Back in my second or third year of high school I started suffering from panic attacks, they took a big toll on me and I was tired of having them. I reached out to one of the counselors and told him how I was feeling. He proceeded to grab my arm and examine my wrist without my consent, asked me about my scars, and asked me I had any past suicide attempts. For the record, I never mentioned anything about my scars nor was I suicidal at the time I spoke to him. I don’t know why he drew the conclusion that I was planning on killing myself and he didn’t tell me what he was planning on doing, he just sent to the nurses office and apparently called my mother to tell her I was suicidal and needed to be hospitalized. I can only assume that’s what he told her, because the next thing I know my mother is at the school with her eyeliner smudged and a look of pain on her face. She then told me she was going to send me to a hospital because she was afraid, I was going to kill myself. Again, I was not planning on harming myself.
Anyways, that hospital stay was the worst experience of my life and things happened there that still haunt three years later. I am scared of reaching out for help because it might get me hospitalized again, and I don’t think I will be able to endure it. Today I found other people that had something similar happen to them and it made me very angry. I guess my question is, how can I get over this thing that happened to me? I don’t know if it counts as trauma but maybe it does? How do I get to stop affecting me? Am I being too harsh on this counselor? Since I’ve been suppressing it for so long I don’t know how to feel about it anymore.
Sorry for the long rant,
P.S. My apologies for posting this late! COVID-19 has been making my schedule incredibly hectic.
I am so sorry you had to deal with such a traumatic experience.
You don’t just “get over” something like this; your feelings are very real and valid. It sounds like the hospital stay and the events leading up to it were traumatic for you. This is definitely a possible way to be traumatized because you suddenly lost so much control of your life and likely felt you were being punished for something you didn’t even think about doing.
I used to teach, so I had to attend training sessions for how to identify and help students at risk for suicidal behavior and how to support students with any sort of mental illnesses. I honestly feel that counselor jumped to the worst possible conclusion; I understand that he was worried about you, but I feel that he should not have jumped like that. If he told your mother about you having panic attacks, that would have made things go so much smoother.
In case you were curious, according to the Mayo Clinic, signs of suicidal ideation include:
-Persistently feeling hopeless
-Increased risk-taking behavior
-Suddenly giving away possessions and getting affairs in order (think like what a terminally ill patient would do with the time they have left)
-Being preoccupied with death or violence (not like someone who happens to like horror movies or true crime podcasts)
Here’s the article I referenced if you’d like to know more: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/symptoms-causes/syc-20378048
I’m going to guess that you didn’t show any of these signs (or maybe 1 or 2 minor ones) and your counselor assumed the worst and got scared and wanted to protect you. Again, I understand why he did that, but it’s still wrong.
If you want to know more about the causes of panic attacks and the symptoms of them, take a look at this article also from Mayo Clinic:
Panic attacks and panic disorder - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
I highly suggest you seek out a counselor who can help you manage those panic attacks and help you unpack that trauma. I know that sounds really hard to do, especially since you have been traumatized by the very people who should have helped you, but I highly recommend it. Since COVID is still going on, you might be able to try some tele-therapy. Maybe that’ll make it easier for you to get your feet wet since you won’t be physically going into an office.
Captain Awkward’s blog has some great resources for low-cost mental health help: CaptainAwkward.com – Don't need to be cool to be kind.
TalkSpace and BetterHelp specialize in exclusively tele-therapy, so you can look them up for some more options. They are not free, nor do they accept insurance, but don’t be afraid to at least check them out.
I’m not sure if you’re still living at home, but if you are, mom should still be able to help you financially or at least emotionally. Think about it: if you tell mom that you want to get better, why would she stand in your way? She will know that she won’t have to worry like she did when your counselor caused that mess. I say give mom a chance to be in your corner here since she already was before; she will appreciate the chance to help you.
That reminds me, have you been able to talk to mom about the hospitalization at all? I imagine she would feel relieved to know you were not in danger and rightfully furious that the counselor freaked her out. I think it would be a good idea to tell her if you haven’t already. Besides, I think it’ll help her understand why you feel the way you do and why you’d even want to go get mental health help in the first place. Mom can help you find the right person for the job.
Please understand that you have every right to feel the way you do. It really does sound like you’ve been traumatized by your counselor and I am so very sorry you had such a negative experience with someone who was supposed to be in your corner. I strongly encourage you to shop around till you find the mental health professional that is right for you.
Hi there, lovely anon! I relayed your submission to Angelica. Stay strong!