people to not have anything that could potentially be comforting to them.
The bathroom was large. I was so woozy and considered trying to puke in the toilet until I saw it was covered in urine, as was the floor surrounding. My nose was filled with a horrible stench of mingling body fluids and hospital soap. Don’t get me started about hospital soap and those memories. Did you know that the sense of smell is strongest link to memory out of all of the senses? If you’ve had an experience with hospital soap you probably knew this already.
I quickly changed into the stupid gown and walked out of the bathroom. I wasn’t sure how it was possible to be freezing in this place when it was probably 99 degrees outside. The security guard was on his phone, and the 5 or so nurses or MA’s were staring at their screen, the blue light reflecting into everyone’s eyes.
Ummm…. where should I go now? I asked when no one looked up after what seemed like an eternity.
You can sit in that chair.
I sat in a hard purple chair across from the nurses station, outside of a large wooden door. I said I was still feeling really sick, and could I please have some water and a barf bag?
The nurse brought me a small styrofoam cup with ice water, and a long, narrow plastic bag with a thick plastic lip, perfect for puking. This design had been well thought out, completely splash and slosh resistant.
you can wait in here.
I was relieved to be directed through the large wooden door to what I thought was a room with a bed, or some type of surface I could curl into a fetal position on. NOPE! That was door 3. This was door 1. There was a hard purple chaise-like thing in the corner of the room. Was that for people to sit on, or sleep on? Because either position was kind of impossible. An old TV hung on the wall, safely protected by a metal cage insulated with plexi glass, should any of us crazies get the idea we want to smash a TV up. Of course the TV was playing some Nancy Grace murder mystery looking shit, so I immediately stuck my head out of the door-
Hi, I’m really sorry to bother you, could you please turn off the TV?
Pro tip – if you have anxiety, it’s not an amazing idea to watch shows about murderers. Believe it or not it’s not the most comforting thing to watch. I think figure skating would be better. The nurse gave a quick microexpression before striding across the hall to flip off my TV. I asked if I could have a blanket, to no response. She asked me to remove my hair tie, and I asked her to please let me leave it in – since I was vomiting and my hair is long, and it is getting in my face, and I promise I won’t try to strangle myself. She looked directly into my eyes, unamused, and responded.
It is simply for your safety and others.
She probably said that 100 times a day. So, I gave her my hair-tie and 3 bobby pins. Hadn’t washed my hair in probably 4 days at that point, so it felt GREAT to have my hair down. I assumed they would probably not let me have the dry shampoo in my bag.
Yep, this was becoming familiar. Dammit, at least this time I was just having some really bad anxiety and not a full out episode. Without Marcus or anyone there to advocate for me, it was imperative I keep my cool, or else it was likely I would spiral and probably wind up in that awful hellhole again. Not gonna happen!
Leading up to, during, and after the ambulance ride, I was entirely lucid and in my right mind the entire time. Even though I was having extreme anxiety and on the verge of a panic attack, I was able to answer any and all questions asked of me. I never displayed ANY indication of being a danger to myself or anyone else. I had done what they had asked, and not shown any resistance or rudeness of any kind – Which is why I am completely at a loss as to why I was delivered to the psychiatric ward without informing me that was what was happening.
Why was I not informed that was what was happening? Why, when I mentioned my anxiety, did ALL OF MY OTHER SYMPTOMS BECOME IGNORED? I had come in for severe nausea. I was scared that something was really wrong, and that I needed medical care. But at Grady Memorial Hospital, when you state you have ‘anxiety’, apparently that means that you are a criminal and should be treated with zero dignity, empathy, or respect.
‘Can I please have my phone out of that bag please’ with slight panic in my voice.
I asked in the direction of the nurses station again. I was planning on calling my husband to give him an update – plus I knew he would be able to help calm me down.
she replies without looking up from the screen in front of her.
‘Umm, why not?’ I really don’t understand the logic here. My husband didn’t want me to go to the hospital. I should have listened to him.
‘But you just checked my bag’ – if there’s nothing bad in there, can I please have it back?’ Ok. Let me be real. I am a champ at managing my anxiety. Like really good. BUT geez, all the little things were really starting to add up. I started crying because I felt like shit, and was being treated like I was a criminal or something.
M’am, go in that room behind you.
When I asked why, she said it was for my safety and others. I would have to wait inside the room. Even though it made me incredibly uncomfortable, I followed her directions, and went back into the room. I spent the next several hours focusing harder than I ever have in my life to manage my anxiety symptoms, in addition to riding the wave of whatever awful stomach bug I had. I was freezing, in a small flimsy gown with no blanket.
‘I think I have a right to call my husband’
to which the nurse replies,
‘He knows where you’re at’
I really really hope this nurse was just having a bad day and didn’t treat all patients like that.
Soon after, a different nurse brought me a bag to barf in and a cup of water. Every time I would heave, I would urinate a little – I mentioned I have a two year old whose birth caused me to have a weak bladder (like 99.9% of mothers out there). I stuck my head out of the door a few times to ask for clean panties out of my bag – the security guard then told me I couldn’t have anything until I was ‘evaluated’.
I asked the nurse and security guard several more times, as it is very demoralizing to be sick, sitting in your own urine, knowing you have clean underwear 10 feet away, but you aren’t allowed to have them… because you have ANXIETY? That is why I’m such a ‘threat’ here?
After the third time asking, the security guard said,
“I’ve been trying to be nice, but next time you come out, I’m gonna have to lock the door on you”.
Because I was asking for clean underwear.
He and the nurse refused to explain why. ‘Policy’ is the only explanation I received. If I recall, in other hospitals and medical facilities, there is signage posted about patient rights. I definitely didn’t have that information in the room that I was being held in against my will, so I asked to speak to a ‘patients rights advocate’ or something to that extent. I was under the impression there were people working in the hospital to prevent treatment like this. I stuck my head out of the door, again, and said this. The nurse said in her robotic, monotone response,
‘Ok, we’ll tell the doctor’
as she continued to stare at her screen.
I’m assuming they didn’t, because I never got to speak with any representative.
At that point, a Nurse or MA wheels in an EKG machine, and she explains how the test is done. I start to explain my situation to her and she stops sticking things on me to look at me in my eyes. Finally, I met a gaze with someone that could help me.
“Wait, you are in here for nausea?” She seemed as confused as I was.
I thought you were here because of shortness of breath with anxiety?
I recapped the whole stupid situation, and it felt SO GOOD to be speaking to someone that could see that everything was being handled in a very strange, dangerous, and incredibly unprofessional manner. Finally someone could see that I was a freakin human being behind this horrible, evil AnXiEtY that I was experiencing :-/
She performed the EKG and told me she would try to explain to the doctor what was happening. I believe it was this woman’s kind demeanor, willingness to listen, and professionalism that is a huge reason that I didn’t spiral into a more severe mental health episode that night. I hope I can eventually find her and thank her in person, I will remember her kindness forever.
Finally an actual physician came into the room with a psychiatrist to ‘evaluate’ me, and I explained my story all over again. He explained that things weren’t ideal, due to Covid. Apparently, when patients are admitted, a ‘chief’ complaint is required. Mine, being anxiety, caused me to be delivered to the infamous Floor 13. Believe me, I understand that things are freaking insane due to Covid. However I don’t believe that it was acceptable to be treated the way I was, denied any of my patient rights, and denied medical care for the reason that I went into the hospital in the first place, and to have ZERO input in where I was going or what was being done to me when I was 100% in my right mind!! How is that okay? I don’t think Covid is a good excuse. There were opportunities every minute for SOMEONE to show an ounce of empathy and professionalism, and actually listen to my side of the story, rather than act like I was a nuisance for attempting to exercise basic rights.
At this point, I don’t care if whatever is wrong with my stomach kills me. I don’t care. I want out of there NOW. So the doctor is like ,
“okay, so you’re saying if you get something to calm your nerves, you’ll be okay? Do you have somewhere safe to go?“
Sure, dude, just get me out of here.
A million hours later (or 30 minutes or something, geez), a different, friendlier nurse returned with an anti-anxiety medication, and I took it along with another anti-nausea pill. The doctor came in and said that he was unable to reach my husband, but they would try again. I later learned that Marcus did not have any missed calls or voice messages from Grady that night 🙂
Some time later, the security guard brought me my paper bag with all my stuff and said
‘You can change, you are getting discharged’.
No medical personnel spoke to me at that point or after.
I went to the bathroom and changed back into the clothes I arrived in. A thin burgundy tank top, gym shorts with neon blue stripes, clean underwear!!, and my hair tie. I realized I only got two of my three bobby pins back. I decided not to mention it to robot nurse. I decided to keep the damn neon socks, they really completed my ensemble. Also I didn’t really want to walk those halls barefoot!
I came out of the bathroom and the security guard said to me,
“wait for her to get vitals, then he will escort you out”
pointing to another patient standing next to a different police officer.
I grabbed my phone frantically out of my bag to call my husband – it would take him time to arrange for a way to get me due to our toddler and I really really wanted to get home! I could feel the anti-anxiety medication kicking in making me feel foggy and confused, and I started having trouble working the phone (isn’t wasn’t the one I had used everyday – it was my husbands).
I asked if I could get my water and mask out of the room, he said they had already been thrown away. The other patient had her vitals taken and the police officer opened the door and motioned for us to follow him. The other officer said
‘Don’t forget your paperwork’
and handed me my discharge packet.
Okay! Talk about a whole new meaning to ‘walk of shame’. Being led through endless halls filled with patients, medical staff, watching you parade by, disheveled, with no shoes, being escorted by a cop. What would YOU think about someone you saw in that situation? The other patient and I continued the walk of shame through the corridor, and the officer led us through the packed, overflowing filled ER waiting area (They didn’t give me a mask, how I didn’t catch Covid right then and there I have NO CLUE!) and outside into the freshest, most beautiful breeze I’ve ever felt in my life.
I still felt like shit, but I was FREE, and need to handle the next challenge – getting home before this pill I took on a 4 day empty stomach made me pass the F out. I sit down near the sliding doors and steady myself against a column in an attempt to stop the world from moving so quickly. I tried to turn on the phone, but I couldn’t remember if this was his work or personal phone (they look nearly identical), and I’m having a hard time even remembering his number at this point, as my nerves were FINALLY calming, but that lovely calm feeling meant that it also feel like I had a bag over my head, making it difficult to operate clearly.
Someone came out and lit up a cigarette 10 feet away from me. Not the most appealing smell in that situation, so I got up and stumbled down the street a bit, into the sunlight. It was around 6AM at that point, the city was starting to come alive. I spotted some beautiful, soft green grass about a half a block away on Jesse Hill Drive, so I walked down the street and plopped down softly in a patch of clover, relieved to finally have a space that felt safe and comfortable (LOL I felt safer in the damn grass outside alone than IN the hospital!). Then I noticed that I was in between a cop car and an ambulance. OK, I was curious to see what would happen next. Nothing would surprise me at this point. I watched them watch me for a minute, seeing what I would do. I took out the blanket that my friend had made Marcus and I for our wedding, and laid it over my legs as I curled up next to a bench in the grass. Cozy. Not a bad spot at all.
I was feeling really calm, and started thinking about what would feel different about this situation if I had an ‘important job’, or if someone I knew drove by and saw me laying on the street. I’d been in the psych ward before, and been reduced to nothing but a ‘mental patient’. Nurses talking about you right in front of your face because they think you are too stupid or crazy to understand that they are talking about you. After situations like that, I didn’t really care what people would think of me laying on the curb. This was not my darkest moment by any means. I was sick, and tired, and that grass felt so good! OK – now, how to get home. I hadn’t been able to call Marcus. It was verrrrry likely he was (finally) sleeping, assuming I was actually getting medical treatment. After several attempts and only getting his voicemail, I moved to plan B.
Typically, MARTA or Uber would be the obvious choice. But, no mask, covid, yea….. not really an option. I’m less than 2 miles from home, so walking could work if I had any strength in my body at all! Worse case scenario, nap and walk home.
I started calling the people I actually knew in his phone book (like I said, it was his work phone so not a ton of personal contacts).
I get voicemail after voicemail, and I’m leaving teary, most likely incoherent messages in hopes someone will call me back.
I get another wave of nausea and get sick in the grass. An EMT approaches me, and I say I’m just waiting for a ride. He tells me that I should nap across the street before I get a ticket for loitering. Pro Tips! I wonder what they would have done if I wasn’t a white woman. It’s very likely I’d be in the back of a cop car or worse. Ohh, what a world we live in.
Finally I get in touch with my in-laws. They immediately hop in their car and make the 30+ minute trek from Sandy Springs. I have nevvvvver been so excited to see my family. My dad-in law pulls a u-turn in the middle of the street, slamming on the brakes, and my mother in law hops out and gives me the biggest hug of my life. GET ME OUTTA HEEEERE! I review a summarized version of the situation, and like me, they are at a loss as to why and how something like that could happen when this time I did ‘everything right’.
After getting home and resting all day in bed, I was starting to feel a million times better. I checked my voicemail, and had received a message from Highland Urgent Care the day before, instructing me to go to the ER because my WBC was through the roof. Wow. I wonder how my experience would have been different, if the ER had been aware of that information. That made me remember that I HAD my blood taken in the psych ward, so I checked my discharge paperwork.
Nothing on the discharge packet included any mention of my stomach issues. First page, generic work excuse. The only patient specific information was printed on the second page sidebar. Reason for visit: Psychiatric Evaluation. No, no that actually was NOT the reason for my visit!! The packet also stated that I had been administered a drug screen and alcohol test in addition to my blood test. Because having anxiety means that I’m on drugs or drunk. I logged in to the portal printed on the packet to check the results of the blood test, and big surprise, my WBC count was still high, only one point lower than it had been at urgent care.
Another interesting fact was that the results of the blood test were posted on the portal 20 minutes after my discharge paperwork was printed. So, I was already lying on the street in the sun on Jesse Hill Drive when my bloodwork came back showing that yes, I was actually sick. I wasn’t actually a lying insane person, as was assumed.
I wondered what would have happened if I wasn’t able to go home and sleep inside and have people take care of me? How many people get hurt or die or get arrested because they are thrown to the streets when they have REAL medical issues that deserve to be addressed?
Emergency mental health care in this country is straight up dangerous, in my experiences.
I think of all the other patients in the ward that night that don’t have the resources that I do. That didn’t get to go home and sleep in a bed for 3 days and have people bring them food and watch their kids while they recover. What would have happened to me if I didn’t have the resources that I did? I would be incarcerated, under a bridge, struggling with addictions, or dead. No doubt in my mind. This is why I have to figure out some way to bring light to these situations.
My situation could have been SO much worse (hey, it has before!!), and I am incredibly grateful for the few people that shared their light that crazy night and kept me going, helping me to get out relatively unscathed. Yah, I was absolutely retraumatized, but I am grateful for the fact that I was able to objectively observe my experience from a calm state of mind and confirm that yes, OUR MENTAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IS BROKEN. I didn’t actually need another traumatic experience to show me that, but like I said, it’s helped illuminate an area that I know I have to do work in, someway, somehow. And it will help me tell the story of the first time, hopefully.
So now, my next steps are to file a ‘formal complaint’ (whatever that means… I have some general mailbox to send an email to, sounds really promising), and to keep sharing my story in hopes that people that actually have power to make change hear it. That’s all I know to do at this point. Any suggestions or connections are SO WELCOME!!! I’m saddened that there have to be others out there like me, but empowered by the hope that it is possible to connect and make change together.
If you’ve actually read this far, dear reader, THANK YOU for listening. I appreciate you being here. <3 <3 <3